back to article The best sci-fi film never made: Also-rans take a bow

We're obliged to all those readers who took the time to throw over their nominations for the best sci-fi film never made, and we're delighted to report that we've whittled the contenders down to a final 50. We simply waded through all your emails and comments and picked those titles which had received the most support. On …


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  1. LPF


    Seriously would be best movie ever, better yet series, you could stuff your firefly up your bum lol

    1. Stu Wilson

      surely this was ripped off by...

      Space truckers starring Dennis Hopper and the Dorffmeister

  2. James Hughes 1

    Please God

    Not the Heinlein 'classic' The Number of the Beast. I read a lot of SF, and that is perhaps the worst pile of tripe I have ever had the misfortune of reading. Even now, many years later, the phrase "Gay Bounce" brings back tears of pain. A truly terrible book. I only read the whole thing because I thought that at some stage it would get better. It didn't.

    'Startide Rising' on the other hand, I'd vote for that.

    1. Tom 13

      Number of the Beast isn't Heinlein's worst, only his second worst.

      His absolute worst is that piece of crap "Fear No Evil" which made me give up trying to read anything else he ever wrote.

      Either way, making Heinlein movies into books is a bad move. If they make a good movie out of one of his bug hunt books, his acolytes complain they made it into a bug hunt. If they make anything else he wrote, audiences will ask WTF?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        I live at No 664

        I'm the neighbour of the beast....

      2. Ian Michael Gumby

        Heinlein requires one to develop a certain taste in his works....

        If you look at his stories, some are really good, like the 'Moon is a harsh Mistress'.

        But others like 'The cat who could walk through walls' also goes in to his 'series' of stories that play around 'The number of the Beast' story line. And then there are other authors who also wrote about alternative universes. Zelanzy ?sp? is another one.

        1. Tom 13

          It's been ages since I read "Moon is a Harsh Mistress."

          I recall it as being one of his readable books, but also one of the warning signs. IIRC, at the end of the book he didn't know how to handle one of the primary characters from the thick of the plot, so he killed him off. But it really was "Fear No Evil" that put him on my permanent Do Not Read list. Not a thoughtful experiment, just badly written soft porn.

    2. Jolyon Smith

      Fear No Evil and Number of the Beast

      Number of the Beast was written as a demonstration of bad writing. It backfired because it is actually one of Heinlein's most enjoyable read's imho. Not his best writing, that's for sure, and not his most serious work, but damned good fun.

      Fear No Evil was also thoroughly enjoyable purely as a thought experiment... the very embodiment of the "what if" nature of science fiction.

      I have to go now... the black hats are coming....

    3. Petrea Mitchell

      Re: Number of the Beast

      Well, it did produce one of the more entertaining book reviews I've ever read:

  3. Anonymous Coward


    Proof that I'm not a Sci-Fi geek - I haven't seen anything on the list of also-rans (or at least I don't remember any of them).

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


      That means that I am definitely one then, because I recognise almost all of them, and have read more than half!

      1. Svantevid

        @Peter Gathercole

        "I recognise almost all of them, and have read more than half!"


        Right with you, brother... although I'm slightly lesser geek: recognised only two thirds of them, and read slightly less than half of the list.

        This means I'll have several weeks of sleepless nights, until I read everything on the list.

        You bastards. :-)

    2. Willington

      It proves something

      Whether you're a sci-fi geek or not is immaterial.

    3. technome

      Well, I am a SF geek...

      and I haven't seen any of the either...

    4. DZ-Jay

      Same here

      Somehow I take some pride in that. :)


      1. sisk

        <- Geek

        I've read a good chunk of them myself, probably around half of them. The ones I haven't read I don't recognize (which is probably why I haven't read them). Looks like I've got a few more books on my reading list.

        1. Rattus Rattus


          I've been using the comments on the previous artilce (and now the list in this one) to find stuff to add to my ebook reader.

  4. EddieD

    Most are too long...

    An average novel - particularly those by Peter F Hamilton or almost any Culture novel - needs to be cut to pieces to fit into a film - almost all of those would either have to be 6 hour epics, or savaged to the point of irrelevancy to be filmed.

    1. Tom 260


      I'd say you'd struggle to fit one of those books into a 10 hour epic, the Reality Dysfunction trilogy (which I assume has made it into the final shortlist) weighs in at 1200 pages per tome, and something on the order of 20-30 main characters. Mindstar is a little smaller and more manageable though, so this would be an easier option, and given its post-Warming setting, somewhat apt for the modern audience.

    2. Dr Dan Holdsworth

      So go for a novella

      The Charlie Stross novella "The Concrete Jungle" would be a decent enough one to go for, since you're not going to be dropping a huge amount of new info onto the viewer. So, the Government has departments so secret not even the politicians know about them. OK, and a sci-fi weapons system that relied upon CCTV? So that's why we've got so much of it, eh?

      The key here is to involve the viewer in the action quickly, and drop info onto them fairly slowly without too much in the way of info-dumping. Granted the public are then going to want some more of the same regarding Bob Howard, and really there isn't all that much more of his adventures which you can shove into the brain of the average movie-goer without leaving them reeling from shock (although I would like to see the "James Bond on a budget" customised Smart car).

      This is the problem with most sci-fi; the average film viewer just does not understand how physics in a vacuum works, so a trick like accelerating an asteroid at a planetary system from a few billion miles away, then exploding it to create a huge, rapidly moving cloud of debris that is just right for clobbering anything in orbit around the planet just won't work. The average viewer thinks "Right, it blew up, it has gone". To correct this you end up doing "Physics for dummies" which isn't enjoyable.

      1. Rattus Rattus

        @Dr Dan Holdsworth

        I really wish sci-fi films didn't get made with the public in mind at all. They won't appreciate good sci-fi, so why turn out shitty action flicks with a slight sci-fi flavour for them? I'd rather see sci-fi get made just for a niche audience - ie those who understand enough to appreciate good sci-fi.

        It won't make a killing at the box office, though, so it'll never happen. Maybe someone should let execs know just how much geeks are willing to spend on a show if it's really good - first in the cinema, then buying the BluRay, any merchandising, etc. Over time, that'd add up to be way more than box office takings alone ever could.

    3. AdamWill


      Hamilton's stuff would work much better as a US-style 26-episode series, though the budget would have to be ridiculous. Something like what they're doing with A Game Of Thrones at the moment. If it were done right for any of his big series it could work really, really well.

      Though the length is slightly misleading as the way he writes lends itself extremely well to editing: there are always tons and tons of sub-plots that aren't strictly vital to the central story, and you can cut out as many as you need while the overall flavour and thrust of the story remains the same.

  5. We're with Steve

    Halo Jones

    The greatest missed opportunity of the twentieth century was Kyle Minogue not playing Halo Jones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good idea, but

      His sister Kylie would have been even better.

  6. Tom 13

    I found "Who Goes Here?" by Shaw, but I think "Who Goes There?" is

    by Campbell and has had two movies made of it under the same title: The Thing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Yep ...

      "Who Goes There?" by John W Campbell (writing as Don A Stuart). It was in the first SF hard back that I ever bought (cost 25/-). The first film was also known as 'The Thing from Another World".

  7. alain williams Silver badge

    My new reading list ...

    thanks for suggestions for my new reading list for Easter!

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge


      something to do until Royal Wedding fever dies down.

  8. Willington


    Only 3 Banks novels in this list which leaves at least 4 others (from what I remember in the comments) in contention for the top 50. What will you do after the final vote is cast? Are you going to stump up some cash for the winning movie to be made? No? Oh well... maybe someone with the influence to make it happen will get to see the results, you never know.

    1. Ian Yates


      I'm hoping for Matter. (not that it changes anything)

      It's got everything a good sci-fi film needs and it introduces the Culture without getting too heavy or relying on lots of backstory.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Ooh

      Yup, gutted I am that "Against a Dark Background" is on the reject pile. I think that'd make a cracking film and you wouldn't have to cut too much to make it fit as it's self-contained with its own, er, background.

      My money's on "Use of Weapons" topping the Banks candidates......

      1. AdamWill

        +1 use of weapons

        Best book in the series, and eminently filmable. The structure would work perfectly.

        1. TelePom


          Gotta be Consider Phlebas - not much backstory as it was the first novel, and the style is more "filmy" than later novels.

      2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD


        I forgot about this one (Not being Culture and all)... Very good read.

        However... Feersum wud huv bin a gud flim sez I. Piti it bee binnd.

        1. Willington

          Thats just it thow

          The bewty ov Feersum Endjinn woz in the ritten langwij wich wud b lost in a muvy.

  9. Jon Double Nice

    Please please please please please please please


    1. vic 4
      Thumb Up

      Just had deja vu there


    2. DZ-Jay

      Re: Please (x7)

      I don't think you have much to worry about, seeing that the list represents stories with the dubious twin honour of being utterly ignored by Hollywood, while at the same time missing the list of 50 movies that fans think should have been made.


    3. Jerome 0
      Paris Hilton

      Halo Jones


  10. Bert 1

    Thank god this lot didn't make it!

    There's a pile of shite with only a couple of gems.


    1. hplasm

      Much like the films

      that do get made then...

  11. jeffo

    Films or books?

    I thought this was a pole of sci-fi films, surely most of these are BOOKS?

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Are you going to tell him...

      ...or shall I?

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Read the article again please...

      The pole was for the greatest sci-fi films NEVER made. I.e. those books people believe would be awesome when turned into a film. And the rule was that none of the stories could have previously been turned into a film (no matter how badly the first time)...

      Fail on your reading comprehension...

      1. frank ly

        Don't feed him....

        ... he might be a trole.

        1. hplasm

          Don't feed him...

          he might be a gremlin. And it's past midnight...

      2. IanPotter

        Films never made

        I could have sworn "Who Goes There" was the source for The Thing/Thing from Another World though...

        1. AshC


          Yep, you're right, the Bob Shaw title is "Who Goes Here".

        2. David Evans

          And you would be correct.

          Geek fail on somebody's part.

        3. hplasm

          Right title-

          Wrong author. The Thing was taken from a John W Campbell story...

        4. Morteus

          tsk... sloppy research

          OK, I'm a bit confused here... The second from last book "Who goes there?" is listed as being written by Bob Shaw. I asumed at firdt that this was the one that the classic movie "The thing from another world" was based upon, but that is credited to Don A Stuart, aka John W Campbell Jr. I can't find anything by that title credited to a Bob Shaw, so what gives?

      3. Sir Runcible Spoon


        "The pole was for the greatest sci-fi films NEVER made"

        Are you going to tell him, or am I? :)

      4. jeffo


        Just shows that we often just think we understand what we read, particularly with common phrases...

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      I'm not sure

      I can think of any polish sci-fi films that should be made into books...

    4. Tony S

      Extreme fail

      Not only for not reading the article, but for the incorrect spelling of "poll" as in Polling or voting

      (Of course this could also be the pole which is actually a LART =

      There are actually some pretty good bookson that list. Hopefully those on the final list will be awesome. Of course that doesn't mean any of them will actually become films - the Hollywoods suits are just that concerned about the story anymore, it's all about playing it safe by rehashing stories from the past.

      I remember seeing a reference to Rocky XXXII in one film- can't recall what it was. I wouldn't bet against seeing that released one day, even if Stallone is dead and decaying.

      1. Colin Brett

        Future Rocky movies ...

        "I remember seeing a reference to Rocky XXXII in one film- can't recall what it was. I wouldn't bet against seeing that released one day, even if Stallone is dead and decaying."

        I think it was Airplane 2.


        1. Tom 13

          Maybe. It was definitely

          a throw away shot in Back to the Future II, a mostly forgettable film and important only because it sets up III which was a much better one.

  12. Charlie_Manson
    Thumb Up

    Excellent List

    Some excellent books here that I have read. Though lots more I am going to add to my list!.

  13. A. Lewis
    Thumb Up


    I missed this original article. Some nice suggestions there though.

    I know you're not looking for any more, but I reckon "The light of other days" by Stephen Baxter and Arthur C Clarke would make a cracking film!

  14. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    "The Chrysalids", I remember reading that at school, back when teachers were still allowed to encourage students to think creatively, not just pump 'em full of facts and make them take exams to get government figures up to spec.

    Anyway you know full well the second they made of those into films they would be massive abominations with way too much CGI and big named talent that has none to speak of!

    1. Charlie_Manson

      Of Ape and Essence

      If you liked The Chrysalids, check out this one by Huxley. That will NEVER be made into a film because of his depiction of the film industry in the first chapter.

  15. Richard Jukes

    ERM WTF??

    No Foundation? Lame. Very lame. NO SERIOUSLY LAME.

    I vote for the Foundation Triology*

    *Yes, not really a triology but I still vote for it.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      These *didn't* make the shortlist...

      ...ergo, you're still in with a chance at the final 50. Doesn't anyone read the article? This isn't Slashdot, you know.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Foundation was a trilogy

      for many, many years, before dear old Isaac (bog rest his overworked imagination) decided to go down the future history route, and tie all of his series together. Hardcore Asimov fans don't think of the later books as canon.

      It was interesting to see how he did it while the books were being first published, but in hindsight, I think it would have been better keeping R. Daneel Olivaw out of the Foundation stories. It all feels a bit contrived now.

      Still, I think that it could be good, but would end up a bit slow for the Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer generations.

      I wish the BBC dramatisation of "Caves of Steel" still existed somewhere. If someone has it, they would be a real hero!

      1. Anonymous Coward

        BBC Radio dramatisation of Isaac Asimovs 1958 novel "The Caves of Steel". Broadcast on BBC Radio 4

        This is available via

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          @AC re Caves of Steel

          Not the radio version, the 1964 TV adaptation by Terry Nation, and starring Peter Cushing. Read the article on Wikipedia. Only a minute or so of clips remain.

    3. hitmouse

      Not really a triology

      More a trilogy

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmmm...... Hamilton's Void trilogy lacks quite a bit of context

    Without first having Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained. Perhaps all five should be made it to film. Besides, Morning Light Mountain would be a formidable film baddie!

    1. Rattus Rattus


      Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained are in a totally different alternate-future to the Void trilogy. I don't get what you mean about context.

      1. Ian Yates

        Are you sure?

        The Void trilogy is set over a thousand years after Judas Unchained, still prominently featuring Paula Myo and a few other characters.

        Maybe you're thinking of The Night's Dawn trilogy, which is in a different universe?

  17. Richard Jukes


    Note to self, read article properly first.

  18. Blofeld's Cat

    My suggestion didn't make the cut but...

    That's my reading list sorted out for the next year or so.

    Looking forward to the Top 50.

  19. Tom Jasper

    Stand here

    Huh? Some mistake, Shirley.

    Stand on Zanzibar by the late John Brunner is the movie that I dream of being made.

    Agreed that Halo Jones should never ever be made - but just maybe `Hangin Out with Halo Jones` should be played every day...

    And we need Mr Mulligan today

    1. It'sa Mea... Mario
      Thumb Up


      for Transvision Vamp reference and suggestion that they should be played every day!

      Oh where art thou Wendy...?

  20. Stewart Knight

    Still got fingers crossed

    for EE Doc Smith!!!

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


      Galactic Patrol would be great, and contains enough action to satisfy Hollywood's CGI lust. Imagine how you cool you could make Worsel the Valentian!

    2. IsJustabloke

      I refuse to enoble a simple forum post!


    3. Stevie


      That would be sheerly, starkly unthinkable.

  21. Sulehir
    Thumb Up

    Thank you

    For removing Thomas Covenant from the final contenders, most depressing books ever written!

    1. Michael 28

      One man's air is another man's poison...

      ...and i thought Nevil Shute's "On The Beach" one of the most depressing books ever.. and it still managed to get made into a film, despite the lack of a happy ending. Still, a remake would probably include zombies and cannibalism, methinks , if made by hollywood..(. they certainly missed the point with "Watchmen"... No wonder Alan Moore gets p*ssed off)

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Thomas Covenant

      Totally agree. Mind you, I learnt more about Leprosy from the first book than from the previous 15 years of education.

    3. IsJustabloke

      I refuse to enoble a simple forum post!

      oh I dunno... I thought the 1st Chronicles pretty good.. abit wordy and overlong in places but thats a matter of taste/ editing rather then a specific complaint about the writing.

      The 2nd Chronicles OTH were an abomination that should never haveseen the light of day.... not unlike the Gap series.....

  22. CD001


    Not read much on that list but of those I have I tend to think they'd make pretty awful films...

    The Kim Stanley Robinson "Mars" series would be sooooo monumentally plodding and uneventful on the big screen... and as for anything by William Gibson, be careful what you wish for, remember Johnny Mnemonic?

    Should be onto a pretty safe bet with Philip K Dick though ;)

    1. Paul RND*1000

      As much as I like KSR's Mars trilogy...

      ...I have to agree it might not work too well as a movie trilogy. With competent editing it could make a good miniseries, though.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not nearly enough Neal Asher in that list!

    Neal Asher writes high octane, pacy, technoturbocharged action splatfests! They're just crying out to be turned into films.

    (I'd still love to see someone try to squeeze PFH's 'Void' trilogy into a nice little nine hour flick though).

    1. Richard Brown


      Just looked Neal Asher up cos of your pithy review of his work.

      Sounds just my cup of tea, must go and buy some of his books and support a fellow Essex man.

    2. Steve John
      Thumb Up

      Neal Asher

      Just finishing the last but one of his Polity novels (The Technician) and the last one is in the post from Amazon (Hilldiggers). All have been stonking good reads. Prador Moon, Shadow of the Scorpion and The Skinner stand out for me.

  24. Vince Lewis 1

    I feel a trip to the library comming on...

    I feel rather like an unread, uneducated buffoon. From that list I've only read Vurt and Only Forward ... and that was a very long time ago. Though after reading Only Forward a lamppost did give me a compliment on my shoes.

    1. ArmanX

      I keep thinking "I need to read these books."

      This is always followed with, "Hey, I could check it out at the library! Sweet!"

      And then, "Oh, right, our library is utterly useless, and couldn't mail-order a book to save their lives."

      I grew up with an awesome library, so having the only library in town be a complete waste of time is saddening... and also has put a severe dent in my reading. I'm now limited by budget, rather than check-out limit.

  25. Graham Bartlett

    Erm, what?!

    Thomas Covenant as sci-fi?! I think not. Hell, if that's sci-fi then I might as well have suggested Agatha Christie. Good job it got rejected early, for the person concerned not having RTFA, or indeed RTFbook.

    Agreed that most of the books there are decent enough, but either

    - aren't that good as fiction (step forward Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Bova and Robinson);

    - are too damn long (Tad Williams, I'm looking at you)

    - are too much of their time and wouldn't translate to today (Ubik)

    - wouldn't work as films (The Difference Engine, Ubik, Out of the Silent Planet)

    But if the Atrocity Archives isn't in the shortlist, Mr Flibble will be very unhappy...

  26. noroimusha


    How come these did not make it ?

    The Caves of Steel – Isaac Asimov

    The Invincible – Stanislaw Lem

    The Difference Engine – William Gibson and Bruce Sterling

    all these are incredibly good books

  27. Anonymous Coward



    FFS save us all from tripe, sub-sub-sub Tolkien, so-so low as not even to be a worthy part of a coal seam deep beneath a blackwell's basement while it still honours a single page of 'The Hobbit' lying obscured, discarded and unloved behind a mass of Social Science research. Not to mention its puerile, nauseating, whinging one-dimensional arsehole of a main character who somehow succeeds in making mycobacterium leprae an even worse horror than it is already... of course with this being Hollywood the Reg has saved us 10 TIMES from the horror of emerging from 'The Land' (I mean, FFS! What imagination!) with slashed wrists and neck burns, ankle deep in the mantraps intended to keep us in the Cinema. Yet alone the directors uncut (we stole the razorblades) 30 Bluray boxed set special edition!!

    1. IsJustabloke

      I refuse to enoble a simple forum post!

      not a fan then?

  28. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Sorry to see

    Transistion didn't make the cut, although I'm not sure how the hell one might make it into a film without being far to confusing... I'm guessing from the absence of Matter, or of The Algebraist on the list of also-rans, that these are still in contention?

  29. Robert Hill

    Great stories in this list...

    Hinterlands, Integral Trees, Have Spacesuit, Difference Engine, even Iceworld...those that haven't read this list should not be put off from their rejection.

    But I agree, none of these would make compelling movies these days...either too depressing, intellectual, or simply already done in other ways.

    But you didn't list Niven's "Protector", so I still have hope for my nomination... :-)

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      Larry Niven?

      I'm disappointed in that some of Niven's collaborative works got mentioned while a lot of his works from the 70's and 80's did not. Personally I didn't really care for some of his collaborative works...

      Niven created an alternative universe which could be made in to both a TV series as well as a series of movies. Protector fits in to Ringworld, Ringworld Engineers, etc...

      'A world out of time' also ties in to his earlier works but some of his themes might be too adult for the mainstream audience.

      Like others of his era, they use Science Fiction/Fantasy to explore the changes in their current society. (Like the episode of Star Trek where two guys have 1/2 of their face painted Black and the other white... only they are mirror images of themselves trying to question the issue of race... (Stuff like that....) )

      So if you have to choose, try and find stories that are:

      1) relevant to today's society and social issues.

      2) have enough action to satisfy Hollywood.

      3) have some bits of drama and comedy intermixed.

      I mean there are literally 100's of great stories that could be adapted to tv and movies. Even a safe bet and much better than remaking movies that were done 20-30 years ago and even some of them were remakes of moves from the 20's, 30's and 40's.

      I agree that Larry Niven's works would translate well.

  30. andy gibson

    Good Novella

    A favourite novella of mine was the one which came with the computer game DRILLER circa 1987:

  31. Herer

    thargoid invasion

    I remember The Dark Wheel novella with my copy of Elite on the Acorn.

    Those bundled novellas were great. I remember loving the Starglider story, whatever that was called.

    Memorable value added extras.

    1. Dave Lawton

      @ Herer

      The Starglider story - you probably mean Arthur C. Clarke's The Fountains of Paradise, only made the also-ran list :(

  32. anarchic-teapot

    Ubik didn't make it?

    I dunno, there's bits in the Dr Who Vashta Nerada two-parter that made me think of Ubik. So maybe in a way it's already been done.

    Proper nightmare fodder, that.

    1. johnnytruant

      Ubik's disqualified

      Because Michel Gondry is making it.

  33. Prag Fest

    Stevie D

    Who suggested Thomas covenant is sci-fi anyway? Not to mention being complete toilet.

    However, if his GAP series isn't in there (best sci fi ever) my opinion of Reg readers will plummet to new lows.

  34. johnnytruant

    One I forgot to email in

    Cowl, by Neal Asher.

    Would film up rather well, I think.

  35. Spiracle

    #1'll be...

    ... Neuromancer then, won't it.

    1. Kimo

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      There seems to be a very dedicated Ringworld fanbase here. Could be tough competition.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    books i thought would make fantastic movies

    Mathew Riley's books would make great action flicks. and his first novel "Contest" would surely qualify as Sci-Fi.

    even Ice Station would be a good action movie with an element of Sci-Fi to it. i started reading this book one morning while visiting the gov, got so hooked, that i called in sick and finished the book by afternoon.

  37. Svantevid

    The Amtrak Wars

    Ah yes... if it follows the book, it will be three hours long and the plot will be abruptly resolved in the last 30 seconds, leaving the audience wearing "WTF" faces. The second worst disappointment after Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons".

    1. Richard Brown

      I think he got bored with writing Amtrak Wars

      I know what you mean, for years after the last book was published I kept looking for the next book in the series because I couldn't believe it ended so abruptly.

    2. IsJustabloke

      I refuse to enoble a simple forum post!

      I know how the story ends BUT have never made it past book 2... I get halfway through book 3 and have to stop before I lose the will to live completely.

      I'd have to say that jack Chalkers books have a similar effct upon me.. I reckon he and Tilley came out of the same writing school

  38. HFoster

    I wish I'd been paying attention

    It's a damn shame Ken MacLeod hasn't gotten a look in here. His Fall revolution series and Engines of Light series are amazing reads. Also, his space opera "Newton's Wake" is one of the finest examples of the genre I have ever read.

  39. Cihatari

    Begging to be made into a movie

    Surely there's a place for the 'Stainless Steel Rat' by Harry Harrison, several good un's in there.

    On a related note, I'm pleased that there was a smattering of 2000AD related suggestions, although I'm not sure if Alan Moore would be too happy with an adaptation of Halo Jones. He's not a big fan of movie interpretations of his work.

    1. Admiral Grace Hopper

      Alan Moore

      is always happy enough to take the cheque for the movie rights, then bitch like hell because they made a movie out of the story rather than just filmed someone reading his book. It's always the most amusing part of the process of making a film based on an Alan Moore book.

  40. Mark Dowling

    "films never made"

    Books newer than 10 years old shouldn't be on such a list.

  41. jumpyjoe


    Star maker by Olaf Stapledon is my No.1 candidate. It's not so much a novel more a history of all life in the universe which is possibly why J L Borges thought highly of it.

    It's different from anything else I've read and I don't see how it could ever be made into a film.

  42. RichardVI


    Technically can Voyage of the Sace Beagle count as never made as the movie Alien was based on part of it?

    1. hplasm
      Thumb Down

      Star Trek was-

      and it never stopped them...

  43. Alain Moran


    So that's my reading ilst sorted ... sod the movies, gimme a book anyday (just finishing Holy Cow by Sarah MacDonald at the moment - really good, hard to put down, reading 'just another chapter' at 3am kind of book)

  44. James Hughes 1

    In a competitive vein

    I've read 32 of that list.......still leaves 18 to go.

  45. Clay P. Igion

    Wish I'd remembered...

    I wanted to nominate Keith Laumer's "Once There Was a Giant" for this as well. Not as upbeat as some of his Retief novels, but a good story just the same.

  46. Marcus Aurelius

    No Stainless Steel Rat???

    There's plenty of scope for an action movie from this Harry Harrison series. Apparently there was talk about it 10 years ago, but nothing since.

  47. Dapprman

    Well my book/ebook shopping list just grew

    I don't care about the arguments (as long as Ring World makes it #1 ;) ) however I'll be going through the list to see which I have not yet read and out of those, which authors I've not got a despising for. Should be good for 10+ more for my reading list.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was going to suggest Neil Gaiman .....

    .... but held back because it is not strict sci fi; but then many other suggestions are leaning more to the fantasy genre.

    But somebody must have heard my thoughts, as HBO are apparently in talks to film American Gods, with Neil himself on the script writing & production teams - so there is hope for some of our other favourites as well.

  49. Gordon861

    Missed the First Article

    But I always thought the World War 2 series by Turtledove would make a great film (or number of films).

  50. Ian Michael Gumby
    Dead Vulture

    Uhm... You do know that the movie I Robot was really

    Caves of Steel?

    Take a look at the plot line.

  51. Big_Boomer


    I just thought of another series of excellent books, some of which would make great movies.

    All the Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold.

    Spying, treachery, action, sex, and even a ROYAL WEDDING in one of them. <LOL>

    You might even get yer main squeeze to go along to see "A Civil Campaign" if they made it a movie. Sci-Fi-Rom-Com anyone?

  52. Anonymous Coward

    Agent to the Stars - Scalzi

    ..can be read for free:

  53. Phage

    Haldeman / Harrison ?

    Hoping to see The Forever War, or The Stainless Steel Rat. Howabout Bill, The Galactic Hero ?

    More seriously, Make Room Make Room as Soylent Green has almost nothing in common with the book.

    1. David Evans


      The Forever War is in development already with Ridley Scott attached to it, but he's doing the, "is it an Alien prequel or not?" - Prometheus, first.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        'Bill the Galactic Hero' ? NO FSCKING WAY!


        First, I do like the story.

        But it would be too easy for Hollywood to screw it up and do a horrible job.

        The Forever War? That is an excellent story and something which could be made in to a movie, however I think that you may find that parts of the ending story line would not go over too well for certain closed minded individuals.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby



          Am I the only one who remembers what they did to Startship Troopers?

          And do you think that they won't hack up Bill and make it so terrible that any actor that stars in it wishes that it never sees the light of day?

      2. Rattus Rattus

        @David Evans

        What? Whatwhatwhat? The Forever War? Really? Oh, I hope he does it justice!

  54. David Evans

    Ooh, Kiln People.

    I'd forgotten about that. Would actually make a great movie, very "high concept" in a way that Hollywood types love. Wouldn't be surprised if this is optioned somewhere.

  55. Anonymous Coward

    Does the book still count as "unmade".,...

    if Will Smith stars in the movie and the plot resembles nothing like the original book? Like I Robot or I am Legend? Should be shot for crimes against literature.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      @ AC re Will Smith

      "Omega Man" was made in to a movie staring C. Heston. Smith stared in the remake.

      Going from memory, wasn't I Robot a collection of stories and not a specific story?

      What Smith acted in resembled a bastardization of 'Caves of Steel'.

      I think the problem we see in adapting sci-fi books to movies is that the directors and actors don't grok the initial storyline so that they hack it to shreds trying to please a crowd of people rather than keeping true to the storyline.

      1. Jolyon Smith

        "Omega Man" was Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend"

        And as well as "Omega Man" and the Will Smith retread, the novel had previously been adapted to film as "The Last Man On Earth" with Vincent Price.

        I'm ashamed to say that I've only seen 2 of those 3 movies and somehow never gotten around to reading the original novel. :(

    2. 4HiMarks

      Does the MOVIE count as unmade

      ...if the only thing in common is the title, and maybe one or two character names, like just about every James Bond film ever made.

      I don't know if I should be proud or disappointed to see that list contain two of my nominations.

      I think there's a book in the pocket somewhere...

  56. Mage Silver badge

    IF you think Covenent and The Land is bad

    Don't ever start reading the Wheel of Time.

    1. Andrew Taylor 1

      re the Wheel of Time

      Totally agree with your comments, I stopped reading at book 11 when I discovered I'd lost the ability to breath through sheer boredom.

      1. Petrea Mitchell

        I salute you, Mr. Taylor 1

        Book 11??? I made it about 5 pages into book 2 before giving up...

      2. Marcus Aurelius

        @Andrew Taylor

        Just what superhuman/zombie power was it that caused you to hold your breath through the first 10 books of The Wheel of Time?

  57. Stevie


    Wot, no Berserker films?

    Saberhagen's homicidal bots would be a license to print money on the 3D IMAX circuit IMO.

  58. Anonymous Freetard


    In amongst the EE Docs & things I forgot about A Canticle for Leibowitz - hope someone else voted for this masterpiece?

    1. John Dougald McCallum

      A Canticle for Leibowitz

      If I remember rightly this was made as a play by the BBC cant remember exactly when but it might have been in the Eighties.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        No Way!

        I actually voted for it.

        Good story on post apocalypse world.

        I also voted for the Wolfe series too.

      2. Anonymous Freetard

        Canticle - Bill the Galactic etc

        Was made as a US Radio series and is frankly brilliant - would film nicely in the pre and post apocalyptic multiple timeline genre.

        Wasn't Bill made as Starship Troopers?

  59. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    City & the Stars got the boot.

    I still like to re-read that one occasionally. It was on our school reading list in 19** and I remember getting mighty pissed off that everyone (including the teacher) regarded it as an end of mankind scenario, whereas I saw it as a story of hope.

  60. Richard 23
    Thumb Up


    Both the list and also the comments have some very pleasant memories - and also about a year's worth of new reading recommendations! Thank you El Reg.

    Off to the charity shops to check what's on the shelves. What? Me? Cheapskate?

  61. Nigel 11

    No Charles Stross

    Can't believe there's nothing by Charles Stross on the list either. The "Laundry" series is the stuff of cult movies. Start with "The Atrocity Archives".

  62. Rick Brasche

    needs moar

    needs moar Peter F. Hamilton

    gotta have at least three simultaneous stories going on (sometimes more) or it just ain't right :)

  63. Nigel 11

    Blood Music

    Can't believe that Greg Bear's "Blood Music" wasn't on the list.

    The one line synopsis: "A movie in which the world gets destroyed. Twice. With a happy ending."

    The special effects would have to be very special. It might be even better as Anime.

    1. Petrea Mitchell

      Anime? Sort of...

      It actually is pretty good as anime, or a major constituent of one.

      The series "Eureka 7" was basically Blood Music + Solaris + giant robot combat. And in case the influences weren't obvious enough, there was a secondary character named Dr. Greg Egan, nicknamed "Bear"...

  64. sandriderman

    The Gap Sequence

    I missed the chance to vote. I love Stephen Dolaldson's 5 gap books, far too much material for 1 film.

  65. Anonymous Coward

    A testament to our Reg readers communal geek-ness...

    That a list of 50 sci-fi books that DID NOT make the final list of candidates for the "Best Sci-Fi Film Never Made" would elicit 117 (now 118!) comments!!

    NERD RAGE!!!!!!

    Poindexter icon--because he is one of us.....

  66. Anonymous Coward

    Philosophical questions

    1. A lot these are comics, some even only published in weekly serials and not even graphic-novelled - do we count comics as valid sci-fi literature now?

    2. Is the fact that "The New Statesmen" (Genetic Engineering / Pop Culture missive; not Rick Mayall!) from the 2000AD offshoot Crisis (circa 1988) is missing from the list because is too esoteric or because it appears in the final 50? I await the answer with a worm on my tongue (nanu nanu).

    1. Petrea Mitchell

      Re: #1

      "[D]o we count comics as valid sci-fi literature now?"

      Yes, we do. There's been a Hugo category for them since 2009.

      (And Watchmen won a Hugo way back when, too, but that was a one-off category that was basically designed just to give Watchmen a Hugo without properly facing up to the debate of a graphic novel category, so we generally don't count that one.)

    2. Kimo

      It's the story...

      ...not the format. There are a few excellent SciFi comics and/or graphic novels. And more than a few SciFi books that are complete rubbish. The quality of the work is unrelated to the format it is published in.

  67. Dave Lawton

    A reminder

    Don't forget that these are the ones that DIDN'T make the top 50.

    Check out for some titles which possibly weren't emailed

  68. Jolyon Smith

    Missing Titles



    The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (there was a screenplay in the works for this at one time)

    Stranger In A Strange Land (I know that Tom Hanks had this one optioned at one point)

    Variable Star (Ok, perhaps more Spider Robinson than Heinlein, but still)

    Spider Robinson:

    Time Pressure


    Surface Detail (I would LOVE to see the hells on the big screen!)

    Consider Phlaebas (can't be bothered to check the spelling right now)

    Mikhail Bulgakov:

    The Master and Margharita (some passing/slight similarities with Heinlein's "Job", to the extent that I wonder if Heinlein was influence by this at all)

    1. Deeply Dippy

      Spider Robinson

      Stardance by Spider Robinson. Comes complete with own stage direction

  69. Rattus Rattus

    While I am...

    ...a bit disappointed to see the work of Peter F. Hamilton and Alistair Reynolds failed to make the cut, I note with interest some of Iain M Banks's best work has not appeared on the runner-up list.

  70. Winkypop Silver badge

    Huntin' season...

    I'm hunting Rare-book !!

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang on...

    Where's Judge Dredd?

    1. HFoster

      Stallone movie

      There was already that ghastly Sylvester Stallone vehicle. Maybe it should be done properly though...

  72. Michael 28

    new one coming..

    "Remake or reboot? Or (shudder) sequel? That will be the question facing cinema audiences confronted by a new, big screen Judge Dredd movie that is to be filmed in South Africa in 2012 . . .

    Most people (particularly in the States) will probably know Judge Dredd from the 1995 movie directed by Danny Cannon, and starring Sylvester Stallone, Diane Lane, Rob Schneider, Armand Assante and Max von Sydow. The character however has its roots in the weekly British comic book 2000 AD, where he appeared as long ago as 1977!"....

    There's also a fanfilm - Judge Minty!

    Would prefer a Ridley Scott directed film though. Blade Runner always reminds me of Robohunter, especially the Verdus series, before "hoagy" showed up.

  73. Nat Pryce

    No Hinterlands?

    Sad that Hinterlands by William Gibson didn't make the cut. That's one of the best stories about alien-ness I've read.

  74. Stuart Halliday

    Not sci-fi

    Since when was the tales if Thomas Covenent sci-fi??

    May a Raver bite off your head or Kevin Dirt pollute your senses!

    (Childhood End is of course the best Sci-fi film never made)

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    No Octavia Butler? Especially with all the white-washing going on these days?

    This list is a fail.

  76. Writincat

    Some Bigs missing...

    Must be in turnaround-

    Enders Game

    Chilhooods End


    Zanth Series

    I mean come on.

  77. Deeply Dippy

    Short stories - ideal for filming ?

    Surface Tension by James Blish

    1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge


      by James Blish would be good. How about Doctor Mirabilis...?

  78. E 2

    WRT Frank Herbert

    Frank Herbert will be remembered 200 years from now as one of the strongest writers and most subtle thinkers amongst 20th century sci-fi writers.

    Which is exactly why none of his books can be made into good movies - his books make sense only when the reader reads between the lines. Movies do not excel at presenting the stuff that lies between the lines.

  79. robski

    Books to films

    For me it would have to be chasm city written by Alastair Reynolds to be directed by JJ Abrams

  80. Ian Stephenson


    What happened to the poll on Thursday?

  81. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Jules Verne's...

    'Master of the World' might be fun. Especially if you could borrow ThrustSSC or the Bloodhound for the car....

  82. Parsifal

    Now Next Week

    I guess the Reg must run on Blizzard 'Soon' time, since the follow up hasn't appeared yet :)

  83. Slabfondler

    No John Brunner?

    One of the finest distopean sci-fi writers ever, a visionary *and* a bloody brit, and none of his works can even manage to get on the failed to get on the final list list? Sad.

    I wonder if his best is Kindlized?

  84. Peet McKimmie

    "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant"...?

    In what alternative universe does that qualify as "Sci-Fi"? It's pure fantasy fiction. I wish people would get these genres separated in their heads before posting.

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