Jul 20 2008 9:01pm

Favorite Science Fiction Movie Based on a Short Story

Let's have some fun. I'm always excited at the premise of a new science fiction movie that's been adapted from a talented author. When science fiction stories are made into movies, it's hit or miss as to whether the film will be good or bad. Sometimes, the movie is just fantastic. Occasionally, the movie is initially good (i.e., enjoyable) but that feeling wanes over time. And other times, the movie is just BAD.

Following is a list of science fiction movies that came from short stories. What I want you to do is cast your vote for your favorite AND your least favorite. And if something in this list is just WRONG, let me know that, too. After we finish up this poll, we'll do another one of your least favorite short fiction movie adaptations.

Some of these movies have multiple versions, so just pick the version you like. And some of my favorite science fiction movies (like Bladeunner) come from novels, not short stories. I want to stick to short-story adaptations, however. We can go right up to novella length. I've included at least one horror film that I felt had enough of a science angle to be considered science fiction.

I have the poll on my blog, so just click here and head over to answer the question. Out of this list, I voted for Total Recall.

jk norman
1. jk norman
It's not truly sci-fi, but it certainly has some fantastic elements in it: "The Man Who Would be King," by Rudyard Kipling. Probably the best example of a short story adapted for film I've ever seen. And the best evidence I've seen of the fact that short stories adapt to film better than novels do and certainly result in less frustrating movies.
Paul Bickart
2. Theophylact
Well, it's not science fiction, but Steven Millhauser's Eisenheim the Illusionist made a pretty fine movie, The Illusionist.
Blue Tyson
3. BlueTyson
Today, I'd take Minority Report, I think.
Lita Kaufman
4. dreadnought
It isn't science fiction, but I think the best adaption from a short story has to be Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx.

I was going to add The Running Man to this list, which I read as part of the Bachman Books compilation of Stephen King's early works. But at over 300 pages, it's a bit too long to be considered even a novella.
5. rogerothornhill
I'd disagree with the comment someone made over on the other site that it's not about how good an adaptation it is. I like "The Sentinel" and 2001 in very different ways--it's hard for me to think of them as being the same thing at all--whereas AI really opened up the world of Aldiss' story and drew out the implications that I think were really there in the original. I would say the same about the first two-thirds of Minority Report, too, until it gets undone in such a way that it makes Dick look like a master plotspinner.

And until today, I had never realized that Millennium had been based on a short story. Without having read it, I'm still guessing that its last-place finish here is justified, although any Marlboro Men reading this may beg to differ.
Michael Ray
6. mikeray
Repost from ev: I've seen all of these but Millennium, (how did I miss that?). With respect to the influence of 2001, my favorite on the list is John Carpenter's The Thing. Plausible, terrifying, bleak, and it holds up even today.
John Klima
7. john_klima
I made the comment about ignoring whether it was a good adaptation because that's how I made my choice. In many cases, I've seen the film, but not read the story. It would be impossible for me to determine whether the adaptation was any good.

But obviously, for anyone who's seen the movie and read the story, it would be impossible to separate the two.
Steve Nagy
9. SteveNagy
I've got to go with The Thing as well. While it's over the top as a film, I think it captured the general attitude of the story quite well. The original film's classic, but it missed the chance for deep social commentary that underlies the story.
jk norman
10. JeremyT
Here's one I think only about twelve people in the U.S. watched but it's always stuck with me. Harrison Bergeron.
11. rogerothornhill
That is a great nomination, also based on a really great midcentury social science fiction story.
jk norman
12. Dawn9655
I really wanted to vote for "Blade Runner" then remembered that "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" was a novel and not a short story :( That said, I guess I'm a 'sheep' of sorts as I still think that "2001" is the best adaptation of a short story to film. As far as really bad ones go, I never did like "The Running Man" -- movie or story......
Colleen Parker
13. GibbousMoon
The Brave Little Toaster!

First seen in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction so there.
John Klima
14. john_klima
And just in time, via SF Signal, The Thing re-enacted by G.I. Joe figures!
You can read Campbell's story "Who Goes There?" online if you want to see the source material.
Tara Chang
15. tlchang
Wasn't that Gary Sinise film "The Imposter" based on yet another Philip K Dick short story? Not a great movie, but reasonably enjoyable.

"Flowers for Algernon" (Charly) is by far my favorite on this list - both as short story and movie.
Adam Callaway
16. Weirdside
It has to be AI. That is an epic masterpiece of a movie (Kubrick's last) that was based on a nine page story. Everything about that movie worked. The acting, visuals, dialogue, cinematography. Jude Law as Gigolo Joe was spectacular. The movie is part of the sci fi canon, hands down.
jk norman
18. stevel
microcosmic god

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