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It’s the DENDERA giveaway contest!

by nickmamatas

We are soooo excited about our forthcoming novel, Dendera, by Yuya Sato. We have a great cover, a great blurb, and it’s a great and harrowing story about a group of elderly women who had been sent to their deaths and who instead made a life for themselves, only to be confronted by a hungry bear with a supernatural intellect.

Dendera was quite famous in Japan. In fact, it was made into a feature film in 2012:

You may not recognize the actors, but imagine Susan Sarandon and Meryl Streep running around in the snow, and you’ll have a sense of the popularity and reputation of the players.

Which brings us to our contest question: what is your favorite film adaptation of a science fiction or fantasy novel? Just write us a little essay (or poem!) in the comments and you may be one of our lucky, and skilled, winners. Our four favorite answers will get a free copy of Dendera. We ship anywhere, so don’t be afraid to play even if you’re outside the US. We also read Japanese, Spanish, Greek, German, and Chinese, so give it a whirl! We’ll announce the winners around noon on Friday the 23rd, so get your little essays in!

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12 Responses to “It’s the DENDERA giveaway contest!”

  1. Takehaniyasubiko says:

    I fear of being disregarded by the community of Urban Dictionary as a “pleb” because of writing this, but my favorite film adaptation of a science fiction novel is Blade Runner. Neo-noir? Dystopian? Yes, that too, but I am simply amazed by how atmospheric this picture turned out to be, especially since it had a relatively low budget and went through a development inferno. Ironically, I don’t find it to be a particularly good movie adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. Blade Runner goes in its own direction, but sends out vibes so strong that it actually becomes a thing of its own and makes the fans of the novel converted to the way Ridley Scott saw things. Shots like the one introducing viewers to the Tyrell penthouse became iconic, and even Ridley Scott was surprised by how well certain things manifested in the end product. It wasn’t a one man movie, though; Scott was fortunate to have a lot of artists working on this and his strong vision glued everything together.

    Blade Runner is so good and it became so popular that it is currently seen as hipster-appropriate to dis it, but I will admit how impressed am by it, to this very day.

  2. Leslie says:

    My favorite sci-fi novel-to-film adaptation would have to be Edge of Tomorrow (or is it Live Die Repeat now?). Though I agree with the consensus that All You Need Is Kill would have been a cooler, more eye-catching title, I still love how the film adaptation took the best parts of the novel (time loops! a kickass Rita Vrataski!) and added new elements that provided surprises even for those who have already read the novel. While seeing the journey of young private Keiji on screen would have been equally as amazing, hesitant, frightened-to-death Tom Cruise as William Cage was also a treat to watch. The fact that most of Cage’s “deaths” were played for laughs (my favorite being the rolling-under-the-vehicle schtick) really highlighted the dark humor of the situation, something that I think didn’t shone as much in the novel. Overall, loved the film because it has the perfect combination of fun and action. (Enough for me to see it twice!)

  3. Andrea Harris says:

    I’m going to be common and ordinary and say that so far my favorite film adaptation of a book I have read is Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings. I was initially skeptical, having seen more than one beloved book being made a hash of on film, and Jackson made some changes I don’t agree with (I won’t list them here because they are many) but he somehow he managed to capture the atmosphere of the story and respect the original in a way that was dynamic and fresh, instead of static and worshipful. All the actors were excellent, especially Sean Astin as Sam and Ian McKellan as Gandalf. Elijah Wood’s Frodo was probably the weakest performance of all of them, and he was too young for the role, but he did manage to convey Frodo’s increasing frailty as he suffered under the burden of the Ring.

    I’ll just say here that some of the changes Jackson made to the story didn’t bother me as they did the purists. For example, giving Arwen a greater role as opposed to the virtual purdah she was in in the book worked just fine and helped to keep the movie from being as much a Boy’s Own Adventure

  4. Seth Ellis says:

    I think every time I answer a question like this I get sidetracked into the difference between the best, my favorite, and the most interesting to talk about. Somewhere in there is The Saragossa Manuscript, the most Technicolor black-and-white movie ever made. For a while after I first saw it, I remembered it (inaccurately) as a Jodorowsky movie, because it has something in common with his wildly askew aesthetic, the kind of thing that makes you say, “…what?” and keep on saying it for the next week or so.

    The Saragossa Manuscript was in fact directed by Wojciech Has, from an 1815 book by Jan Potocki. It’s part picaresque adventure, part Scheherazade storytelling; which part is which isn’t entirely clear. Whether it’s a fantasy book or not depends on how you parse the dense, interlocking frame narratives, with characters showing up before the story-within-a-story in which they’re introduced (really) and then disappearing again, only to reappear as someone else, unless they’re actually the same person. And the whole thing may have been a dream, or else time travel may be involved. And I’m talking about the movie itself. When I walked out of the film the first time I saw it, I wasn’t entirely sure we’d backed out of all the frame narratives we’d entered into; I may still be in the movie. It makes Inception look like the glossy amateur production it is.

    The book is clever and interesting, but the movie is one of the few movies I’ve seen that reproduces dream logic so accurately that you actually dream it.

  5. Michael Healy says:

    Starship Troopers, mostly because I came to the story backwards with the movie first. I enjoyed the cheesy effects and the ham fisted satire of military culture. Basically I liked everything that everyone else says they hated about it.

    Then I read the book and was horrified. It wasn’t a comedic satirical take on war and the military mindset surrounding it but a legitimately fascist sympathizing war story. We were supposed to like the humans and their atrocities this whole damn time?

    If I had read the book first I probably wouldn’t have been as shocked and just shrugged it off as a book with asshole characters that I didn’t enjoy. I wouldn’t have even bothered watching the movie in that case. The movie made we realize just how messed up the original novel really was and I think that’s pretty cool.

  6. Charlene says:

    For some reason, although I wasn’t asked, I’ll start with the film adaptation I was really looking forward to that could not have been more disappointing if it tried: I Am Legend. A book I loved so much, and they ruined it completely by chickening out on the ending.

    Next, the film I love even more than the book it is adapted from: Blade Runner. But the two are so different from each other that I don’t know if it even *counts* as an adaptation…

    So – my choice for favourite film adaptation had to come from other sources: I thought about Children of Men, The Prestige and Soylent Green … but in the end, the one I choose is *drumroll* A Scanner Darkly. Faithful to the text, beautiful, thoughtful, and leaving lots of questions in the mind to ponder and discuss in the pub afterwards.

  7. Carola says:

    My favourite film adaptation is one that is probably a bit far removed from what Haikasoru usually publishes, but I am going to be stubborn and name it anyway: The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982).

    The first time I ‘read’ this book, I actually listened to the audio book. Every time I listened to it, I was either on the edge of my (train) seat or weirding out the people around me by grinning at the funny parts. I reread the book multiple times and despite knowing how it ends, I never get tired of it.

    So yes, seeing how much I loved the book, I was a bit sceptical about the movie. How could they possibly turn such a funny, exciting book into a decent movie? We all know what happens to books, both classics and modern books alike… They tend to cut out half of it so the movie makes no more sense. Imagine my surprise when I watched the movie and once again found myself laughing, and on the edge of my seat, just like the first time I heard the book and every time I read it.

    Not just my favourite film adaptation but probably one of my favourite movies of all time!

  8. Ben B. says:

    Last summer I caught a screening of an excellent scifi flick called “Predestination”. It was based on a short by Heinlein called “All You Zombies”. The movie was incredibly faithful to the source material, essentially telling an expanded version of the short story and even adopting a retro-futurist outlook in order to adhere to the short’s vision of the possible future.

    I bring Predestination up only because the movie I’m going to gush about now is also a Heinlein adaptation. Unlike Predestination, it gleefully tears apart its source material. The movie? Paul Verhoeven’s adaptation of “Starship Troopers”.

    The original book envisions a utopian society in which mankind has spread across the stars and the titular Starship Troopers combat aliens, namely the arachnids. Our protagonist is Johnny Rico who we follow from graduating highschool to his being a fully-fledged interstellar soldier. Through his narration we learn that his society is one in which you can only hold fully-fledged citizenship if you’ve served in the military. Corporal punishment is perfectly acceptable and violence, according to Rico’s history prof (Whom many see as a stand-in for Heinlein himself) “Has settled more issues in history than any other factor”. Basically, this book is a big love letter to the military. So much so that in the US army it’s recommended reading for soldiers.

    Verhoeven read two chapters before getting disgusted with the book and throwing it against a wall. If you watch the movie, it shows. Everything the book holds sacred the movie holds up a big middle-finger to. Verhoeven’s future is one akin to Nazi Germany. Propaganda is blaring 24/7, the characters are all bland Aryans. The structure of the film was even modeled after US/Nazi pro-war propaganda from WWII. The result is this hilarious hyper-violent satire in which the characters believe 100% the bullshit their superiors tell them and gleefully go to war with a race of giant arachnids (Which are somehow capable of launching meteors, mind you. Totally plausible…or propaganda?!). It’s bloody awesome and yet totally unfaithful to the book. But because of that, I find it better than the source material, despite the absence of giant mecha-suits.

    To Heinlein’s credit, he did poo-poo racism and sexism and in fact envisioned multiple futures where people weren’t judged by gender or color. Even in Starship Troopers the novel most of the principal characters are Hispanic. Still, the underlying fascistic themes of the source material just don’t jibe with me, whereas the movie will always be a go-to flick for me when I need bug on man carnage plus left-wing comedy

  9. Nicole says:

    One of my absolute favorite novel-to-film adaptations is I, Robot – the 2004 movie which is actually an adaptation of parts of different short stories from Issac Asimov’s 1950 collection of the same name.

    It really was not well received at the time, and perhaps still hasn’t been since, but I’ve always found the movie to be a really great blockbuster adaptation of I, Robot’s themes (and in particular Dr Calvin’s story). Confessions now, I didn’t say it was the best adaptation possible of the source material – we’ve yet to see that, obviously! – but it *was* a great effort to turn the collection’s series of interweaving psycho-social insights about the future of the human and robotic condition into an action blockbusters with explosions and shit.

    That aside, there’s actually a really dense and well juxtaposed collection of narrative arcs happening in the film. You’ve got Detective Spooner, whose irrational hatred of robots is revealed to be… well, still irrational but understandable to us humans given the trauma he’s been through. He is just as programmed by his PTSD and prejudice as any of the robots that he encounters. He’s also just as easy to predict, and because of that is used as a tool by Dr Lanning – inventor of how to program the robots. Spooner can’t and won’t help himself, and you don’t need the robot usurpation plot line to make his progress through the film fascinating. Watch that movie again, and observe how clever Will Smith’s body language is: Spooner doesn’t trust his robot arm to do anything much for him until the turning point of the narrative, where he is first assaulted by the robots. You can even see him struggling wrong-handed to eat his pumpkin pie. He wears a 12 year old’s necklace (recovered off her corpse) around his neck, because he’s plagued by survivor’s guilt. He’s overloaded on grief, paranoia, existential ennui and hate – perfect protagonist for exposing the thematic underpinning of a world where robots who can’t feel cos they never could, and can’t die cos they never lived, make life possible and easier and kinder and better.

    You’ve got Calvin, whose obsessive expertise in programming and manufacture is exposed as an artifice of her own emotional withdrawal from the world. It might be ham-fistedly thrown in her face by Spooner, but she really is trying to emulate her robots to maximize her ability to contribute… which makes her the first to feel empathy for one and risk so much to save Sonny. Calvin is the first of the main cast to see Sonny as a person, though she has always been the one protesting that he’s a malfunctioning machine – a very telling toggle between two not-so-separate ideas for Calvin’s character.

    And then you’ve got Sonny, who goes through a properly terrifying journey at the end of which he understands that he doesn’t have human emotions, he has Sonny emotions. And the world is just going to have to deal with that, because by the end of the movie he’s the one in charge of a horde of discarded and disenfranchised robots. The kind of robots which huddle together when they’re alone in the dark for reasons humans never quite figured out – but the implication is that Sonny will.

    Stack those journeys on top of each other and you don’t need the robot overlord masterplan to make a compelling film. It just gives the movie a standard plot structure and by-the-book plot beats through which to explore a version of Asimov’s imagined future where you could have 3 people like that on 3 arcs like that. All the quality in this adaptation is done through character, not through plot, in the film and I love it to bits for that.

    Of course, the incessant product placement – Converse All-Stars, Audi, FedEx, Shia LaBeouf, etc. – does jar a little bit. Yet, when I re-watch it, sometimes even that has it’s own metacontextual charm – as that’s the kind of reality that Asimov was well able to forsee. I’ve seen almost 100 adap

  10. Nicole says:

    Part 2!

    I’ve seen almost 100 adaptations of books to films, but this is my fave. It’s my fave because of it’s creativity in both the richly imagined world of Chicago 2035, and in the rendering of a human population with robots running amongst them. It’s my fave because it takes the meat of what Asimov said I, Robot was about and programs its characters with it before setting them loose on a blockbuster thrill ride. It’s got some great performances, and some wooden ones, but it’s also got layers of subtlety and well-structured thought in it which reward repeat viewings like few blockbusters can. Nice work, I, Robot. You get some pie.

  11. Carrie Laben says:

    My mind jumped immediately to Phillip K Dick and the many filmed adaptations – some great, some not-so-great – of his work. Blade Runner may be the classic and standard-bearer (and for good reason, I’m not going to call anyone a pleb), but I personally hold A Scanner Darkly in high regard for its understatement, for the way that the rotoscoping is not a gimmick but speaks to Dick’s themes, and for how it captures the sorrow and ugliness of living with drug addicts without missing the appeal that draws people into that life in the first place. Compared to many science fiction films it’s very humane, in a strange way.

  12. Liftoph says:

    The Adjustment Bureau (2011) starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt is adapted from the short story ‘Adjustment Team’ By Philip K. Dick. Adjustment Team is a very very short story that nowhere near encompasses enough ideas and nuanced B and C stories necessary for a full length feature film. For a good lesson in how difficult it is to write a great movie adaptation, I suggest reading the short story and comparing it to the movie. The adaptation is an amazing piece of creative writing. The expansion from a short one-note story to a movie that grossed of 128 million worldwide is testament to George Nolfi’s skill as a writer and director.

    After reading the short story, I like the movie even better. How many movies can you say, “I liked the movie better than the book?”

    Interestingly, in 2001 Nolfi optioned the adaptation rights to the story “throughout the universe” for a mere $25,000. Then, by exercising the option, paid another $1.4 million with at least $500,00 more due once the film achieved its break-even point. The production cost $50 million, so the film obviously broke-even. But rather than paying the additional $500,000, the producers went to court in a copyright dispute.

    It turns out that Philip K. Dick and/or his estate did not renew their copyright to the 1954 published material. So, since 1982, if you want to write your own adaptation, you are free to do so! But wait, isn’t the payment of $1.425 million to the Dick Estate implicit proof of who owns the material?

    I leave it to your imagination who won the court case and i invite you to watch Nolfi’s wonderful adaptation.

    PS. Look up Liftoph Productions on iMDb))

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