Word came a couple weeks back that the classic scifi novel The Stars My Destination is set to be directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts at Paramount. Vogt-Roberts has previously directed The Kings of Summer and the upcoming Skull Island.

Writer John Podhoretz tweeted back on March 13 that Stars is “unfilmable.” It is? Why?


Here’s my standard by which a film is “(un)filmable”: If Dune and Watchmen can be turned into major motion pictures, just about any story can. (Granted, the latter example is a much better film than the former, but you get the point. I hope.)

Stars was published in 1957 and written by Alfred Bester. This classic scifi novel details the travails of one Gully Foyle, who was marooned for months on the derelict space vessel Nomad. When a potential rescue ship arrives, it ignores Foyle’s hail and abandons him.

Bester’s description of Foyle’s plight during this space solitude is exceptional. The functionally illiterate Gully lives in his spacesuit inside an area the size of a phone booth. Occasionally, he has to make “a run” to additional oxygen and food, each time a potential death sentence. Though not very bright, Foyle’s indomitable will more than makes up for his lack of cerebral prowess.

This will transforms into a need for raging revenge after the possible rescue vessel, Vorga, leaves Foyle to his fate in space.

Eventually, Foyle manages to make enough repairs to the Nomad to effect a rescue by a cult of scientists onboard a hollowed-out asteroid.

After a time, Gully manages to make his way back to Earth, but is captured during an attempt to destroy the Vorga on a launch pad. After a stint in an underground prison, he manages to escape, and eventually adopts a new identity in order to track down those responsible for his abandonment in the final frontier.

A very cool — and essential — subplot to Stars is the evolution of the human species via mental teleportation, or “jaunting” as Bester calls it. The author is incredibly adept at surmising how such an ability would radically alter society, especially the need for privacy.

For me, only fellow scifi author Larry Niven has explored the benefits — and liabilities — of instantaneous travel as skillfully as Bester. (But in Niven’s universe(s), teleportation is achieved via artificial means — a booth or disc, typically.)

Any human in Stars can jaunte — provided they know their departure and arrival points (i.e. have actually seen both). But … no one can jaunte through space. And it is precisely this fact which leads to Gully Foyle becoming a massively valuable commodity in the solar system.

(Image via Blastr.com)