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Archive for January, 2015
My wife has a very simple rule when it comes to fiction: If fire could solve the problem, there has to be a good reason for the characters not to try it.
Take Sleepy Hollow. I love the show, but this week’s episode featured a serial killer who confined to a painting in between murders. The simple would see the characters take the painting, toss it in the fire place with some lighter fluid, and the episode is over by the first commercial break. Unfortunately, this isn’t what the characters did, instead going a route that required tracking down magic bullets embedded in a dead body (always leave one bullet in, no one should have to say that!) and using them to shoot the painting.
Because…shooting a painting instead of burning a painting?
Look, if there’s a simple solution to a problem, it is going to occur to the audience. Who will then wonder why it doesn’t occur to the characters. So it needs to occur to the characters and be dismissed for one reason or another. This takes two lines of dialogue, a mere blip in a story, TV episode, or movie.
It’s the simple things, it really is.
I noticed something odd when I began the Great Hugo Read two years ago. At that time, of all the Hugo winners, only three had been adapted to film. One was Starship Troopers, a controversial adaptation that is probably one of my top ten favorite films of all time. One was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which grabbed a win for the series by beating out A Storm of Swords. The third was Dune.
Oh, Dune. I grabbed the movie out of curiosity as part of a four movie DVD pack. I started watching, but was interrupted by a baby nap not lasting nearly as long as it normally would. I never ended up coming back to it. Paul was just heading out into the desert, and there was shockingly little movie left for how much plot they still needed to cover. I’ve still never finished it. I’m not sure I will. I just don’t really feel any great need to watch it. I’d be far more likely to track down the miniseries.
There have been attempts to turn other Hugo winners into movies, and more recently television shows. Several have failed. The biggest one currently limping along trying to find a home is the on-again-off-again adaptation of American Gods. Some, however, are moving forward. One I’ve heard about for awhile was the Ridley Scott helmed adaptation of The Man in the High Castle. I wasn’t aware that they were moving forward. Or casting. Or filming. So it was a surprise to learn that the pilot was not only complete, but that it was part of the Amazon pilot program release this week.
And it’s fantastic. There’s no other word for it, it’s just fantastic. It takes most of the background elements of the book, several of the characters, but fixes up the plot to better fit the format. While I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, it isn’t really plotted in a way that lends itself to adaptation.
Of course, this is just a pilot. Just one episode. If its going to become a series, it needs viewers, and it needs those viewers to rate it. While the eventual series, if we get one, will require Amazon Prime, the pilot can be watched by anyone. So go watch it. It’s great. Then rate it. Because I need more episodes of this show yesterday.
Welp. It’s 2015, which means the eligibility period for the Hugos has wrapped up and the nominations will open up soon enough. Or eventually. Still, never too soon to have a few thoughts, including my annual thought: stop nominating so much Doctor Who! Yeah, I enjoyed this past season too, Peter Capaldi has brought a new energy to the role, and they finally figured out how to use Clara. Still, this is the golden age of television. Which means there are dozens of science fiction and fantasy shows on television, and most of them have managed at least one episode better than the fourth best episode of Doctor Who.
A few thoughts, some of which will be on my nominating ballot (the list is currently too long):
- Agents of SHIELD: Turn, Turn, Turn or What They Become
- Person of Interest: Deus Ex Machina
- The Leftovers: Two Boats and a Helicopter
- Adventure Time: Escape from the Citadel
- Sleepy Hollow: This is War
- Stephen Universe: Lion 3 Straight to Video
- Game of Thrones: The Lion and the Rose
My probable Long Format ballot while I’m at it:
- The LEGO Movie
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Edge of Tomorrow
- Over the Garden Wall (showed as episodes, but eligible to be nominated as a unit under Hugo rules)
As long as we’re talking the Hugo, I would be remiss to not mention my one eligible work (I am not yet Campbell eligible): The Face of the Serpent, published in Bad Ass Faeries: It’s Elemental.
It’s time to sit down and look at the year ahead. Well…the year 98.9% still ahead of us, as we’ve already blown through 1.1% of 2015. And I still don’t have my hover board, or my cool whatever the hell kind of hat/helmet thing this is:
What that means is that it’s time to sit down for some New Year’s Resolutions! In the past years I’ve reached for the stars and only ended up frustrated, so this year I’m keeping it simple with just three resolutions:
Resolution One: Write More! That doesn’t mean kicking my ass to write every day (already failed that one yesterday) but it does mean no weeks on end where I don’t write. I’ve got too many languishing ideas, I need to have some form of forward momentum on them. I’m not going to promise to finish this or outline that or query the other thing, just write more.
Resolution Two: Read No Less! I would say read more, but I’m very happy with the amount of time I spent with my nose in a book last year. Tracking my 2014 on Goodreads I read 54 books (down from 56 in 2013, but “book” is such an imprecise length of reading). So I want to keep that up. Right now I’m working my way through Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light. I’m not going to emulate Garth Marenghi by being one of those people who has written more books than he’s read.
Resolution Three: No Back to the Future Part II jokes! Oops.