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09 Movie Adaptations of Science Fiction Books That Actually Worked!

Science Fiction films have been an essential part of the film industry even before the technological advancement in CGI. Filmmakers have never shied away from creating movies from popular Sci-fi novels but taking the magic of words and portraying it onto a silver screen has always been challenging.

Some films did it with great success; some have been an absolute catastrophe. Looking back to some of the biggest sci-fi films in the past, here is the list of our favorite movies based on science fiction novels.

Science fiction books to movie adaptations


Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is considered one of the most outstanding cinematic achievements of all time. 2001: A Space Odyssey, a novel by Arthur C. Clarke, tells the story of human evolution and space exploration, where Clarke beautifully weaved science, mysticism, theory, and fantasy with the story.

Both the movie and the book were written in tandem with the film. Clarke and Kubrick inspiring each other with ideas to write the story and both the film and the book were published in the same year 1968.

However, one must read the book and watch the movie to get the taste of the story because, at some points, the film overtook writing and vice versa.

The movie was received various criticism from the audience. Some people saw it as an optimistic movie for human evolution and hope, some saw it as a dark apocalyptic movie. Nonetheless, this film is widely known as the greatest and influential film of all time. It was deemed as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress in the year 1991.

As far as legacies go, 2001: A Space Odyssey will likely be best remembered for the inspiration it provided to future generations.

Ugly Score: 93%

Disney Plus

AAs one of the beloved Sci-fi movies of recent times, Ridley Scott's The Martian is a story of an astronaut who was left behind on Mars and survived and returned back.

The scientific facts and details are so accurate in both the book and the movie that it's hard to consider The Martian a science fiction. The author of the book Andy Weir did an incredible job writing the story giving the most accurate conditions.

Ridley Scott didn’t divert much from the book and stayed true to it. Underlined by great music and incredible actors, the film did ample justice to Andy Weir's original story.

However, the film did leave some of the processes out, which you can understand if you read it.

British physicist Brian Cox once famously stated,

"The Martian is the best advert for a career in engineering I've ever seen."

The book is a must-read and the movie is a must-watch for science fiction lovers.

Ugly Score: 96%

Amazon Prime Video

Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park was perhaps the most fantastic science fiction book that was adapted for the screen. With the direction of Steven Spielberg, Jurassic Park made it to the list of evergreen Sci-fi classics. Published in the 1990s this is a must-watch film, even to this day.

The story follows a group of people as they try to escape from prehistoric predators on an island. As a landmark film, Jurassic Park is a pioneer of using special effects and computer-generated imagery in movies.

Michael Crichton released the book, Jurassic Park, three years before the release of the film. Spielberg acquired the rights of the book for $1.5 million before its publication in 1990. Steven Spielberg’s brilliant cinematography made the movie even livelier than the already brilliant book.

In 2018, the film was deemed as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" in the United States National Film Registry.

Ugly Score: 91%

Amazon Prime Video

Blade Runner is one of the best Sci-Fi film released in 1982. The film is based on Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Directed by Ridley Scott, the movie has acquired a cult status among admirers.

It’s a story of a post-apocalyptic world, where a fugitive group of advanced replicates escapes back to earth, and a cop tries to hunt them down.

The film was loosely based on the book by Philip K. Dick, keeping many of the characters and the base story intact. However, the differences between the book and the movie make it interesting enough to watch.

Ugly Score: 84%


Ted Chiang has written some of the truly brilliant Sci-fi short stories that world-literature have ever seen. One such brilliant story is Stories of Your Life, published in 1998. And screenwriter Eric Heisserer and director Denis Villeneuve adapted the story and made it into a beautiful film Arrival.

The movie was not as commercially successful as many other film adaptations in the science fiction genre. However, well-written dialogs, untamed imagination, and believable portrayal of human emotions make it a beautiful movie for those who watch. With some strong leads like Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, Arrival manages to move the audience with its startling twists and gripping storyline.

Ugly Score: 95%


The Iron Giant has a special place on this list, not because it's a children's book but this animated movie brilliantly captivates the audience’s attention from start to finish and holds a special place in several hearts, even now.

Adapted from Ted Hughes' novel The Iron Man: A Children’s Story in Five Nights, tells the story of the friendship between a little boy and a giant robot. More than a story of friendship, it tells the story about the human spirit.

Brad Bird debuted as a director with this film and created a masterpiece out of it. Iron Giant didn't do well in the box office, but thankfully the internet and the fan base of the movie gave both the movie and the book the recognition they richly deserve.

Ugly Score: 88%


A classic by H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds has been adapted several times in movies and radio broadcasts. However, there are two adaptations of the film, one in 1953 and another in 2005, starring Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg, that are most talked about.

Despite being an old story, 'War of the Worlds' is still exciting to watch. The story revolves around a dock worker struggling to protect his children and reunite with them with their mother amid an extraterrestrial invasion of the earth by war robots.

While the 2005 movie fared better at the box office, the 1953 one was more true to the book. My recommendation? Read the book. None of the movies surpass it.

Ugly Score: 90%


Annihilation, directed by Alex Garland, is a 2018 Sci-fi horror movie that is based on Jeff Vander Meer's award-winning 2014 novel by the same name.

The story revolves around a group of four scientists who enter a strange quarantined zone called Area X, created by aliens, and brimming with mutated plants and animals. Starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson, this movie went on to become a massive box office success . Joe Morgenstern, a Wall Street Journal, said that

"Annihilation is new. It wants us to think and feel while we're having fun."

The movie starts slow, but as the film progresses, horrifying visuals and nail-biting storyline keep you glued to the edge of your seat.

Ugly Score: 91%

Amazon Prime Video

Loosely based on the book I am Legend by Richard Matheson, director Francis Lawrence has created a post-apocalyptic horror-thriller movie in the year 2007, starring Will Smith.

The story is set in New York. After mankind was wiped out by a virus, Neville, the last human in New York, is working to find a cure for the virus while defending himself from the mutants.

The movie became a box office hit; however, the book's story is slightly different from the film. In the book, Robert Neville is a vampire hunter by day, but at night he hides in his home.

But the best part is, there is no supernatural element in the book. The transformation is beautifully explained in the book. You will surely understand the story better if you read the book.

Ugly Score: 85%

These are some fantastic science fiction books that went on to become incredible science fiction movies and set the bar for many more masterpieces that follow. Whether you have or haven’t watched a movie on this list, you can add any of them to your reading list and be assured that you will not be disappointed if you are a science fiction fan.

What's your favorite science fiction book that was adapted into a movie? Leave a comment.


  • The images used in this post are either used under fair use principles or licensed to be used and distributed by our team.

  • This listicle has been edited by the Ugly Tales admins.

  • While you're browsing some of our favorite science fiction titles, I'm sure you will love the Top 10 Crime Thriller Books of the 21st Century!


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