D – God, that movie sucked!
K – Seriously! How does the same boring Australian get cast in both Avatar and Clash of the Titans? He’s the least interesting person in both movies! They should have made Mads Mikkelson Perseus. That would have rocked!
N – I liked the Kraken.
K – Yeah, Long, you would. Man, what a turd! Are there any fantasy or sci-fi movies that are better than the books they’re based on? Any at all?
D – Hmmmmmm. Good one.
N – Wait. So, do I have to have read the book too?
K – Well, duh. How are you gonna compare if you haven’t?
N – Yeesh. That’s gonna narrow it down some. Let me think.
D – Blade Runner? Two Thousand One?
K – Have you actually read either of those?
D – Well, no, but…
K – What did we just say?
N – Okay, I got one. I saw the first Harry Potter and read the first book. But, uh, didn’t care for either of them enough to continue. Hmmm.
D – Dune! No, never mind. That was terrible. Man. This is harder than it looks.
N – I know! Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!
K – What? Come on, dude. Pick a grown-up movie.
N – I’m serious. It’s a great movie. I don’t know if it’s better than the book, but it’s as good. It stands on its own, and, yeah, I would say it’s a grown-up movie. There’s a lot of social satire in there – Mike TV and all that – that would go right over kids’ heads. Plus there’s that whole layer of creepy psychedelia laid on top of it all. That tunnel scene is still scarier than most horror movies.
K – Okay, fine. Now pick an adult movie.
N – But, but they’re all terrible. There isn’t a single– Oh wait! A Clockwork Orange. That was great.
D – And you read the book? Really?
N – I did. In high school. I don’t honestly remember that much about it. It was good, though, I remember that – a nasty little satire of British values, with a lot of linguistic candy thrown in just for fun. The movie, though, it just fucks with you. You’re going along, blown away by the look of it and kinda horrified by the violence, then you end up rooting for the bad guy, this complete psychopath, because the authorities are worse. It’s amazing. Completely makes you question yourself and your values.
K – Alright. I’ll give you that one. Clockwork Orange was brilliant. No argument. Anything else?
D – Wait. Hang on a second. Let’s turn it around. If all movies based on fantasy and sci-fi novels are shit–
N – Most movies.
D – Okay, if most movies based on fantasy and sci-fi novels are shit, then what genre novels would you like to see made into movies?
K – And have them turned into shit? No thanks.
D – No no. Best case scenario. Best screenwriter. Best director. Best. Cast. Ever. What books?
N – Easy. I’ve got three, right off the top of my head.
K – Of course you do. Let me guess, Long. These are books you, personally, want to make into movies. I bet you already have scripts written and everything.
N – I do not. Well, treatments, yes. Scripts, no. Whaddaya want from a screenwriter?
D – Okay okay, let’s hear ’em.
N – Right. Well, the first one’s pretty obvious, at least if you know me. I’ve always wanted to do a Fafhrd and Gray Mouser movie. Or a series, maybe. I’ve never understood why nobody’s ever done it. They’re perfect for movies. An easier fit than most fantasy.
D – Why? Aside from them being your favorites.
N – Well, look. You got Conan, right. He’s the silent, brooding type. You gotta bring in a lot of extra characters just so there’s some dialog now and then. And he’s a little too super for my taste. Nobody’s tougher than Conan, which kinda kills the tension. Then you’ve got Elric. He’s broody too. Worse. And when he does talk, it’s all serious and shit. Hollywood can’t do serious fantasy. It ends up sounding like bad Shakespeare. Fafhrd and Gray Mouser on the other hand, they’re more like average guys. They’re a fantasy buddy movie waiting to happen. It would be like Lethal Weapon with swords.
B – You say that like it’d be a good thing.
N – It would if I wrote it. Lots of fights and snappy repartee, desperate situations, evil priests, big monsters, sexy swordswomen, skulls, towers, jewels. How could it go wrong?
K – This is Hollywood, remember. They’d find a way. What’s number two?
Okay, this one’s pretty obscure. It’s called House of Stairs, by William Sleator. It’s about these five orphan kids who are put into a kind of a Skinner Box labyrinth with no food or–
K – Wait a minute. Kids? Is this another YA? What is it with you and kids books? Did you stop reading when you were twelve?
N – Uh, I’m sorry, how many times have you seen the Captain America movie? Anyway, there’s a machine in the middle of the labyrinth, right? And when the lights on the machine start flashing food and water comes out. At least it does at first. After a while, the machine only give out food after they’ve done something, like dance, or do a trick, or fight each other. Some of the kids will do anything to get the food, but two of them rebel. They… well, it’s all about individualism versus conformity, and it really hit me hard when I was a kid. My image of myself as an outsider, all that punk rock pride I used to have. A lot of it comes from this book, and in this day and age, a movie about that kind of stuff could really–
D – Oh my god, he’s preaching! Next! Next!
N – Aw, fuck you guys. It would be good. Okay, okay. Next. You know who Tim Powers is? Or is he over your reading level? The Stress of Her Regard? The Anubis Gates?
K – You mean the guy who wrote the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie?
N – That’s all you know him from? That’s just sad. He’s, like, the best writer on the planet. Anyway, I’ve always wanted to see his book Last Call as a movie. That’s the one about the guy who loses his soul in a poker game and finds out he’s a pawn in a big game of supernatural power politics that’s all wrapped up in tarot cards and who gets to be the Year King of the West. Great characters, a great story, and a kind of noir fantasy that you almost never see on screen. You want grown-up fantasy with real people and real emotions? Call somebody famous and get ’em to make that movie.
D – You call somebody. You’re the Hollywood screenwriter.
N – Yeah, I wrote Guyver Two. That and four bucks will get you a cappuccino in this town. Aw, forget it. Change the subject. What are we watching next?
K – Uh, let’s see. Oh, this is gonna be epic. We got Solomon Kane, or the new Conan movie. Your pick.
N – Aw, dude. You’re killing me!