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.
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. 
> 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.
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.
I think we can expect the same for a book that's celebrating its 25th anniversary.
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.
I would have expected suspension of disbelief to have been broken somewhat earlier, if that's an issue.
That's really freaking awesome!
>the protagonist is named Hiro Protagonist
That's why it tears me up. I really want to like it.
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.
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.
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.
Hiro: "But you'll never forget it."
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.
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.
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. Nothing expensive there, except old Harrison Ford. A smoke and fog world brings the costs down.
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.)
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.
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?
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?
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.
I'd love to see a culture mini series, maybe of Player of Games or Use of Weapons
It's easily the best Sci-Fi on TV right now.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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. :)
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!
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.
Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdumO88JMxw
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.
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?
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 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.
Game of Thrones - Varys
The Expanse - Chrisjen Avasarala. Or maybe her bodyguard, Cotyar.
Narcos - Bill Strechner
Archer - Lana Kane
(Wait - Elon Musk - it's obvious! ;-)
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."
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.
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...)
Snowcrash is a lot more visual (it was actually originally intended to be a graphic novel).
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.
(Nice username, relevant to the discussion.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
It could work along a similar vein to that show from the 70s, The Startlost, though with more connected arcs.
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.
Would be a great follow-up to Game of Thrones.
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?).
If he gets Bladerunner right, I would have even more faith
Read "A Scanner Darkly", if you haven't already. That's one of the supreme weird tales.
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.
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.
Though the central premise feels somewhat dated now that everybody assumes self driving cars are around the corner.
If you can't sell an audience on the strength of that opening, you shouldn't be making television.
live action will be challenging. i’m not enthusiastic about their success.
So Bezos will play the part of L. Bob Rife?
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.
> Boston's a dollop of hills in a spoon of marshes.
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.
"one hour drama" and "half-hour comedy" are fairly standard tv formats
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.
So it's like GoT in the first five seasons? :)
Diamond Age is so much better.
And maybe someday, one of these networks will earn the right to make a miniseries out of Daniel Suarez's "Daemon."
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.
They managed to pull off the Marvel cinematic universe on TV and I think overall they are better than the movies.
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? :-)
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 prefer David's Foster Wallace's gymnosophist in Infinite Jest, who literally never moved from the gym.
Just getting more diversity for the male lead would be great in so many ways.
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.
I do recall the first chapter of ringworld descrivig Louis Wu as having an East Asian appearance.
> 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.