Rise of the Lichens

I’m really looking forward to the release of the new movie Rise of the Lichens. We have far too few movies about lichens, algae, archeobacteria, fungus, mold, or pond scum, though yeast gets some play in the sponge of Hollywood.

Sponges themselves, on the other hand, get very little live-action screen time, which is quite a shame. Rumor has it, however, that the producer of the cult movie Sponge Diver is planning a sequel, Revenge of the Sponges, in which sponges and giant clams unite to immobilize their ancient enemies and scrub them to death.

I haven’t been able to put my hands on a screenplay for Rise of the Lichens, as it’s being very closely guarded by the studio, but the buzz on the movie is amazing.

Don’t read past the jump if you don’t want to see spoilers.

Creeping through the forests, the lichens cover the trees from root to tip of branch. They spread across stones, and cover the tundra. They are taking over! People have no defense against them. They move so slowly that one hardly notices their advance. Before people are aware of them, the lichens have taken over, advancing on cities as if the buildings were mountain slopes, covering windows with their fractal tendrils, invading the water lines, steam tunnels, and air ducts.

Humans are helpless in the face of the assault, and all is lost.

Or is it?

At the last possible moment, great herds of reindeer and caribou flood down from the north, joined — in Montana where the lichens have destroyed the metropolises — by family groups of Rocky Mountain goats.

In an epic battle, the heroic ungulates nibble the lichens to defeat.

The SFX of dissolving buildings — especially the Montana skyscrapers – are said to be amazing, and the animal actors follow in the paw- and hoofprints of Rin Tin Tin and Silver.

If the buzz holds up, the producers plan a sequel, Attack of the Slime Molds.

I’m so there.

— Vonda

Vonda N. McIntyre is the author of the Nebula-winning novel The Moon and the Sun, which is being offered at Book View Café in electronic form for the first time.

The Natural History and Extinction of the People of the Sea,” the faux-encyclopedia article that inspired the novel, written by Vonda N. McIntyre and illustrated by Ursula K. Le Guin, appears as a Book View Café Bonus story.

Other fiction by Vonda N. McIntyre, including cell-phone-friendly formats of The Moon and the Sun, can be found in the fiction section of her website, as can mint copies of her published books. To celebrate the debut of Book View Café, book prices are temporarily lowered.

Books make great gifts!



Rise of the Lichens — 12 Comments

  1. I don’t know if you have ever seen TREMORS and its sequels (in which gigantic earthworms terrorize a town in the Southwest conveniently free of trees), but it was sufficiently popular, in its modest way, to rate not one but two sequels. So yes, it’s a trilogy!

  2. I did see Tremors, which was pretty funny, but I haven’t come across its sequels. Will keep an eye out for them.

    For a trilogy, Rise of the Lichens and Attack of the Slime Molds would have to conclude with Archon of the Archeobacteria.


  3. Do any of you remember “The Trouble with Lichens” by John Wyndham? He also wrote “Day of the Triffids”. I remember them as really scary although these days they may be pretty tame. Anyway, classic SF from the early years.

    This really dates me because he was writing in the 1960’s. I saw something on the web that Penguin UK was going to re-issue this last year.

  4. Absolutely. If I read Lichens it’s been so long I’ve forgotten the details, but I remember Triffids pretty vividly. If you put the ISBN (9780812967128) of the Rediscovery edition of Triffids in the Powell’s searchbox on the sidebar you’ll find it. He also wrote The Midwich Cuckoos, which has been made into about 2000 movies, but the book is better than any of the movies I’ve seen of it.


  5. In my mind books generally don’t translate well into movies. One’s own imagination can be much more terrifying than anything on the screen.

    During the radio days I listened to a BBC production “Lost in Space” with my ear pressed against the speaker and when it got really scary I’ld turn the volume down so I couldn’t hear it and then had to turn it back on again so as not to miss anything.

    Like you, I can’t remember anything about the lichens.

    I think James P.Hogan wrote something about a lichen-like intelligence. It hid from the light, was plant-like in that it gave off oxygen and was telepathic with some species.


  6. Rosemary, I think generally speaking you’re right. For one thing movies are inherently shorter than novels so you usually have to leave an awful lot out.

    I can think of one movie that was better, in my opinion, than the book it was based on: THE STUNT MAN. I won’t say anything about it because if you see it (and I think everybody should see this terrific movie) you should see it without knowing anything about it. (The first time you see it is different from the second and subsequent times you see it, to a degree not true with most movies.)

    Poor Hogan lichen! They wouldn’t last too long, hiding from the sun.


  7. I’ve concluded lately that movie producers would be better served if they used short stories, instead of novels, as the base for their movies. Of course, that assumes they’re going to be faithful to the story, making only those changes necessitated by a different art form.

    I loved both the book and the movie version of Name of the Rose. They were very different, though. When I saw the movie, I thought, “People back then really did believe in witches, angels, and what have you.” But when I read the book, I said, “Not all of them did.” I have no idea what Umberto Eco thought of the movie, though.

    As for the Rise of the Lichens, I’d really like to see that. It seems tailor-made for Internet release, a la Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible.

  8. Hi Nancy,

    Hey, if Joss Whedon would take it on…

    (Joss Whedon is a genius. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the best-written series on tv. Whedon should have received an Emmy for best script every year it was on.)

    You’re probably right about short stories as the right length for turning into a movie. But, according to my spies in Hollywood, it usually doesn’t work that way; for a movie based on a story, they usually want a bestselling novel for the publicity synergy.


  9. Joss Whedon is a television genius. He not only writes great scripts; he understands the concept of the serial medium better than anyone. I’m going to give his new show a shot, come February.

  10. That’s what time-lapse photography is for: speeding up slime molds.

    I’ll look forward to Whedon’s new series. I hope the network it’s on treats him better than Buffy, Angel, and particularly Firefly got treated.