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The release of “Dune” by Denis Villeneuve, which arrived so quickly in the wake of the adaptation of “Apple’s Foundation”, shows that the attraction of adapting so-called “infilmable” books to the screen remains as strong as ever. No matter how successful – or not, as anyone who has watched the movie “Breakfast of Champions” knows too well – any adaptation of a book that people thought was impossible to make nonetheless seems to be such an accomplishment that the filmmakers cannot. refrain from looking for future victims… I mean, “subjects” to turn their attention to.

With that in mind, here are some of the few infilmable masterpieces still intact in the world of genre literature for you to explore on your own in their original form, while you still can.

“The Rainbow of Gravity” by Thomas Pynchon

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To try to sum up Pynchon’s tale of the creation of the V-2 rockets – one of the 100 greatest novels of all time, although upon its release one of them was described as both “Illegible” and “obscene” by Pulitzer Prize judges the year after its initial release – is an almost impossible task, which is what makes it such a difficult book to adapt. It’s not only that it’s surprisingly long, but that much of the book takes place in hallucinations or dream sequences, or ends up being preoccupied with things that are either nearly impossible to do in cinematics (Hello, telepathic communication) or should be (Hello yourself, crappy food sequence). It’s not that Pynchon started writing something that the cinema couldn’t touch; it turned out to be a happy accident of the creation of the book.


Thomas Pynchon’s Rainbow of Gravity

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“The Man Who Folded” by David Gerrold

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Released the same year as “Gravity’s Rainbow,” Gerrold’s “The Man Who Folded Himself” has been described as the ultimate time travel novel, for good reason: it’s the story of a man who receives the gift of a belt that allows him to travel. through time, and uses it to… spend time with himself over and over again. And, by “hanging out with”, I mean, “having sex with” (more than once). Any cinematic version would require all kinds of special effects to ensure that the lead actor appeared onscreen as much (and as often) as possible, even if he was dancing around the possibility of audiences being disgusted by what. ‘he was watching – especially given the philosophical and moral issues raised in the process.


The Man Who Folded by David Gerrold

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‘Dhalgren’ by Samuel R. Delany

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Intentionally oblique and experimental, Delany’s story of an unnamed protagonist exploring a seemingly destroyed town called Bellona is a frustrating and beautiful read that can prove especially rewarding for those with the patience to peruse the book of over 800. pages. What works (arguably) as an exhaustive and grueling literary inquiry into the nature of self, reality, and literature, however, would likely be a disappointing cinematic experience once stripped of Delany’s individual voice and playfulness. . It’s one thing to get lost in an expansive recursive symphonic poem of a book at your leisure, after all; being trapped in a recreation of that inside a movie theater seems a much less appealing proposition.


Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany

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“The Silmarillion” by JRR Tolkien

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Courtesy of Amazon

Perhaps the best indicator of the impossibility of filming this collection of stories from Middle-earth of Tolkien, writer of “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”, perhaps lies in the simple fact that it was not filmed; After the success of both of Peter Jackson’s bestselling trilogies, it would have seemed a safe bet that all of the remaining Tolkien stories would be salvaged for the big screen. “The Silmarillion”, however, is anything but user-friendly fodder – published posthumously in 1977, it consisted of esoteric material which included some initially refused by its publisher during his lifetime, with much of the material unfinished or in need of. a second draft, to be polite. If anyone wanted to adapt it for the screen, it might be best represented by Sir Ian McKellan speaking directly to the audience and saying, “Honestly I don’t think you really need to bother” his charming manner.


JRR Tolkien’s Silmarillion

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‘Timequake’ by Kurt Vonnegut

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Unlike previous entries on this list, “Timequake” – the latest “novel” from sci-fi master Vonnegut, although that definition is something we’ll get to in a second – has a concept that seems tailor-made for them. films: a disruption in the time / space continuum that each takes a decade back to relive his life a second time. It’s groundhog day, but for the whole world! What makes the book so successful, however, is something no movie could replicate: Vonnegut’s voice, and the fact that the book is less of a simple story than a series of digressions about what Vonnegut is doing. think back then, while complaining at the same time that the book doesn’t quite go as planned. It’s a metafictional joy, and sadly, no amount of studio magic could make it happen anywhere else.


Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut

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“House of leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski

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When Danielewski’s first novel came out in 2000, much of the attention was not devoted to the story – which centers on the book’s protagonist uncovering a study of a documentary that may whether or not to exist, and the interplay between the protagonist, the study, and the documentary itself as the three become more and more intertwined – but the way the story has been told, taking advantage of the very format of ‘a book with footnotes, typographical tips and more that make the most of the way we read. Sure, an enterprising director could do their best to replicate the allure using different image and film processing, but in a post-‘Blair Witch’ era, ‘Paranormal Activity’, is it really okay? attract someone’s attention ?


House of leaves by Mark Danielewski

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Lost daughters of Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie

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Given that much of Moore’s comic book work has ended up on screen in one form or another – the less said about the movie “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” the better – it can. be surprising that “Lost Girls,” the 2006 graphic novel project in which he and co-creator Gebbie examine what happened to three protagonists of famous children’s literature after the end of those famous stories, has yet to been adapted. This surprise would be faded upon discovering that “Lost Girls” is famous, very intentionally, pornographic, with Moore and Gebbie showing adult versions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice and Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” and “Peter Pan” “Wendy engaging in adult pursuits. Technically it could be turned into a movie, but… well… porn versions of these characters almost certainly already exist.


Alan Moore’s Lost Girls



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“The Gone World” by Nick Harkaway

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For those wondering what “The Gone-Away World” is, the answer is partly suggested by the title: This is the world that remains after what is called the Go-Away War. What the starting war was is a slightly more difficult proposition – a war fought using weapons that not only destroy their target, but completely destroy any evidence of their existence… simply causing them to disappear. Unfortunately, there is a by-product of all of this: the tendency for the matter that made up the vanished material to reappear as the products of the viewers’ subconscious. A surreal, ridiculous, existential story, “The Gone-Away World” feels so connected to the island world of its inhabitants and the unique way prose can invite audiences to this world as it brings them to any other. support is almost guaranteed to fail.


The Gone World by Nick Harkaway

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‘S’ by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst

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You would think any story JJ Abrams co-wrote of All People would be meant for the screen – big or small! – but the existence of the “S” of 2013 proves the contrary. Telling three different stories that are, sort of the same story (sort of), “S” is what happens when someone finds a way to make a book with margin notes already pre-written. Technically, there’s a movie to be made from the project’s central book, “Ship of Theseus” by lone (and fictional) author VM Straka, but such an adaptation would miss the extra context added by Jennifer and Eric, both. characters who have read Theseus before and left notes for the reader to discover – and it’s the way the three play against each other that really makes “S” as useful as it ends up being.


S by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst



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