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January 11, 2007

Comments

Ry

I will say this, though: Like Powers' works in general, it's refreshingly free from the kind of crud that clutters up many novels. There's no sex scenes or blood and gore in it, for example.

I was in Borders recently, and I was thinking about this blog andhow it introduced me to Tim Powers. So I decided to buy Last Call. (Since Three Days to Never was only available in hardback and I hate reading fiction in anything other than paperback.)

So I get home and I start reading Last Call, and I'm getting to page 11... I don't want to give anything away, but anyone who's read Last Call knows what I mean when I say, "the part where Mrs. Leon says 'Call.' Yikes."

So, I wouldn't say without qualification that Tim Powers novels are "free" from "gore and blood" withouth qualification. Rather, I'd say that, when it comes to blood and gore, he writes in a clinical and professional manner. He doesn't go for the cheap gross-out and he makes it clear why the bloody act was a necessary plot point and not a gratuitous act of violence.

Still, man.

Poor Georges.

Yikes.

Joy Schoenberger

I'm not really a big fan of Powers. I read two of his books: Anubis Gates and Three Days to Never. He's a good writer, but the stories have a forced feel to them, like he's trying to fit together a bunch of random plot elements that don't really go. When I read his own description of how he writes his books, I thought, yeah, that's exactly how it reads. The books are gripping, they keep you turning pages, but at the end, you feel like something's missing. I much prefer books where the subject matter is well-researched, but also focused in a narrow subject area. A little here and there scattered all over is just somehow unsatisfying. Anyway, I don't think I'll be reading Soul in a Bottle.

Mary Kay

I'll give him one thing at least. He's quick writer. Jimmy just reviewed his latest in Sept. The man writes faster than I can read.

Brother Cadfael

I had never heard of Tim Powers until reading about him on Jimmy's blog, and I have to say that I found Three Days to Never and Anubis Gates to be fascinating reads. Sometimes a little hard to keep up with the details (particularly when you have to set it down and do not get back to it for a few days), but the man knows how to use good and evil for something other than a cheap thrill.

Can't wait to read A Soul in A Bottle.

John E

For us slow readers, I wonder if there's any chance of an audiobook or two coming out. It would be great for my commute. So many books, so little time to read.

Rebekah

I'm glad to read praise for his latest. I hadn't even heard it existed, until Christmas. My mom had tracked down all of his published works for me; it must have taken her forever. (And, being a huge Powers fan, I came about as unhinged as one would expect when I opened them.) Anyway, this is one of them.

I appreciate his going light on the sexual stuff, if only for the fact that I've read several of his books aloud to my mom. She works at home and would otherwise have the television on in the background, and also doesn't have the time to read as much as she'd like. Reading sex scenes to ones mother is not pleasant; nor is having to skip sections with, "Um, and then they do stuff. Very acrobatic, they are."

StubbleSpark

Joy, I think you are definitely in the minority when it comes to Powers' ability to blend seemingly unrelated but intriguing elements into an organic work that sings.

I mean the guy is credited by critics and peers as being his own genre.

Try reading similar works by other accomplished writers (like Neil Gaiman -- who I love) and I think you will see the endeavor is a lot more difficult than Powers makes it look.

But when are we going to get a screenplay out of one of these books or short stories? My future wife has a really old theory that Sting's "Shape of my Heart" is actually an homage to Last Game. Whether it is or not, I can envision a lot worthy star power climbing aboard a Hollywood Powers project.

Of course the short story genre has suffered a long period of neglect on TV. It has been a long time since quality shows like Twilight Zone, Amazing Stories, or The Outer Limits have graced the airwaves. What about a series that does one to two-hour long stories? You could include adaptations from writers like Powers, Gaiman, Flannery O'Connor, HP Lovecraft, or other writers.

Sounds cool, don't you agree?

PBXVI

Are you sure J.K. Potter has *no* relation to Harry Potter or J.K. Rowling??? Sounds like a hybrid to me!

Margaret

StubbleSpark-- that's the kind of thing that could get me watching TV again. High-quality, thought-provoking, stand-along pieces would be the ticket.

SDG

Are you sure J.K. Potter has *no* relation to Harry Potter or J.K. Rowling??? Sounds like a hybrid to me!

Strange as it might sound, no relation, apparently.

The first Harry Potter book was published in the UK in 1997; J. K. Potter has apparently been publishing under that name at least since 1993 and probably well before that.

I guess it's not impossible that Rowling borrowed Potter's last name for her protagonist; but that seems awfully weak.

Esau

What about a series that does one to two-hour long stories? You could include adaptations from writers like Powers, Gaiman, Flannery O'Connor, HP Lovecraft, or other writers.

Sounds cool, don't you agree?

StubbleSpark:
Was there ever anything, either on television or in the theatre, that did justice to the book from which it was based? ;^)

Eileen R

Esau:
Was there ever anything, either on television or in the theatre, that did justice to the book from which it was based? ;^)

To Kill A Mockingbird!

Esau

To Kill A Mockingbird!

Thanks, Eileen R.!

I regret to say that, in spite of all the acclaim for this classic film (though I've watched many other such classics in the past), I have yet to see this one.

You've just reminded me of a great film that I need to rent one of these days. =^)

Mary

Actually, the movie, as good as it is with what it took, did not take everything from the novel. Witness that the movie is about racism, while in the book, racism is part of a complex of things that the narrator must learn about.

Laura

I doubt that an audio book will come out or if it does it'll be abridged. I just think abridged books are the worst. We get cheated out of the story. I'm sad about there probably not being an audio book but there is a site that one can submit books too which can be transcribed into electronic or downloadable formatts and you don't have to pay to submit books but you do if you want to read them. I'm working on getting subscribed right now since I have a print disabbility this site is awesome. It's called www.bookshare.org. Check it out

David B.

"Was there ever anything, either on television or in the theatre, that did justice to the book from which it was based?"

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy!(the FOTR Extended Edition, TTT EE, and the ROTR original theatrical release.)

StubbleSpark

You're right Essau.

We should never make TV shows or movies about anything EVER.

(Man, I got like this sarcastic streak today that's like soooo sarcastic!)

scratching head

I got Soul in a Bottle for Christmas. Even though I liked the story, I am still trying to puzzle out what the metaphor of the "the bottle" is exactly, yet Jimmy makes it sound like it is so obvious!

Jimmy Akin

scratching head: the bottle is *the book of poems.* Get it now?

Jimmy Akin

I much prefer books where the subject matter is well-researched, but also focused in a narrow subject area.

Then you might prefer A Soul in a Bottle or Tim Powers' short fiction, as in Strainge Iteneraries or The Bible Repairman.

These works don't focus on trying to bring together widely-divergent real-world events and so may be more to your liking.

Esau

We should never make TV shows or movies about anything EVER.

That's strange -- I could've sworn I said:

"Was there ever anything, either on television or in the theatre, that did justice to the book from which it was based?"

Nowhere in my remarks did I ever even imply that we should never make TV shows or movies about anything EVER -- only that I have yet to see a movie or TV show that actually did justice to the book from which it was based.

Guest

Off

Esau

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy!(the FOTR Extended Edition, TTT EE, and the ROTR original theatrical release.)

Good try, David B. ;^)

Although I very much enjoyed the series, the very fact that the movies were loosely based on the Tokien books (e.g., the primary focus on the Aragon character) would suggest that it was, you might say, a creation of its own -- quite distinct from the books from which they were based.

C.M.

Maybe "Soul in a bottle" is a metaphor for "Lady in the water". Judging a book by its cover, don't Soul and Lady
look very much alike?

Mary Kay

Gone with the Wind is the movie I'd say is closest to the book. It's the only movie I've seen that I like equally as much as the book.

To Kill a Mockingbird the movie does do justice to the book. But like so many other adaptations, it misses some of the smaller scenes that add to the book's charm. I'm thinking specifically of Scout's reaction to seeing her first snow.

David, I don't think you'll find a lot of support for including LOTR in that category. There was a huge debate for months afterwards because Jackson had omitted and changed major plot points and characterizations. Personally, I'm still thrilled that he translated it to the screen. But the movie does not do justice to the book.

An audiobook of Tim Powers books is a good suggestion.

Monica

Movies better than the book:

The Princess Bride

The Scarlet Pimpernel

Holes

just to namea few. There aren't many really; usually I'm disappointed, but with these the movie is clearly better than the book.

John E

Laura, thanks for the tip. It appears that bookshare.org is also electronic voice. I've listened to a few encyclicals I've converted to mp3 with TextAloud, but it takes more concentration to listen to. In addition I found this on the bookshare.org website:

Copyrighted books are only available for download in the specialized formats of digital Braille (BRF) and the digital talking book format (DAISY), and are only available to people with disabilities who have provided certification of disability.

PBXVI

No, LOTR movie was certainly not as good as the books. There is no way within a TWELVE hour movie you could put everything in the books in the movie and still get a good movie. Also, I was somewhat dissapointed in the Narnia movie. It was nothing like the book, except the battle scene was so cool! I'll give it credit for the battle scene!

Esau

, I was somewhat dissapointed in the Narnia movie. It was nothing like the book

PBXVI:
I pointed this out in another thread as well. I was also disappointed at this, too.

About your other comment:

There is no way within a TWELVE hour movie you could put everything in the books in the movie and still get a good movie.

I believe that was also the very reason why Aragon became the focus of the LOTR movies in order to make it more enjoyable, interesting as well as exciting (e.g., for those action buffs out there) for the general audience, which they successfully did; but, again, I repeat, the movies were their own creation, separate and apart from the actual books.

Certainly, there is no way to fit the entire story of the books into the span of time that's allotted for movies -- if this became the case, some of the general audience would simply zone out due to the incredible running time.

Moreover, you'd actually have an even longer version (come the DVD release) than any extended version ever in existence! (e.g., Lord of the Rings: Genuine Edition/Extended, Uncut Version -- Running Time: 1 Month, 12 hours, 17 seconds) ;^)

Mary Kay

Esau and PBXVI, I have to disagree with both of you.

It's true that you can't fit a thousand page book into 9 hours (LOL at the one month running time Esau!). But I think it has more to do with Jackson putting his own spin on the story.

For one, PJ did a brilliant job adapting book to screen with FOTR. The omissions and abridgements are there, but plausible. Much of the later ones weren't. Gandalf is portrayed as wimpy and indecisive, hardly consistent with a "Servant of the Secret Fire." So is Treebeard. I would have loved to hear the trumpets and horns. And the whole lesson at the end (Spoiler Alert for anyone who hasn't read the books) that the hobbits' adventures were preparation for them to do (spiritual) battle themselves in their home situation.

My apologies for hijacking. This is a favorite topic of mine and I need to not let it overlap on other topics.

David B.

If you want a good persceptive on the LOTR movies (and one I generally agree with), read SDG's articles about the films, and his reviews of the movies.

derringdo

Anybody who found Anubis Gates and Three Days to Never rather on the incoherent side really needs to test-drive the other side of Powers: Stress of Her Regard, Dinner at Deviant's Palace, Declare and maybe Drawing of the Dark. To me, those are his most accessible books: the weird stuff comes together into much more of an organic whole in them, he's spring-boarding them off relatively comfortable and familiar genre conventions, and the characters are more likable on the whole.

Esau

Mary Kay:

The original discussion we were having concerned the following comment of mine in an earlier post:

"Was there ever anything, either on television or in the theatre, that did justice to the book from which it was based?"

To me, the phrase that did justice to the book from which it was based would mean, among other things, a faithful rendering of the books (though, not to say every milk and cranny in the books have to be persent in the movie; after all, there are certain adaptations that must take place for the big screen). This can said to be a reason why, although there are reasons why adaptations of books to movie format may be highly desired and, at times, appreciated depending on the movie end product, judging from a large variety of the movies that have attempted this, I still think, for the most part, you can't beat the actual books themselves from which such movies are based.


But, back to what I was saying about the LOTR movies -- as I mentioned:

Although I very much enjoyed the series, the very fact that the movies were loosely based on the Tokien books (e.g., the primary focus on the Aragon character) would suggest that it was, you might say, a creation all their own -- quite distinct from the books from which they were based.

That's not to say that they weren't any good or to insinuate that PJ did a bad job in adapting the book onto the big screen -- only to say, once again, that the movies were a creation of their own and quite distinct from the books from which they were based for reasons mentioned here and in the previous posts.

Mentioned as well, there were various reasons for this such as to make it more enjoyable, interesting and exciting for the general audience.

Frankly, I believe PJ, among many other reasons, was attempting to make it more accessible to a wider audience who may not be familiar with the Tokien books and I believe he did a superb job in sucessfully accomlishing this.

Personally, I LOVED the PJ movie versions.

Too bad about his not being given directorship by the Studio of the upcoming Prequel though.

Mary Kay

David, you're right about SDG and I just put on my mental list to go back and re-read what SDG wrote.

Esau, I think you're right about PJ making LOTR more accessible to those unfamiliar with Tolkien and I know at least one person who read the books after seeing the movies. So I know others will think differently, but I still felt a large disappointment (and have talked with others who felt the same way) with the second half of the movies. Just one of those things, I guess.

Esau

I still felt a large disappointment (and have talked with others who felt the same way) with the second half of the movies. Just one of those things, I guess.

Mary Kay:

I sympathize with you.

This is one of the reasons why I wouldn't actually classify the LOTR movies as having done justice to the books from which they were based.

However, based entirely on their own merits, the movies were incredibly well done as far as PJ's own take on the story is concerned (i.e., his vision) and the actual Tolkien elements he instilled into his work as far as the movie versions are concerned.

Eileen R

The Scarlet Pimpernel

Holes

Aww. I liked the books of those both better than the movies, though the movies were great. The 'Holes' movie, though, particularly cut much of the delicious satire of modern youth 'rehabilitation' efforts.

Esau

Aww. I liked the books of those both better than the movies, though the movies were great. The 'Holes' movie, though, particularly cut much of the delicious satire of modern youth 'rehabilitation' efforts.

Thanks Eileen R. for your examples -- although, I've got to say, I haven't read those books myself ;^)!

But, as I've said, for the most part, you can't beat the actual books themselves from which such movies are based.

David B.

"I still felt a large disappointment.... with the second half of the movies."

Mary Kay,

Do you mean The Two Towers?

Mary Kay

David, no, I meant from mid Two Towers through the end. Thanks for reminding me of SDG's review. I re-read it and can envision a good discussion of different views.

But at a later time. I've gone over my combox quota for the week and need to get some things done so I can support my combox habit.

PBXVI

I agree with you Esau. Don't get me wrong, I love the LOTR movies, but your right, they are a seperate work from the books in a sense. There is no way to include everything from the books into the the movie. (BTW, has anyone seen the animated LOTR movies which seemed to copy the book almost word for word and ruined the moive?)

SORRY, don't mean to be hobby horse or whatever!

MissJean

If you want to see a huge "information dump" of research, read the beginning of John Updike's In The Beauty of The Lilies. The main character starts to read the newspaper and then Updike throws all sorts of headline news from 1910, seemingly to set the stage, but it comes across more like "Look! I found this all on microfische!"

As for movies vs. film, I must say that the A&E version of "Pride and Prejudice" was a faithful rendering of the book - as was a movie of "Persuasion". I agree that Princess Bride was improved in the movie. I think that Wuthering Heights was a dreadful book but a good movie.

I'm going to have to take a look at Powers' latest. I thought "Three Days to Never" had some dissatisfying things about it - totally not buying the "backwards answer" of ghosts - but that's part of the charm, I suppose. With one exception: I was utterly annoyed that "Anubis Gates" never dealt with what it would be like to know EXACTLY when and how your beloved wife would die. I would think that would be even worse than finding yourself in your own dying day.

But before the new novela, I want to catch up with the OTHER Powers: J.F. Powers. I've been looking all over for a collection of his short stories and can't seem to find it!

StubbleSpark

I think I have a movie that did justice to the book, Essau (and I am only being mildly facetious here):

The DaVinci Code

How can I say this? Well, as someone who was forced to read that dreadful book in order to give apologetic speeches on it, I have to say it was dumber than awful.

Yet it did really well in sales. Why? Probably the main reason (and this is not my idea but I agree with it) is because Americans are generally very unsophisticated readers (or possibly legally blind in the case of Dan Brown's "writing").

But when the movie came out, it was criticized by the public because Americans ARE extremely sophisticated movie-goers and can spot Mac truck-sized plot holes much easier when the likes of Tom Hanks is standing in one and waving at you.

The movie made it clear that, once you get over the thrill of blasphemy all you have is the agony of two people standing around in a museum chatting about obscure hints to a mundane secret that leads them: BACK TO THE MUSEUM!! Action sequences are replaced by thinking and tension is provided by predictable yet disposable cardboard characters.

This book picks you up, shakes you by the collar, and dares you to ever use your powers of literacy to recognize strings of letters as words ever again.

"Do you want to read again? DO YOU!"
"No! Please stop!! You're hurting me ..." (sobs)
"Don't EVER let me catch you doing reading again!!"
"I promise! (cries like a baby) Just please don't put anymore of those dumb words into my eyes!"

"It stinks" and judging from the reviews, everyone else agrees. I personally have not yet seen the movie but I will immediately go out and rent a copy once Mike Nelson gets off his lazy butt and makes a Riff Track for this oh so riff-worthy piece of mental feces.

So yeah, I think Ron Howard's movie was major suckcess in that respect.

Esau

because Americans ARE extremely sophisticated movie-goers

StubbleSpark:

This reminds me of what some folks said about Americans having such poor taste in things as in television programming and the like, being that they actually go for middle-class crap like certain Sci-fi shows that had become so very popular with the majority of American viewers.

Insulting to me, at first, as a fellow American, but I couldn't help but acknowledge some hint of truth in it as far as some awful shows that have become the mainstay of American programming in recent years.

Esau

Just to note, my latter remark is not limited to merely Sci-fi shows spoken of by the original people referenced but, rather, to television shows in general.

StubbleSpark

"Insulting to me, at first, as a fellow American, but I couldn't help but acknowledge some hint of truth in it as far as some awful shows that have become the mainstay of American programming in recent years."

I agree. Our sophistication as American viewers is limited to the elements of the story in their most basic and secular sense. The rest is pure relativism.

No where is this more apparent than in science fiction which has a reputation (especially in America) for bizarre hypothetical moral conundrums. For science fiction to be considered good, it will have consistent characterization, well-thought plots with believable motivation. But the reasoning behind all this has become more and more suspect as time goes on (with a few notable exceptions).

Anyone with an iota of understanding in moral theology would laugh out loud at some of the proposed "solutions" to Sci Fi stories.

And I have often thought this would be a nice show on EWTN: have one or two moral theologians watch snippets from certain TV programs and movies and discuss the moral situation portrayed and/or make fun of it. The show could take a format similar to those movie review shows where they cut away from discussions to show clips or they could take a more free-form MST3K-type approach where the dialogue occurs simultaneously while watching the show or movie clip.

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