Not a Blog

The Adaptation Tango

May 24, 2024 at 9:05 am
Profile Pic

A few years back, Neil Gaiman and I did a joint event in New York City, when we were both in town.

It was a lot of fun, as events with Neil always are.   We told some funny stories, talked about books and comics, about SANDMAN and WILD CARDS and days at cons… and touched on some serious topics too.

I would like to upload  a video of the event if I could, but I am not sure one exists.   If anyone was recording us, I have never seen the tape.   But VARIETY had the best report of the session.

That was all back in 2022, but very little has changed since then.   If anything, things have gotten worse.   Everywhere you look, there are more screenwriters and producers eager to take great stories and “make them their own.”   It does not seem to matter whether the source material was written by Stan Lee, Charles Dickens, Ian Fleming, Roald Dahl, Ursula K. Le Guin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, Raymond Chandler, Jane Austen, or… well, anyone.   No matter how major a writer it is, no matter how great the book, there always seems to be someone on hand who thinks he can do better, eager to take the story and “improve” on it.   “The book is the book, the film is the film,” they will tell you, as if they were saying something profound.   Then they make the story their own.

They never make it better, though.   Nine hundred ninety-nine times out of a thousand, they make it worse.

Once in a while, though, we do get a really good adaptation of a really good book, and when that happens , it deserves applause.

I can came across one of those instances recently, when I binged the new FX version of SHOGUN.

Must confess, I was dubious when I first heard they were making another version of the Clavell novel.   It has been a long time, a long long LONG time, but I read the book when it first came out in the late 70s and was mightily impressed.   (I really need to give it a reread one of these days, but there are so many books, so little time).   And the 1980 miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain as the Anjin was a landmark of long form television, right up with with ROOTS; why do it over again, when that version was so good?

I am glad they did, though.   The new SHOGUN is superb.   Better than Chamberlain’s version, you ask?   Hmmm, I don’t know.   I have not watched the 1980 miniseries since, well, 1980.   That one was great too.   The fascinating thing is that while the old and new versions have some significant differences — the subtitles that make the Japanese dialogue intelligible to English speaking viewers being the biggest — they are both faithful to the Clavell novel in their own way.   I think the author would have been pleased.   Both old and new screenwriters did honor to the source material, and gave us terrific adaptations, resisting the impulse to “make it their own.”

But don’t take my word for it.   Watch it yourself.

Acting, directing, set design, costume… it’s all splendid here.  Along with the writing.

And if SHOGUN is a big enough hit, maybe the same team will adapt some of Clavell’s other novels.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Here’s Egg!

May 21, 2024 at 3:27 pm
Profile Pic

Things are moving along nicely with our Dunk & Egg spinoff, HBO’s adaptation of my novella THE HEDGE KNIGHT.

Most of the auditions — not all, but most — are done, and we should be able to announce some more cast members shortly.   We have our Tanselle, Steely Pate, Baelor Breakspear, the Laughing Storm, a couple of Fossoways, Aerion Brightflame (boo, hiss), Prince Maekar, and the rest.   Lists are being built on Ashford Meadow.     I am told they just had the first table read, and that it went great.

And our youngest star can’t wait to start.   Here’s Dexter, turning to Egg.

Dexter Sol Ansell (Egg) getting his head shaved ahead of Dunk and Egg filming!
byu/shad0wqueenxx inHouseOfTheDragon


I love it.

THE HEDGE KNIGHT will be a lot shorter than GAME OF THRONES or HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, with a much different tone… but it’s still Westeros, so no one is truly safe  Ira Parker and his team are doing a great job.  I hope to visit the shoot come July, when I swing by Belfast on my way to the worldcon in Glasgow.    The show will make its debut next year… and if it does well, THE SWORN SWORD and THE MYSTERY KNIGHT will follow.  By which time I hope to have finished some more Dunk & Egg stories (yes, after I finish THE WINDS OF WINTER).

Oh, and we have our director as well:  Owen Harris, a terrific British director whose credits include helming “San Junipero,” my all time favorite episode of BLACK MIRROR.   Owen will direct three of our six episodes.

Current Mood: excited excited

Here Comes MERAXES

May 1, 2024 at 9:27 am
Profile Pic

Well, this is cool.

It would appear that I have my own dinosaur.

Say hello to MERAXES.

He has a big head and little bitty arms, like Tyrannosaurus Rex, to whom he is not related.

He cannot fly or breathe fire, alas.   (Though maybe that’s for the best).

He hails from Argentina.

Queen Rhaenys would have been very pleased.

I know I am.

Current Mood: geeky geeky