Month: February 2014

THE BOOKS ON FILM – The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made (David Hughes)

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As a movie/SF buff, I’m also a big fan of the road not taken.  I even have my own blog on Unmade SF, so this was the perfect book for me.

The title is great for selling the book.  It’s strong, to the point and promises knowledge of potential screen gems and the glee of frustration at what was lost.  It’s not a very realistic title, however.  Even if people could agree on whether a SF film was good or bad, execution is important.  Some great ideas are ruined, and bad ideas can turn out great.  Also, Hughes goes for completeness on the topics so some of the films discussed aren’t so great and he sometimes gets a little caught up on the development of films that were made.

The title aside, Hughes completeness is a blessing and a curse.  If do a search of the best film never made online you get list after list which combine details into simple list entries.  “The film was going to star X and be directed by Y with FX by Z” when X left the project before Y was signed and Z was consulted by the project was shelved before he was hired.  It’s that flow that Hughes address.  His well researched chapters chronologically address the development of films and their failure (and sometimes replacement).  It’s far more accurate and interesting than the simple amalgam of facts.  However, it does lead to rambling chapters, sometimes jumping between competing projects in the same franchise.  A problem when it comes to reading the book but a necessary evil when presenting the facts.

Overall, The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made isn’t the simple read that the title promises, but a complex exploration of the struggles to get sci-fi films made; a book that pays off if you’re willing to put in the effort.

~ DUG.

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THE BOOKS ON MY SHELF – The Eyre Affair (Jasper Fford)

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This is a book for people who love books.

It is set in a world where books dominate popular culture, where children are named after writers and poets, where religious/political movements are based on theories of who wrote Shakespeare’s plays and where the police have a special department for literary crimes.

It’s a wonderful world for the book lover.  However, it goes beyond that it’s a world where the Crimean War was still ongoing in the 80s, Dodos and Mamoths have been cloned and Wales is a communist state, all of which drag the reader further and further away from being able to relate.

Thursday Next is a police officer with the literary crimes department, with the growing realisation that she has the power to enter (and change) fiction and with a super-villain arch-nemesis.  She also has a awkward relationship with an ex and his role in he brother’s posthumous condemnation for a major military blunder.

The book is fun – almost Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett-esk – but with a bleak undertone which rather than making it deeper detracts from the fun.  The time travel is cliche and obvious, the romance forced and unwelcome, and it never seems to come to terms with the idea of entering fiction instead becoming enamoured with the usual conflict with the super-villain.

But despite the flaws there is such imagination, wacky characters and potential here that you just have to seek out the next book to find out what else happens to Thursday Next.

~ DUG.

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