Adaptations of the scifi kind – 10 great short stories that have been adapted for the screen

I love science fiction. I also love short stories. When short scifi is turned into a film, it’s all roses, as they say. I’ve linked all the brilliant short stories below to a free PDF copy of each online. Philip K. Dick (PKD), my all-time favorite writer, is the brain behind many great scifi adaptations on the list. His work is a goldmine, as so it was recently announced a new British TV series based on his work, and will star Bryan Cranston. Electric Dreams: The World of Philip K Dick is a product of Ronald M. Moore of the Battlestar Galactica reboot fame.

  1. Paycheck by PKD – This is my favorite short story possibly of all time. The film (with the same name) starring Ben Affleck doesn’t do any of the ideas justice from my point of view as the story is much more gratifying. But if you love studying adaptations like I do, you’ll find it worthy of your time to watch the film after you read the story. (Watch the film Paycheck (2003) instantly from Amazon here.)
  2. All You Zombies- by Robert Heinlein – This was made into one of the most brilliant scifi time travel films of all time – Predestination – in 2015 by two Australian filmmaker brothers. (Watch the film Predestination (2015) instantly from Amazon here.) This is the best science fiction film maybe ever. It was surely the best film made last year. It was in South by Southwest, it has super high production values, fantastic writing, directing and acting. I dare say the film is better than the short. A rarity.
  3. Eight O’Clock in the Morning by Ray Nelseon – This short was made into the cult classic film They Live by John Carpenter, starring Rowdy Roddy Piper. (Watch the film They Live (1988) instantly from Amazon here.) If you like The Matrix, other realities, or ever feel like corporations are aliens enslaving us all to do their will, you’ll love the short story, which is also better than the film, though the film deserves a watch for its campiness.
  4. The Minority Report by PKD – Significantly different from the film of the same name in interesting ways. It’s about way more than precogs and cool tech. A must read. The Tom Cruise film was reimagined into a TV series in 2015. They should have gone back to the source material instead of the film for the reboot. The series was sadly cancelled early into the show’s run.
  5. We Can Remember it for You Wholesale by PKD – This 1966 short became the film Total Recall twice. The 1990 Total Recall was a great film, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Watch it here on Amazon.) There is also a 2010 version starring Colin Farrell.
  6. The Sentinel by Arthur C. Clarke – The short from 1951 was made into the classic Stanley Kubrick scifi film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  7. Super Toys Last All Summer by Brian Aldiss – This 1969 story was remade by Stephen Spielberg into the film A.I. Artificial Intelligence. (Watch online here from Amazon.)
  8. The Golden Man by PKD – This 1954 short was made into the Nick Cage film called Next in 2007.
  9. The Bicentennial Man by Isaac Asimov – This is really a novella from 1976. It was made into the film with the same name starring Robin Williams in 1999. This film version was one aimed at children.
  10. Second Variety – by PKD – This 1953 short story is really interesting. The 1995 film adaptation, called Screamers, not so much. Definitely read the short though!


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