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Author Topic: Ten Great Science Fiction Novels that Would Make Terrible Movies
mr_porteiro_head
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...according to some guy on the web.

Including Ender's Game.

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BandoCommando
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Boooo!!! Grrrr!!!!! Hisssss!!!!


Joking aside...

Ender's Game, as it is in the book, would be a terrible movie. OSC has said so himself, since so much of the book "takes place inside Ender's head".

I trust Mr. Card, however, when he says that his most recent screenplay is his best yet. I also assume that this means it will make a workable movie.

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sndrake
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He left out Dune.

But I guess he didn't have to put it on the list, since lots of effort went into demonstrating it doesn't work as a movie or a miniseries.

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romanylass
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That is very true.
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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
...according to some guy on the web.

Including Ender's Game.

Hiiisssss Hisssss Hissssss
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hansenj
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quote:
Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis. Who wants to watch people get the plague and die for a couple of hours?
[Big Grin]
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neo-dragon
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quote:
Originally posted by sndrake:
He left out Dune.

But I guess he didn't have to put it on the list, since lots of effort went into demonstrating it doesn't work as a movie or a miniseries.

Says you. If I didn't enjoy the miniseries so much I may never have gotten around to reading the book. Now it's one of my all time favourites, and I still think that the miniseries is great. Not the movie though. That's only good for a laugh.
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Sala
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I've read every single one of the books he listed, enjoyed most of them immensely, and agree with most of his assessments about them. This may just be a writer (who I've never heard of) that I'll enjoy if we have the same tastes in what we read. I'll have to check him out.
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Hank
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This is just an anecdote, not an actual contribution to the discussion. That said:

My brother loves the recent Dune miniseries, and one day he was checking the guide to see what was on TV, and saw "Dune" and immediately became really excited and started trying to sell me on watching it. When he switched to the show, it was the original movie, and he went, "Ugh! This isn't the good one! It's the one from the eighties. This one's all dark and depressing--like the eighties".

"Like the eighties" is now code for "Dark and Depressing" in our house.

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mr_porteiro_head
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"like the 80s" conjures more images of neon shirts and shoelaces than ones that are dark and depressing.

Like this.

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Hank
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Yeah, I think he'd watched the original Terminator recently.
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Jhai
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I do think that Hyperion would make an amazing miniseries, as he says, but it wouldn't do well commercially when shown on TV. DVD set, however...
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Ron Lambert
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Here's a novel that would make a terrible movie (unless the screenwriters and producers took great liberties with it): Samuel R. Delaney's Dahlgren. That is the only novel I ever got so disgusted with I quit trying to read it halfway through the book and threw it against the wall. I have quit on a few other novels, but that was the only one I have ever thrown against the wall. Sorry Mr. Delaney, nothing personal, but your brain child here is ugly.
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mr_porteiro_head
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If you adapt a bad novel, chance are it's going to be a bad movie. If you adapt a great novel, on the other hand... well, come to think about it, chance are it's going to be a bad movie as well. So never mind.
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Corwin
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quote:
Originally posted by sndrake:
He left out Dune.

But I guess he didn't have to put it on the list, since lots of effort went into demonstrating it doesn't work as a movie or a miniseries.

When I saw the title of the thread my first thought was "Dune". [Big Grin]
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The White Whale
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I want them to try and make a movie out of The Cryptonomicon. If it was anywhere under the length of 100 hours it would be a horrible movie.
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Mucus
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I think Foundation would be a good example. Don't get me wrong, I love the trilogy a lot and it counts as one of my favorite books.

But it would be a nightmare for a movie. There is very little action and most of what little action there is takes place off-screen. Most of the plot consists of people travelling around and talking to one another.

I, Robot probably suffers from a lesser version of this although I've never got around to seeing the movie version.

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katharina
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Yay! I got three new books out of that list.
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mr_porteiro_head
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That's how many I got as well. [Smile]
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by The White Whale:
I want them to try and make a movie out of The Cryptonomicon. If it was anywhere under the length of 100 hours it would be a horrible movie.

100+ hours is not a movie. It's not even a movie marathon!
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blindsay
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The link won't load on this computer I am on sadly.


I do not know if the "Nights Dawn" trilogy was on that list. I have read quite a few of Peter Hamilton's novels but this series was his best in my opinion.


Wonderful books that deal with life, death, and even religion, but not in a preachy way. The series however would make a HORRIBLE movie and there is just way too much that happens in the books. The story moves along quickly.

It would make a great TV series though that could last upwards of five to six full seasons. I am afraid however that due to all of the profanity and sex in the books it would have to be shown on HBO.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
100+ hours is not a movie. It's not even a movie marathon!
It's a TV series.
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Shawshank
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Xenocide. Ender's Game could be a difficult adaptation, but it'd be nowhere near as bad as Xenocide would be.

It's one of my favorite books, but watching people for three hours discuss metaphysics would get a little boring. There'd be a 5-10 minute riot scence- that'd be kind of interesting to watch. That's about it. And watching a Chinese girl stare at her floorboards for long periods of time *yawn*

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mr_porteiro_head
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And a lot of people sitting around talking.
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Hank
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
If you adapt a bad novel, chance are it's going to be a bad movie. If you adapt a great novel, on the other hand... well, come to think about it, chance are it's going to be a bad movie as well. So never mind.

Clearly, we should be making films based on mediocre books. Where's the thread listing those?
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mr_porteiro_head
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Brilliant!
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Sean Monahan
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
I, Robot probably suffers from a lesser version of this although I've never got around to seeing the movie version.

I, Robot, while not a terrible action movie (imo), was little like the book. Each has robots in it, each has a character named Susan Calvin, each has a writing credit from Isaac Asimov, and that's about it. The book, as it is written, would make a terrible movie, but is a *great* book.
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AvidReader
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And the movie makes a wonderful Matrix prequel. [Smile]
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
I, Robot, while not a terrible action movie (imo), was little like the book. Each has robots in it, each has a character named Susan Calvin, each has a writing credit from Isaac Asimov, and that's about it.
While the plot didn't have anything to do with the plot of any of the short stories in the book "I, Robot", the story in the movie fit well into that world.

I'm not talking about continuity -- I don't remember enough about Susan Calvin to have an opinion on that at all. But the story's basic framework was almost identical to several of Asimov's robot stories. Many of his stories are essentially logic puzzles: we've got the three laws, which protect us, and then we've got robots that are breaking the three laws, which is impossible. Check your assumptions and figure it out, smart boy. That's pretty much how the movie goes as well, but with action movie dumbness thrown in for good measure.

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theamazeeaz
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I've love to see movies of the Vorkosigan books myself, though I don't disagree that they would be difficult to film, not least because of the main character's lack of good looks and height. But I think the story could work. There's sufficient passion, humor, excitement, explosions, love and angst in those stories to keep movie-goers on the edge of their seats. There are probably a zillion charismatic little people that one could cull a suitably charismatic Miles from. After Indiana Jones and Iron Man, I can't imagine audiences not embracing the fact that people get hurt when they are beat up or fall from large distances. I would suspect the biggest difficulties would be keeping the hyperactive Miles from annoying audiences while he bullies, annoys and captivates everyone around him in his own way as well as the fact that Miles lies and bluffs half the times he opens his mouth. It's abundantly clear in the books when he's lying thanks to the narrator, but that can't be pointed out subtly in film. There are also enough layers of complexity in the story that it needs to be abundantly clear who is on what side. Sadly my physics degree doesn't qualify me to be at the helm of this little fantasy of mine...
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Lupus
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well, I saw the I, Robot collections of short stories as more of a philosophical exercise (which looked at the ways that the 3 laws could lead to unexpected results). The movie was more of an action/detective movie. I think the movie I, Robot was a closer fit to the feel of the Robot series (Caves of Steel, Naked Sun....) than the actual I, Robot short story collection. I think turning that whole series into movies would be very entertaining.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
... While the plot didn't have anything to do with the plot of any of the short stories in the book "I, Robot", the story in the movie fit well into that world.

Your description intrigues me, but would you actually recommend the movie as a whole?
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
I saw the I, Robot collections of short stories as more of a philosophical exercise (which looked at the ways that the 3 laws could lead to unexpected results). The movie was more of an action/detective movie.
I agree with this.

quote:
I think the movie I, Robot was a closer fit to the feel of the Robot series (Caves of Steel, Naked Sun....) than the actual I, Robot short story collection.
I agree with this as well. I have little doubt that they used the name they did to try to cash in on its name recognition.

Of course, it's all the same Robot world/'verse.

quote:
Your description intrigues me, but would you actually recommend the movie as a whole?
No. But I don't disrecommend it either*. But then, I can't think of any Hollywood action movie that I'd recommend except out of nostalgia right now.

If you're intrigued, I say go ahead and watch it just to see if you agree with me.

*As a frame of reference, let me say that I only recommend the first three Alvin Maker books. For the other books, I say "They're not as good, but I enjoyed them, and if you're interested in reading them, go ahead. But if you never read them, that's OK too."

ETA: Hollywood action movie.

[ December 08, 2008, 11:23 AM: Message edited by: mr_porteiro_head ]

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Jhai
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I would say that it's worth watching if it's on TV, or your Netflix queue is running low. It's not worth a trip to Blockbuster.
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JimL
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'Ender's Game' would make a great movie, but they would have to add to it. References to real space battles that were directed by Ender would have to actually show the battles, even if that's not described in the book. Other than that, if the movie is really about Ender, his family and his jeesh, I think it would work fine, as long as it isn't portrayed as another Starship Troopers.
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Blayne Bradley
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The nude scenes would be difficult.
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Sachiko
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I wonder how Connie Willis' To Say Nothing Of The Dog would translate to film.
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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
The nude scenes would be difficult.

I was hoping they'd keep those in. Don't go skin in front of Petra!
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The White Whale
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quote:
Originally posted by Sachiko:
I wonder how Connie Willis' To Say Nothing Of The Dog would translate to film.

Not very well, I think. If it were cut to a length of under two hours, I think most of the good stuff would be left out, leaving a campy time travel movie behind.
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Sean Monahan
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The Martian Chronicles.

This book is similar to I, Robot. It's not really a novel, it's a collection of related short stories. There was a tv movie made of it a long time ago with Rock Hudson and Roddy MacDowell, and I remember being underwhelmed.

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Architraz Warden
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I'd reluctantly add Red Mars (and Green, and Blue) to this list... Similar problem as with Dune, I fear the scope and depth in the books simply would not translate well to film.

Edit: I'm going to add Armor to this list. The movie Starship Troopers is probably more similar to Armor than it is to the book by the same name. No matter how well they did an Armor movie, it would forever be accused of being a STroopers clone.

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scifibum
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Revelation Space and sequels could make outstanding movies, but Hollywoodize them and they'd stink. Every main character has enough complexity to explode a script supervisor's brain. Ilia Volyova would turn into Cruella Deville, and Sun Stealer would turn into the smoke monster from Lost.
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Architraz Warden
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Two more to add to this list...

The Real Story (The Gap Series) - I don't see any path that leads through Hollywood that would wind up with these books being watchable. The potential is there, but it's too odd and held too close to the chest to be an even watchable movie(s).

Gateway (The entire Heechee Series) - I think there is some great movie material in this series, I just don't know how it could be divided up and made to be watchable. Add to this that it suffers from the same problem as the latter Dune books; the deeper into the series you go, the more metaphysical and bizarre the books become. Not a good combination for movies...

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FlyingCow
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Snow Crash would make a terrible movie, I think. As would Neuromancer.
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Sean Monahan
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Revelation Space and sequels could make outstanding movies, but Hollywoodize them and they'd stink. Every main character has enough complexity to explode a script supervisor's brain. Ilia Volyova would turn into Cruella Deville, and Sun Stealer would turn into the smoke monster from Lost.

Hey scifibum, I've read RS, but none of the sequels. I love Alastair Reynolds' short fiction, but am not sold on him yet at novel length. Would you recommend the sequels?
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scifibum
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If you didn't like RS then I don't know if I'd recommend the sequels. I think they're great, myself. Here's the review I wrote for Amazon for RS explaining what I liked (and where I try to acknowledge what other reviewers on AMZ said they didn't like):

quote:
This is a stunning first novel. The sweep of the story covers millions of years, but mainly focuses on a few decades about 500 years in our future. It's genuine space opera but Reynolds tempers it by respecting the light speed limit and showing how certain kinds of technology might actually make humans more vulnerable, instead of stronger.

I'm going to spare the plot synopsis and write a bit about what I liked (and what some others might not like). Reynolds is extremely good at what he does. I happen to enjoy his style, but as you can see from some of the other reviews, not everyone does.

Science is the strong point, as you might expect from a working physicist. Nothing derails a science fiction novel for me like bad science, or a lack of imagination in how technology will progress and affect human lives. This novel has no lack of ambition or cleverness in imagining a future technology where microscopic self-replicating/-repairing machines give humans incredible power over their environment (though that power is easily turned against them), and the ability to manipulate spacetime gives them incredibly powerful spaceships that can approach the speed of light (just how the drive technology came about is explained in the first sequel, Redemption Ark). Humanity has spread across multiple systems and adapated to various new niches: inhabiting only interstellar spaceships running trade routes, living in habitats orbiting Earth-like planets, living in hollowed out comets, or domed settlements on hostile planets. Many have implanted machines that augment and accelerate consciousness. There is no faster than light travel. At least one professional reviewer was disappointed by this and felt it made the story too drawn out and required too much backstory to make the separate plot threads come together at the end. I disagree - I greatly enjoyed Reynolds's faithful treatment of interstellar travel and how it would affect the plans of ambitious and powerful players. (And it's made very, very clear that the dozens or hundreds of years it requires for events to play out on an interstellar scale are just an eyeblink compared to galactic history's span, which is actually relevant to the plot.)

Humans in this universe are just as factionalized as we are now, with some of them embracing mind-melding communal thought, others adopting radical alterations to appearance and ethics, and yet others living relatively austere lives in colonies. We only glimpse a handful of characters, but there is a sense of true diversity in the wider sphere of human expansion. Some have complained that there was no clear hero, no protagonist. It's a valid observation but I think it was a valid choice by the author. The characters are complex. Most of them have done evil and good. One of Reynolds's themes is that with greatly expanded mobility, machine-enhanced cognition, and extremely long lifespans (compared to now) humans can and do reinvent themselves, sometimes more than once. The character Ilia Volyova initially seems evil and destructive. Perhaps she is capable of evil, but we find out that she is not that simple, and there is the possibility that she might save many of her fellow humans from doom. Other people have complained that the characters don't have enough depth or realism to make us care. I think it's slightly different: they weren't intended to be very likeable people. However, what they are doing is very interesting, and there is enough personality to each character to be able to tell them apart.

One other complaint is the plotting - people feel like there are too many jumps forward and backward in time, to different planets and characters. There are a lot of those, and it takes careful attention to keep things straight. I personally feel the effort pays off.

It's not an easy read - it's not that kind of space opera - but it's a rewarding read if you're the right audience for it. If you like reading about advanced technology and epic events, baffling alien mysteries and flawed but compelling people - go for it. If, on the other hand, you thought Coyote by Allen Steele was a great novel, you will not enjoy this.


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Sean Monahan
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Thanks, scifibum. And to clarify, I did like RS; it was pretty good (though I had some trouble with the pacing towards the end). But I just love his short fiction so much more.
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The White Whale
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quote:
Originally posted by Architraz Warden:
I'd reluctantly add Red Mars (and Green, and Blue) to this list... Similar problem as with Dune, I fear the scope and depth in the books simply would not translate well to film.

Seconded. I'm in the middle of Green Mars right now, and couldn't possibly imagine it as a movie. It would be like a college earth science / atmospheric chemistry course, by a man named Coyote.
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