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Amazon developing three new sci-fi series: Lazarus, Snow Crash and Ringworld (variety.com)
293 points by molecule on Sept 29, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 241 comments

Amazon is "currently in preproduction, production or post on 67 TV series and 20 movies around the world." That's more than the old networks.

So finally, a video version of "Snow Crash". That should be fun. Bringing the scope of Ringworld to the screen will be very tough. Good that they're trying.

Finally, we're getting past Star [Trek|Wars|Gate|Craft] and the Marvel Recycled Universe, into better SF.

_Snow Crash_ is one of Neal Stephenson's best, including the cinematic ending.

The novel's depiction of different tribes and factions is done with care and respect, so that the cultural melange of ethnicities, customs, and technologies is convincing and compelling.

Given Stephenson's sensibilities in _Snow Crash_, I wonder if Amazon will have the forthrightness and integrity to cast Hiro Protagonist as mixed-race black and Korean. [0]

  > His father was a sergeant major, his mother was a Korean
  > woman whose people had been mine slaves in Nippon, and Hiro
  > didn't know whether he was black or Asian or just plain
  > Army, whether he was rich or poor, educated or ignorant,
  > talented or lucky.
[0] https://books.google.com/books?id=RMd3GpIFxcUC&pg=PA61#v=one...

I do agree it's good, though I personally prefer Diamond Age, but I also think it has the Standard Stephenson Ending Problem. The ending really is a great action sequence, and resolves the immediate problem that the action sequence was about -- Snow Crash is disarmed -- but it's also more a stopping-point than an actual ending to the plot. There's a lot of "what happened next?" both with the overarching stuff and with the specifics of what happened to all the major characters, so there's not much closure.

There's a certain amount of circumstantial evidence that Diamond Age is set in the same universe decades later, which probably answers at least a bit of that, particularly if you assume a certain character is Y.T. based on one reference. But still, that's not much of a save for Snow Crash viewed as a complete story in itself.

Please tag your spoilers!

You know, people who are a season behind on TV shows have sense enough to stay away from threads about the show.

I think we can expect the same for a book that's celebrating its 25th anniversary.

This isn't a thread about the content of the book to be fair.


Eh, it's a 25 year old well-known book, and the spoiler was "the good guys win".

Everyone fawns about it and it sounds like an awesome novel, but I've tried reading it three times and every time I can't get past the fact that the hero (the protagonist, if you will) is literally named Hiro Protagonist. I know it's supposed to be funny, but after my eyes see those words five or six times, I can't do it anymore. Maybe Neal was the first, maybe he does it best, but I've read too much shitty sci-fi where heavy-handed slaps to the face like that are far too common, and it really ruins any plot the book gets going for me. I have a hard time reading the book when I'm imagining the author's shit-eating grin as he wrote it.

I'm sure it's an awesome book, but I really need a copy where someone did a find-and-replace and changed the hero's name to something other than Hiro.

Your problem with a book that begins with high speed pizza delivery by a coder-ninja into a fortified corporate suburb on behalf of a mafioso pizza company... is that the protagonist is named Hiro Protagonist?

I would have expected suspension of disbelief to have been broken somewhat earlier, if that's an issue.

>high speed pizza delivery by a coder-ninja into a fortified corporate suburb on behalf of a mafioso pizza company

That's really freaking awesome!

>the protagonist is named Hiro Protagonist

Super lame.

That's why it tears me up. I really want to like it.

Sometimes the terrible writing is what breaks the suspension of disbelief.

Very true. I read the Mistborn series and absolutely loved every minute of it, so I picked up The Way of Kings thinking I like Brandon Sanderson and it's a popular book of his. I didn't make it past the second chapter because the story demands I memorize dozens of ridiculous names, made-up words, magical objects, and fictional cities right off the bat.

Suspending disbelief is not the problem. The problem is when the author writes something so unbelievable that there's never a chance to suspend. It's all disbelief, all the time.

Again maybe I'm ruined by years of reading bad sci-fi and fantasy, maybe I would have been better off if I read it 20 years ago. But Snowcrash and The Way of Kings both start their story with all of the hallmarks of every awful book I've ever read.

I'm sure the durian fruit tastes great, but unfortunately I've smelled a dumpster before and now durian is ruined to me forever.

> I didn't make it past the second chapter because the story demands I memorize dozens of ridiculous names, made-up words, magical objects, and fictional cities right off the bat.

Is that a requirement for that book? Stephenson's Anathem starts off with a word-dump full of vocabulary that you as the reader will not know, but everything slowly becomes clearer.

On the other hand, I gave up on Stephenson's Baroque Cycle for much the same reason you mention.

It might not be a requirement to memorize all of the words, but then again it's hard to tell which ones will still be important later on. It does add a significant mental load not only trying to pronounce the words, but try to remember them and then try to recall those memories when the word is referenced later in the story.

I had a hard time with Game of Thrones for the first few seasons too, because of the absolutely massive cast of characters. It became easier when most of them died off. It's one of the reasons I don't read a whole lot of fantasy novels, every author considers themselves a Tolkien and has to show off how much work they put into world-building.

YT: "Stupid name."

Hiro: "But you'll never forget it."

I was excited by Snowcrash (the first chapter is awesome) but the plot kind of dissolves into a lukewarm mush by the end. AFAIK, people tend to love Snowcrash for the ideas and the world building rather than the plot.

Granted. And I certainly think Stephenson is the weaker of the names I'm about to mention.

But I don't exactly remember stellar plots from Gibson (earlier works) or Ridley Scott either. The cyberpunk-influenced genre is essentially defined by everyday troubles, draped with techno-decoration.

Personally, that's one of the reasons I like it. The fusion of slice-of-life pedestrianism w/ in medias res pacing always came across as more believable than any grand opera.

Statistically, significantly rare interesting events are far more likely to happen to a janitor than the King / Queen of the Universe.

IIRC, the reason the first chapter is so much better is that it started out as a comic book. After that peters out, he sorta falls back into long exposition with librarian AIs. Perhaps some day, story boarding will be a required part of Stephensen's novel writing process.

I thought it was characterization: the character probably picked that name for himself, like Da5id.

I read it when it came out and I enjoyed it then. It had some neat ideas (about online communities and how people would use them; CIC Earth; etc) but really it's just a book and it's okay to not like it for any reason. Also, it's 25 years old now, and some of it hasn't aged well.

I do remember disliking the hyperbole of exaggeration (In a few of his early books) - the fractal heatsink, the sharpness of the obsidian blade, the politeness of the tea, etc.


1. Buy the book 2. Download an epub from somewhere 3. Open it up in an epub editor 4. Find / replace!

Would it help if you thought of it as a pseudonym?

Try listening to the audiobook instead.

Ok freehunter ;)

Hell I'm not even the hero of my own story, let alone a massively popular sci-fi novel :)


It's meta - breaking the 4th wall - breaking your suspension of disbelief. Rick & Morty do it all the time. Kind of cheesy, but not a big problem, especially on audio book. I hope they rename the character too.

Yeah, and make him a white guy. YT can age 10 years and become a romantic interest. Change Raven into a Chinese character, add in a subplot about Bitcoin, remove the motorcycle stuff, maybe move the setting of the Raft to something easier to film - like outskirts of LA...


Chloë Grace Moretz ("Hit Girl") would make a great YT. She's convincing as a snarky tough girl.

The Raft would be quite do-able. After all, there was Waterworld. (I met the guy who did the Softimage water shader for that. It worked out much better for him when he did the water shader for Titanic.) Worn-out ships are easily available. Chase scenes in open water are easier than ones near land, and you can add all the background ships in CGI.

There are ways to get the cost down. Watch this trailer for the Blade Runner remake.[1] Nothing expensive there, except old Harrison Ford. A smoke and fog world brings the costs down.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6T2b0mp2hco

I'm being sarcastic at someone's suggestion that Hiro's name ought to be changed. I'm not actually suggesting any of this happen; it would be a travesty.

Which leads to an interesting question: how many mixed race talented black & korean actors are there of the right gender and age?

In LA? probably at least a few...

Would love to see a Seveneves cinematic production! A trilogy or three-part series could do well.

Ron Howard was working on one, but put it on hold to work on the Star Wars Han Solo movie

I find it really sad that the first question is about what races are the characters, and what races might the actors be.

I think there's a lot more to literature and cinema than a matrix for the demonstration of ethnicities.

(Sure, ask these questions if they're important to you. But don't make them be your chief criteria in judging the work.)

The ethnicity of Hiro and Raven are rather relevant to the plot (as well as other considerations within the novel - many Burbclaves are ethnically-divided), and given the amount of whitewashing Hollywood is prone to, it's a legitimate concern.

If Hiro ends up being played by a blonde Norwegian, it wouldn't be the end of the world, but it also wouldn't be Snow Crash. At that point, why make him a swordsman? Does YT have to be so much younger than him that the possibility of a romance is excluded? Can we tighten up the plot by ditching all the boring religious stuff? Is there any way we can work in a Transformer? etc., etc.

I don't see anything which indicates this would be the commenter's chief criterion in judging the work....

Of course there's a lot more to literature and cinema than just racial questions. There's so much that you can't possibly cover everything. Why is it that only racial questions get these "you should consider other things too" responses?

TrekWars: GateCraft actually sounds plausible and potentially fun.

Does anyone else share that ambiguous feeling of pleasure at the overdue broader recognition of good SciFi works mixed with the dread of potentially disappointing TV-adaptations of them?

Joke or not, I'd love a good attempt at a TV adoption of the Culture series by Iain M. Banks, but maybe it's too 'communist ' for the U.S. market :-)

A number of the books (Use of Weapons, Surface Detail for example) would make fantastic series by themselves. The grander ones like The Algebraist are begging for a mega budget treatment with a brave, independent minded and intelligent director.

For the books to work, the director and the writer must be able to depict "greater than human" intelligence, thinking a step ahead of the viewer and not hobbling the human heroes to make a weak plot work (since SC are supposed to be the best of humanity). Too simplistic a depiction of the characters is my greatest fear in a Banks adaptation.

Much as I thought American Gods (the series) was badly written in terms of weaving the story together cohesively and of timing (it was fine as a visualisation of the book for people who have read it), many of the characters were well depicted in their full ambiguity and their evolution had the sense of direction otherwise lacking from the series itself.

Everyone is ragging on American Gods here, I must be the only one who liked it. If we're talking about painful tv adaptations how about preacher?

I'd love to see a culture mini series, maybe of Player of Games or Use of Weapons

The world needs more high-quality utopian sci-fi TV. Everything's so "dark" these days. It gets a bit boring.

Rather than strictly utopian or dystopian, I just want to see more nuanced sci-fi. Where's the sci-fi counterpart to The Wire, following socially and economically diverse groups of characters in realistically complex, interconnected stories? (Actually, The Expanse isn't that far off from this.)

I was about to say, The Expanse handles that very well for you, and it sticks fairly close to the books as well.

It's easily the best Sci-Fi on TV right now.

Hmm, it’s pretty good, but I’m not sure I would say it’s the best. Westworld is better in my opinion.

All the recent Star Trek films and TV shows have been lazy prequels or rehashes of the early Federation days. I'd like to see some new Trek, such as transition to a post-scarcity society between ST:TOS and ST:TNG or something a thousand years in the future. I want to see the speculative fiction that Geordi La Forge reads. :)

I always thought that Consider Phlebas would make a great movie. Although it has enough going on (including the history of the war) that it could easily work as a series too.

I seem to remember that Banks even offered to rewrite the ending to make it a bit less gloomy if that would help the chances of it being made.

Any kind of upopian sci-fi would be great. Like many, I do have a soft spot for dystopia, but what $people seem to be lacking lately seems to be some positive [outlook|vision] for the future.

Against a dark background could make a good series - you could expand it to say 13 1 hour episodes.

Oh absolutely. Similar to trepidations/anticipation about The Hobbit.

> good SciFi

Sure, but this stuff is trash. Fun to read!

I wish they would instead do a miniseries adaptation of the German Ijon Tichy show, or an original Pirx the Pilot.

I find it interesting that most of the discussion about Snow Crash is "how about that other amazing book/series"?

AFAIK no one has tried the High House trilogy or Mythago Wood series or the classic sci fi book Heavy Weather.

Heavy Weather as a setting would seem well matched to soap operic writing which we'll probably be subjected to regardless of what we want, then finally spring the tornado on them in the last episode of the last season.

The Expanse?

You do realize that exists, right? (And quite good.) http://www.syfy.com/theexpanse

I couldn't get past the first episode, partly because I knew exactly what would happen as I read it recently, but partly because the belters aren't different enough.

I can totally understand why they aren't as the costs would have been astronomical, but it's such a huge part of the books it's a little jarring.

For those not in the know, Belters are people who were born/grown up in space and look very different as a result:

Humans born to the Belt are taller and thinner than those on Earth and Mars because of the decreased gravity. As a result of these physical differences, Belters are dehumanized by many Earth and Mars residents because they superficially seem to be a deviation from the species norms of humans. - http://expanse.wikia.com/wiki/Belter

I wish more people could attempt anime adaptations of these sorts of works. The medium is just so much more high concept friendly; making strange alien characters and settings has a similar cost profile to storys about human characters and normal settings.

Alas, most of that artistic movement is very limited to adapting source material from its own unique cultural direction. However, a growing interest from western studios and growing understanding that non-comedy adult animation can be a thing makes me optimisic.

Also, my personal favorite for adaptation would be Hyperion Cantos. It has a lovely episodic feel at the start, as the pilgrims, tell their respective stories, and slowly piece togeather the true story. They seek a horrible, mysterious machine god on a distant colony pLanet, which is said to grant 1 wish for any appropriately sized band of pilgrims, at the cost of the rest of their lives.

Coming from a reader of the whole series: the second season has much better writing and budget, and the actors have also worked together long enough to gel well. Aside from the casting of a certain Martian girl (someone should introduce the director to some real Marines), I think they avoided major errors and everyone in the house is eagerly awaiting the next season.

She was not exactly Bobbie, as depicted in the books. But unless you find the Maori sister of the guy who played Gregor Clegane in GOT, nobody would be.

The Martian girl was / is my biggest complaint with the series. I almost gave up watching even though I love show because of that one character.

This can be the problem with adaptations. If you've read and enjoyed the books, you not only possibly know whats going to happen but you have specific expectations. Personally, I haven't read The Expanse and have enjoyed the series.

Yeah, I was drawn in pretty much immediately. I was only able to catch the first 3 episodes while waiting for a flight in Taiwan (they seem to have the same Netflix library as the States, whereas here in Canada, the Expanse is unavailable), but I found it mesmerising.

It's available on CraveTV in Canada. Only $9 a month, can cancel your subscription any time, first month is free. Tech sucks, content is pretty good.

Oh wow, I was under the impression it was much more expensive. I have a smart TV that has a Crave app, I guess I'll give it a shot.

In the first episode the Belter they arrested was supposedly 7ft tall, frail and thin. They tortured him by hanging him from his torso until his heart collapsed due to gravity. The belters have only been in space a few hundred(?) years so physiologically they wouldn't look that different from earthers.

The change is not due to evolution, but rather because there's lower gravity, which would affect bone growth (and density).

Yes, i know that's why i was telling him, it's good sci-fi and different from the usual fantasy in space like star wars/trek/....

You're probably joking, but, on the off chance - have there been any discussions about a Starcraft movie or TV series? :)

God I hope not. Blizzard sucks balls at making coherent story.

Also, starcraft is pretty dead as an IP right now, so there isn't a lot of profit to it.

I don't think it is. They made good money off it. Plus they can use that IP in other projects like Heroes of the Storm.

It'll never happen, but a sequel to the WarCraft movie would be nice. Might be nostalgia for playing so many hours of War.exe, and rereading the manual over and over again as a kid, but I thought it wasn't half bad. I'll take it over another Transformers movie...

Sounds like there could be multiple more really interesting things to watch.

It's great to have entertainment choices, but does anyone else get the feeling that there are literally tens of thousands of interesting things to read, watch, look at, or play with, and only time to check out a handful of them?

It makes it hard for me to pick because I know I will be ignoring most of this huge pile of amazing stuff.

For example, I played The Witcher 3 for a month or two and really enjoyed it. But eventually after seeing 20 or 30 other things pop up that seemed amazing, I decided to check out a few of them. And then there are more and more. But I actually barely started progressing in The Witcher.

I have several books that I got really cheap used and I intended to read like Ringworld (which I don't remember if I actually read many years ago or not) and The Engines of God. Plus six more good ones. I got halfway through one of them before realizing I needed to catch up on some Westworld episodes or something.

The thing that makes it tough is I do a ton of filtering with metacritic or whatever to ignore everything except the best stuff, then I try to dismiss more things as boring or uninteresting but anytime I actually check them out, they are amazing like the reviews said. But then that means I am going to miss out on thousands of amazing things.

I guess I just feel like it's a shame that I have to ignore most of it, until such time as I no longer need to work or spend time on my own creations and can dedicate full time to consumption, and am able to upload my brain and clone it 500 times to start to trim the pile.

Even without new amazing content, we still wouldn't have enough time in our lives to experience all the great films, shows, novels, etc. that have already been produced. So it's really a matter of how strongly you feel connected to and value the content's experience, and how it compares to the other joys in your life.

I recall that Buffett reads 5 hours a day, and I distinctly remember reading about someone in the humanities (maybe they were an author) who also read 5-8 hours a day, going through 200+ books a year.

Anecdata wise, I have a friend from college who's seen 1041 films since 2008 while holding down a fulltime job. http://msls.net/films/seen.html (He's slowed down quite a bit, since 3 years ago he was at ~800)

So you _could_ make this a priority like these people, but from the sound of it, as of now you might enjoy creating things on your own more than consuming other people's creations. :)

Watching movies at accelerated speed saves a lot of time.


Also if some scenes are drawn out too long (or the entire 2 hour movie only has 20 minutes of content), I've found VLC's 3 seconds, 10 seconds, and 1 minute skip hotkeys to be highly effective. On Windows it's (shift or alt or Ctrl) then the left or right arrow key. It would be kind of nice if you could watch or download entire seasons with outros and intros cut out, too.

I use 1 second forward skip (and have 4 seconds backwards skip). Makes it easy to skip all the time when I know nothing is gonna happen in the next few seconds.

It also significantly changes how you experience them.

I hope this is meant to be a joke.

I've 'finished' tv series or film series by reading the synopsis before, the show/film series it self was becoming dull or bad or whatever, but I still wanted to find out how it ends.

Done the same with books too. Usually YA series that I didn't realise was a YA series when I started reading it.

Only so many times you can read about a 14 year discovering they're special and then somehow they kick vastly more powerful, trained and skilled adult ass. Or the other variant in book 1 they're not special, and still win, but then in book 2 they become special and win because they're basically unkillable. Woo-hoo!

Hah, I did that with the Dune series once I was halfway through Messiah. It's a great story but the writing was so hammy to me.

When I binge watch shows, specifically cartoons, I find that I can watch comfortably at 1.5x-2x speed.

I can't quite do this for movies, and I definitely do miss some jokes (e.g. in Bob's Burgers I miss the intro and food of the day gags) but for shows like Adventure Time, I feel like I absorb 99% of what is happening.

I would recommend giving it a shot. Start slow at 10% and work your way up. Stick to cartoons first. It is definitely a different experience, but personally, it's not a worse experience.

GP specifically mentioned movies, but I don't know that a good story would work with the pacing short-circuited like that (eg: comedic timing in a show like Archer, or the myriad pregnant pauses in Mad Men and the Wire). I'll give it a try, though.

You could adopt Umberto Ecos attitude to his library. Once, when asked if he'd read all the books in his library, he said no, but why then have such a large library? It's to remind him of all the things he doesn't know.

I recall an interview with Jacques Derrida in which he showed the interviewer around his large library. The interviewer asked him if he's read all those books. He said, "no, only three or four. But I've read those four very well."

Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdumO88JMxw

It sounds like you're complaining about how much quality content there is now that unlimited streaming venues are available and nothing has to fit into a designated time slot. I for one am not wistful for the 90's and 00's monopoly of network and cable TV, which I remember all too well.

It’s physically impossible to do a significant part of all the must-do things in the world, especially once you include places to see.

I used to try to catch up, and feel anxious about not being able to, now I’m just trying to take my time and enjoy, whether it’s reading, coding, watching or gaming. The wonderful thing about so much choice is that you never have to read a bad book, or see a bad movie, or play a bad game.

Just note though, you also never have to broaden your horizons, but sometimes it's worth trying out some bad in pursuit of finding something amazing you didn't think you would like.

My leson though is that you don't have to stick to it once it gets boring. Missing out on this means not missing out on something else, so why waste precious time?

I think we’re in a TV content bubble, and when it pops, at least we’ll have a bunch of shows we can catch up on during the drought. :)

Sometime, I think that this is the best reason for UBI - take a few months sabbatical every year to catch up on books and games :-)

UBI would mean more people could afford to be artists. You'd never catch up.

And it would be glorious.

imagine a alien civilization, that has been cultural productive for thousands of years.. Even the best offs would take longer then a lifetime

> feel like it's a shame that I have to ignore most of it, until such time as I no longer need to work or spend time on my own creations

That's the thing though: none of those great pieces of entertainment will be things you put effort into.

If all the reviews of all the things are five stars, maybe the scale is wrong, no?

I don't think the idea is that all things are five stars, but that so many things are made that even the five stars minority is enough to occupy one's full attention.

The review scale is not wrong. It's the value we put into entertainment that is problematic.

This is very “annoying” as I usually am able to dismiss most modern TV shows because of mediocre to bad writing. Each and every show I am able to skip is a huge win in life/time – most good old Star Trek and TV shows of the 80s and 90s let you skip episodes without you losing track of (most of) the story.

I digress. I’ve read Snow Crash and Ringworld – for the most part they were genuinely fantastic, let’s hope they don’t over-polish (most new productions don’t have “soul” IMHO) and over-stretch the TV adaptations (mini series ought to be enough in these cases).

While they are already at it - time to see a show based on Ursula K. LeGuin’s writings as well.

I'd dearly love to see something based on the Culture books - though I appreciate that stories about atheistic, space faring, hedonistic, drug taking communists who are more or less kept as pets by god-like AIs might make the pitch a bit tricky to anyone other than the BBC...

Basically any existing TV show or movie can already be considered part of Culture verse. Take any character and imagine it works for Contact.

Hey, this is a fun game. Some ideas:

Game of Thrones - Varys

The Expanse - Chrisjen Avasarala. Or maybe her bodyguard, Cotyar.

Narcos - Bill Strechner

Archer - Lana Kane

So who on HN is a Contact/SC agent then?

(Wait - Elon Musk - it's obvious! ;-)

He is suspiciously against AI.

Cue the "outrage dollar" but you could be right there...

The most far-out sci-fi needs to be read anyhow – so many images today, so little imagination.

"Be conservative in what you choose to binge-watch and be more liberal in taking time to read instead."

I'd rather like to have a snarky SC drone (if that's not a tautology) voiced by Peter Capaldi in a detuned Malcolm Tucker mode. The Scottish accent would, of course, be appropriate...

I quite like that idea, although I guess in my head the drones were more a cynical Received Pronunciation, like Daniel Craig’s Bond.

For some reason your suggestion makes me think of a drone with the voice of Kenneth Williams.....

The TV Earthsea series was pretty terrible, unfortunately.

I hope Ringworld tries to be a bit funny. It's got a 200 year old playboy, an impossibly lucky female sex symbol, a conniving vegetarian coward, and let's not forget the gruff, cuddly, badass Kzin Speaker-to-Animals; not to mention the tech is godlike, I'd bet on a Known Space fleet beating a Star Trek fleet any day.

It should be more like Tripping the Rift, Lexx, or Stargate with Daniel and O'Neil than one of the more serious Sci-Fi shows.

> not to mention the tech is godlike, I'd bet on a Known Space fleet beating a Star Trek fleet any day.

This is not the venue for this discussion, but it's one I'd love to have with you. Known Space has two gimmicks that might throw Starfleet for a loop, but I'd put my money on N.C.C. Anything in just about any fight.

(Now, if there's a Protector aboard, then I'd hedge my bets a bit differently...)

Stasis Fields and General Products hulls?

Can't believe no one has made a Cryptonomicon series. It would be way more complex and interesting than Snow Crash, which has crazier visuals but a fairly simple linear story.

I don't think Cryptonomicon would translate to TV very well. While there are some action sequences, way too much of the plot relies on philosophy, science, math, etc. It's hard to show that stuff on a screen without resorting to lame tricks like voice-overs.

Snowcrash is a lot more visual (it was actually originally intended to be a graphic novel).

That kind of stuff is kind of hot on TV right now--think of Sherlock from the BBC. Lots of crazy graphics overlaying the shot, with narration or voice over. I feel like producers have figured out how to do shows about super geniuses and their weird way of perceiving the world.

I mean, you'd have to cut down some verbose stuff, sure. But you could also expand some stuff, or turn narration into visual action.

I don't think that all that much of Cryptonomicon does. Obviously, half the scenes with Lawrence tend to, but the Imitation Game seemed to do a decent job of portraying someone for whom math was about as important - and the rest of Cryptonomicon is fascinating. World War II! Modern business shenanigans! Family drama! And with Bitcoin and ICOs making headlines in major newspapers, the time has never been better for this.

(Nice username, relevant to the discussion.)

Or the Baroque Cycle which pretty much has everything.... the version that is on Audible is half way to a dramatisation (different actors for for some parts) and is quite splendid and would provide enough material for many many shows...

Yes, if Cryptonomicon does well, then the Baroque Cycle could be the prequel series.

I love Cryptonomicon but I don't think it would be adaptable in any way that bears more than a superficial similarity to the book. Though actually I feel the same way about Snow Crash, so we'll see.

As far as adaptability of Stephenson goes, I could see Zodiac, or maybe REAMDE, that would work in a way that resembles the books. Maaaybe Seveneves, though you have to deal with the significant separation between Part 2 and Part 3.

The rest of his books, including Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash, are too intertwined with "theoretical" concepts to make much sense in an adaptation. I mean, yes: you can have a show or movie about a pizza deliverer/hacker named Hiro Protagonist who swordfights in the metaverse; or Jack and Eliza's Adventures in Enlightenment Europe; or whatever. But the real underpinnings of the story aren't going to make it in and that's what makes Stephenson's books interesting.

> though you have to deal with the significant separation between Part 2 and Part 3.

I don't think that'd be too hard to do. You just have to add some sort of ritualistic ceremony or somesuch occurring at the beginning of Part 3 where "the story of the Seven is told".

You'd have a faceless narrator for the seasons of the show that cover parts 1 and 2, and then, once you reach the end of part 2 (at the end of a season, natch), you reveal the narrator as some sort of hierarch who's been telling the whole story up until now, and jump into the beginning of the next season from there, narratorless, possibly with flashbacks to the narrator telling bits of the post-Epic history as they become relevant.

What I really want is an Anathem TV show though.

That's true regarding Seveneves. And hey, once you get a season out of part 3, there's no reason you couldn't continue from there with new stories. It's a perfect introduction of a new setting.

Episode 7: A bowl of Cap’n Crunch.

Episode 9: Sex and furniture.

Episode 2: The Glockenspiel Player.

They both have great characters though. Can't wait to see who plays YT.

Will somebody for the love of god please rescue Hyperion from Syfy before it's too late, and give it a serious treatment?

If you enjoy literature and have not read the Hyperion Cantos yet, I beg you to stick to just the first book.

What Simmons did to conclude the Cantos is on par with Star Wars episodes I-III. Sometimes it is better to preserve the magic by omission.

As for a movie, I do not think doing it justice is possible today. The only adaptations that came close to a suitable spirit were Dune (1984) and Beowulf (2005). It is SF only by name and requires a very strong and independent minded writer and director, both of whom should be relatively well read as well.

Is this a common view? About to start fall of Hyperion. I thought people generally liked it and the Endymion books?

Not for me. I think The Fall of Hyperion is my favourite in the series, although it's hard to split it with Hyperion.

The pacing is very different between each book, almost to the point it can feel like each book has been written by a different author. Don't read each book with the expectation that it is a straight continuation of the last as Simmons experiments with different styles and perspectives in the same universe.

I really enjoyed Fall of Hyperion. It's very different from Hyperion, but I think the plot is still very satisfying. Endymion and Rise of Endymion are okay and interesting in their own way, but a definite step down IMO.

It is different, and it does wrap up the quest at least. I guess I read it quite a while back and thought of Hyperion and Fall as one book in two parts, and got carried away in my original comment.

Fall of Hyperion is the other half of the book. Hyperion is only the first part... They only got divided because the book got too big.

I don't know if it is common, certainly the reviews for the following three did not seem as warm as for the first, which was also the only one to win a Hugo. This is why I prefaced it with "if you like literature", because I think it depends on how much fiction you've read before and what you think is still fresh. Hyperion is most definitely fresh, a wild, tightly written run of imagination mixing Chaucer, Dune and Asimov with Heart of Darkness.

The problem with the way he wraps up the story [SPOILERS-ish] is that you feel that he was up against a wall and couldn't find a satisfactory way to connect the dots and picked the easy way out (similar to a deus ex machina - and yes, the Shrike sort of is one, but it limits itself predictably for your enjoyment). There is a certain suspension of disbelief, rules of the story you are willing to accept as it is woven, and through which you pick a direction and a pace, and he breaks them out of desperation.

A less major gripe I had was the stupidity of the "enemy". A worthy opponent would find it easier to manipulate humanity; in other words, a supposedly phenomenal antagonist is weakened to fill plot gaps. For an example of the opposite, watch the chess game between the two sides in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley's People (the BBC miniseries, not the modern remake which does not come close to Alec Guinness' performance). Karla is ferocious, intelligent, unstoppable, it is life's randomness that in a believable way opens the weakness (very well defended, throughout, but ultimately indefensible) that allows Smiley to get him.

And of course [spoiler!] the Dune series was heading to a similar conclusion as is reached about the crucibles within a couple of books; but the Dune meta-antagonist is much better written at least until the son takes over the writing to wrap up the series, and it is technically more of a very subtle Chekhov's Gun than a deus ex machina, which is why it feels so good as it clicks together (or might have).

Finally, I felt the last books were not as well edited. I think a parallel might be House of Cards where the first season (and perhaps the second) was the frantic work of a fresh team trying something bold and new, and the remaining episodes were the risk-free work of a team with the spotlight of the world on them, unwilling to risk their freshly acquired laurels. Frank and Claire Underwood become another token politician in another token political show with Zeitgeist-dependent in-jokes that will age badly, and the occasional flash of brilliance merely emphasising how much was lost. And perhaps I'm missing the point with House of Cards, perhaps the writers are saying that this is what happens when a narcissist wins the biggest prize and has nowhere else to go, existing only to keep it, but if so it is not said well.

I didn't even know that there was an adaptation of Dan Simmons' Hyperion, and now I find out that it apparently isn't worth watching.

Kinda sad, but one can still hope. As another comment said, it's nice to see more series that don't use the Star[...] IP that we are used to, but instead focuses on incredible books like Ringworld (or, to a lesser extent, Snow Crash).

I'd also love to see more Heinlein and Ursula K Le Guin, but I understand that not everything that makes a great book also makes a great movie / series.

There's no information out about the Hyperion series yet. There aren't even any casting announcements that I've heard of, so it's way too early to decide it won't even be worth watching.

It is a SyFy show. They have a reputation of producing the worst garbage, while simultaneously blocking the option. Thats why they are generally disliked by various fanbases, that would rather see their worlds given proper justice to. Examples are A Wizard of Earthsea and Dune. But honestly, good book adaptions are just crazy rare anyhow.

I would suggest that you watch The Expanse. It's possible that perhaps SyFy may have turned over a new leaf somehow.

Yes, definitely some very bad treatments in the past, a terrible reputation that they earned, but something new that breaks from the pattern as well. I'd say it's worth being a tiny bit optimistic about them.

Worst news I've read in a long time. All series produced by Amazon based on books or comics I love have been a huge disappointment: The man in the high castle, preacher, American Gods...

You can watch a whole season and what happened? Basically nothing. They stretch and stretch a couple of plots and that's it. My friends says that's ok, they create a specific atmosphere/mood with that...bullshit, it's just like when you get a present and you're actually more exicited about unwrapping that fancy colourful wrap that in the content.

At least HBO (Game of Thrones) or Netflix (The expanse) tend to be more faithful to the content and things happen at a reasonable pace

American Gods is a Starz production, and Preacher is made by AMC. Only Man In The High Castle is Amazon-produced.

Thanks for the clarification! There might be hope then

I think what you're describing is the difference between a soap opera that could, in theory, continue forever, versus a miniseries with a defined start and end.

I'd love to see a snow crash miniseries that covers the snow crash series. I'm not so interested in soap opera style "General Hospital, but in the snowcrash setting"

A mini series would cover the actual snow crash story, which is pretty interesting. On the other hand, a soap opera would be Hiro atarting as a beta orbiter and improbably having a romantic relationship of many ups and downs with YT or perhaps the rat thing becomes a long term pet or companion of YT, Rife would be the bad guy who always escapes to fight again next week, it could be pretty awful indeed.

Another defining characteristic of miniseries vs soap opera is soap operas run out of creativity and crash over time, think of the arc of "breaking bad" or "Downton Abbey" where the first quarter or so used up all the creativity, then a long coast to miserable end. On the other end a miniseries would end like King's "The Stand" or the book version of snow crash, exciting till the very end.

>soap opera

Soap opera isn't really the term you're looking for. Soap opera (besides the literal meaning of daytime soaps) suggests lots of (possibly overblown) drama about emotional and melodramatic relationships.

You're really just talking about TV series without fixed end points.

I think soap opera might still be correct.

As you watch a Soap Opera it becomes apparent that all the drama has no real consequence, and thus becomes meaningless. That is why General Hospital can be on for 40 years or something at this point. You can watch for a year, skip a year, then come back. You missed a ton of events, but it doesn't effect what you take from the show.

Once "the ending" becomes detached from the show, it is very difficult to manufacture meaningful drama.

Some shows, like Seinfeld or Simpsons always return to a set point at the end of an episode. So they don't need a real ending. This is different than the soap opera. Because there is no illusion of an ending. You know the show isn't going anywhere and you experience just what it is in that moment.

The soap opera is diabolical. As each episode ends, you are hooked, waiting for the next so you can find out "what happens", but there is no ultimate payoff. Just a never ending sequence of false promises.

Soap operas are the worst offenders, who best illustrate the point. But any drama series without a fixed end point is guilty of the same crime. Take LOST, which began as a brilliant show, but as it was stretched out began to anger many people. When would it have become a full Soap Opera? 10 more seasons? My point is that it already was, just shorter than some others.

I gave up on most western TV for this reason; they don't know how to end things. Everything has to be open ended, so they can milk any successes til they are wit here and bad. I'm still not sure how, but somehow the relatively tiny anime industry manages to regularly put out high quality stories that come to pre-planned, definitive endings within a season or two. (Obviously it also puts out tons of horrid garbage too.)

Ringworld could work well as an open-ended style series. The world is so vast there would always be some new area to explore. Plus the visuals could be pretty awesome.

It could work along a similar vein to that show from the 70s, The Startlost, though with more connected arcs.

Wasn't the expanse made by Syfy and Netflix only bought the rights to it?

mmm....yeah, I think you're right

As mentioned elsewhere Preacher and American Gods are not Amazon. Additionally, Bosch, which I think is Amazons best show, is based on a series of books.

The goal is to keep you subscribed. Finishing a plot or series goes counter to that aim.

The incentive to tell good stories on streaming services is probably higher relative to traditional television.

For traditional television the primary revenue stream is directly linked to the number of viewers; for subscriptions services of course they still want lots of viewers, but the revenue is more tied to the basket of content than to the single show.

I might be alone on this one, but I enjoyed Amazon's Man In The High Castle more than Philip Dick's novel version.

This is why I never got the hype around Westworld. It's a fun concept, but the entire plot of season 1 could have been accomplished in two, maybe three episodes.

Gil the Arm would make such a great detective show. I hope Ringworld is successful so Amazon develops the rest of Larry Niven's known universe properties.

A lot of the 'Known Space' short stories could make fantastic episodes of an anthology. Imagine a really faithful retelling of 'The Ethics of Madness'!

The Mote in God's Eye could make an incredible movie.

I thought it would make a good mini-series. Needs like 3 or 4 hour long episodes.

I'm surprised HBO or Netflix haven't tried to pick up Dune.

Would be a great follow-up to Game of Thrones.

Dune is hard to get right... although someone someday will make an excellent TV show out of Dune I think.

The Jodorowsky version sounded interesting:


Yeah, it sounds amazing, but I think it would have been a disaster. Jodorowsky never actually read Dune, and he had the grandiose, completely impractical ideas: Salvador Dalí as the Emperor, his girlfriend with no acting experience as Irulan, Jodorowsky's son who also had no acting experience as Paul (the main character). Jodorowsky saw himself more as a God than a Director, IMO.

I watched the documentary in a small screening a few years ago and the project sounded incredible... It wasn't Dune, not the Dune we've read, but amazing nonetheless. I definitely recommend watching it (be forewarned, Jodorowsky's english is atrocious). So many interesting stories about that movie:

Some of the design work and the people that worked with Jodorowsky actually went into Alien. I mean, Giger, of course, but also Dan O'Bannon a few other people.

He actually got Dali and Orson Welles to say yes to the project. Dali wanted to be the most expensive actor in history.

The story with his son borders abuse. He basically wanted to convert him into the Kwisatz Haderach and made him go through a very tough training for years.

Personally, I did enjoy David Lynch's version and even the tv mini-series they did (back in the late 90's?).

It's crazy he could put his son through training for years, yet cannot bother to read the book over a weekend?!

I think the mini series is pretty good:


Legendary Pictures has the rights, and Dennis Villeneuve is attached.

That's pretty exciting. Villeneuve has had a 100% record as far as I'm concerned.

If he gets Bladerunner right, I would have even more faith

I hope they don't end up reveling in the dystopia rather than accepting that it's the backdrop, not the story. I think The Man in the High Castle rather overdid the dystopia-part and suffered for it.

Indeed, the book isn't about Nazis and the show 100% is. Snow Crash is hard to adapt because the author treads a very fine line between the future being a negative judgement on today's values and it being... cool. I imagine they'll go for the cool and leave the eco meta narrative on the cutting room floor.

Agreed. The Man in the High Castle keeps the main characters going, unlike Game of Thrones, yet each episode leaves me feeling more uncomfortable than GoT's red wedding - which arguably set the modern high water mark for audience distress. Hard to watch.

Wish it were Netflix or HBO or even Showtime. Amazon has a history of giving showrunners much less creative freedom and I have less faith this will be a satisfying adaptation. :/

Man in the High Castle was a bit of a let down. It didn't have the ambiguities of the book that made the alternate history complex and interesting. The TV show was too much of a comic book with nice sharp moral edges.

Never read the book (been meaning to!) but thought their cinematography was solid, and that the supporting cast puts on a strong performance. Agreed though that the protagonists' arcs are very cliche and flat.

Oh seriously, there were 100 great performances in TMITHC, but there were two aching voids where the lead characters should have been.

The book is pretty ...out there. It’s certainly not what I was expecting but it was interesting.

Ha! "Out there" is just par for the course with PKD....

Read "A Scanner Darkly", if you haven't already. That's one of the supreme weird tales.

Or "Martian timeslip". In fact "blade runner" is a pretty poor adaptation of the book (but a great film, imo). I'm not sure most of pkd would benefit too much from a "direct" film adaptation...

I loved the man in the high castle for many of the changes and the overall style - but it seems the writers got a bit lost trying to round off the open ended story and fill in some blanks. Small wonder, considering the book.

Most of PKD's stuff has a similar level of weirdness: paranoiac uncertainty in reality. They are fantastic at that.

VALIS is on another level: PKD had a mental breakdown, thought a interstellar intelligent pink light told hime about his son's hernia, and wrote a book about the other things the light told him.

Not sure I agree, I thought High Castle did a decent job of undermining notions of historical and moral determinism, in that it manages to get the audience rooting for Obergroupenfurher Smith by the end, blurring the moral lines a fair bit.

I like the MITHC series. But I admit that I have gone from must-see-TV to I'll get caught up one of these days.

After Deathnote I don't trust netflix to make anything anymore.

Geez, i watched that movie yesterday. What a disaster that was. Worst production I've seen in years. How the hell did they get the idea to make Kira into a misunderstood teenage boy? And the ending felt like a love comedy.

Good Lord. "Let's make everything; one might be the next GoT"?

This is literally the thesis of the software startup industry as well. Ironically it was Amazon that arguably kicked off the latest wave by leveraging their resources to create AWS... can you blame them for doing the same in media, especially given the wealth of metrics they have about both physical shopping habits and digital media usage by the same people?

I don't believe that you can do justice to Snow Crash in just an hour. Its going to be visually great, but with all the complexity and depth stripped out.

I think they mean each episode is one hour long, not the full show.

But Amazon usually produces pilots for shows before deciding on a full season order. Or has this changed?

So? I would just be the first episode. You don’t do the whole book in an hour.

So, they need to sell people in that first hour, to get the chance of telling the rest of the story.

Snow crash has one of the best opening chapters of any novel I’ve read.

Though the central premise feels somewhat dated now that everybody assumes self driving cars are around the corner.

Isn't the opening of Snow Crash the scene where Hiro is delivering the pizza and he crashes his car and YT comes along and delivers the pizza for him?

If you can't sell an audience on the strength of that opening, you shouldn't be making television.

Snow Crash deserves a $100 Million production budget

I remain convinced that any treatment, aside from Anime, won't do Snow Crash justice.

the ghost in the shell OVA or SAC team could probably pull it off.

live action will be challenging. i’m not enthusiastic about their success.

Which OVA are you talking about, the SAC compilation OVAs, or the Arise series? Both are by Production I.G., but had different directors and writers.

Yeah, you know, a monopolist's work is never done. No such thing as a perfect monopoly. Seems like you can never get that last one-tenth of one percent. Chapter 14 (Interview with L. Bob Rife)

So Bezos will play the part of L. Bob Rife?

I love when books become movies/series. I get to sell off my mint 1st edition hardcovers :D

Apparently an unpopular opinion, but Snow Crash was horrendous. I slogged through that "in the present 3rd person point of view" satirical mess. Terrible prose, uneven pacing, painful.

I also find Snow Crash to be my least favorite of Stephenson's works.

There are so many to choose from, and the terrible part is seeing how he tries to grow his writing skills and… doesn't.

> Boston's a dollop of hills in a spoon of marshes.

Wow, we're living in the Streaming Rinascimento of popular culture. I like it. :)

I wish someone would pick up “Dark Matter.” Came to really enjoy the show on Netflix only to see it cancelled. It was popular too, doesn’t make sense.

I am certainly excited about this. However, I am also curious about what happened to Oasis https://www.amazon.com/Oasis/dp/B06W5H33JH. The pilot was interesting and engaging. I'd like to see where that story goes, too.

Snow Crash and Ringworld are no-fooling classics of SF. Alas, I am too manly to actually squee with delight at this news.

Ever since I read Snow Crash, I wondered to myself, why hasn't this been adapted as a screenplay yet? It played in my head like a movie when I first read it. No other book has done that. Neal Stephenson's writing style is really cinematic and I'm glad it's now being adapted for viewing.

I'll take Snow Crash, but wouldn't a TV series of Gibson's "Bridge Trilogy" be sweet?

And/or "Diamond Age".

> “Snow Crash,” ..., is a one-hour science fiction drama ...

It sounds like it could be a very cut down version with just Hiro, Metaverse, maybe some sword swinging. I hope they'll go for more than just an extended action sequence in CGI world.

a "one hour drama" probably means it's a show with hour-long episodes, not that the whole production is only an hour long.

"one hour drama" and "half-hour comedy" are fairly standard tv formats

Ah, today I learned...

Ringworld, huh? When are they going to do Footfall, is what I want to know.

Don't get me wrong, I love Footfall. But its politics are a vastly bad idea in the current environment. (Get someone like Jimmy Carter as president and then do Footfall. Just like Trump makes The Handmaid's Tale apposite.)

Also, it's a fundamentally limited story. It'd make a great mini-series but Ringworld could go anywhere. There's not only multiple sequels, but you could junk the lot and explore the world further, take off and expand into Known Space or do backstory with the Man-Kzin Wars. In short, it's got what you want for a long running TV show.

Ringworld and Known Space more broadly provide a really interesting and large canvas. In fact, the flaws of Ringworld as a novel (like a number of Niven's longform works it's a bit of a travelogue) actually makes it a great setting for a somewhat open-ended set of stories.

"like a number of Niven's longform works it's a bit of a travelogue"

So it's like GoT in the first five seasons? :)

Snowcrash did not age well, in my opinion. I remember it fondly, and it was cool when it came out ... but Neal Stephenson is a great concept artist, but a terrible writer.

Diamond Age is so much better.

I think the issue is that most people, especially people reading it today, read it out of context. Most people approach it as a work on its own, and so it can appear odd. What you need to keep in mind is that it's a parody of cyberpunk tropes, as the genre had congealed and become stale by the early 90s and Snow Crash pokes fun at what it became.

I hope they keep doing well.

And maybe someday, one of these networks will earn the right to make a miniseries out of Daniel Suarez's "Daemon."

I really enjoyed reading the Ringworld series. Snow Crash was also good. I would love to see the produce a series on Neuromancer

I cannot help but be skeptical about these series. Amazon should leave it to the other producers that are popular in this field.

[011010001 100110000 011111001 001001101]

Gotcha. Haha.

Probably an unpopular opinion here, but maybe I'll watch Snow Crash now that I won't have to wade through the awful word vomit "let me prove how smart I am" never-ending-sentences that Neal Stephenson used in that book.

I've also read Cryptonomicon, and he dials it down a lot more in that one (although it's still present), and I found it a lot more readable.

I'm still holding out hope that a Lensman TV series / movie will appear before I die.

It would be hard to get the feel right. It's so grounded in old school pulp SF/space opera that it would be a tough balancing act to update it to something palatable while staying true to the spirit of the original.

There was a series of films in the late 70s which were an indirect adaptation: Star Wars (have you heard of them? Worth checking out)

Lazarus sounds like an echo to the Into the Badlands, which I very much enjoy.

The Lazarus comic is excellent. I didn't realise the show was being developed by Amazon. It really deserves the same level of treatment Marvel and Netflix gave Dare Devil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron First and The Defenders.

They managed to pull off the Marvel cinematic universe on TV and I think overall they are better than the movies.

I really want a TekWars remake ;p

As well as Ringworld!


Louis Wu (from Ringworld) is from ~2600 AD, long after the Earth's races have been thoroughly mixed.

Hiro Protagonist is half Korean, half Black.

Neither character is "Asian", as that term is generally interpreted in the United States today.

Marcus Chong would've made a great Hiro, back in the day, but I'm afraid he's too old for the part now. Actually, he would would have been a good choice for Wu as well. I wonder if Tommy Chong has any grandchildren by now? :-)

> Hiro Protagonist

I had read the book twice already, and it took me listening to the audio book and hearing the name said out loud to realise that it was a pun :-)

Call me childish, but I still have to giggle every time I remember his name.

I read that book like 10 times and I never got that. Thanks for the hint!

I you loved that 'joke', then get this: in Quicksilver, Jack Shaftoe ends up working at an animal hospital as a human blood bag, feeding the bloodsucking insects. He get the job since the local workers are refusing to work as a negotiating tactic, so the owner employs him as an outsider. The work entails that he sustain multiple bloody injuries, so he gets covered with what he literally is: a scab.

I prefer David's Foster Wallace's gymnosophist in Infinite Jest, who literally never moved from the gym.

I'm not sure why, but Lyle was one of my favorite characters in the book. I never got the joke until now though.

Hawaii Five-0 just got "whitewashed". Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim were fired when they demanded pay parity with the two lead white guys.

Tank from Matrix? Hell yeah he would have been a great choice.

Just getting more diversity for the male lead would be great in so many ways.

Neither character is "Asian", but nor is either is a white guy, which is the point of the comment you're replying to.

Making them "Asian" would be exactly as wrong as making them "white guys", no more, no less.

Well why not? Just as a lot of characters have been rewritten to be white, why not rewrite some characters to be non white.

> keep the main characters [...] Asian

In Hiro's case, half-black, IIRC...

It's been too long since I've read Ringworld to have much sense of Louis' race, if it was ever made clear.

Ah didn't get that impression from my reading of snow crash but yeah looks like Hiro is intended to be half black and half Asian.

I do recall the first chapter of ringworld descrivig Louis Wu as having an East Asian appearance.

excerpt from Chapter 3 of Snow Crash:

> Beneath this image, it is impossible to see Hiro's eyes, which look Asian. They are from his mother, who is Korean by way of Nippon. The rest of him looks more like his father, who was African by way of Texas by way of the Army—back in the days before it got split up into a number of competing organizations such as General Jim's Defense System and Admiral Bob's National Security.

For pretty much any imaginable ethnicity, there's a great actor out there. Just look at Ricky Whittle. (Just don't look at him on Hollyoaks.)

No, it says that he has to use makeup if he wants to have an East Asian appearance.


He's not going to be behind the camera, you realize.

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