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Earthsea Series a Travesty - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Dec. 16th, 2004

11:01 am - Earthsea Series a Travesty

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I was so excited to see the new Earthsea mini-series until I read Earthsea in Clorox, an essay by Le Guin explaining the situation with the mini-series which she had no involvement in and how badly it has changed the story.

Folks, if you haven't read the books, do not see the mini-series.

Comments:

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From:dygel
Date:December 16th, 2004 05:16 pm (UTC)
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Wait, if you haven't read the books? Wouldn't you say that you could watch it if you haven't read them, since you have no previous bearing on the story from the books?
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From:mr_ducktape
Date:December 16th, 2004 05:24 pm (UTC)
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I'm guessing his intent was that if you watch this crappy miniseries before reading the books, you might get a bad impression and lose any interest in reading them.

Zarf?
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 16th, 2004 05:30 pm (UTC)
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correct.

not only will you get a bad impression, you might have weird preconceptions about the characters that will get in the way of understanding them as LeGuin wrote them.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 16th, 2004 05:32 pm (UTC)
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Basically the books are pure unadulterated awesomeness. And this series takes 90% of the awesome and throws it away. If you watch the series first and get that impression in your head that this is what the characters are like, it might spoil your enjoyment of the books because you'll have to work hard to wipe those impressions out.

If you read the books first, you can approach the series knowing what comes from LeGuin and what doesn't.

I don't want people getting a bad impression of my favorite author.
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From:dygel
Date:December 16th, 2004 05:38 pm (UTC)
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I see. Okay, noted!
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From:dygel
Date:December 16th, 2004 05:39 pm (UTC)

Off-Topic

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P.S. Can we do the DNS stuff today for the dygel.net domain?
(Feel free to screen this, as it's off-topic.)
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 16th, 2004 06:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Off-Topic

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Did you get my email.

I did the DNS stuff.

You only have to re-aim your Whois record at my servers. ns.cu.groogroo.com and ns2.cu.groogroo.com.

A word of warning though: My IP address is going to change on Dec 30. I'm scrambling to make a backup plan and make this happen with minimal down time. We're going to have to update ALL whois records for all 80 domains that I host when that happens.
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From:dygel
Date:December 16th, 2004 06:21 pm (UTC)

Re: Off-Topic

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Hmm. No, I didn't get any email. I'm not finding it in my inbox or my junk inbox. Oh. But I suppose I did clear that only a week ago... That solves the mystery of the missing email, then.

Anyhow, I'll wait, then. I'll just put something in my datebook to make the change on 2 January 2005. Thanks.
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From:mr_ducktape
Date:December 16th, 2004 05:24 pm (UTC)
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ke_jia TiVo'ed it. I'm not terribly interested (still need to get to the books, haven't yet) and wasn't planning on watching it.

Too bad. Isabella Rossalini kicks ass, but Kristen Kreuk is one of the several factors that drove me away from SMALLVILLE.
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From:szasz
Date:December 16th, 2004 05:25 pm (UTC)
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And you were expecting anything else from a sci-fi channel treatment of good science fiction? I'm confused.

Look what they did to "The Cold Equations" for god's sake. Although that movie, bad as it was, did launch Poppy Montgomery's career, and that makes me glad.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 16th, 2004 05:30 pm (UTC)
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I thought they did a reasonable job with Dune.
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From:szasz
Date:December 16th, 2004 05:37 pm (UTC)
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Hm, I guess I can't comment. For some reason, I remain a fan of the David Lynch version, just for its imagery and bizarreness. But I can't compare either to the book, because I have never read the book and can't now because Allison would stop being my friend if I did.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 16th, 2004 06:10 pm (UTC)
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I like the Lynch version as a separate entity. It's great. But it had almost nothing to do with the book.

The SciFi Dune miniseries was a very good adaptation of a very hard book to adapt. The multi-layered issues of ecology were well preserved in the SciFi version and really lost in the Lynch movie (which seemed more psychological and action oriented).

The first Dune book was really all about the ecology. Not just natural ecology but the complex balance of the entire system and the power of subtle control and manipulation (of muscles, of conversations, of religious/social engineering, of planetary ecology, of water, of politics, of time and space, etc). The SciFi movies did the best job they could of getting that all in there. The lych book basically ignored that and went for the beautiful mind fuck (and did it really well).
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From:xymboulos
Date:December 16th, 2004 07:32 pm (UTC)
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I tend to agree - I like the Lynch movie (in all of its variations) and the books/SciFi adaptation, but as largely independent works. Similarly, the new novels are fun as separate works though very different in spirit from the original novels.
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From:awalsh
Date:December 16th, 2004 06:03 pm (UTC)
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I can't comment on Earthsea as I didn't watch it. However a friend of mine who has read the books watched it and, I believe, found it acceptable. She did say they had changed some things (like the time things took), but she could appreciate some of them as needed for the media.

I very much agree about Dune. While I will always like the old version, it did cause me some problems when I went to read the books. I would love to see them finish the series, although I doubt people would get it; I'm still not sure I do...
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From:the_sween
Date:December 16th, 2004 06:37 pm (UTC)
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That truly sucks ass. Except for their versions of Dune and Children of Dune, I've just been very disappointed with their productions overall.
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From:desert_fox
Date:December 16th, 2004 06:53 pm (UTC)

Herbert Fan

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I echo your sentiments. :)
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From:juvenilia
Date:December 16th, 2004 06:53 pm (UTC)
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this is exactly how i feel about the lord of the rings, and EVERYONE keeps telling me to shut up about it and appreciate the movies for what they are, rather than comparing them with the book.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 16th, 2004 09:27 pm (UTC)
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My impression from talking to most Tolkien geeks is that the movies skip some important scenes and leave out some important character moments but that they don't substantially alter the characters or the central metaphors to the extent that meaning is changed. Perhaps some meaning is lost, but not altered.

Do you feel like there are places in which the LotR movies actually get things WRONG (as opposed to just omitting them or changing them in minor ways that don't impact the overall metaphor/meaning)?

The problem with the Earthsea stuff sounds like they completely threw out the whole taoist metaphor of balance that is the central theme of the entire series and replaces it with a western imperialist crusade metaphor that is the antithesis of everything that Le Guin has ever written. Ick.

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From:juvenilia
Date:December 16th, 2004 09:44 pm (UTC)
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yes. there are plenty of places where they get things drastically, horribly wrong.

1. the character of arwen has about 4 sentences in the fellowship of the ring. that's including any and all references to her, as well as actual appearances she makes. in the movie, not only is she a central character, but she takes over scenes that usually involve another character. (the character she bastardizes is called glorfindel, who is an elf prince, and is never mentioned even once in the movies, though he is largely responsible for frodo not dying in the first movie.) the arwen character doesn't "give frodo her grace", nor does she ride with him on her horse while the black riders are chasing. in fact, he is riding alone, and the HORSE is the one who is navigating. being that he's an elf horse, he can do that.

2. in the 2nd movie, merry and pippin end up joining forces with treebeard the ent, and when he hears what's been going on in the world, he and his fellow ents decide to go take on saruman. they have a meeting, it lasts several days, in which they decide what to do. in the movie, treebeard is tricked by pippin into seeing some cut down trees, which so infuriates treebeard that he yells, and all the other ents come running.

3. in the third movie, sam and gollum have this rivalry going on, and frodo is so out of it from the effects of the ring that he is tricked by gollum and sends sam away from him. this leads to gollum then tricking frodo into walking directly into the lair of a huge spider, and leaving it open for sam to save the day just in time. in the book, sam and frodo both walk into the spider lair. gollum slinks off of his own accord, to wait for the spider to discard the clothing of her victims so he can get the ring back. he doesn't trick frodo by making frodo think that sam has been eating too much of the food.

in the first example, they're bringing in the love interest to sell more tickets. leaving my personal distaste for liv tyler aside, the story itself stands alone without mushing characters together and making a stupid obvious love story out of a love story that's very poignant the way it is. in the second two examples, they undermine the intelligence of other characters.

in all three, it's dragging the story down from a fairly sophisticated level to one of pettiness.
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From:juvenilia
Date:December 16th, 2004 09:48 pm (UTC)
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also, turning this particular story into a love story/war story totally undermines the other themes that run through the book.

oh i thought of another one too.

arwen's dad doesn't tell aragorn to break up with his daughter. he doesn't think that men are "weak" or any of the other things he says about them. before the book even starts, he tells aragorn that he will not be worthy of marrying arwen until he has reunited his ancestral kingdom.

arwen's fate is not "tied to the fate of the ring" either. she's not dying because the ring exists. she's waiting. like everyone else.
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From:juvenilia
Date:December 17th, 2004 01:44 am (UTC)
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oooh you're right. i forgot about faramir! i think i am half-waiting to see the extended version to see if they add in anything that redeems that particular piece of plotline. i would at least like to see his romance with eowyn added back in (which i think it will be, based on the fact that you see them together at the end).

i am very much looking forward to seeing what they do with the hobbits returning to the shire. if they leave out, or bastardize that bit, i think it really will destroy the spirit of the movie. because these sheltered ... basically KIDS get thrown all of a sudden into this big story, and yes, they're very brave, and yes, they learn a lot, and yes, all that is wonderful, but if you don't see them put their new found strength and skills to use, the story seems, to me, incomplete.

as for the arwen thing, i don't think that the lord of the rings was ever meant to be a love story. and i resent them adding in a love story, no matter how much sense it makes for ticket sales or other reasons. i think that's actually one of the things i liked most about the books -- they don't take the easy love story way out. i think that the story itself, with all its various threads and twists, stands alone, without resorting to that kind of thing. if it was meant to be that way, i think more would have been shown in the books themselves, rather than in the appendices.
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From:juvenilia
Date:December 17th, 2004 04:43 pm (UTC)
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i really don't like the way they tweaked the that bit. it is marginally true, faramir trying to earn the love/respect of his father, but i think that was more than apparent the way the book told it, without the added in bits.

i think that's the crux of what bothers me about the whole movie series: the things they added in were (at least all the ones i can think of at the moment) already there. they just had to highlight them, make them blatant and obvious.
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From:cassiopia
Date:December 16th, 2004 06:53 pm (UTC)
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What I keep wondering is why didn't she post the essay on her own site?

Oh, nevermind in the last hour there is a new link on her site to this:
http://slate.msn.com/id/2111107/

When I saw no mention of it on her site I was leery of its source.
So that answers that question.

Something of Le Guin's in next on my reading list once I finish the book I'm currently reading. Any recomendations on a good place to start?
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 16th, 2004 07:07 pm (UTC)
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I'm pretty sure that Le Guin doesn't maintain her own website. Vonda McIntyre has some involvement in the website (she's the designer). I don't know who updates the content.

Le Guin probably just didn't get around to telling someone to put up a link right away. I don't think she's a big web person.

But really, if Gaiman is posting to his blog, you can guess that it's legit. I don't think he'd post something supposedly by a fellow author without knowing where it is from.
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From:cassiopia
Date:December 16th, 2004 07:12 pm (UTC)
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True, which is why I was quick to trust it, it was only after reading it that I was was thinking more about it. I feel pretty confident it is legit.

You didn't answer my other question and reccomendations.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 16th, 2004 07:34 pm (UTC)
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Sorry I'm only half paying attention as I've been in a DRAGGING meeting for 2 hours.

Recommendations require some thought.

Ultimately the Earthsea series is a great place to start. There's 6 books (5 novels and 1 book of collected shorts) to read so it should keep you busy for a while.

Searoad is excellent non-fantasy.

Left Hand of Darkness is the classic SciFi...not the best but probably the best to start with to familiarize yourself with her sci-fi universe. (Her sci-fi books do not form a "series" but they all share elements of the same universe...same races, same galactic "government", same travel methods).

The Dispossesed is a good introduction to anarcho-syndicalism and a good story.

Somewhere Very Far from Anywhere Else is a very good teen romance that you can read in 1 night and that will make you cry.

Unlocking the Air is a great collection of short stories.

It all depends on what you want. But I'd start with Earthsea.

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From:cassiopia
Date:December 16th, 2004 08:34 pm (UTC)
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I will probably do Earthsea first. I already have the first book. Do you have the others?

Where does Always Coming Home fall in your reccomendation? Isn't that one your favorite?

Bummer about the meeting, hope its over by now or soon.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 16th, 2004 09:21 pm (UTC)
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Always Coming Home is one of my favorites but it is also the least accessible and the least representative of her narrative style. So I try not to recommend it as a first book to read by her unless the person I'm recommending to is a utopian literature geek or an anthropology geek.
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From:celaenos_aerie
Date:December 16th, 2004 09:25 pm (UTC)
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If zarfmouse doesn't have them, I have the next two (Atuan and Farthest Shore), but not the two after those.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 16th, 2004 09:28 pm (UTC)
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I have copies of the others _somewhere_. Ask me when you are ready and I'll see if I can scrounge them up.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 16th, 2004 07:50 pm (UTC)
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I've only read 2 and a half of LeGuin's books, having only been introduced to the author a few months ago. The first I read was Lathe of Heaven, and I enjoyed it enough to read more. It snagged me from the start. The Left Hand of Darkness was my second. Also an excellent read. The opening of the book sort of dragged a bit for me, but once I got further in it was captivating. I'm currently reading The Dispossessed, but I haven't touched it for a few weeks, having been stuck on some of the protagonist's ranting.

Incidentally, I just realized that if you search for these books on Amazon, there are links below the cover images to "Look inside this book" and you can read the first 10 or so pages. Neat.
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From:xymboulos
Date:December 16th, 2004 07:53 pm (UTC)
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I'm glad you warned me - it's sitting on TiVo.

To mitigate any disappointment, I found the recent A&E adaptation of "Lathe of Heaven" to be good.
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From:lidora
Date:December 16th, 2004 09:33 pm (UTC)
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this is exactly what happened when they made a mini-series of the mysts of avalon. i was so appalled by what they did with ms bradley's beautiful work of fiction.
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From:boannan
Date:December 17th, 2004 02:54 am (UTC)
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well thanks. you were pretty much the person I was waiting to hear from before I even let myself get excited about this. :)

I'll have to go read her essay about the series. I'm particularly interested in how she ended up having no involvement.

Really the characters in Earthsea for me are so unique I kind of can't conceive of actors playing them. I mean who plays Ged? Colin Farrell? Russell Crowe? bizarre.
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