Instead of embracing original storylines, Hollywood instead dumbs things down with countless superhero action flicks or reimagines novels that have already been made into movies: Planet of the Apes, I Am Legend, Total Recall, Solaris, The Stepford Wives


There are hundreds – no, thousands – of novels out there that could make better motion pictures than the remake of Rollerball, for example. The novels listed below are my humble suggestions to Hollywood producers, who will undoubtedly not be making any of these into feature films any time soon because they’re either too edgy, don’t appeal to a mainstream audience, aren’t commercially viable, etc.


Bottom line: there are no excuses. Like the aforementioned celluloid classics A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey, go big or go home. Science fiction and fantasy isn’t about playing it safe – it’s about breaking new ground, imagining something never before imagined, trying to hit it out of the park.


Chances are that I’ll be watching yet another remake of Planet of the Apes before ever seeing these novels on the big screen – but a guy can dream, can’t he?



This Hugo Award-winning novel is the best – and most insightful – post-apocalyptic novel ever written. Set in a Utah monastery centuries after a nuclear war devastated the Earth, Brother Francis Gerard of Leibowitz Abbey is on a Lenten fast in the desert when he uncovers an ancient fallout survival shelter containing puzzling clues into pre-Flame Deluge culture. Some of the findings may even have belonged to martyred “booklegger” Isaac Edward Leibowitz himself, a priest who dedicated his life to saving knowledge for future generations. But will Brother Gerard’s discovery help humankind avoid another self-inflicted catastrophe? In my favorite edition of this novel (I have several), Mary Doria Russell puts it perfectly in her introduction: “you’ll be different when you finish it.”


Set in a near future that is garish, superficial, and obsessively self-absorbed, Armstrong's stellar debut novel is as thematically compelling as dystopian classics like Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, PKD’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and most notably, Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. Equal parts ill-fated love story à la Romeo and Juliet, poignant coming-of-age tale, and disturbingly provocative glimpse into humanity's future, Armstrong's singularly unique debut is unforgettable – nothing short of a science fiction masterwork.


I’ve described Priest’s Boneshaker, an alternate history/steampunk adventure set in 19th century Seattle, as a “transcendent masterpiece of imagination.” With the Civil War still in full swing, this story has a walled city filled with poison gas, zombies, airships, and a cast of brilliantly realized characters. But the beautiful thing here is that if the Boneshaker movie is commercially successful, there are several more Clockwork Century stories to tell! And think of the steampunk merchandising!!!



The first of LKH’s historic Anita Blake novels, this storyline has it all – mystery, romance, supernatural suspense, horror, and, yes, erotica. If done correctly, this sexy and stylish franchise could make the Twilight saga look like an after school special. Blake is a divisive and iconic literary figure – and seeing her and her entourage on the big screen would, I believe, be a positive thing and spark productive dialogue about personal freedom, tolerance, sexual repression, etc.


Whenever I see really bad movies based on fantasy novels (Eragon, The Golden Compass, etc.), I always think of Moorcock’s Elric, the last emperor of Melniboné, ruler of the dreaming city, and keeper of the ruby throne. There are so many positives when it comes to making this series in a movie franchise – awesome world building, fantastic characters, relentless pacing, nonstop action… Elric is an albino sorcerer with a soul-sucking sword. Enough said!


On a nameless planet at the edge of a vast intergalactic empire ruled by an immortal emperor/god, Ostvan is one of innumerable carpet makers, revered craftsmen who spend their entire lives knotting together intricate carpets from the hair of their wives and children. Once complete, the hair carpets – invaluable works of art – are collected and transported to the Emperor’s home planet by imperial shipsmen, supposedly to beautify his sprawling Star Palace. But when strange offworlders begin spreading heretical rumors about the Emperor’s death and asking probing questions about the strange hair carpets – where they’re really sent to and why – the elaborate mystery of the carpets is slowly unraveled: with mind-boggling revelations! This debut novel from Eschbach is a sweeping saga told through the interconnecting lives of dozens of remarkable characters (adventurous explorers, ignorant preachers, arrogant rebels, wily peddlers, etc.) – and the jaw-dropping conclusion is unforgettable!



KSR’s The Years of Rice and Salt is an absolutely mind-blowing read that is breathtaking in scope, chillingly timely, and profoundly powerful. Although it's billed as an alternate history of mankind's last 700 years, it is so much more than that. It's about the significance – or lack thereof – of religion, fate, and the human spirit. It's about the meaning of life. Why are we here? Is there a god? Is the soul eternal? Does it all really matter? This is a life-changing read – and could be a life-changing movie.



My reasoning here is essentially the same as wanting to see an Elric movie but with Salvatore’s signature character, the dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden, there would be a deeper, more existential, undertone. Drizzt – the proverbial outsider – is an incredibly complex character, one that could appeal to a wide variety of people. And like Boneshaker, tons of merchandising opportunities here – like miniature scimitars in Happy Meals!


Both of these novels deservedly won the Hugo Award. Everything about these novels is immense: the scale, the scope, the ideas, the world building, … To see these two novels as motion pictures would be heavenly.






What science fiction or fantasy novel would YOU most like to be made into a movie?




Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can follow him on Twitter at @paulgoatallen and get all the latest Barnes & Noble book news from @BNBuzz.

by on ‎01-09-2013 09:47 AM

Years of Rice and Salt?  Seriously?  I don't see how it could remotely be filmed.  If you thought the movie of Cloud Atlas was a hot mess this would be much worse.


Some books that desperately need filming (some long rumored):




Hotel Transylvania


Stand on Zanzibar


by BubbaCoop on ‎01-09-2013 12:41 PM

" like the first time I saw A Clockwork Orange or 2001: A Space Odyssey"

I guess it's too bad Kubrick isn't around, then

by on ‎01-09-2013 07:45 PM

I think David Brin's uplift novels could be the basis of a good movie. I really believe Drgonriders of Pern would really appeal to a broad age group, the keep, hatching ground drama, dragon flying heroes. I agree ringworld is deserving, but don't think it has a broad enough audience in risk adverse Hollywood.

by Htom_Serveaux ‎01-10-2013 08:51 AM - edited ‎01-10-2013 09:01 AM

It's tricky to get "mind-blowing" from the page to the screen. I think "2001" worked only because its audience was so thrilled (and relieved) at seeing actual science fiction on the screen that they were willing to work at it, even to "research" before or after viewing. I don't know if you could pull it off today.


 Something as deep as "A Canticle for Lebowitz" works in words, but perhaps not so well in sound and pictures for our modern ADD culture.


I think MacMcK1957 has an excellent idea with "Ringworld". It's very visual, and has a nice ratio of thought to action. It's the sort of thing that would have been unthinkable to film before the CGI available today, but could lead to some breathtaking scenes. And the sequels are already done.


 "Elric" is dear to my heart, and I fear what Hollywood would do to him. Imagine "Ewe Boll presents: Elric!" It would take a Jackson or a del Toro to do it justice. Even then, I fear the suits would force a steroid-laden Elric on us, when a (younger) David Bowie or even a Tilda Swinton would serve better.


Ah, well. It's all fairly hopeless wishing. When movies like "The Avengers" and constant "Spider-Man" reboots bring in the millions that they do, it's guaranteed that's what we're gonna get more of.

by Brook_W on ‎01-14-2013 09:50 PM

Personally, I like space opera like David Weber's Honor Harrington series and the Armagedon series.  Considering the success of the Star War saga, I think some of the Honorverse stories would be successful.  Mote in God's Eye would be good, but how well would computer generated Moties be?  I adore Anne McCaffrey's Dragonrider stories especially White Dragon, but how personable would those computerized dragons be?  No one seemed to appreciate that computer generated alien in StarWars.

by SpaceCowboy528 on ‎05-21-2013 09:22 PM



You'll be happy to know that books based on David Weber's Honor Harrington books have been optioned and the Mad Wizard himself is involved with the scripts. Whether or not they actually get made is still up in the air but it is looking good. This has been mentioned on his own site and at the Bar on the Baen website.

by Dresh on ‎12-06-2013 08:24 AM

John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata series would make a great series of movies.


Since 1997, you’ve been coming to to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.