You are browsing the archive for books.

Pull Up a Chair

7:55 am in Uncategorized by Margaret

Good morning! Please pull up a chair and share a little of your weekend with us. This morning I’m excited about going to see Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”. Though I am admittedly excited, I’m also extremely wary of it. Judging by the trailers and by how Jackson dealt with “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, it seems to me that it might be a repeat of some truly awesome eye candy, coupled with several awkward moments that will leave those of us who are fans of the book wondering why he cut this or added that.

Then there is the issue of him breaking the story into three separate films, despite being the shortest of the LotR related literature. So instead of “The Hobbit” being released in 2012, we have to wait until 2013 to see “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”, and all the way until 2014 to finally wrap it up in “The Hobbit: There and Back Again”! I’m sorry but to me this smacks of plain greed. Why profit from one blockbuster film when you can get paid three times for adapting one book?

The reason I’m so anal about it is not just because of Jackson’s sometimes inexplicable additions and omissions in some of his films, it’s also because the book, “The Hobbit” is very special to me. Though the entire series has given me many hours of enjoyment, (along with the additions of The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin), The Hobbit is always going to be a very important book in my life. I read it when I was 16 and starting to sort some very deep issues out for myself. The Hobbit opened a lot of new unexplored areas of creativity within me, it helped me get past a very rough patch in my life and I’ll always associate it with overcoming some extremely difficult challenges.

Though most movie adaptations of books aren’t all I would like them to be, there are some cases where I can see why a directer or screenwriter would add some dialogue because narration is absent but much too often there is far too much license taken. I guess the best adaptation of a book in my opinion is the 1971 version of “The Andromeda Strain”. The only major plot deviation is that they changed the Dr Leavitt character into a woman and they switched poison darts to lasers in the system core. But hey, it was 1971 after all and lasers were all the rage, (though they never explained getting hit by lasers left Dr Hall all woozy). Other than those changes, it was pretty much word for word.

When I look at the cast and character list for The Hobbit, I see that Jackson is apparently going to explore some of the history only alluded to in the book and perhaps the deliberations and actions of the White Council, also only touched upon in the text. I can support those things, especially some of the history. The tantalizing bits that Tolkien only hinted at in The Hobbit were very frustrating and that frustration was to stay with me until my twenties when I found The Silmarillion. But I also see characters listed that are made up out of whole cloth. And not characters that seem to advance the story but people thrown in there to add some non existent sexual tension or romance. I’ll reserve judgment of course but that doesn’t make me optimistic. It is with a sense of mixed excitement and trepidation that I look forward to Sunday.

So what about you? What are some books you’ve enjoyed but been less than thrilled about when it comes to the film adaptation? Have you ever seen a film adaptation that you enjoyed as much or more than the book? Which books have you read that you would really enjoy seeing done on film? The floor is yours.

The Science of Fiction

6:43 am in Uncategorized by Margaret

Vintage magazine, circa March 1960. (photo: photoscott via Flickr)

I imagine most of us watched plenty of Star Trek, Star Wars and etc. when we were younger, I’ll bet many of us still do. Even those who were never really science fiction fans had to be aware of it. You know the premise: A starship crew travels to far away places, encountering aliens, preventing invasions of the Earth and saving the universe as we know it. More times than not the travellers originate in the Sol system and radiate out to stars with familiar names like Rigel, Vega, Alpha Centauri or Altair. Our carbon based, oxygen breathing heroes almost never need environmental suits when adventuring on the planets orbiting these distant points of light and it usually only takes weeks, days or even hours to get to their destinations. This of course is important in order to keep the plot line moving. I mean who wants to watch a movie that mostly consists of people eating, sleeping, performing routine maintenance or just passing the time? The only movie that I can think of offhand that approached space travel in a realistic way was 2001 A Space Odyssey and it’s important to note that story took place almost entirely within our inner solar system, right up until the climactic and altogether confusing ending.

A couple of films have tried to approach space travel in a different manner. In both the Alien series and in the recently released Avatar film, the sticky, (and boring), subject of long space travel was dealt with by having the crew sleep through most of the journey, thus negating the need to bore the audience silly with make work tasks that will inevitably be the vast majority of any long space journeys. Most books, television series and movies though, use some form of faster than light travel. Battlestar Galactica and Dune used a less common version of science fiction faster than light travel in which coordinates were entered, the engines were engaged and the whole kit and caboodle was immediately folded into it’s destination. The more common versions of fictional faster than light travel is usually in the form of a warp drive arrangement in which space in front of the vessel is dramatically shrunk while the space behind it is expanded by an equal amount.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →