Why SF Movies Suck More Than Books

My office mate and I were discussing the old and remake Plant of the Apes movies and it occurred to me why science fiction movies aren’t like science fiction books.

I was trying to remember how Marky Mark got to the planet of the apes. I remembered that in the old movie there was a crew of people on a long space trip and in cryogenic suspension. They somehow make a wrong turn and end up back on Earth with out knowing it.

In the new movie they go through a wormhole.

And this is why SF movies have the reputation of sucking. The writer didn’t try to come up with a plausible reason for how the characters get to where he wants to start the story. Instead it pulls a Star Trek, makes up a word or co-ops one, boom he’s where he wants to be.

No self respecting SF writer of books would do this. And if they did they wouldn’t write very many books.

David Gerrod in his book on writing science fiction and fantasy says science fiction is about what could happen and fantasy is about what couldn’t happen. If you don’t give a reason something could happen you are righting fantasy. No matter what the setting. No matter the number of space ships. Star Wars is fantasy. Star Trek is fantasy.

So I guess I should give the new Ape movie a break. It’s fantasy. But it also sucks, so it gets no break.

The old plant of the apes could happen. We could genetically engineer a race of intelligent monkeys and apes. We almost assuredly would try to enslave them. They would probably get uppity and maybe turn the tables on us.

(Of course that’s not the source of the apes. Time travel is.)

You could send a ship on a multi-light year trip with a crew in suspended animation. Probably the ship would know what to do if it didn’t find a place for humans, and if at some point it hadn’t found anything it would turn around and come home.