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July 1998
Book Reviews
Charles de Lint
Elizabeth Hand
Michelle West
James Sallis
Chris Moriarty
Plumage from Pegasus
Off On a Tangent: F&SF Style
Kathi Maio
Lucius Shepard
Gregory Benford
Pat Murphy & Paul Doherty
Coming Attractions
F&SF Bibliography: 1949-1999
Index of Title, Month and Page sorted by Author

Current Issue • Departments • Bibliography

F&SF Goes to Hollywood
July 1998

Ursula K. Le Guin
John Kessel
Howard Waldrop
Pat Cadigan

Six Great SF Movies That Could Be Made Without Audible Explosions in the Vacuum of Space
By Ursula K. Le Guin

Philip K. Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Yes, I know. There's Blade Runner that everybody else thinks is so great. But instead of another trendy-noir-violent-yawn consistent entirely of the cut to the chase, the book it misused could have been the basis of a fine movie with, like people in it. . . .

The Man in the High Castle could be pretty nifty, too.

Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

All we need is a cast consisting of androgynous Inuits, plus maybe Michael Dorn, and Greenland. Scenes in the kemmerhouse could be really a whole lot of fun.

Vonda N. McIntyre: The Moon and the Sun

The whole thing has to be paced like Citation winning the Derby, and filmed at Versailles in the most absolutely gorgeous historical-flamboyant style, with absolutely gorgeous actors, especially the dwarf Count, the mermaid, and Louis the Fourteenth. It would be a joy and a delight.

C. J. Cherryh: The Faded Sun

All three books could be scripted into one truly beautiful space opera, with plenty of action, both duels and big cataclysms - but the soul of it would consist in our gradually getting drawn into an alien point of view, just as in the books. Shrines in canyons, ancient deserted cities, sandstorms - it has to be filmed in Utah: Arches, Canyonlands, Zion. (Maybe we could blow up Moab.)

H. G. Wells: The First Men on the Moon

A vivid, haunting nightmare, and now a great period piece, the book offers spectacular opportunities to a filmmaker with a sense of style and a sense of humor. The invention and testing of Cavorite - the wonderful scene of Dawn on the Moon - the cranky Brits - the horrid selenites in their horrid caves - Oh, come on, somebody do it!

Who I'll Cast When They Let Me Direct...
by John Kessel

The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Gully Foyle/Geoffrey FourmyleMel Gibson (#2: Michael Madsen)
Jisbella McQueenGeena Davis
Robin WednesburyJada Pinkett
Presteign of PresteignAnthony Hopkins
Olivia PresteignKate Winslet
Peter Y'ang-YeovilAlec Baldwin
Saul DagenhamHarvey Keitel
Regis SheffieldJeremy Irons
Rog KempseyKevin Bacon

The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick

Frank FrinkRalph Fiennes
Ed McCarthyKevin Bacon
Robert ChildanKevin Spacey
Mr. Baynes/Rudolf WegenerWilliam Hurt
Nobusuke TagomiJohn Lone
Paul KasouraWinston Chao
General TedekiSihung Lung
Alex LotzeTim Roth
Juliana FrinkUma Thurman
Joe CinnadellaAndy Garcia
Wyndham-MatsonGene Hackman
Hugo Reiss, Reichs ConsulMichael Caine
Kreuz vom Meere, SD officerBob Hoskins
Hawthorne AbendsenMartin Sheen

The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin

Genly AiLaurence Fishburne
Therem Harth rem ir EstravenSigourney Weaver
King ArgavenGlenn Close
TibeMeryl Streep
ObsleKathy Bates
Faxe the WeaverJaye Davidson
The PervertKevin Bacon

The Book of the New Sun, by Gene Wolfe

SeverianLeonardo Di Caprio
TheclaHelena Bonham Carter
TheaJoanna Going
VodalusAndre Braugher
Master GurloesJohn Hurt
Master PalemonMorgan Freeman
DorcasGabrielle Anwar
AgiaNicole Kidman
AgilusKevin Bacon
JolentaJulia Ormond
Dr. TalosGary Oldman
BaldandersArnold Schwarzenegger
HildegrinPeter Postlethwaite
HethorJohn Malkovich
The AutarchKenneth Branagh

Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson

Frank ChalmersDenzel Washington
Maya ToitovnaMichelle Pfeiffer
John BooneKevin Costner
Michel DuvalDaniel Auteuil
Sax RussellJohn Turturro
Phyllis BoyleHolly Hunter
Arkady BogdanovGabriel Byrne
Nadia CherneshevskySusan Sarandon
Hiroko AiGong Li
Ann ClayborneAngela Bassett
The StowawayKevin Bacon

A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Brother FrancisTim Robbins
Abbot ArkosIan Holm
The Wandering JewF. Murray Abraham
Abbot Dom PaoloJames Earl Jones
Thon TaddeoSamuel L. Jackson
The PoetJeff Goldblum
Abbot ZerchiAlbert Finney
Doctor CorsRichard Gere
Sick motherRosie Perez
Mrs. Grales/RachelAnne Bancroft/Julie Delpy
BrotherKevin Bacon

"All You Zombies---", by Robert A. Heinlein

Unmarried MotherChristian Slater
BartenderJack Nicholson
JaneLiv Tyler
Man playing jukeboxKevin Bacon

Sarah Canary, by Karen Joy Fowler

Chin Ah KinJason Scott Lee
Adelaide DixonBridget Fonda
Sarah CanaryAnjelica Huston
B.J.Tom Hulce
HaroldBill Pullman
Purdy (Barnum recruiter)Kevin Bacon

More than Human, by Theodore Sturgeon

LoneWillem Dafoe
Mr. KewDavid Warner
Alicia Kew (young)Anna Paquin
(adult)Jodie Foster
Evelyn KewJena Malone
ProddJon Voight
JanieBridget Fonda
Gerry ThompsonJohnny Depp
Dr. SternJack Lemmon
Hip BarrowsKevin Bacon

"Think Like a Dinosaur," by James Patrick Kelly

Kamala ShastriSarita Choudhury
Michael BurrEwan McGregor
Voice of SilloinJames Earl Jones
Voice of LinnaBen Kingsley
Voice of ParikkalKevin Bacon

Gun, with Occasional Music, by Jonathan Lethem

Conrad MetcalfNicolas Cage
Celeste StanhuntJuliette Binoche
Orton AngwineJoaquin Phoenix
Pansy GreenleafEmily Watson
Grover TestaferDavid Paymer
Inquisitor KornfeldKevin Bacon
Inquisitor MorgenlanderBruce Willis
Catherine TeleprompterJennifer Jason Leigh
Walter SurfaceJoe Pesci
Danny PhoneblumMarlon Brando
Joey CastleRay Liotta

Finally, with apologies . . .

Corrupting Dr. Nice, by John Kessel

Owen VanniceJohn Cusack
Genevieve FaisonGwyneth Paltrow
August FaisonGerard Depardieu
SimonGabriel Byrne
Rosethrush VanniceAnjelica Huston
Ralph VanniceJohn Goodman
Lance ThrillkillerJames Woods
Detlev GruberAlec Baldwin
ParkerKevin Bacon
YeshuRobert De Niro
WilmaIndustrial Light and Magic

Five More SF Biopics We Don't Need
(And the Spins and High Concepts That Will Be Put on Them)

by Howard Waldrop

1. What's It All About?

Guy comes in a bar every night, tells long weird stories (as films-within-the-film) to the bartender (Kevin Bacon). One's about a man (John Malkovich) and his maybe-killer android (Wallace Shawn); one's about a guy who does weird stuff to keep the universe in balance (Judge Reinhold); one about a guy who uses teleportation to get revenge on people who didn't come to his aid after a space naufrage (Michael J. Pollard). One night the guy doesn't show up; turns out the guy died; he was a famous sf writer and left the bartender everything. Written by Quentin Tarantino, directed by James Ivory.

A cross between the tv sitcom Cheers and Melvin and Howard.

2. Nobody Kicks Earth!

Story of a space opera writer (Drew Carey) who becomes the editor of the top sf magazine in the 30s; an opinionated, irascible, voluble man ("Face it, Ike. Slaves weren't meant to be free!") with a difficult first marriage ("Shouldn't you two be in Atlantic City by now?") who nevertheless changes the field and gets lots of respect. With Dean Stockwell as "Heironymous Dean" the inventory. Cameos: Johnny Depp as F. Orlin Tremaine, Iggy Pop as Theodore Sturgeon, Josh Mostel as Isaac Asimov, Angela Cartwright as C. L. Moore and Wallace Shawn as Henry Kuttner. Written by Paul Schrader, directed by John Milius.

A three-way cross between Mishima, Red Dawn, and The Sheltering Sky.

3. That Bright Pink Light

About a writer who took enough drugs to kill the entire membership of the SFFWA and still managed to act like a paranoid schizophrenic while turning out strange good books and bad strange books. Starring Wings Hauser, with Bob Newhart as the voice of the V(ariable) A(nnuity) L(ife) I(nsurance) S(alesman) ("The difference between you and most guys, Phil, is that when they see the bright pink light, they smile and open another beer."). With Tim Powers (as James Blaylock) and James Blaylock (as Tim Powers); K. W. Jeter and Michael Bishop as themselves (they think). Meg Tilly in multiple roles as wives and girlfriends, and Wallace Shawn as The Thing In The Sky. Written by Mel Brooks, directed by Richard Benjamin.

A cross between Drugstore Cowboy and Song of Bernadette.

4. Go Ask Tip

Tori Spelling in the role of a lifetime as a woman whose regular life - on safaris in Africa at 6, OSS agent in WWII, employed by the CIA, experimental psychologist, artist - wasn't enough, and late in life took a male nom de plume and began to write great sf stories. You woulda thought she'd killed everybody's puppies when it was revealed that "he" was a "she." With Harry Dean Stanton as "Linebarger, the guy at the office," and Wallace Shawn as one of the snoops who blew the cover. Same ending as the Robert E. Howard biopic. Screenplay by Joan Didion, directed by Penny Marshall.

A three-way cross between Victor/Victoria, Three Days of the Condor, and It's A Wonderful Life.

5. Of Time and the Miskatonic (video title: Play Miskatonic for Me)

Brad Pitt is H. P. Lovecraft! Wallace Shawn is Houdini! With Anthony Hopkins as Farnsworth Wright and Frances McDormand as Sonia Greene, and the Big Blackfoot River as the Miskatonic. Screenplay by the Coen brothers, directed by Albert Brooks.

A cross between Tom and Viv and Pulp Fiction.

Ten SF/Fantasy/Genre Movies That Should Not Have Been Made
By Pat Cadigan

Gordon Van Gelder asked me to compile a list of sf/fantasy/genre movies that should not have been made, with full knowledge of how potentially offensive the result could be. So I'm going to tell you right now: he asked me, to speak for me. He did not ask me to speak for you, for him, or for your Aunt Minnie. If my comments offend you, you can complain but frankly, I don't care. I don't have to. And to be honest, if I'd known how much I would be offending you, I'd have spoken up sooner. These are movies, for god's sake.

1. Dune

Enumerating the reasons this bow-wow should not have been loosed on the world is an exercise in finding out exactly how obsessive-compulsive you are-days later, you're still thinking of more in your spare moments. I'll confine myself to those that immediately come to mind:
A) The sandworm rodeo/surfing invitational-Yeehaw!
B) Many terms/names that great sf writers invent should never be spoken aloud-e.g., "Muad Dib," "Usul," "Kwisatz Hederach," and "gom jabbar." Especially "gom jabbar," when spoken by a small girl whose voice sounds as if it has been dubbed by an adult imitating a small girl.
C) Any movie that requires the cast to be costumed such that they have to have equipment hanging out of their noses is trying too hard.
D) The Harkonnen emperor's plague of boils
E) Dean Stockwell in smudged lipstick
F) Interstellar travel via projectile vomiting
G) Sting scantily-clad for only a few minutes, and not the whole movie.

2. Alien Resurrection

Can you say, "The cash cow needs milking"? Actually, the cash cow didn't need milking; the milkers were looking for something to do with their hands.
A) Alien3 was bad enough without compounding the offense.
B) Identification via halitosis
C) They killed the sexiest pirate first
D) Sigourney Weaver's manicure
E) No one was bright enough to think of dumping the Alien plot and just writing a story to showcase the pirates. Especially the sexy one.

3. Event Horizon

Sometimes, high concept-"Hey, feature this: Hellraiser in space!"-is just a party game, and only funny if you're drunk.
A) Life-support/suspended animation/what-the-hell-was-it-supposed-to-be-anyway entirely too messy
B) Cutesy-poo crew nicknames-whose brainstorm was that?
C) What cause? What effect? More cgi and they won't notice!

4. Independence Day

I'm sure that the entire world is slavishly grateful to the US for giving them an independence day to celebrate, too. No, don't thank us, world-the look on your face is enough.
A) Intelligent life smart enough to build interstellar spacecraft, but too dumb to shield its computers from viruses
B) Violation of Law of Extreme Coincidences: "Aliens invading? Why, we just happen to have one of their spacecraft in an underground parking garage in Area 51." Even Mulder would look askance.
C) Memo to Data: after spending a Star Trek series as an android, a stretch involves playing a human being, not a cartoon; chastise your agent.
D) Ends up looking like an expensive rip-off of Mars Attacks!, whether it is or not.

5. Combination Plate # 1: Field of Dreams, Waterworld, and The Postman

Kevin Costner is living out his fantasy of being a brave and rugged yet sincere and sensitive hero. There is nothing inherently wrong in this per se, but on this scale, it tends to suggest narcissism as a severe and untreatable personality disorder. The cinematic equivalent of a beautifully-designed, highly expensive dustwrapper on a vanity-press volume of bad poetry, including tipped-in color plates of author's own illustrations, produced in signed, limited edition of 6,000,000.
A) Field of Dreams indicates Madonna had his number all along.
B) Waterworld indicates Costner slept through Geology 101.
C) The Postman indicates Costner is still asleep.

6. Combination Plate #2: Jurassic Park and The Lost World

Too-obvious product placement is merely tacky; using a movie to display that movie's own tie-in products is beyond the pale. My son the Bobmeister actively rejected anything with a Jurassic Park/Lost World logo on it, for that very reason: "I'll decide what I'm greedy for-Stephen Spielberg doesn't think for me!"
A) Cutesy-poo dinosaurs with allergies-when did you last meet an iguana with hayfever? (Oh, stop, you did not.)
B) Outhouse joke improperly placed-it's not from the Jurassic, it's antidiluvian
C) Anorexic tyrannosaur that loses so much weight during the course of the film that it goes from shaking the earth to being able to sneak up on people sets bad dieting example for young people already obsessed with being thin. Ditto bulimic lizards.
D) The Lost World-"Something has survived." Yeah, no one saw that coming; as easy to miss as an anorexic tyrannosaur.

7. Combination Plate #3: Michael and Phenomenon

Acting out vanity fantasies is one thing; using movies as vehicles to hint that you are/can be genuinely superhuman, possibly divine, is vile.
A) Phenomenon rhymes with Algernon, as in "Flowers for." Coincidence?
B) Travolta's mini-Last Supper scene with children and apple-Last Snack-is possibly too subtle for anyone except Scientologists
C) Andie McDowell says to William Hurt the same thing I said when she first appeared onscreen: "Oh, it's you. I thought you'd gone."
D) Heartless tabloid editor wants Andie McDowell only for...kinky sex? No! Her dog-walking ability! Yeah, that's just like a heartless tabloid editor.
E) Barflies find dancing angel irresistible. How many pinheads danced on that angel?

8. Combination Plate #4: Mimic and The Relic

Oh, never mind. I can never tell them apart. They both taste like turkey.

9. Combination Plate #5: Star Trek 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...15...28...39...

When will this punishment end-when the number of sequels equals the collective age of the original cast? Isn't it bad enough that Leonard Nimoy recanted and said he was Spock after all? Note to TNG and DS9 casts: don't bother running from the Borg-you've already been assimilated. Note to the Borg: resistance is futile. You will be assimilated, just like the Klingons.

10. The Jackal

Not strictly a genre movie-at least, not this genre-but egregious enough to merit mention. If Bruce Willis wants to play the cool assassin character from the original movie, he can wait till the game comes out on the Playstation, just like the rest of us.

PS: Yes, I know. But that's Ms. Bitch to you.

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