Monthly Archives: June 2011

Two Authors, Two TV Series

Neil Gaiman and Salman Rushdie are both involved with creating their own TV series. One of these series will be an adaptation of an existing book and one of these will be something new. I’m not excited about either of them because, to be honest, I don’t really get excited anticipating new media. I hate the whole cycle of hype followed by inevitable disappointment. It’s designed to increase hits on websites and drive advertising and product purchases. The TV and publishing industries aren’t your friends and they want your money.

I wish to be Zen about my entertainment. If I am going to be excited about new entertainment then I’d rather it be by people like Kelly Link, M John Harrison, David Simon, Justin Broadrick, Entertainment for the Braindead or William Gibson.

I said this about the Salman Rushdie series on Facebook when I linked to the Guardian piece about it there:

Well he has form in the area since magical realism isn’t too distantly related and his first novel was sf. Even if this isn’t exactly a new observation about the cultural influence of HBO/AMC series having replaced the 1980s Blockbuster Literary Novel, it is interesting that Rushdie is publicly forced to say it.

I think at this point my only thoughts on American Gods are a general deflated sense of having to ask is it really necessary? I mean I like the novel. At one point when I was about sixteen it was my favourite book. I do understand adapting American Gods makes massive commercial sense but I’d rather see something more original from a Neil Gaiman and Tom Hanks production.

Can any novel survive or be improved by being broadcast on TV with all the surrounding hype and criticism over six years? I don’t know, but I’m inclined to say probably not.

Both of these series will be loved and hated in equal measure. They’ll make enough money to break even and both projects are reasonably critic proof since Salman Rushdie and Neil Gaiman are themselves pretty much critic proof and have their own established audiences. A bad review, even if substantially true, isn’t going to derail these productions.

Of course we really should be talking about books here. Both authors will release one or two books during the run of these series just to keep their literary reputations ticking along. But I hope while their literary careers just ticking over that maybe some of the hype and excitement will shift to other less known authors busy creating new and original material.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, I’m not anticipating either series. Besides since I only have the BBC to watch I won’t be able to see them when they air in the UK anyway. They will be on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky anyway. If I have pick one show out of the two to support then I guess it has to be the Rushdie. It might turn out to be terribly misguided, but at least it’s a stab at something different.

Edit: Just as I was putting the finishing touches to this someone retweeted Neil Gaiman’s announcement that there’s going to be a second American Gods book. Oh well I thought the original book was nicely self contained, but what do I know? Yes I appear to have forgotten about Anansi Boys.

A Few Thoughts on Inception

Inception when watched on DVD at home is an entertaining waste of time. The film is purportedly about dreams and to that end most of what is shown is there to provoke the audience into asking questions about the film’s reality. This is a film that fits into the small trend of films released around the millennium that questioned the nature of reality. There was, of course, The Matrix, a film sold on its supposed intellectual qualities as much as it was sold on the then ground breaking special effects. Rather happily, for me at rate, Inception is a better and smarter film than The Matrix.

Also unlike The Matrix, Inception is a film that remembers that science fiction is often a parasite genre which latches onto the structural forms of other genre to convey its message. Inception may be a film about dream worlds but it owes far more to the heist film than any pure idea of science fiction. It isn’t too hard to imagine some future sequel to Ocean’s Eleven about putting incriminating documents inside a sealed bank vault and all that separates that imaginary film from Inception is a change of scenery and explanatory dialogue.

Still Inception isn’t a cynical film which assumes the audience are stupid. While Inception lacks any intellectual depth this might be excused because it is about dreams and the surface detail is all that counts. And Inception is an enjoyable two hours of surface detail.

Sunday Morning Movie: Shogun Assassin

If a sword and sorcery film isn’t as shameless and gonzo as this then I’m not interested. Shogun Assassin is a composite of the first two Lone Wolf and Cub films given American dubbing and a kinetic Moog synthesiser soundtrack. Also gallons of spurting blood.