Diamond Age miniseries

more torrent fodder! Neil Stephenson’s The Diamond Age is coming to SciFi Channel as a mini-series:

Diamond Age, based on Neal Stephenson’s best-selling novel The Diamond Age: Or a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, is a six-hour miniseries from Clooney and fellow executive producer Grant Heslov of Smokehouse Productions.

When a prominent member of society concludes that the futuristic civilization in which he lives is stifling creativity, he commissions an interactive book for his daughter that serves as a guide through a surreal alternate world. Stephenson will adapt his novel for the miniseries, the first time the Hugo and Nebula award winner has written for TV.

Could be magnificent, like Dune (so I’ve heard… must torrent!) or teh suck, like Earthsea (which was adapted to miniseries before Goro took his own ill-fated swipe). I’m not sure whether George Clooney as director is a good omen or bad.

To be honest, I vastly preferred Snow Crash (the best cyberpunk novel I’ve ever read) and Cryptonomicon than of Diamond Age. I’d be really excited if SnowCrash was being made into a live series, but let’s see whether SciFi gets DA right before I trust them to do it right. Actually, let the small screen have DA and let’s have SC in the theater where it really belongs.

Shorter Lord of the Rings

Scene: The Council of Elrond

Elrond: It is decided. The Ring shall be cast into Mount Doom. The Ringbearer and the Fellowship shall journey to Mordor.

Radagast the Brown: (arrives) Hellooo! So sorry I’m late. Had a terrible time of it, all sorts of things cropping up at the last minute and all. My advice is never try to drink a Beorning under the table. What’s all this, then?

Gandalf the Grey: The Fellowship is tasked with destroying the One Ring of Power.

Radagast: Ah, good idea, about bloody time if you ask me. How, exactly?

Elrond: The Ring shall be cast into Mount Doom. The Ringbearer and the Fellowship shall journey to Mordor.

Radagast: Journey? You mean on foot??

Elrond: Well, yes.

Radagast: I can have three Eagles here in 36 hours.

(eyebrows rise around the Circle)

TWO WEEKS LATER: THE SHIRE

Sam: Well, we’re back.

UPDATE: a similar argument.

interview with Greg Bear

this is a pretty wide-ranging interview, worth reading in full. But one thing that leaped out at me was this Q&A, because not many people are aware of Bear’s work in the Star Trek and Star Wars universes.

Aberrant Dreams: You are also one of the few writers that come to mind, having written in both the Star Trek and the Star Wars universes. At every science fiction convention, there is always a panel about Star Wars verses Star Trek. If you found yourself on that panel, for which side would you bat?

Greg Bear: Well, there wouldn’t have been a Star Wars without a Star Trek. I’m sure even George Lucas would admit that. If you go back to the lineage of interstellar travel and space opera, you’ll find two sides of the equation.

I think Star Trek adheres to the more seriously extrapolated side, despite some of the sillier episodes. It was more of a universe you could imagine yourself living in with fewer fantasy elements.

Star Wars came along and mixes in so many different elements. There are pulp films, samurai movies, Arthurian legend, and science fiction, and it’s all planted in a thoroughly convincing science fiction designed universe. It was a flavor that no one had quite seen before, and it was also done with tremendous conviction and love. At that time, Star Wars became a kind of crossover bridge for science fiction and fantasy. I think is still is to this day, while Star Trek and science fiction are more closely aligned. Its universe is a little more convincing.

Ultimately, it depends on your feeling of the moment. If you want rip-roaring action and that sort of thing, I still like Star Wars. I’ve been a Star Wars fan ever since 1977. I don’t follow all of the novels and all of the off-shoots—it would take a lifetime at this point. I certainly haven’t done that with the Star Trek novels, either, and I’m not even that familiar with the more recent Star Trek series.

He also discusses transhumanism and his forthcoming book about the middle east and the west.

Shoujo Cossette: do you hear the otaku sing?

Well, Gedo Senki seems to have been a bust, but here comes a new literary adaptation to anime that I can start obsessing over instead: Les Misérables. The official site already has a trailer up. This one is going to be a series, rumors are about 52 episodes.

What made LesMis great was the underlying moral about how doing the right thing, no matter the cost, paid off. I think that in series form, LesMis will translate far better, because any adaptation faithful to the source MUST have room to explore the running themes of redemption and self-sacrifice.

UPDATE: Don says that Romeo and Juliet are also fair game.

The N Laws

via Mark, this gem from Slashdot, about Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics:

Have any of them actually read I, Robot? I swear to god, am I in some tiny minority who doesn’t believe that this book was all about promulgating the infallible virtue of these three laws, but was instead a series of parables about the failings that result from codifying morality into inflexible dogma?

The beauty of the Three Laws was that every story he ever wrote about them was about an apparent violation of them. Of course the apparent violation was always revealed to be false and the Three Laws remains supreme and never violated (unlike in the regrettable I, Robot movie). But it was always astonishing how Asimov could start with such a restricted premise and yet extract such fascinating complexity from it. That was part of his genius.

Of course, when we talk about the Three Laws, we really mean the First Law: A Robot may not, through action or inaction, allow a human to come to harm. But what exactly constitutes harm? And what are the limits of inaction? It was by considering these issues that R. Daneel and R. Giskard ultimately formulated the Zeroth law: replacing human with humanity. In a sense, the dominant political philosophy of both Left and Right is really just a variant of the Zeroth Law. And the same struggle with “harm” and “inaction”. And therein lies, perhaps, most of the dysfunction.

I wish

Anime on My Mind looks at the future of anime four years from now and finds:

June 25, 2010

Ghibli Announces Next Project: “Fresh off Ghibli’s highly successful yet highly controversial Ender’s Game anime movie adaptation last year, Ghibli reveals that their next major project is Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.”

oh, please! oh please please please!

A Bard Shard

Google launched a Shakespeare portal. Searchable full-text of the entirety of the Bard’s work (or, perhaps, Sir Bacon’s? whatever!), along with Shakespeare “related” content from Google’s various other portals. In that sense it’s a demo for how Google’s algorithmic approach to content can be leveraged to create an automatic portal on any topic – in addition to the books themselves, there’s tie-in content via Google video, Google Earth, Image search, News, etc.

I guess I am insatiable with my expectations, but while the portal thing is cool and all, I’d much rather see something simple like googling directly for “Hamlet Act 1 Scene 4” to give me the full text on the right sidebar (much like googling for “13 yen to dollars” or “45 horsepower to watts” gets you immediate results, no clicking required). Add the Bible and the Qur’an on there too, while you’re at it.

Continue reading “A Bard Shard”