Movie: Moon Is A Harsh Mistress?

miahmI see there’s a lot of excitement over the announcement that yet another group… plans to make a film adaptation of the Heinlein classic. Some folks are fairly piddling themselves in excitement, while others bemoan the anticipated shredding of Heinlein’s ideas (think the fascist BEM gore-fest, Starship Troopers, which managed to miss-or-invert every freaking point RAH raised).

I fall somewhere in the middle, not because MIAHM is one of my favorite books, but why it’s a favorite.

It’s a complicated tale, all things considered. Far too much so for a two hour Hollywood hack. They’ll have to reduce it to a skiffy action flick. That’s means leaving out the complications that made it a favored novel: Not just polyandry/line/etc marriage, but the explanations of why it developed, and how those same attitudes at once serve to keep the Loonies from rebelling and yet… rebel. Economic theory; balance of trade and resource depletion, can you imagine Hollywood hipsters doing that as entertainingly as Heinlein in two hours?

Heinlein’s books were my own introduction to ballistics*, and multiple key plot points in MIAHM revolve around that. Care to wager on whether the linear accelerator manages to hit the Earth in seconds, at most minutes?

I shudder to think what they’ll do to Mycroft “Mike” Holmes. Probably rename him Wally, and use him as a comic relief sidekick peripheral to “real” story.

Mannie will likely get a glowing red eye and tell the Lunar Authority he’ll be back.

OTOH, Wyoh was eye-candy, albeit smart, independent, tough eye-candy. Scarlett Johansson maybe… I could enjoy that.

The sad fact is that novels rarely adapt well to single movies. Too long, too complex. Short stories or novellas work much better: consider Carpenter’s The Thing, an adaption of Campbell’s Who Goes There? Or ponder the visually glorious mess Jackson made of The Lord of the Rings. That took three movies that made a mockery of the original tale, and still managed to leave out The Scouring of the Shire… which was the point — the hobbits’ graduation exercise, so to speak — that everything else led up to.

Are these people — who apparently believe that MIAHM is “right-wing libertarian science-fiction” — to be trusted to get it right… this time?

I would dearly love to see an adaption of the book. But I don’t think the conventional big screen theater with conventional time and ideological constraints in the venue for it. To do it right, I think it will have to be a mini-series. It might have to air on SyFy to reach the target demographic, but it should absolutely effing not be produced by those morons. Independent production, then transmission rights leased to SyFy.

Then again, Disney has a good track record with direct-to-DVD releases of stuff that would never succeed in theaters. That might be the route to go.

Mini-series or DVD; either would provide the format for getting all the plot details right, which I don’t believe can be done in a conventional Hollywood two hour screening.

* And getting it right. Heinlein’s example is why — even though I don’t dwell on the ballistic trivia in my novels, the details work. I wrote a computer program just for the purpose of… when I say that the Ferocious Golfball made it to the Trojans when it did, you know it would, because I ran the acceleration profile and trajectories to be sure it was physically possible (and added a throwaway booster stage to make it work).


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