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Books into Movies - Classic SF, part 2

Asimov Isaac (1920-1992) is one of the most widely read science fiction author of all time. His first short story, “Marooned Off Vesta” appeared in a 1939 issue of Amazing Stories. He won the Hugo Award four times and the Nebula Award once. With nearly five hundred books to his name and several hundred articles, he has works in every major category of the Dewey Decimal System except Philosophy.

His robot stories remain some of his most recognizable work. The 1999 movie Bicentennial Man is based on an Asimov story where a robot begins to display human characteristics. The story was originally written for an anthology celebrating the 1976 American bicentennial. Asimov, along with other authors, was commissioned to write a story about the phrase "the bicentennial man." While the anthology was never printed, the story formed the basis of the novel The Positronic Man (1993), co-written with Robert Silverberg.

Most recently was the feature film I, Robot. While many fans will agree that the movie has little in common with the stories, the film was inspired by, if not based on, Asimov’s work and theories of the positronic brain.


Arthur C Clarke is probably most famous for 2001: A Space Odyssey. A mysterious, obviously artificial, artifact is discovered buried on the moon. With the intelligent computer HAL, men set off to explore it. The novel was inspired by Clarke's short story "The Sentinel", but became a novel during collaboration on a screen play with Stanley Kubrick. The movie won the 1969 Hugo for dramatic presentation.

Harlan Ellison has been an advisor on major scifi series like Babylon 5, and has written episodes of Star Trek and The Twilight Zone. Although he has never written a novel, Ellison has had a long career in science fiction and fantasy both as editor and as short story writer. Available in The Essential Ellison: A 35 Year Retrospective, Ellison’s short story, "Soldier" (1954) was the basis for the film Terminator (1984).

Robert Heinlein started writing for pulp magazines in 1939 and was a dominant influence in science fiction for the next forty years. He was the first science fiction writer to break into major general magazines in the 1940s and 1950s and author of the first bestselling novel-length science fiction in the 1960s.

In The Puppet Masters (1954), American agents battle parasitic aliens that take over the minds of their victims. 1994 film starred Donald Sutherland.

His Hugo winning Starship Troopers (1959) is about soldiers in a Mobile Infantry unit defending humanity from an intelligent race of aliens known as "bugs." The novel was expanded from the short story “Starship Soldiers” which originally appeared in the October/November 1959 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The 1997 film version won the 1998 Hugo for dramatic performance.

The 1950 Retro Hugo for dramatic performance was awarded to Destination Moon, a film based on Heinlein’s Rocket Ship Galileo (1947), an early young adult novel about the first trip to the moon.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996), a noted astronomer and writer, helped popularized science through his tv show Cosmos and was a proponent of the search for extraterrestrial life. Sagan’s only novel, Contact (1985), is about a radio astronomer who discovers an intelligent signal broadcast from deep space. The film version won the 1998 Hugo for dramatic presentation.


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