the cinematic worlds of DAVID BRIN
Because I'm a best-selling and award-winning science fiction writer I've been asked to pen a few comments about science fiction and fantasy films. My ideas, stories and predictions also have a way of showing up on film. Take The Postman, for example....
There was nothing else even remotely interesting at Blockbuster -- so we rented Atlas Shrugged. After all, I often talk about Ayn Rand, and her passionate followers have effectively taken over the U.S. Libertarian movement and influence much of the rhetoric we hear from the Republican Right -- even though no libertarian policies have ever actually been enacted during Republican rule. So, I thought, why not give her acolytes one more shot at selling me on her biggest, most-central tale? An honest person does that. Whereupon, with a sigh but opening my ears and mind, I slid the disk into the player....
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Arthur C. Clarke's brilliant book was made into a 1968 movie. Yes, its pace is glacial by today's standards. No, we don't have a vacation destination on the moon and probably won't. Is the film still as relevant and "fresh" as the books or as dead as Pan Am? Ponder the following two hoary old clichés: 'Isn't it a shame that human decency and justice haven't kept pace with our technological progress?' and 'No past era featured as much cruelty and misery as this one.'
BUFFY vs. THE OLD-FASHIONED 'HERO'
Glad to see this old tribute of mine -- "Buffy vs. The Old-Fashioned 'Hero'" -- re-posted by SmartPop Books. It was written a decade ago, when the "kick-ass" female warriors were Xena and Charlie's Angels and of course, the Buff-Maistress herself. Today you have the ante upped by Kate Beckinsale in the Underworld series. Be sure to look up the unique SmartPop series, which has the lovely market niche of swarming all over each new cultural phenomenon... with intellect! Try especially the book on King Kong! And of course... Star Wars on Trial.
THE MATRIX TRILOGY
Did The Matrix start a trend? Is Cyberpunk a new form of Romantic nostalgia? In retrospect, cyberpunk was probably the finest free promotion campaign ever waged on behalf of science fiction. Brilliantly managed, and backed by some works of estimable value, it snared and reeled in countless new readers, while opening fresh opportunities in Hollywood and the visual arts. True, the self-important rhetoric and whines of persecution sounded ironic -- at times even hilarious. However, the CP rebels did shake things up. We owe them a debt.
FILMS THAT TEACH SCIENCE
From Apollo 13 to The Right Stuff, from Lorenzo's Oil to Awakenings, from Contact to Gattaca, historical and science fiction films can be used to illustrate basic science concepts in the real world. Fun for children and adults!
My most infamous film review was the series I wrote about Star Wars for Salon Magazine. I've posted a page on this site which provides links to the Salon articles and follows it up with my comments and responses to the heated online reaction.
One of the problems with so-called light entertainment today is that somehow, amid all the gaudy special effects, people tend to lose track of simple things, like story and meaning. They stop noticing the moral lessons the director is trying to push. Yet these things matter.
LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY
In this review I look at the way Tolkien's book reflected his experiences in WWI (and between the two Great Wars) and how Jackson's films reflect post-Cold War (and early 9/11) attitudes about heroism and evil-doers.
I mean, what was there not to like? As William Goldman said about another great fantasy, The Princess Bride, it has 'Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True Love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad Men. Good Men. Beautifulest Ladies. Spiders. Dragons, Eagles. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Magic. Chases. Escapes. Miracles.'
KING KONG "TRILOGY"
Release of this film inspired a book in the Smart Pop series, King Kong is Back! I wrote the Introduction which examined the ape's relevance to a 2005 audience (as opposed to a 1933 or 1975 audience).
King Kong is an ape, but so much more. He's proto-man, primitive, solitary and fiercely proud, representing everything about us that the architects and builders of our great and grand civilization aimed to ignore, or leave behind.
Of course, one of my novels has already been released as a movie. We are also negotiating rights to my short story "Dr. Pak's Preschool." As for other film possibilities, discussions continue regarding Earth, Glory Season and The Uplift War. ("Discussions" in Hollywood are always "preliminary"... until suddenly things happen. We can hope for the best!) More novels and short stories have been optioned, while still others are awaiting their Hollywood treatment.
WANT TO OPTION A STORY/NOVEL?
Queries about film or media rights to any of my books or stories can be addressed to my film agent:
Watch a vivid History Channel show "Star Trek: Secrets of the Universe." I was one of the main blather-pundit fellows illuminating both scientific and dramatic themes of the wonderful Star Trek cosmos.
Here's an article I published in NY Daily News about how Star Trek shows how we can 'live long and prosper.'
Optimism doesn't come easily to post-Hiroshima science fiction, nor should all tales of tomorrow be sunny. Indeed, some futuristic cautionary tales warn usefully about potential failure modes. Premature or not, such thought experiments may be a sign of a precocious maturity, a lifting of the eyes. And many of these ruminations have taken place in "Star Trek," often serving as guides for how to succeed in future crises.
As many of you know, a movie version of The Postman premiered December 1997, and was promptly killed by both Titanic and attacks by cynical critics. If you missed it, do see the flick in video. It's a flawed and uneven but ambitious rendition of my story, with some stirring moments and wonderful visual imagery that make it well worth looking at. In fact, here's the film's trailer.
Though I could complain about lots of things, it's far better than the critics said... though not what it could have been if Costner had stayed closer to the book. (For more on my personal reaction to Kevin Costner's production, see my The Postman, the Movie article.)
THROUGH STRANGER EYES
Several of my more recent book and film reviews -- and a number of other essays -- have been collected into Through Stranger Eyes. From sober reflections on Jared Diamond's Collapse, and Rebecca Solnit's River of Shadows, to scientific ponderings on Feynman and Gott, along with appraisals of great authors like Brunner, Resnick, Zelazny, Clarke, Verne, and Orwell....
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Contact David Brin by email.