Dune was one of the science fiction books you had to read in the seventies. I was a huge fan of the genre, so of course I complied. I respected Dune more than I actually liked it. It's a staggeringly complex example of world-building that deals with alien history and ecology. In some ways it reminds me of The Silmarillion. I generally crave more character development in the books I read. I was not tempted to move on to Dune Messiah.

I am happy to see the recent Dune adaptation getting so much recognition and acclaim. I may never see it, but it does my heart good. I understand it is as accurate and faithful enough to please most fans.

I'd love to see other classic SF novels get the same treatment. I know ones like Childhood's End, The Man in the High Castle, and Foundation have been made for streaming services. Hopefully network execs will delve deeper into the genre, and put the same kind of effort into more of them. Here are some of my suggestions.

Bug Jack Barron, by Norman Spinrad. Costa-Gavras was set to make Bug Jack Barron into a feature film on the heels of his success with Z. Like so many other deals in development, it never came to fruition. It's a pity, because the story was uncannily prescient in its depiction of reality TV and interactive media. Bug Jack Barron turned the genre on its own head upon its 1969 publication. If done right a modern film could do the same to today's world.

Time Enough For Love, by Robert A. Heinlein. Stranger in a Strange Land might seem like the obvious choice for a movie, but I think Time Enough For Love could be even better. The vast novel concerns a man who, due to genetic engineering and biological rejuvenation, has lived for centuries. His quest for knowledge is really a probe into love and all it means as well as its potential. From colonial homesteaders on virgin planets to World War I action, Time Enough For Love has drama, comedy, philosophy, and social speculation.

Gateway, by Frederik Pohl. Imagine the discovery of a fleet of preprogrammed idle spaceships outside Venus. If you have enough money you can charter one and go to its preordained destination. There's only room for one on it, so you're on your own. Depending on what you find there, you may come back rich. You may come back poorer than you left. You may not come back at all.

The Space Merchants, by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth. Speaking of Pohl, The Space Merchants would be as timely as any novel that comes to my mind. Consider a world ruled by advertisers. They are the one percent and control every aspect of life. They sell products that people become addicted to, and they sell the cure. Then they announce the next product to enslave people. Sound familiar?

City, by Clifford D. Simak. Automation and robotics have rendered people obsolete. With no tasks to do, humanity slowly dies off, leaving the world to robots and dogs. Dogs have become sentient, intelligent beings who communicate. City is more gentle and wistful than the story of a harsh dystopia.

I really wish someone would pull out all the stops and do Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. It's hard to imagine the potential of a better SF/Horror hybrid than this story. If I were pulling the money strings I'd hire Josh Olson, a gifted screenwriter and friend of the late Ellison, to write the damned thing.

The history of science fiction is even richer and more vast than that of horror literature. Dune, Foundation, and others are a good start in mining the wonders to be found in it.

Written by Mark Sieber

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