Friday, July 4, 2014

Four great dystopian novels that made it to the big screen

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Allegra Frazier tagged four great dystopian novels that made it to the big screen, including:
Technology Run Amok

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick (Film adaptation: Blade Runner)

One dystopian possibility that seems increasingly real is the technological takeover, in which machines that are supposed to make life easier ultimately become too efficient, and intelligent, and start making scary and unexpected demands on (or even threatening) their former masters. In the truly horrific scenario of Dick’s novel, the company that manufactures this out-of-control technology refuses to stop development out of concern that competing companies will encroach on their profit margin. Unfortunately, in this case, the technology happens to be highly realistic androids that have a pesky habit of murdering their owners and passing as human in order to escape slavery.

The story’s central questions—when does being a machine end and being a human begin, and which one is ultimately more dangerous?—are illustrated in Dick’s novel by complicated characters who share similar traits with their android counterparts, even though they are sworn enemies. The ambiguity of good and evil is very similar to that found in noir films, which is exactly the style director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Hampton Francher decided to adopt when bringing Dick’s story to the silver screen.

As a result, Blade Runner is a good example of an adaptation really going off the rails—in the best way possible. Scott takes some huge liberties with the story in order to blend the hard sci-fi and droid-era ethics of the novel with classic film noir elements: hard-talking cops, smoke-haloed vixens, and a complex and powerful syndicate. One of the best things about Scott’s film is that the novel’s many doubles are streamlined down to one amazing doppelgänger pair: Deckard and Baty, each trying to preserve the community they believe to be the safer one.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? also appears on Ryan Menezes's list of five movies that improved the book, Amanda Yesilbas and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the twelve most unfaithful movie versions of science fiction and fantasy books, Katharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest personality tests in sci-fi & fantasy, John Mullan's list of ten of the best titles in the form of questions, Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs's list of ten classic sci-fi books that were originally considered failures and Robert Collins's top ten list of dystopian novels.

--Marshal Zeringue