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sorry, no clever title today

Last night, because spectacles attract me — especially hideous spectacles — Spooky and I watched the first hour and seventeen minutes of Sci-Fi's Earthsea abomination. It was about as bad as I'd expected it to be. Sci-Fi tends to screw most things up in exactly the same way. All their adaptations look pretty much the same. Flat. Dull. Overlit. Made-for-TV. They're good at making epic things feel cramped. So, I wasn't surprised. The direction was hamfisted. The script, which bore little resemblance to anything Ursula K. LeGuin has ever written, was dim-witted and trite. Most of the female characters looked like their make-up had been done by Maybelline. Lots of pointless CGI, because I suspect the filmmakers were under the impression that it would distract from the overall awfullness. Danny Glover looked like he wanted to club someone to death with that damned staff he was dragging around. Rarely has an actor appeared so painfully uncomfortable on camera. Anyway, it's better if you read what the author herself has to say about this fiasco (scroll down just below the photo). This is probably the most we can fairly expect from the Sci-Fi Channel these days. Farscape was a fluke (and they cancelled it, perhaps the most critically-acclaimed sf series ever on TV, in favour of bringing back Battlestar Galactica). Actually, though it's easy to make with the snide remarks, I genuinely felt bad for LeGuin, watching the mess they'd made of her work. I live in fear of this sort of thing, and it hurts me, physically hurts me, when I see it happen to someone else, especially someone brilliant and deserving of respect. We got so lucky with the Lord of the Rings adaptations. Sadly, there aren't enough Peter Jacksons to go around nor enough money to do things right. And if things can't be done right, they shouldn't be done at all. Someone needs to force-feed that fact to the lying, cheapskate, lowest-common-denominator mongering crap merchants at the Sci-Fi Channel.

But there were some good things to yesterday. The morning was consumed with e-mail, but Spooky and I went to lunch at Sweet Lime. I had unagi and salmon nigiri and some really good, seaweedy miso soup. It wasn't too cold out, warmer than today. So, those were good things. We read more of Phil Hine's Prime Chaos, and that was good as well. We made spaghetti for supper, and spaghetti is almost always good. We had a long, if somewhat disturbing conversation about magick while Bell, Book, and Candle was playing on TCM (that was a little surreal). The Philadelphia Story came on next, and it's one of my very favorite films ever, but I wound up playing Halo 2 until three a.m,, instead. But, it was nice. Oh, and I ate Cheetos, which aren't good for me and stain my fingers orange, but, still, that's something else that was good.

Tomorrow, all will be relatively clear for me to return, at long last, to Daughter of Hounds. I'm e-mailing the prologue to my lit agent and my editor today. Now's the time for them to make suggestions. There's no guarrantee, of course, that I'd heed suggestions, but I'm slightly more likely to heed them now than halfway through the novel, when things are set in stone. Right now, the story matrix is very unconsolidated. Everything's loose. Open. Now's the time that big changes could occur. Every word I write, every step towards THE END, solidifies the story and eliminates countless possible alternate paths it might have taken. In truth, I'm having a day when I truly deplore this writing business, stem to stern. And yet, simultaneously, I do feel a genuine desire to return to work on DoH. All is dam'd contradiction.

I'm stuck in the middle of one of those periods when I know I haven't enough time left to me to accomplish everything I want to do. It's one of the most terrible feelings I know. Just the short-term is enough to drive me frelling nuts if I think on it too much. In the next few months, for example, there's Daughter of Hounds, editing To Charles Fort, With Love (a rather substantial undertaking) and writing an additional 20,000 words for the collection, reworking the end of "Bradbury Weather" because I've grown uncomfortable with it, all the many books I need and want to read, a second trip I should make to Rhode Island to do more research, all the work I want to do on Nebari.net (including the development of a magical system based on Nebari mythology)...and there's more than that, but that's enough you should see what I'm saying. There isn't enough of me, and I squander so much time.

I've been thinking about new costumes, too. I may have finally hit upon a functional new outfit design for Nar'eth, which would expose less front and lots more back. And I was also telling Spooky that I want to do a costume based on the abominable snowman cyborg in Rasputina's "The New Zero."

Okay. Now I'm just prattling again, so it's time to get to work...


( 23 comments — Have your say! )
Dec. 14th, 2004 05:47 pm (UTC)
On the other hand...
I did really like the Dune mini-series. They exaggerated Paul's youth at the beginning (he never struck me as the kind of character that would ever start out as a spoiled brat- more like a Lorenzo Medici whose practically running the family business at 15) but I remember that the Sci Fi Channel has always been one big disappointment. Between the potential and the actual there's a huge gulf (of course I'm thinking of the time when they played those stupid Hulk reruns until we all admitted that our childhood memories were false and the Hulk was a pretty awful show.)
Dec. 14th, 2004 06:40 pm (UTC)
Re: On the other hand...
I did really like the Dune mini-series.

I didn't. It suffered from that same making-a-vast-thing-feel-small effect I was speaking of, for one thing.
Dec. 14th, 2004 05:54 pm (UTC)
Usually when an author's work is bastardized in a movie, which is most of the time, I shrug and say 'Well, the book is the book and the movie is the movie, and the book(s) will most likely endure far longer than the movie.' Especially LeGuin's books. I also usually say 'Oh well, if s/he didn't want a fucked-up movie version, s/he could've refused to sell the rights, like J.D. Salinger.' However, I wonder if it's in some authors' contracts that the publisher has the final say on whether a work is adapted, not the author.

Do you, for instance, have the kill-switch on any possible adaptations of your work? Or do your publishers reserve the right to sell the rights for adaptation? I guess I'm wondering how much say the author has, generally. Salinger might be the exception.
Dec. 14th, 2004 06:04 pm (UTC)
Do you, for instance, have the kill-switch on any possible adaptations of your work?

I have total control over whether or not it's done. And it's that way with all author's, so long as they retain film adaptation rights. Once you sell them, however, you lose almost all control, in most cases. But the money can be seductive. I know that, sooner or later, I'll sell film rights, probably because I need the money, and I'll do so knowing the odds are against a good film. I'm not sure exactly how this whole thing came about with LeGuin, but I doubt it was anything so simple as she sold the rights directly to Sci-Fi (though I could be wrong).
Dec. 14th, 2004 06:05 pm (UTC)
I know that Tom Wolfe had a take-the-money-and-run approach to his adaptions. That way he was spared a lot of headaches from Bonfire of the Vanities (although The Right Stuff was a good movie)
Dec. 14th, 2004 06:21 pm (UTC)
And if things can't be done right, they shouldn't be done at all. Someone needs to force-feed that fact to the lying, cheapskate, lowest-common-denominator mongering crap merchants at the Sci-Fi Channel.

Ahhhh, that was wonderful.
Dec. 14th, 2004 06:42 pm (UTC)
Ahhhh, that was wonderful.

I'm glad. Because, that one comment alone was enough to insure I'll never work with the Sci-Fi Channel.
Dec. 14th, 2004 08:50 pm (UTC)
With the Channel itself, don't sweat it: Skiffy is nothing but a holding pen for USA Network employees who fuck up just a little too much and get sent to Skiffy as punishment. Seeing as how USA is generally nothing but a huge workfare program for otherwise unemployable Columbia grads who couldn't get a magazine job, you'd have to stab yourself in the head really, really hard for a very long time to get your IQ that low.

(Sorry if I sound overly bitter, but I wasted a year of my life working for the Skiffy Channel magazine, and I had to deal with the folks at the Channel on a regular basis. This usually happened when my editor would get a command to produce 5000 words on one Skiffy event or another: with one, the only thing the Channel publicity crew would send me was a 200-word press release on an event intended to publicize the then-extant show Exposure, and 150 words of that release was nothing but a wankfest about "What is SCI FI?" Between publicity, development, and management, I'd be surprised if anyone worked at Skiffy who wasn't so stupid that s/he tripped on the carpet pattern when coming to work.)
Dec. 14th, 2004 09:48 pm (UTC)
That explains a lot.
Dec. 14th, 2004 06:25 pm (UTC)
A "New Zero"costume? That's great!You must post pictures.
Dec. 14th, 2004 06:38 pm (UTC)
A "New Zero"costume? That's great!You must post pictures.

Well, first the costume must be made, amidst all this other stuff that has to be done. I don't have nearly enough costuming time. But, if it actually happens, there will be pictures posted.
Dec. 14th, 2004 07:48 pm (UTC)
what the author herself has to say about this fiasco

That "duality of spirituality and paganism," bit kills me. Those are words that came out of an ass.

We had a long, if somewhat disturbing conversation about magick while Bell, Book, and Candle was playing

And Jimmy Stewart with Kim Novak--another Vertigo connexion! Or not . . . It's really disappointing she has to renounce magick at the end.
Dec. 14th, 2004 08:42 pm (UTC)
Dec. 14th, 2004 08:51 pm (UTC)
The Skiffy Channel: "Where Bad TV And Movies Go To Die".

Wonderful! Thanks for the link.
Dec. 14th, 2004 09:07 pm (UTC)
At times, I almost miss Edgar Harris: who else would have told us about Hunter S. Thompson writing the next Babylon 5 telemovie or the particulars behind International Slushpile Bonfire Day? (Sadly, some of his best, such as how Bruce Sterling was fitted with a self-promotion inhibitor or how SFWA was changing its admission standards to require all members to be able to do an impersonation of a cartoon character never saw print in Revolution SF.)
Dec. 14th, 2004 09:41 pm (UTC)
Where does that guy get off dissing Free Enterprise?

Goddamn scruffy-looking nerf herder.
Dec. 14th, 2004 09:59 pm (UTC)
Probably someone with an aversion to Cat Piss Men, I imagine.
Dec. 14th, 2004 09:37 pm (UTC)
To be fair, Battlestar Galactica is already airing in the U.K., and seems to be getting rave reviews there.
Dec. 15th, 2004 02:38 am (UTC)
I didn't watch it because I have enough useless anger already. :(
Dec. 15th, 2004 03:22 am (UTC)
Oh, the pain!
I suppose that on an intellectual level I knew that they were going to screw up the Earthsea miniseries, but I didn't want to believe it until I actually saw the Sci-Fi channel's website. Since then I've found that the guy who made it, Robert Halmi, also made the Noah's Ark miniseries of some years ago in which Noah and the ark were attacked by pirates.

This has to hurt Ms. LeGuin. Her work deserves quality treatment, and instead it gets handed to a guy who makes Ed Wood look like Orson Welles. This thing was so bad it inspired me to write a short story about adapting movies from books, which I posted at the link below. It's satire, but after seeing Halmi's work, I have to conclude it's actually not that far off the mark.


"God help us, in the future."
Dec. 15th, 2004 10:50 am (UTC)
Last night, because spectacles attract me — especially hideous spectacles —

I thought this entry was going to be about a new pair of glasses you bought. I was imagining some sort of strange store where the likes of Elton John go before gigs. Then again...I do need sleep.

Dec. 15th, 2004 12:58 pm (UTC)
I tried to like it. I gave it a chance.
Forty-five minutes into it, my mind is
wondering, my eyes are glazed and I had
the presence of mind (left) to switch
the tube off.

My SciFi channel boycott resumes full force.
Dec. 16th, 2004 02:52 am (UTC)
The rest of the comments won't load for me, so I'm not sure if anyone has picked up on this.

Locus Online has a link to an article by Ursula K. Le Guin about the fiasco, above and beyond her comments on the website. Especially good if you haven't read the books.
( 23 comments — Have your say! )