I still hate John Scalzi

But what he has to say in his latest piece at AMC’s blog — “Why the Movie Version of Your Favorite SciFi Book Stinks, Part I” — is spot on. John says in the article that he spent last weekend at an SF convention (as I did, though not at the same one), and that this discussion was prompted by a fan’s question there. Which is totally plausible to me, because pretty much everything John says here is the same stuff I’ve said on the many panels about movies I’ve sat on at cons. In fact, it seems entirely likely to me that John stole all his ideas from me when we first met… which was when we were on a panel together at a con a few years ago.

Bastard. But you should still read his piece.

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Sun, Jun 01, 2008 5:51pm

Any movie based upon any book (of depth) is going to have problems with what to cut. Every friend of mine had something they loved cut out of “The Lord of the Rings.” I watched an excellent version of “Sense and Sensibility” (Emma Thompson’s) and recalled missing something, but it was so long ago I don’t recall what.

What is important is that the movie catch the spirit of the book, which was why I think Jackson’s greatest sin was not of omission, but of commission, in that he made the dwarf the butt of jokes, even changing dwarven abilities to throw in another joke at Gimli’s expense. Of course, as a slightly shorter and stockier guy who used to have a beard, I might have taken them personally.

It is also why I cut “I, Robot” more slack than my friends did. The movie wasn’t dealing with a book as much as a whole collection of works. Most of Asimov’s robot stories were short stories. But the main ideas of robot psychology were all there, including the evolution of the zero law, even if in Asimov’s work that lead to different results.

I would also go out on a limb and say that “Blade Runner” was better than the book upon which it was based, because it made more sense. The book read like someone from the Beat Generation trying his hand at SF.

The weirdest transition was with “Starship Troopers.” I’d never seen a movie apparently written to make fun of the book it came from. At least, that’s the only explanation I can think of for those recruitment commericials and neo-Nazi symbolism.