A film adaptation of “The Stars My Destination” once more percolated to the top of the Hollywood morass as a big-budget sci-fi film. TSMD, written in the 1950s, has long been considered one of the great un-filmed science fiction novels. Personally, this book is one of my all time favorites and rightly deserves every accolade it receives. The rant that follows will veer into spoiler territory, so if you have not read the book, do so and come back.
At its heart, TSMD is a revenge tale about Gully Foyle, a space man left abandoned on a space hulk for months only to see salvation in the form of a ship, the “Vorga.” Sadly for the owners of the “Vorga,” they pass poor Gully by and let him rot on his dead ship. Big mistake. The rage in poor Foyle transforms him from a common, even below average, spaceman to an engine of vengeance with no limitations. To be very clear, Gully Foyle in the early parts of the book is a monster. His love interest is a serial killer. Gully murders, steals, rapes, blackmails, lies, betrays allies and generally inflicts horrors on anyone that gets between him and his goal; vengeance. I still am in awe this book had a mainstream publisher back in the 1950s.
Any film adaptation made by that pile of squirming, spineless cowards that infest Hollywood film studios is sure to both insult the material and spawn a terrible film. Failure is certain because TSMD requires a large budget, with space battles, mass teleportation, mystical exploding metals and superhuman cybernetic implant battles between multiple combatants. All that costs money and if this movie comes in at less than 100 million dollars I would be amazed. This means that it has to make money. A lot of money and TSMD’s hero, Gully Foyle does not lend himself to the mass movie market. Which means he will be neutered from the monster he is to a “troubled hero” with dark tendencies. Gully is not a hero, he is a dark freak ready to break any taboo to achieve his goals.
Now you might ask why I am so certain that poor Gully will be tamed by the Worms of Hollywood? I have a perfect example; “Ender’s Game .” Ender in the book deploys violence reluctantly, but when he does people get hurt. The violence is an intentional act designed to achieve a goal and executed with aplomb. Compare this to the film version where Hollywood’s worms dare not show a teenager intentionally hurting someone. All the film violence comes off as “oops, I did not mean to do that.” Which is an insult to the book’s character that made a willful, calculated decision to use violence to achieve a goal. Say, like a great general might. WHICH IS THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE BOOK!
So, Worms of Hollywood, spare us the watered down Gully Foyle and sell the property to HBO. At least they are willing to let monsters be monsters.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer