I’d read THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH many years ago and remember it as a wonderfully literary sci-fi novel, though a bit meandering and even frustrating. (The movie adaptation with David Bowie stars out well but then loses its mind.) After watching THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT on Netflix, I was surprised to learn Tevis wrote the book on which the series was based, along with some other great adapted stories like THE HUSTLER and THE COLOR OF MONEY. So I checked it out, and here’s the short review: I loved it. This guy can really write.
If you’ve seen the series, you’ll be impressed at how faithful the adaptation is from the written story, though with some significant differences where they made things more dramatic or simpler for the show. After reading a couple of Tevis’s books now, I have to say it’s his best. Beth is a singularly driven woman and a fantastic protagonist, as strong as the show if not stronger, and the descriptions of her chess games and Moby Dick-like fascination with beating Borgov are fascinating to read, even if you don’t play the game yourself.
Overall, like the show, the novel is a great character study and a gripping sports story every bit as riveting as a movie about baseball or hockey.