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Four Unfaithful Sci-Fi Book Adaptations That Resulted In Great Sci-Fi Films

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StarshipWhen it comes to movie adaptations of books, 100% faithful isn’t always a good thing, nor is unfaithful necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes a slavishly faithful transfer from a book results in a cinematic mess, whereas a film that only uses the source material as a leaping-off point can generate something fun or fascinating it its own right. Consider Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers, which ended up satirizing many of the themes and concepts Robert Heinlein addressed with a straight face in his 1959 novel. As a result, Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers is by no means a faithful adaptation of Heinlein’s, but it is undeniably entertaining in its own right.

In honor of Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers having just celebrated an anniversary, we decided to look back at some of our favorite unfaithful science fiction book adaptations that nevertheless turned out just fine.

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Philip K. Dick: A Tribute To The Man Behind Blade Runner, Total Recall, And More

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DickFeatPhilip K. Dick would have turned 85 this past Monday. So let’s listen to his favorite writing music and honor the man who wrote some damn fine science fiction.

PKD’s works such as A Scanner Darkly and “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale (which became Total Recall) have been translated to screen, and his best known work is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which was published in 1968 and then, nearly 15 years later, made into a little movie you might have heard of called Blade Runner. The book and movie give PKD a venue for pondering the same questions that occupied Alan Turing, about an artificial intelligence’s ability to think and pass for human. Turing’s test involved conversational skills — if a human could converse with a machine and not know it was a machine, the machine passed the Turing Test (a current version of this test is conducted in the annual Loebner Prize competition). While PKD remained interested in machine capability, he thought Turing was a bit short-sighted, since it focused solely on intelligence. Dick believed that a true test of humanness involved emotion and empathy, rather than sheer smarts, so he reimagined a Turing Test that gauged those qualities — Electric Sheep’s Voigt-Kampff test.

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Science Fiction Book Cover Art We Wish Was Really Covering Science Fiction Books

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1984The old adage warns against judging a book by a cover, but sometimes book covers can be pretty awesome in and of themselves, even when divorced from the actual book. There’s another adage about a picture being worth a thousand words, and there’s definitely an art to creating a single image that evokes the themes, characters, or story contained within those covers. And let’s face it: a lot of time the actual, official art that gets slapped on a book release isn’t nearly as creative or interesting as it could be. So while the images in this post might not actually adorn the covers of any of these science fiction classics, let’s imagine an alternate dimension where they do, because that alternate dimension would be nifty.

These designs were created by various artists from all over the Interwebs, brought together by the delightfully titled Artsy Musings of a Bibliophile blog. (We would like to give that blog a hug, but virtual reality technology hasn’t advanced far enough yet.) First up, the lovely mock Penguin Books cover for George Orwell’s 1984, designed by Luke James. The security camera speaks for itself, but it’s a really nice touch to have its beam illuminating a line from the novel. Sometimes simple is best.

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Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? And Terminator 2 Live On Stage

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Do Androids Dream of Electric SheepStage shows based on popular movies are always a good idea. We’re not talking about big time productions, like The Producers on Broadway, I mean things like Evil Dead: The Musical and Re-Animator: The Musical. Things that are a little more on the fringe. About ten or twelve years ago in Seattle a group staged Point Break Live, which is apparently now a regular thing, where the Johnny Utah role was played by a different, randomly selected audience member each and every night. It was the best thing I’ve ever seen, all three times. The latest installment in these games is a production of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, not to mention a group that recreates Terminator 2: Judgment Day using only lines from Shakespeare.

The basis for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Do Androids Dream has been adapted into a stage play. According to reports, this production is a more faithful adaptation of Dick’s novel than the film version, and deals with some of the author’s favorite themes like questioning reality and the search for what it truly means to be human a human being.

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Minimalist Book Covers For 2001, Dune, Neuromancer, And More

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2001The whole “minimalist art” thing has been applied to pop culture and science fiction quite a bit in recent years. There’s just something appealing about trying to break down an object or idea into its most basic components, to try and evoke its essence with as few elements as possible. We’ve seen the concept applied to iconic sci-fi weapons, famous scientists, and even the Doctor’s sonic screwdrivers. The latest spin on the idea: minimalist book cover designs for some of the genre’s most noteworthy tomes.

The minimalist designs are courtesy of graphic designer Nicolas Beaujouan, and are part of his so-called “Ultimate Geek Selection.” Up above we’ve got the ominous electronic eye of HAL 9000 from Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey — a pretty obvious choice, but a good one nonetheless. Some of Beaujouan’s other choices are similarly easy to grasp, such as H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness or Max Brooks’ World War Z.