Science Fiction Adapted to Film

Nicholas Ruddick



Science Fiction Adapted to Film. [SF Storyworlds: Critical Studies in Science Fiction.] Canterbury, UK: Gylphi Limited, 2016. xiv + 366 pp. ISBN-10: 1-78024-051-0;
ISBN-13: 978-1-78024-051-0 (paperback); ISBN 1-78024-052-7 (Kindle eBook); ISBN 1-78024-053-4 (EPUB).

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This is the first comprehensive study of the subject, focusing on how science fiction novels and stories have been adapted to film from 1902 to the present. The book includes a theoretical discussion and a historical survey, as well as ten in-depth studies of effective novel-to-film adaptations.


Abbreviations and Symbols



Part I: ‘Shouting through Thick Felt in a Thunderstorm’: SF Writers on Film, SF Filmmakers on Literature

Part II: ‘Theory, hell’, said Montag. ‘It’s poetry’: Adapting Science Fiction to Film

Part III: High Adaptability: A Historical Survey
1. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818)
2. The Extraordinary Voyages of Jules Verne (1863–1905)
3. Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
4. Edwin A. Abbott’s Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884)
5. The Scientific Romances of H. G. Wells (1895–1933)
6. H. Rider Haggard’s She (1887) and Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (1912)
7. Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan of the Apes and John Carter of Mars (1914–17)
8. John W. Campbell’s ‘Who Goes There?’ (1938)
9. George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
10. John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids (1951)
11. Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers (1955)
12. Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris (1961)
13. Pierre Boulle’s Planet of the Apes (1963)
14. Philip K. Dick on Film I (1981–2001)
15. Philip K. Dick on Film II (2002–Present)

Part IV: Successful Adaptive Relationships: Ten Case Studies
1. Classic SF: H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds (1898) → The War of the Worlds (Byron Haskin, 1953) → War of the Worlds (Steven Spielberg, 2005)
2. Technophobic SF: Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953) → Fahrenheit 451 (François Truffaut, 1966)
3. Socio-politico-linguistic SF: Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (1962) → A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)
4. The Technothriller: Michael Crichton, The Andromeda Strain (1969) → The Andromeda Strain (Robert Wise, 1971) → The Andromeda Strain (Mikael Salamon, TV 2008)
5. Alien Encounter SF: Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Roadside Picnic (1972) → Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
6. New Wave SF: J. G. Ballard, Crash (1973) → Crash (David Cronenberg, 1996)
7. The Graphic SF Novel: Enki Bilal, La Foire aux immortels (1980) and La Femme piège (1986) and Froid équateur (1992) → Immortal (Ad Vitam) (Enki Bilal, 2004)
8. Feminist SF: Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) → The Handmaid’s Tale (Volker Schlöndorff, 1990)
9. Slipstream Fiction: Christopher Priest, The Prestige (1995) → The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006)
10. Post-Apocalyptic SF: Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2006) → The Road ( John Hillcoat, 2009)


Checklist of Significant SF Film Adaptations and their Sources





“Encyclopedic and eminently readable, Ruddick’s study of the complex relationship between literature and cinema in science fiction will interest scholar and fan alike. Through individual case studies, the volume considers the remediations and translations that occur when the novel is fed into the projector (or DVD player) and sees what the camera does to Verne, Wells, Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Ballard, Dick, Crichton, Atwood, and many other major sf authors. The reader will see films such as 2001Planet of the ApesWar of the WorldsBlade Runner, and the hundreds of versions of Frankenstein through new eyes and with a deeper appreciation.” – Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr., Professor and Chair, Theatre Arts Program, Loyola Marymount University

“I admire Nicholas Ruddick’s lucidity – not only his superbly readable style, but also the clarity of his perceptions. His coinage ‘remediation’ is intriguing and useful.” – Christopher Priest

“This is a very thoughtful and informative study which manages to avoid all the clichés about accuracy of adaptation. It should become essential reading for anyone interested in the intersections between SF and film.” – David Seed

“Like the Roman god Mercury, Nick Ruddick moves fleet-footed across a vast terrain demarcated on one hand by science-fiction prose and on the other by science-fiction cinema. Equally at home with the abominable and the above-average, he chases at the speed of thought after that elusive artistic grail: a successful film adaptation. The result is a book that will enlighten the scholar and entertain the fan, of which science fiction – and Ruddick – has many.” – Peter Swirski, author of From Literature to Biterature: Lem, Turing, Darwin

“Nicholas Ruddick has given us a subtle exploration of the relationship between the words and images we use to try to capture the ineffable. And in doing so he has provided a unique glimpse of the deep structure of the science fiction imagination. Authoritative, accessible, essential.” – Stephen Baxter



“Ruddick’s book is comprehensive, informative, and well written, making for an excellent read. Science Fiction Adapted to Film is both educational and entertaining and is so engrossing that, at times, it is difficult to put down.  What makes Ruddick’s book so good is the way it recreates the atmosphere and tone of original science fiction texts by evoking their historical influences and conveying accurately the stylistic presentation specific to their particular context and moment. Furthermore, Science Fiction Adapted to Film is accessible to both layperson and academic, reaching out to the reader on both a personal and professional level.” – Sue Smith, Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction

“Nicholas Ruddick’s Science Fiction Adapted to Film, the fourth title in Gylphi’s SF STORYWORLDS series, will be welcomed not only by readers interested in science-fiction film but also by scholars and students interested in adaptation studies more broadly. Ruddick provides a sweeping and comprehensive discussion of most of the important films  that have been based on sf novels and novellas. … his coverage is impressively wide.” – Barry Keith Grant (Brock University), Science Fiction Studies

“Ruddick’s study is well written and easy to read, with strong arguments for his case and a fair assessment of every work. … He offers a different perspective for future theorists and filmmakers hoping to adapt a work – that of a novelist identifying the important themes that should be carried over into an adaptation, not simply a filmmaker noticing a metaphor that no longer applies to the current sociopolitical climate. As such, I recommend this study to up-and-coming filmmakers and film theorists.” – Angeline Leong (Messiah College), Film Matters