In a book review of Out of the Silent Planet, I mentioned last year that C. S. Lewis had pioneered the science fiction sub-genre of a planetary intelligence or sentient planet which resists outsiders. A planetary intelligence provides a way of exploring colonisation and other issues, while still having a positive ending to the story.
The chart above (click to zoom) shows a timeline of the concept. Although there are many other stories based on the idea, these six seemed particularly noteworthy (star ratings out of 5 are from GoodReads and RottenTomatoes):
- ★★★★ Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis (1938).
- ★★★★ The Lonely Planet by Murray Leinster (1949).
- ★★★★ Solaris by Stanislaw Lem (1961).
- ★★★★ “Vaster than Empires and More Slow” by Ursula Le Guin (1971).
- ★★★★ Powers that Be by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (1993) and its sequels.
- ★★★★ The film Avatar by James Cameron (2009) and its upcoming sequels.
Solaris was filmed in 1968, 1972 (★★★★☆), and 2002 (★★★☆). Here are trailers for the last two films:
Readers, how do you feel the various books and films compare?