Brian Ruckley's News & Views

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Please Don't Do It, Hollywood plus Any Questions

Call me a grumpy, glass-half-empty, misanthrope of a worrier, but I fear, in my bones, that the Hollywood machine is about to chew up one of my (and a great many other people's) favourite ever sf books, Hyperion by Dan Simmons.

Little snippets of info about the planned film adaptation have been turning up here and there for quite a while, with the most recent batch - which plunged me into my current gloomy apprehension - showing up on the invaluable sf signal blog.

It's not so much the naming of the potential director that alarms (I've never heard of him, my movie director geek fu being much shrivelled in recent years - although a quick check of the IMDb doesn't suggest my ignorance is exactly appalling). It's the distant sound of the butcher's knives being unsheathed as another genre classic heads into the studio slaughterhouse. It's The Dark is Rising all over again. (And we all know how that turned out, right?).

It would take, I suspect, a genius to cram Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion into a single movie without pounding into a homogenous pulp much of what is distinctive and accomplished about them as novels: the Canterbury Tales mosaic of overlapping stories that flesh out the world and the characters, the literary allusions, the wanton firework display of exotic ideas and images, the balancing of extreme violence with much more personal, somewhat philosophical and existential, struggles. Seems pretty probable that the worries expressed over at sf signal - that the Hollywood instinct will be to excise much of the subtlety and elegance to turn it into a more accessible, action-packed event movie - will prove accurate. And I love me some accessible, action-packed event movie fun, it's just I don't particularly want it marching under the Hyperion banner.

I guess it's the nature of things, given the huge cost of getting this stuff to the screen, but it always makes me wonder why the movie moguls don't just go for more of the (equally high-selling, surely) flash-bang-wallop type of books in the first place. You'd think the less reductive surgery required to turn the original text into a movie, the greater the chance of a positive outcome. That's probably my hopeless naivety talking, though. It likes to make itself heard now again. Shameless, it is.

On any entirely different subject, I'm going to work up a couple of blog posts in the not too distant future talking about writing-, book- and getting published-related stuff, taking as a starting point some of the questions folks have asked me by e-mail, over on Facebook, or in person (poor misguided souls, asking questions of me, but there you are). So just in case anyone's got any questions of that ilk, now's your chance to send me an e-mail, or ask it in the comments to this post, or head on over to the Facebook discussion board and ask it there; I'll add anything new into the pot and stir it around for a while. Like porridge.

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