Archive for December, 2008

Memo to Hollywood: How to do (and not do) an adaptation

December 31st, 2008

I have just watched The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, a year after it came out (DVR is your friend, except maybe in this case) and I’m gasping in horror at how bad it was, and for no good reason.  You’ve got all the elements that would seem to make a great movie:  Beloved children’s classic as source material?  Check.  Lavish sets?  Check.  Gorgeous costuming?  Check.  Actors ranging from competent to excellent?  Check.  Impressive and appropriate special effects?  Check.  Script by a competent screenwriter?  Um, well, I understand they got the guy who did the adaptation for Trainspotting, which I understand was a decent movie, but….

First off, let me make one thing clear: Departure from the source material is fine.   The Wizard of Oz dumped the scene in the Dainty China Country from the movie adaptation because it was boring, extraneous, and painfully lame.  Glomming the Good Witch of the North and Glinda the Sorceress of the South together makes sense from a dramatic perspective, though making her a bubbly airhead was a bit much (although the MGM version does have her fans).  Having the Wicked Witch of the West be responsible for the poppies is fine for purposes of drama, and having them be foiled by snow as opposed to field mice is likewise fine for purposes of staging.  Mary Norton’s The Magic Bedknob and Bonfires and Broomsticks do not contain Nazis, musical numbers, a young Miss Price, or magical football matches with talking animals–though all of these things are very fun in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, a movie I adored as a child and had to thank for introducing me to the equally good (if significantly different) book.  And Alfonso Cuaron’s version of A Little Princess took numerous liberties with the original novel, including but not limited to moving the setting from London to New York, making Becky black instead of Cockney, and most significantly, having Sarah’s dad not be dead of bad investments in India but instead poisoned by mustard gas and MIA in WWI.

The difference here is that The Wizard of Oz, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Cuaron’s A Little Princess are all great movies.   The reason The Seeker isn’t is not because elements were changed, but because elements were changed for the wrong reasons and the wrong way. Continue Reading »

And Now a Word from Your Friendly Neighborhood Webmaster

December 20th, 2008

DeepGenre is transferring web hosts and upgrading WordPress installations in the process (after which it will walk and chew gum at the same time). Everything should look exactly the same to you after the move’s all done, but things might be a bit daffy for a day or two around here. I mean, daffier than usual.

If you’re reading this post, then congratulations, you are one of the cool kids. You’re reading DeepGenre on the new server. Please go out and buy lottery tickets now while your luck holds.

If you’re not reading this post, congratulations, you are a paradox. Please have your cake and eat it too, and let us know if there’s a sound when a tree falls in the forest and nobody’s there to hear it.

Publication basking: Busted Flush here, latest Wild Cards novel

December 9th, 2008

I got my author’s copies of Busted Flush yesterday, the latest Wild Cards novel which I wrote part of. I’d seen bits and bobs of the other author’s sections during the writing phase, for character approval and to see that we were on the same page, but this is my first chance to read the whole thing together and I’m enjoying it. So far I’ve read Melinda and Caroline’s sections at the beginning, then skipped ahead to reread parts of what I wrote (since there’s no plot surprises there, but there’s the fun of seeing your words in actual print).
Busted Flush cover shot
I’m not certain how many other authors do this, setting aside a day for enjoying the book when it comes out. Lots of times I know it hasn’t worked out, due to life, deadlines and other realities (and today not so much either, since I’m having a friend over to help install a new hard drive in the new computer and attempt to transfer what files were saved from the dead one), but when it happens, it’s nice to be able to just sit back and bask.

P.S. As a small update, there’s now an interview with me and the rest of the Busted Flush authors up at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist for anyone who’d like to read it.

Don’t You Wish You Lived Then? (Musings on Class and Fantasy)

December 4th, 2008

I used to get asked that question a lot in my Regency-writing days.  The short, simple answer: No.  No painless dentistry, eccentric provision for sewage, no penicillin and no concept of asepsis, and the condition of most women was not one that I aspire to.  But the women who asked the question usually had been complimentary about my writing, and I am weak, and did not want to blurt out the first thing that came to my mind (which would be: Whaddaya, crazy?) and so I’d say something like “Well, they sure knew how to dress, didn’t they?”  Because twenty seconds’ musing on why these readers of mine thought that the Regency might be a swell time to live returned the conclusion that they were talking about a fantasy of the Regency, in which they would be duchesses in pretty clothes, and always say and do the right thing, and they would get to marry a prince, and all their trials would be wrapped up by the end of the last act.

It was easy (particularly when I was younger) to see this as a rather childish wish; with the wisdom of age, give or take, I think that life is hard enough and if the fantasy of living in a magical then-and-there and being beautiful and clever and well dressed helps a reader get through the day, I’m glad to have provided that service.  For me, however, part of what I love about writing about the past, or the future, or fantastic societies, is the chance to play with the fallout from that most human of pastimes: organizing ourselves into castes.  

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