Last week, Netflix released the 18 series Love, Death + Robots, an anthology of short films produced by Seven's director David Fincher and Deadpool's director Tim Miller. Shorts vary widely in tone and subject, with everything from mercenaries fighting Dracula to a mental experiment on silly ways Adolf Hitler could have died in alternate timelines.
As a raw material, Fincher and Miller resorted to the short fiction of well-known science fiction authors including Marko Kloos, Alastair Reynolds, and John Scalzi.
With the emergence of streaming services and the success of programs such as War of the Thrones, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix are rapidly buying science fiction and fantasy novels for adaptation. Adaptations for works such as Consider Phlebas, by Iain M. Banks, Isaac Asimov Foundation and Scalzi's War of the Ancients, are in preparation.
But while a long novel can be well translated into a multi-season program, the genres of science fiction and fantasy are also filled with excellent short fiction that is more conducive to shorter adaptations.
Amidst the growing popularity of anthology programs such as Black Mirror, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams and Amazon Studios' Lore, it stands to reason that many filmmakers would be looking for shorter stories to adapt. In the case of Love, Death + Robots, some of these stories were first published online and can still be read without any form of subscription or subscription. Others are only available in published collections.
Peter F. Hamilton
"Sonnie's Edge," by Peter F. Hamilton, first appeared in New Moon magazine, 1991. The story is part of a larger world that Hamilton calls the "Confederate Universe".
Most of the connected stories of this cycle appear in his book A Second Chance at Eden. The story can be read online here, as part of a preview of this collection.
Love, Death + Robots adapts two stories by British author Alastair Reynolds - "Beyond Aquila Rift" and "Zima Blue". In the first, a crew of a spacecraft stranded in space thinks it is saved until they realize they are trapped in a simulation.
In the second, an artist goes beyond his limits to discover his true self. "Beyond the Aquila Rift" was originally published in an anthology called Constellations: The Best of New British SF, while "Zima Blue" was first published in 2005 in a journal called Postscripts.
Both can be found in a variety of anthologies, including Zima Blue and Other Stories e In addition to Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds.
In a blog post, Reynolds says, "Although they are approaching a decade and a half, and I have written a lot since then, I have to admit that they are still among my favorite personal stories."
John Scalzi has three short stories adapted in the series, two of which are available online. "When Yogurt Took Power: A Short Story" follows a genetically modified lineage of bacteria that gains sentience and claims the Earth.
"Missives From Possible Futures #1: Alternate History Search Results" imagines the oversized results if Adolf Hitler had died in various ways in alternate timelines. Both stories also appear in the collection "Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction" by John Scalzi.
The third story, "Three Robots Experience Objects Left Behind the Age of Humans for the First Time" is not online, but appears in a recent anthology, Robots Vs. Fairies. In his blog, Scalzi notes that he got involved in the 2017 project, with "When The Yogurt Took Over" and "Alternate Histories" chosen for adaptation, and "Three Robots" coming later when Scalzi shared it with Miller.
Love, Death + Robots also adapts two stories from the author of terror Joe Landsale. In "Fish Night," a couple of street vendors find a surreal ocean in the desert; in "The Dump," a man protects his junkyard from a municipal authority. "Fish Night" appeared in several magazines and ended online in The Horror Zine. "The Dump" originally appeared on 1981 in Rod Sterling's Twilight Zone Magazine, and later on anthologies such as Bumper Crop and A Little Green Book by Monster Stories. They seem to be exhausted, but the copies used are available online.
Ken Liu's steampunk story, "Good Hunting," was originally published in two parts on the Strange Horizons in 2012, and later ended in his acclaimed collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, in 2016. When it was first published, Liu noted that he wanted to explore the boundaries of the genre, and this story "begins as a fantasy fairy tale and ends as a steampunk piece." In his blog, he says he thought the adaptation was fantastic.
Marko Kloos, who wrote the excellent science fiction series Frontlines, set his story Lucky 13 in the same world and published it as an ebook on Amazon on 2013. The Netflix series also adapts another story of its own: the short "Shape-Shifters" focuses on werewolf fighters in Afghanistan. He has just published the story of origin as an ebook under the title "On the use of Shapeshifters in Warfare".
Most tales in Love, Death + Robots were written by men, but there are some exceptions. The tale "Helping Hand", by Claudine Griggs, first appeared in Lightspeed Magazine's special edition "Queers Destroy Science Fiction" on 2015. It follows the story of an astronaut whose EVA is terribly wrong.
Other stories of Love, Death + Robots can be found in the SNAFU anthologies of Cohesion Press: "The Secret War", based on the tale of David Amendola, is in SNAFU: Hunters. Steven Lewis's "Suits" are on SNAFU: Future Warfare (you can read most of the story in the book preview at Amazon), and "Sucker of Souls" by Kirsten Cross, is included in SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest.
Finally, some of the stories have not been published online. These include Michael Swanwick's "Ice Age" story available in his collection Tales of Old Earth. (He noted that he thought the "adaptation remained remarkably true to the original story." And two of the short films - Alberto Mieglo's screenplay "The Witness" and Vitaliy Shushko's "Blindspot" - were not based on existing stories.
Source: The Verge