Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede - update on the movie

I wrote back in 2009 about the wonderful news that Bradley Denton's world-beatingly awesome comic novel Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede was to be adapted as a big-budget science fiction movie. I hadn't heard much since then, but today Brad wrote to say "now there's a revamped website as well as the just-released teaser trailer. It was produced by Molly Mayeux for Dahlia Street Films, written & directed by Robert Rugan, and stars Jon Heder as Oliver Vale."

For those of you unfamiliar with the book, the premise is a simple one: Oliver Vale (whose recently deceased mother instilled in him a healthy respect for Buddy Holly) is about to watch a John Wayne movie pulled in by his satellite dish when the transmission is interrupted by a shot of a young Bully Holly, standing in a bubble on an airless rock, holding a guitar. Holly reads a sign hanging from the camera in front of him, and it says, "For assistance, contact Oliver Vale." And then he reads out Oliver's home address.

That's weird, but what's weirder is that the Buddy Holly transmission (which, it transpires, is originating from the Jovian moon of Ganymede) is playing on every terrestrial, cable and satellite TV and radio station in the world. And lots of people are very upset with Oliver.

So he does what any self-respecting satellite repairman/Buddy Holly fan would do: he gets on his vintage motorcycle and sets off to Lubbock, Texas, where he plans on exhuming Holly's grave to ensure that his body is still mouldering in Earth's soil, not playing guitar in orbit around Jupiter. On the way, Oliver is pursued by all manner of bad guys: evangelicals, aliens, G-men and local law. It's a road-trip novel like no other, and it remains one of my all-time favorite books.

The paperback is long out of print (though there are many reasonably priced used copies on Amazon), but Denton was generous enough to Creative Commons license the text and stick it online.

Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede


  1. Speaking of transmissions, in 1958 Buddy & The Crickets toured the U.K. They performed live at the Riverside Studios on a TV show called “Off The Record.”

    Of course, BBC-TV didn’t bother to preserve the appearance, and it would be lost forever if not for a young fan who held a tape recorder up to his TV during the broadcast. So at least we have the audio:

    Buddy Holly fans were the original makers. They couldn’t rely on professional media to present Buddy. Some of the best photos and films were taken and shared by fans.

  2. one of my wonderful teachers loaned me that book to read back in freshmen year of high school, and i really enjoyed it.

  3. Wonderful! I haven’t thought about this book in years. If I remember right, Denton’s other book, Lunatics, was great too. Looks like a cool movie!

  4. Oliver Vale = Ollie Vee. Clever, though in the song Ollie Vee is a girl. Gary Busy HAS to be in this somewhere…

  5. Looks cool, and as a big Buddy Holly fan, props to them for using relatively obscure songs rather than the hits everyone knows. They’re clearly fans too, which is great. Of course, it could be a licensing issue, as the hits are going to cost more – the major script references seen in this trailer are to his two biggest hits so who knows.

    I recognize the book cover from when it was on BB before, but I’m sure I saw it a few times in bookstores or libraries as a kid growing up in the 90’s, too – before I really knew who Buddy Holly was. I wish I had picked it up at the time, as I was reading a lot of similar stuff and I’m sure I would have enjoyed this – and might have gotten into Buddy Holly a lot earlier, which only could have served to enrich my young life :)

  6. Thank you all for your positive comments. We are really very grateful for you support. Oh, and yes, Ringo will MOST DEFINITELY be in the film. Also follow Oliver Vale on twitter @olivervale. (I won’t say who IS WRITING these tweets, but it is someone who knows Vale better than anyone.)

  7. My copy is autographed and I loved it! I’m glad the movie is going forward and I hope it does fine service. Thanks!

  8. The only things I knew about Lubbock, Texas are that:

    a) that it is in a dry county.
    b) that the university there has a world famous centre of bat research

    A Spanish friend of mine who is a world authority on bats did his post-doctoral there and related how you how had to “smuggle” beer in your car from over the county border! He suffered!

    Buddy Holly buried there? Was he teetotal?

  9. Glad to see the movie is alive and well. I read the book a couple years ago and very much enjoyed it. Was a bit worried though when 2010 came and went with no new info on the flick.

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