The PoliBlog Collective


March 18, 2008
In Memoriam: Arthur C. Clarke
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Writer Arthur C Clarke dies at 90

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Sword of Truth to TV
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the SciFi Wire: Raimi’s Wizard Gets Green Light

Sam Raimi’s syndicated original fantasy TV series Wizard’s First Rule is set to debut in all of the top 50 markets in the United States, Variety reported.

The ABC/Disney show, based on the Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind, has received a green light for 22 episodes and will begin production in May.

Interesting, and made moreso by Rami’s participation (he of Spider-Man movie fame, amongst other things). I like the Sword of Truth novels enough to read them, but I have to wonder how they will play out as a TV series. The novels often are a bit stilted in both dialog and characterization, so I have to wonder how they will translate to the smalls screen. Further, Goodkind often shouts his Objectivism at the audience-so we shall see.

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March 16, 2008
Choose Your Own Adventure
By Steven L. Taylor

Coding Horror brings up the Choose Your Own Adventure books, which I fondly remember from my childhood. The post itself is only partially about the books, but he has a nice display of the covers of some of the early books (and I had most, if not all, of the ones he displays). A nice trip down memory lane, if anything.

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March 13, 2008
Expanding the Potter Film Franchise
By Steven L. Taylor

Via LAT: Final ‘Harry Potter’ book will be split into two movies.

On the one hand, it is a big book, and probably needs either one really long movie or two regular lengths one. On the other, there can be no doubt that two movies will haul it tons more cash than will just one:

The five “Potter” films to date have averaged $282 million in U.S. grosses, but the overall receipts go well beyond that. The faces of the stars stare out from DVDs, video games, tie-in books, toys, clothing, candy wrappers and a staggering array of other items. By some estimates, the brand represents a $20-billion enterprise, and that’s without the planned “Potter”-themed complex opening next year at the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida.

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March 3, 2008
Military SciFi Lit.
By Steven L. Taylor

Kingdaddy makes suggestions.

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January 19, 2008
The Work of Jim Butcher
By Steven L. Taylor

I have been meaning for some time to review the works of Jim Butcher, and having just finished the third book of his Codex Alera, Cursor’s Fury now is a good time to do so. To date I have completed all of his Dresden Files novels and the first three of the Codex Alera. I have the short-lived SciFi Channel production of the Dresden Files to thank for introducing me to Butcher and his highly entertaining, original and readable works.

While I have long meant to write full reviews of the Dresden books, let me say that if you even semi-liked the TV show, you will almost certainly love the books, which are far more complex and better reflect their own universe than did the TV show, which relied far too much standard TV detective show tropes and not enough about Butcher’s fantastical world of wizards, vampires and faeries. I will say that the first two novels are a bit more pedestrian than those that followed (although were still enjoyable reads). Both Storm Front and Fool Moon both struck me as more linear and less nuanced (at least in terms of the universe in which the tales are set) than the subsequent books. It is worth noting that Storm Front was adapted into the pilot for the TV series (which was inexplicably shown out of order) and was the closest of the small screen stories to those of the books. That story showed Dresden to be more powerful than the other episodes of the TV series, included the key character of Susan Rodriguez (who was expunged from the series) and contained a truer version of the relationship between Dresden and Murphy.

The Dresden books are entertaining, well paced and compelling.

Because I so enjoyed the Dresden books, I decided to give Butcher’s fantasy series, The Codex Alera, a whirl. First, I was pleased to find that these stories were not a retread of his Dresden works, but unique stories in their own right with characters and concepts that did not seem simply recast from the other series (something that authors often do when they go from one universe to another). Further, save for one key cliché that I will not reveal specifically, but will be obvious to any even semi-regular readers of fantasy, the books are quite fresh. Unlike many fantasy series that seem like a recasting of other tales and worlds, this world was quite different. This was no retread of the Lord of the Rings or really an echo of anything else that comes to mind. Yes, some of the basic elements of fantasy fiction are present, but they are accompanied by a number of inventive twists. Indeed, apart from some writing tics, one wouldn’t necessarily think that the books were written by the same author.

Another impressive element of the novels is that while there are a number of ongoing plots and story arcs, each of the three novels I have read to date (a fourth was recently published, but I have yet to read it) is that each has had its own unique story. In other words, while the books clearly form part of a large whole, they do not read simply as one long narrative broken into pieces.

I would highly recommend both series.

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December 24, 2007
Raimi to Direct The Hobbit
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the SciFi Wire: Raimi Helming Hell, Then Hobbit:

After Drag Me to Hell, Raimi is expected to helm the Hobbit films for New Line and MGM now that Peter Jackson, who will executive-produce the movies, has made it clear he won’t direct them, the trade paper reported.

Good deal.

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December 22, 2007
Star Trek: New Frontier Comic Mini-Series on the Horizon
By Steven L. Taylor

Peter David reports that he will be writing a five-issue ST:NF mini series for IDW comics. The first issue comes out in March.

It will be completely in continuity and will pick up exactly where the previous NF book left off.

For those unfamiliar with David’s New Frontier novels, they are a series of stories written exclusively by David, set in the Next Generation universe and based on a ship and crew not seen on tv. There are a few minor character who were onscreen who are featured in the novels, specifically Elizabeth Shelby (from the Borg two-parter, The Best of Both Worlds), the Vulcan doctor, Selar (who made an appearance iin a second season episode and was played by the same actress (Suzie Plakson) who played the half-Klingon, and Worf’s mate, K’Ehleyr), Robin Lefler (a minor charater played by Ashley Judd in an episode or two) and Edward Jellico (who briefly commanded the Enterprise when Picard was on some secret mission for Starfleet).

Regardless of all the trivia, David is a delightful writer who simultaneously doesn’t take himself too seriously, and yet is well versed in the material he is writing about. I am often struck by the fact that he writes like a fan would write (without being overly fannish at the same time), in terms of reference and plot points from TOS in particular that he makes. Indeed, David is extremely adept at writing for universes created by others. Not only has he written the excellent New Frontier series, but also has penned several TOS and TNG novels (and a DS9 or two). His trilogy which detail the fate of Babylon 5’s Lando Molari is top notch as well. He is also well-known for excellent runs on Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk, amongst other titles.

At any rate, if you like Trek and have never read the New Frontier novels, then you are missing out.

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December 19, 2007
Jackson to Produce The Hobbit
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Peter Jackson to produce `The Hobbit’

Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema have reached agreement to make J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” a planned prequel to the blockbuster trilogy “The Lord of the Rings.”

Jackson, who directed the “Rings” trilogy, will serve as executive producer for “The Hobbit.” A director for the prequel films has yet to be named.

Good deal, although I would have preferred that he directed.

Although this is a bit odd:

Two “Hobbit” films are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, similar to how the three “Lord of the Rings” films were made. Production is set to begin in 2009 with a released planned for 2010, with the sequel scheduled for a 2011 release.

From a money point-of-view, I can understand New Line wanting two films. From a story perspective, however, I have to wonder as to how to elegantly split the tale. Perhaps from the Shire to the Misty Mountains and finding the ring in part 1 and then from the Misty Mountains, into Mirkwood and to the Lonely Mountain in part 2? I am sure that there is enough material for four hours, but I have to wonder if one long movie would be artistically better than two.

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December 15, 2007
WOT to Get an Ending
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the SciFi Wire: Sanderson To Wrap Wheel Series

Fantasy author Brandon Sanderson has been selected to complete A Memory of Light, the final volume in best-selling author Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time sequence, which was left incomplete at the time of Jordon’s death in September, publisher Tor announced.

[…]

Jordan began the Wheel of Time series in 1990 with The Eye of the World. It now consists of 11 volumes (plus one prequel novel) and has sold millions of copies worldwide. At the time of his death, Jordan was working on the 12th and final novel, A Memory of Light.

Harriet Popham Rigney, Jordan’s widow and editor, chose Sanderson to finish the book, which will be written based on notes and scenes left by Jordan. “He left copious notes and hours of audio recordings,” Rigney said in a statement.

I’m glad to know that there will be an ending, and especially glad to know that it will be based on notes and recordings left by Jordan, and not simply a guess by a new author.

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