Can they make a good Niven movie?

Larry Niven, that is. David Niven isn’t up to much movie-making these days.

Inspired by this thread. Larry Niven is my favorite sci-fi author, but I’m on the fence regarding the filmability of his stories. I know that the Sci-Fi Channel is planning a four-part miniseries of Ringworld, and I’m hopeful it will be decent, but I recognize the problems the story will present.

But LN has written a batch of stuff. Most of his best stuff, IMO, is the “known space” material, all of which would require backstory to be filmed. Gil the Arm stories are kind of promising, especially Death by Ecstasy, but would need to be fleshed out somehow. His later works might be more filmable, but I don’t like them half as well as the early stuff.

Can any of them be done? And why the delay in filming any of the works of one of science fiction’s most popular authors?

the new Outer Limits did an adaptation of Inconstant Moon that was pretty good.

The animated Star Trek adapted The Soft Weapon as "The Slaver Weapon, shoehorning Niven’s "Known Space mythology into the Star Trek Universe.
They ought to be able to adapt some of Niven’s stuff, but I suspect that anyone would screw up Ringworld – too much backstory needed.

I want to see a movie made of “Survivor” - the Man-Kzin Wars novella with Eater-of-Grass. No backstory needed; it’s the most accessible kzinti story I know, and wonderfully creepy. As a bonus, it would be a perfect lead-in for any other Known Space story involving kzinti.

A less pleasant alternative would be the story of the Angel’s Pencil or Happy Gatherer… some movie about the beginning of the Man-Kzin Wars. Also, very little backstory needed; if they stick to the events and dialogue of the actual story, it’s its own backstory. But I didn’t like those nearly as much as I did Survivor.

What? Where? How? Is it on DVD? For the love of Og man, tell me!!!

Yea, this one I remember. Yech.
I think a number of his older short stories, particularly the ones concerning the societal implications of the introduction of teleportation technology, would make excellent movies. Plus, Will Smith’s a natural to play “Jerryberry Jansen”!

I realise it was a collaboration with Jerry Pournelle but what about Footfall? I always thought that was a very filmable novel.

I thought David Niven made quite a few good films.

Well, a quick search turns up these:

I could see Patchwork Girl working–it’s just a moonbase set, and life in a high-tech environment. They wouldn’t have to explain too much; it’d probably fit into an Outer Limits episode.

I admittedly haven’t read much Niven, just Ringworld, and that was so long ago I don’t even remember the basic plot, just snippets of things here and there. What I do remember would suggest it might not translate to the screen so well.

However, I could see a movie inspired by Ringworld; one that takes the concept of the Ringworld and constructs a new plot around it. It worked for I, Robot, after all.

I can imagine Niven’s Gil the Arm stories as the basis for a TV series. If they had some imaginative scriptwriters and a terrific actor as Gil, this could be very good indeed.

The Spaceport Bar stories might also make a good TV series.

FWIW, I think A World Out Of Time would make a nifty movie. Not a lot of backstory necessary, plenty of actions sequences, lots of cool special f/x opportunites… it could be fun if it was done right.

I’ve also twice started to work on a screenplay of Dream Park, just for my own amusement. I love the book, and it’s got some great movie elements, but every time I get into it, I find that it’s just too freaking long (my screenplay, that is). I can’t seem to simplify it enough without feeling like I’m walking into serious B-movie-dom.

Footfall and Hammer could make terrific miniseries (although the disaster flick’s been done to-ha!-death lately).

Most of the ARM stuff would work fine as a film, although there’s always a risk when a short story or novella gets turned into a feature.

I like Bo’s idea of AWooT as a feature.

I’d also put in a vote for The Magic Goes Away (possibly incorporating “What Good…?”) or Burning City.

I could see Legacy of Heorot as a solid feature as well, provided a good CGI firm gets the grendel assignment.
Finally, I’ve always wanted to make “For a Foggy Night” as my short film directorial debut.

Heh. I was going to say that the film version of Footfall would have been a lot better if they’d stuck with the real ending instead of having Jeff Goldblum upload a computer virus into the alien mothership.

I met Niven at a book signing about 15 years ago and asked him if he envisioned a Ring World movie. He said that the technology was not good enough yet.

I’m sure we have the technology now, but I’m not sure how good the movie would be. Niven was so economical in his writing, leaving so much to the imagination. In a movie, they’d have to actually portray everything that Niven just kinda leaves up to you. I still can’t imagine what a puppeteer would actually look like.

I’d love to see the Ring World itself, though.

from the absolutely indispensable Barlowe’s Guide To Extraterrestrials, here is a Puppeteer.

Y’know, the more I think about it, the more I think that the Gil the Arm stories would make a terrific movie. You could easily combine the two main organlegging ones (Death by Ecstasy and The Defenseless Dead) in order to have enough substance to make one movie. And what’s not movie-licious about these stories? You got your tough, cynical gumshoe, a nicely complex mystery or two, organized crime, potential horror scenes as regards donor dismemberment in the organ banks, shootouts, and cool futuristic L.A. cityscapes.

Hee hee. It looks like what Dr. Venture might come up with if he got a contract to remake Dr. Doolittle (the Rex Harrison version) and created a pushmepullyou.

I owned that guide so many years ago. Fantastic book. I remember that image of the Puppeteer vividly, and it’s partly what caused me to go read Ringworld in the first place.

Ditto. Mote in God’s Eye by them, would also work, I think.