Sunday, May 24, 2009 Competition: The Wolverine Files

Over at they are running a competition for a new book called The Wolverine Files. The competition is open to any person that has registered to the forums and posts in the competition thread.

The Wolverine Files is the complete story of Wolverine - every aspect of his life from his creation by the WEAPON X project to his interaction with the other members of the X-Men. The book is a gorgeous 160 page Hardcover volume that leaves no part of Wolverine's life left uninspected.
Worth 40USD it is a great book to win!

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Movies Vs. Books

During the last 10 years there have been a lot of books (including comics) that have been made into movies. The simple reason for this is money. The movies make money by ticket sales, DVD sales which in turn becomes a big budget advertisement for books, toys and other merchandise. 

It is a symbiotic relationship. The book/publishers/authors make money from selling the rights. the movie makes money and in return the book makes some more money from selling more copies due to recent exposure. Win-win situation right? 

Yes and No

There are creators/writers, such as Alan Moore of Watchmen/V for Vendetta who refuses to write a script for his own creations, declines to watch them once released and partakes in zero of the profits. People like Alan Moore refuse to be part of the movie industry because they don't believe film makers can make a good movie out of their books and don't believe movies can encompass the spirit of their creations. Is it good that creators are boycotting their own work?

Usually when a book is turned into a movie it is because the book has great popularity and is enjoyed very much by readers. Other benefits of movies is they turn weeks worth of reading into a few hours. There are also people that don't like reading (yes they do exist) and making films exposes them to great entertainment (Lord of the Rings) and sometimes great literature (To Kill a Mocking Bird).

However I am going to use 5 different personal examples of movies vs books to outline when and where a book or a movie is better than the other. 

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

This example is about book I have not read before but have seen the movie. I saw this movie quite soon after its release because I like dragons and because there was a lot of buzz about this young kid with Asperger's Syndrome. I knew nothing about the book so went into the movie with a completely open mind. I think I wanted my money back after 30 minutes. When the film was over, I wanted to forget the movie was ever made (much like the never made Dungeons and Dragons movie). 

I still have not read the book and refuse to read the book. The movie was so damn awful that it has completely destroyed my perspective of Eragon. Which is a darn shame because there are many people who love the series and keep telling me to read the books, but do I need to read another version of Earthsea or Star Wars?

Verdict: The movie industry is bad for books reputation

Watchmen by Alan Moore. Film by Zack Snyder

Another film I watched without first reading the book/comic. I watched it because I watch most comic book adaptations and because one of my friends who has similar book tastes to me wanted me to see it. I absolutely loved it. I couldn't believe such a film could be produced. The characterization was amazing. I loved Rorschach, I hated the Comedian but loved how he was portrayed as the anti-hero. The cheesiness made me laugh and the violence really gave the film some grit. I have yet to read the comics but will do so at the first chance.

Verdict: Made a ton of money. Promoted Watchmen to the greater audience (including myself). Mission completed in my opinion. 

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

A slight difference to Eragon. When the Fellowship of the Ring came out, I had attempted the book, but I found it too difficult to finish and stopped before the hobbits even met Aragon. So I watched the movie and absolutely loved it. Not having read the book again let me see the movie with an open mind. After the movie I picked up the Lord of the Rings again and finished all three before The Two Towers came out. I enjoyed watching The Two Towers + Return of the King but I was always expecting certain things that never transpired. Where was Shelob in the Two Towers? Where was "Battle of Bywater" in Return of the King (perhaps my favourite part in the whole trilogy)? 

Verdict: Both book and movie gave me something that the other wouldn't have. The book gave me more in-depth knowledge and more enjoyment because there were parts not in the movie. The movie gave me the extra motivation to pick up the book again and the extended scenes on the DVD's were great!

Dune by Frank Herbert

A science fiction classic and is at the top of most people's top 10 sci-fi lists. When I read it, I had little sci-fi reading experience but it didn't stop me from enjoying the book. Yes, there were things I didn't like about it but overall I was impressed and those things that I didn't like don't stop me from recommending the book to other people.

Enter David Lynch's movie of Dune. I was so excited when I saw Patrick Stewart as Gurney
Halleck and then the force fields came on and didn't know whether to cry or laugh. Ok it was 1984, so I put it out of my mind. The by the end of the movie the film was still terrible, terrible storytelling, terrible characterization.

Verdict: Not an example from something in the last 10 years but still relevant in my opinion. So glad that I read the book first because I don't think I would have read the book otherwise. Again the movie industry destroys a book's reputation.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

A book and series that I have read and absolutely love. While it is not the first fantasy book/series that necessarily recommend to people because of its complexity, it is my favourite. Not too recently HBO signed a deal to make a TV series (yeah not a movie but close enough) of A Game of Thrones. At the moment the series is in casting mode and have already attached Peter Dinklage and Tom McCarthy. Once they have got a cast they can begin filming the pilot which I eagerly await.

Verdict: A series that has a huge fanatical fanbase. A book that makes me really desperately want to see it adapted to TV. Not because I think that the TV series will add something amazing, but I can't get enough of A Song of Ice and Fire.

Although I have only outlined 5 examples here there are sure to be many more but overall it looks like the film industry is a positive for books. It reaches across a greater audience, has ability to let 12 friends do the same thing at the same time, helps make them more money and keeps fans interested and talking. The only people that it really hurts are purist's and sometimes the artist/author (i.e. Alan Moore). You can argue that these are the people whose interests you should look after, but as long as there is a demand and people willing to buy the product, whether it be good or bad, then there will be people making the films.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Review: Reaper Man

DEATH has dutifully done his job for ages but the powers at be have told DEATH that he is now surplus to requirements. They thanked him, gave him severance pay (his horse Binky) and left him with 'time' of his own. However, when you have 'time', it can run out.

Pratchett is another one of those well-known established authors that I am reviewing. I read his Colour of Magic book last year and sad to say that I didn't really enjoy it. I didn't really get it. I subsequently read Good Omens and two of his YA books, 'Only you can save mankind', 'Johnny and the Dead.' 

I always give authors a second chance and so I picked up Reaper Man. I found Reaper Man much more to my liking. It was much more humorous and the characters gave Pratchett more freedom for his satire. The story is shared among two main characters, DEATH and a wizard called Windle Poons. Much like Colour of Magic, I just didn't really like the wizard characters, but to contrast this I really liked DEATH and the characters that were around DEATH. It was well done how Pratchett moulded DEATH, giving him a more human persona and you really felt his (DEATH) awkwardness of adapting to having 'time'.

Picking up one of Pratchett's discworld novels can be much of a lottery (if you haven't read any before) because they contain different characters and not all characters are created equal.

If you haven't read Pratchett before, I suggest you research a tiny bit before picking up one of his discworld books. I have heard that books containing the city guards are the best and I myself might have to pick up another discworld book. Go on....take the gamble and have some laughs!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Review: Dragonflight

Dragon's were once protectors of the sky, saving Pern from the Threads, a worm like bacteria that destroys all life if left unchecked. The Threads would enter Pern's atmosphere every 250 years when the Red Star got too close to Pern. However 450 years have passed without the Threads and in that time Dragon's have diminished and when once there were many Queen Dragons there are now none left, except one huge Golden Egg. 

One of the things about being a relatively new reader to fantasy is having to catch up on classics and old school authors. I have heard many a great things about McCaffrey and seen many of her books in either second hand shops and in bookstores. So when I picked up Dragonflight for $1 I had to immediately read it.

I was in for a shock. The first moment you are plunged into pages of politics without really knowing who or what the characters are. You can work out the "good" and "bad" guys but you don't care for them and therefore care not for their goals. The dragons in this series come in many a variety, green, blue, brown bronze and of course the Queen dragons. However, unlike Naomi Novik, McCaffery doesn't give us much detail about the different 'breeds' except that they come in different sizes. I would have liked it if she gave us a bit more detail on the abilities of different dragons and what those dragons would do normally during combat and non-combat times. 

As I read on, I slowly realised that this book was probably the best disguised fantasy book I have ever read. Dragonflight is a sci-fi book in the guise of a fantasy book. Why is it a sci-fi book in disguise? Well as I have said, the planet Pern is under attack from Threads, an alien worm-like bacteria. Dragon's are not merely dragons. I rolled my eyes when I learnt that dragons had telepathy; gasped when they could teleport and had a stroke when they could time travel.....yes...that's right, telepathic, teleporting, time travelling dragons. 

If this was actually a science fiction book I think I would have liked it because it wouldn't have destroyed my embedded concept of what dragons are and do. I would also have the mind set of reading a sci-fi book. 

The overall storyline of the book is actually very well done but it is the characterizations of the characters and the dragons that I found wanting. So I asked myself why a distinguished author and a well known series could, in my eyes be so bad? Now I know McCaffery doesn't need someone like me to come to her defence; Dragonflight has a Hugo award to do that for her but I think that the evolution of fantasy writing has evolved so much since 1969. Authors and books these days focus more on world building and characterization and yet still find space to make sure these things flow with the storyline.

Perhaps I will give McCaffery another go at a later date with a newish book of hers but if you like the idea of telepathic, teleporting, time travelling dragons then you will probably enjoy this book.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bestfantasybooks Review: The Saga of Beowulf

Finished this epic tale and reviewed it for

The book was pretty big and it is why I haven't reviewed anything for a while. I'll catch up with my reviews these coming weeks with 'Coraline by Neil Gaiman' and 'Un Lun Dun by China Mieville'.