Let’s talk about depressing sci-fi with Children of Men, book versus movie.
The first time I watched Children of Men I wasn’t a fan. It was bleak, cold, and there was a feeling of pointless hopelessness. Even when I rewatched it, I can’t say I enjoyed the film. But I did become something of a fan of the film.
That’s something I often find with sci-fi movies. They may not be films I enjoy watching but they are rewarding, engrossing, and poignant experiences.
While this isn’t unique to sci-fi, it seems to attract filmmakers to the genre – when they’re not busy getting a hardon for pew pew noises. But I’d say sci-fi novels don’t have this same effect on me. With a few notable exceptions, like 1984, most sci-fi novels I’ve read are enjoyable while being rewarding, engrossing, and poignant.
The question then arises is why novels and movies differ in this way. I’d assert that the reason the books tend to be enjoyable is that I’d have given up on them otherwise. A 90-120 minute film is something you can tolerate a bit of bleakness in to come away rewarded. A book takes a lot longer to read, particularly in the sci-fi genre which is yet to produce a novel under 600 pages in a 6-volume series. You’d better believe the reader needs to be engrossed for the book version, which will require a bit less bleakness than movies can get away with.