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Sci-Fi Moon Movies

'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress' Coming To the Big Screen 331

HughPickens.com writes: According to the Hollywood Reporter, Twentieth Century Fox recently picked up the movie rights to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, based on the classic sci-fi book by Robert A. Heinlein. It will retitled as Uprising. Heinlein's 1966 sci-fi novel centers on a lunar colony's revolt against rule from Earth, and the book popularized the acronym TANSTAAFL (There ain't no such thing as a free lunch), a central, libertarian theme. The novel was nominated for the 1966 Nebula award (honoring the best sci-fi and fantasy work in the U.S.) and won the Hugo Award for best science fiction novel in 1967. An adaptation has been attempted twice before — by DreamWorks, which had a script by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, and by Phoenix Pictures, with Harry Potter producer David Heyman attached — but both languished and the rights reverted to Heinlein's estate. Brian Singer, who previously directed X-Men: Days of Future Past, will adapt the screenplay and reportedly direct. Several of Heinlein's works have been adapted for the big and small screen, including the 1953 film Project Moonbase, the 1994 TV miniseries Red Planet, the 1994 film The Puppet Masters, the 2014 film Predestination, and — very loosely — the 1997 film Starship Troopers.
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'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress' Coming To the Big Screen

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  • by Jhon ( 241832 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @02:14PM (#49181745) Homepage Journal

    Predestination was a "decent' attempt at "All you Zombies" and was very watchable.

    All the other attempts kind of sucked out loud with a bamboo umbrella.

    • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @02:32PM (#49181929) Journal

      All I know is, I'm praying "...please don't fuck it up as bad as you did Starship Troopers..."

      • by Jhon ( 241832 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @02:40PM (#49182013) Homepage Journal

        Starship Troopers was bad. Very bad. While Puppet Masters was bad, too -- it had at least Donald Sutherland. I could picture him as the "Old Man" easily and I could almost imagine a script that didn't suck.

        • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @02:53PM (#49182169) Homepage

          Starship Troopers was more an ironic paraphrasing of the book than literally following the book.

          I actually come to realize that if you follow a book literally then it may not make a good movie.

          • by Sowelu ( 713889 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @03:56PM (#49182733)

            The Starship Troopers movie doesn't much resemble the book because it wasn't based on the book. No, literally, it was a totally standalone work that was written from the ground up as terrible B-movie schlock, and someone pointed out that it had a passing resemblance...so they licensed the name for marketing, changed a couple characters and locations, that's it. Heinlein's estate didn't care that it was completely different because he's dead and it's free money.

            The original title was Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine.

            • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @06:11PM (#49183979) Homepage Journal

              Oh my God, I can't believe you morons still believe that.

              Verhoeven was fucking with you.

              This is the man who made RoboCop and Total Recall. The writer of Starship Troopers, Edward Neumeier, also wrote RoboCop.

              Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine is a working title. A lot of movies like that have working titles. It helps keep them secret when they're in production.

              Do you honestly think they weren't aware of one of the most famous science fiction novels that bore a striking similarity to the movie they had written, which was itself a satire of fascism and war propaganda?

              Verhoeven may not have actually finished the novel, you don't need to, it's pretty boring, all hopping around in power armor and nuking skinnies and bugs after you get past the parts they directly lifted. But Neumeier is a writer who is into science fiction, do you honestly think he had never heard of Starship Troopers? That it was all coincidence? If so, you Heinlein fanboys are as dim-witted as the characters.

              • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @08:49PM (#49185059) Journal

                Verhoeven completely misunderstood the book, was the thing, and made a parody of it. What he missed, what Heinlein's reader's often miss, is that Heinlein doesn't write utopias. None of his books are some imagining of an ideal society. The point of Starship Troopers was to explore in depth what life would be like in a militaristic/fascist society from the point of view of someone who knew nothing else. It was subtle and powerful as a result: the point-of-view characters are fully adapted to their society, and don't point out all the ways it's batshit crazy. Heinlein trusts the reader to make that call, to see how easily people get used to even such a harsh society and accept it as normal, if that's all you know.

                Verhoeven missed all of that, saw it as an endorsement of the society in the book, and parodied it, turning the really interesting point the book was making into trite anvilicious crap.

                Moon is the same - exploring an ultra-libertarian society in the same detail, in the same way from the point of view of people adapted to it. I expect the same Hollywood treatment: making a satire of it since they see the society as unwanted, not realizing it wasn't an endorsement in the first place but a critique.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

                  Verhoeven missed all of that, saw it as an endorsement of the society in the book, and parodied it, turning the really interesting point the book was making into trite anvilicious crap.

                  Look, I'm not going to claim that Troopers was a good movie in any way really, but you totally failed at watching it. The propaganda scenes made it quite clear that Verhoeven was not providing an "endorsement" of such a society.

                  Verhoeven is a perfectly bright guy, he's smarter than you in that he knows that explosions and tits sell pictures both to execs and audiences. Total Recall was the film that convinced me that he knew what he was doing. Get the basic ideas down in the picture, and get the big twist/r

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 )

            That's actually why the movie was done as a parody. Trying to play the book straight would result in something that looks an awful lot like a fascist propaganda film.

            • by blue9steel ( 2758287 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @04:11PM (#49182853)
              I'm not sure the government of that universe can be properly described as fascist just because they limited suffrage to veterans. My understanding was that it was still a mixed economy republic without the organized business and labor groups that would be required for a fascist system.

              Regardless, a movie about Starship Troopers that doesn't include power armor isn't a proper re-telling of the story.
        • by Mike Van Pelt ( 32582 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @03:37PM (#49182535)
          "The Puppet Masters" was actually pretty decent, given their limitations. (They ran out of budget to do decent alien spaceships, and they're obviously not going to be able to take it as far as Schedule Suntan without getting a kiss-of-death NC-17 rating.) Donald Sutherland absolutely nailed the rold of The Old Man. And how did they get that chimp to act so *creepy* when hag-ridden? Much of the dialog was straight from the book, and a number of scenes were very close to the book, modulo moving the setting to the present day from a future where there are Venus colonies. It was made by people who read and loved the book.
      • by Monkey-Man2000 ( 603495 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @02:43PM (#49182059)
        The film was actually a pretty good satire and action flick (a la Robocop) if you ignore the book, and I agree it should not profess to be based on it. I don't have a better idea for a title offhand for it though; maybe "Interplanetary Troopers", "Space Troopers"? Nah, Starship Troopers just has a better ring to it... Anyway, a more faithful adaptation would have been so much different and required a substantially larger budget I suspect...
        • by the gnat ( 153162 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @02:57PM (#49182203)

          There is one way of looking at the movie in relation to the book that actually sort of makes sense. For all of the criticism leveled at Heinlein for being too militaristic or even "fascistic", the society he describes is basically a multicultural libertarian utopia: people of all nationalities seem to be relatively happy and well-off, the government is relatively minimal, and the federal service is open to absolutely anyone (even cripples). And that's precisely the problem - utopian ideals rarely turn out well in practice. Actually, the even more specific problem is that Heinlein assumes the society would basically be run by people like him. Verhoeven's version, although it badly misrepresents what the book actually says, is probably a more realistic vision of how such a society would turn out.

          That said, I'd still love to see an adaptation that plays it straight. Or at least gets the mobile infantry right, complete with orbital drops and mechanized armor.

          • by nobuddy ( 952985 )

            Heinlein also used the basic income model in many of his stories. Its not all libertarian, its a balance between a social safety net and libertarian capitalism.

            • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @03:39PM (#49182559)

              Many of his books also featured communal living, with many people living together and freely sharing resources, and even sharing sexual partners. Usually this was not part of the main plot, but just happened to be the way the characters were living.

              • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @04:22PM (#49182957)

                Heinlein's thoughts were so far above the cookie cutter "isms" as to be on a different plane altogether.

            • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @03:47PM (#49182641)

              Heinlein also used the basic income model in many of his stories. Its not all libertarian, its a balance between a social safety net and libertarian capitalism.

              Not all libertarians are against a safety net and basic services like police, fire/rescue and the military. Its more about keeping gov't to an absolute minimum. To match, limit and scale gov't to a clear definable needs, not to have gov't engage in "well meaning" wants.

            • I'm using the term "libertarian" only in the most general sense - not the Tea Party/Ayn Rand versions. It's an imperfect term to describe him, but I have a hard time thinking of another that works better, since none of the established political groupings occupies a similar niche.

            • Personally I think basic income is compatible with libertarianism though I'm sure many will disagree. After all, if you're compelled to sell your labor due to having no other choice but starvation are you really free at all? Imposing libertarianism without a frontier or a BI is essentially just license for capital to exploit labor with all the power on the capital end of things.
          • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @03:42PM (#49182583)
            The fascism was largely a creation of the movie's director, Verhoeven. He had his own agenda that he thought the movie would be a good vehicle for. He even admits not reading the book.

            As you point out the book is quite different. I would like to emphasize that the book is quite clear that federal service is not necessarily military service. That the federal service required hardship and a risk of severe bodily injury or death, for example construction in harsh environments (asteroids, space, etc). In fascism the military and combat is held above all else, mere laborers even doing hazardous construction would never be considered to have equivalent service.
            • by the gnat ( 153162 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @03:53PM (#49182707)

              The accusation of fascism wasn't just Verhoeven, though - many others have made the same complaint (again, I think it's unfair, but it is a widespread view). Heinlein was clearly bothered enough by some of the reactions to his book that he wrote an entire essay defending himself and clarifying what he meant (I think it's in the collection Expanded Universe). One of the key points was that fascism tends to involve universal conscription - his "federal service" was absolutely voluntary.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shirgall ( 110235 )

        The director of Starship Troopers didn't read more than two chapters of the book, and had no intention of a faithful adaptation. With any luck, the people involved might actually read the book and manage to get past the premise that the Earth can't make enough food to feed itself and therefore the Moon must be farmed.

        • by nobuddy ( 952985 )

          I never got that impression. The moon was a self sustaining colony that trades with Earth. I don't recall any notion that the Earth was dependant on them for food.

          but it has also been a good 25 or 30 years since I read it, so there is that.

    • Predestination was a "decent' attempt at "All you Zombies" and was very watchable.

      All the other attempts kind of sucked out loud with a bamboo umbrella.

      Pretty much. I really liked Predestination, loved that they kept the original time frame even though it led to some retro-futuristic anachronisms, and didn't begrudge them adding somewhat to the story. Did you notice that one of the characters was holding a copy of "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress"?

      I hesitate to call *all* the others crap only because parts of "the puppet masters" were fairly close to the original material, if you see the story as occurring in the present day rather than near-future. What a

  • But seriously, that's pretty fun. I hope they don't screw it up.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      But seriously, that's pretty fun. I hope they don't screw it up.

      I tried it but it wasn't that fun, my Mistress just said "What are you doing!? That's disgusting, pull your pants back up!", then she slapped me across the face and walked out -- she's quite harsh.

  • by glennrrr ( 592457 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @02:16PM (#49181779)
    When I was in high school. I didn't think of them as being polemics; nobody is going to confuse Heinlein with Ayn Rand when it comes to message versus storytelling. With him, it was mostly about the storytelling and the adventure, not spouting off.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      His later books got more than a little bizarre and disturbing. Strange things seem to happen to aging SF writers.

    • Now that you're older you should reread them. I've only read a few including this, Starship Troopers, and Strangers in a Strange Land, and there is a lot more than just a fun story going on in them, and I think a good case can be made that the stories actually subserve their underlying themes (WHATEVER they were).
    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      Yeah, I second the poster who suggests rereading them again now... except honestly most just weren't THAT good.

      nobody is going to confuse Heinlein with Ayn Rand when it comes to message versus storytelling.

      Actually I disagree, several of his works had lengthy tangents of just Heinlein channeling message that really didn't connect to the story. Friday for one, Farnham's Freehold for another, Number of the Beast, I will fear no evil, all stand out as examples for me. Probably others... to sail beyond the sunset...etc.

      I think Stranger in a Strange Land ... well the commentary on society in that one was

      • A lot of his work was good, and even his weaker stuff is still worth a read -- some neat stuff explored; but your definitely looking through a window into Heinlein's political, economic, and sexual ideology and it becomes apparent to the point of being an annoying distraction.

        The thing that stood out for me re-reading Mistress recently was that Heinlein was an utter troglodyte about gender roles. He was progressive for his time, but his treatment of women really stands out, and not in a good way, when reading his books with a modern sensibility.

        • by halivar ( 535827 )

          The problem there is critiquing old art with modern social mores. By that token, we ought to dismiss every classic odalisque ever painted as blatant sexual objectification. It is unfair to unmoor art from its context and judge it from an alien one.

          • by vux984 ( 928602 )

            Not really.

            Yes, its important to consider the context classical works were written from. The Flintstones for example or Huck Finn... etc. The various racial and gender issues in them can and should be attributed to values from 1880 or 1960 respectively.

            We should of course, bear in mind that Heinlein is writing from the 40s through the 80s and need to keep that in focus, but they are not the background canvas that his works rest on he... he brings the social conventions to the forefront propses that we look

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      Heinlein did make a great story around an idea in many cases - often seasoned with some bites at the contemporary society when the books were written.

      But if anything I would like to see a movie or a series of the book "Citizen of the Galaxy".

    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      His writing was certainly libertarian in nature varing from basically none to extreme. That said, his stories were always written well enough that you often don't realize/care about his politics bleeding int the pages.

      His tendencies are more about frontier self-sufficience and the use of one's own (naturally brilliant though often fluke) ability to survive extrodinary situations. The formula generally works because his stories are written to play well against this formula while still being quite enjoyable (

  • Uprising? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @02:18PM (#49181797) Homepage Journal

    I suspect I'm much more likely to go and watch a film called "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" than one called "Uprising".

    • Re:Uprising? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vanyel ( 28049 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @02:37PM (#49181973) Journal

      Starting off by fucking with the title tells me they have no interest in actually bringing the book to the screen, which is a real pisser, because it's one of my favorite books and it would make a great movie.

    • Totally agree! "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" is one of the coolest book names out there!

      I can't imagine why they would change it. Especially to something so bland.

      • Perhaps with the term "Mistress" in the title, they were worried that people would confuse it with the 50 Shades genre.

    • It's too many words to fit on a Marquee, and takes too long to say to the ticket vendor. By the time you say "One for The Man who went up a hill and came down a Mountain", the ticket agent has already given you your ticket, change, and is halfway through serving the next person in line.
      • It's too many words to fit on a Marquee, and takes too long to say to the ticket vendor. By the time you say "One for The Man who went up a hill and came down a Mountain", the ticket agent has already given you your ticket, change, and is halfway through serving the next person in line.

        But I did actually see that film. Making life easy for the marquee layout is clearly not the same thing as making money.

    • Yes, but now that '50 Shades of Grey' is out, can you imagine what the producers would have wanted to do with a title like that?

    • Or even the double meaning of a title like "Moonrise". Then again, Hollywood - for all of it's rep as creative - is rather dull and cowardly at times ('No! It sounds too much like Moonrise Kingdom! Tractor-driving Peorians will be confused!').
  • by onkelonkel ( 560274 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @02:24PM (#49181847)

    If they do this right it could be an awesome movie, but I'm afraid they will do all the stupid things Hollywood always does when they "adapt" a book for a movie. Like dumb it down, oversimplify the plot and leave out key plot elements, throw in lots of action scenes that weren't originally in the story and then tack on a fake happy ending for Mike,

    • Let's see, just how badly could they mess this up . . . Well, I still have the paperback with the reversed artwork, showing Mannie with the WRONG ARM being cybernetic, so messing up a book has a long and storied history.

      The obvious problem is that the story takes place over a multi-month or year-long period, which never comes across well in a movie. This would need a miniseries to do it justice.
      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        the story takes place over a multi-month or year-long period, which never comes across well in a movie

        [In no particular order] - ever seen a little thing called Gone With the Wind? Lawrence of Arabia? Doctor Zhivago?

  • by surfdaddy ( 930829 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @02:26PM (#49181869)
    ...only surpassed when I read Ender's Game.
  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @02:45PM (#49182089)

    Seriously, this is great. When we look at all the great SF books and stories that turned into movies like:
    I robot [imdb.com]
    Starship troopers [imdb.com]
    We Can Remember It for You Wholesale [imdb.com]
    Minority Report [imdb.com]
    and the greatest of all
    I am legend [imdb.com]

    Seriously, what could go wrong?

  • by spaceyhackerlady ( 462530 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2015 @03:04PM (#49182271)

    The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is an interesting, thoughtful story.

    Hollywood doesn't do interesting and thoughtful.

    QED

    I'd be much more confident if this was being done in England or Scandinavia (cf Real Humans [imdb.com]).

    ...laura

    • Hollywood doesn't do interesting and thoughtful.

      You're ignoring Liam Neeson's thoughtful and nuanced performance in "Taken 3".

  • Check this stunning version from avant garde guitarist Bill Frisell, jazz pianist Fred Hersch and Renee Fleming (yes, the opera singer).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • We can predict that:

    - The libertarian theme will be inverted by the writers and directors. The actual message will be something entirely different from what Heinlein said, wrote, and believed.
    - There will be product placement, somehow. Just, somehow. If Will Smith can pimp shoes in I, Robot, and Captain Kirk can pimp Nokia in a post-nuclear-apocalyptic, post-capitalistic, post-currency society, then somehow they will ruin that aspect as well.
    - They already changed the title. There's zero chance it w

  • ...something like "oh please sweet cthulhu, don't screw this up", but would rightly be expected to be marked -1000 "Redundant".

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