Why Isn't This A Film - Manhattan In Reverse

What have we got here then?

Manhattan In Reverse is a 2011 collection of short stories by British Science-Fiction author Peter F. Hamilton. It features seven stories of varying lengths and topics, written by Hamilton over the last few years.

OK fine. What’s it about?

It's an eclectic mix but there's a couple of murder mysteries, a politicised time travel tale, a ludicrously tiny story about a cat and several other varieties of Science Fiction to boot.

Interesting. Is there something more?

Fans of Hamilton will be interested to note how some of these tie in to other works. Two stories at the end of the collection feature new mysteries for Paula Myo, his popular investigator, whilst Blessed By An Angel fills in gaps between two of his popular series.

Save me the trouble then – is it any good?

In any collection like this there are going to be hits and misses but, by and large, all of the stories are readable and several are highly entertaining. The two Myo mysteries prove the most satisfying but Footvote and Watching Trees Grow have interesting, fully-formed, ideas. The Forever Kitten is a remarkable demonstration of how to tell a pretty full story in just a couple of pages.


The main miss is Blessed By An Angel, which doesn't bother to make you care (or even know) any of the characters and gets a bit bogged down in long stretches detailing the technology on offer. The Forever Kitten is clever, but quite how much worth or entertainment value it carries is dubious. Footvote has a cast entirely made of unlikeable people, although that's not necessarily a reason to dislike it. It is worth wading through the slightly dubious ones to get to the Myo stories at the end.

What are its chances of being made as a film?

Hamilton's track record of having his books converted to films isn't good (none so far), which is surprising given his numerous fans and adaptation-friendly material. Previously the sheer length of his work may have scared Hollywood off, potentially making these shorter works more attractive, not to mention the fact that the industry has been mining the short stories of fellow Sci-Fi writer Philip K. Dick for ages now. Footvote would suit a low-budget British production, particularly in the current political climate. The Myo stories could go much bigger.

But who'd star in it?

The Myo books take place in a universe where body regeneration is possible, meaning Myo can look as old or as young as you want her to. Some combination of the science in the other various stories could reap acting dividends. The first in the collection, Watching Trees Grow, follows a mystery over a vast number of years, meaning you could potentially cast two stars. How about Jennifer Lawrence and Julianne Moore, as an investigator at different ages.

Will it be any good?

All the stories need polish before they become films but hey, Dick's stories have produced good films, with Hollywood changes, for years, so Hamilton has a good chance.

Anything else I should know about it?

Do take care if you're heading out to find more Hamilton, especially if you're a slower reader. The Night's Dawn trilogy is over one million words in length.

Why Isn't This A Film? is a regular Film Intel feature which takes a book (you know... one of those things with pages in, doesn't project on to a screen, makes small rustling noises), comic, video game or graphic novel and assesses its adaptation prospects. One day this feature will get something right and we will win something major and valuable. Possibly.

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