Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Diamond Age...and Sci-Fi?

Apparently, George Clooney and the Sci-Fi Channel are teaming up to produce a miniseries of Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age. (Link) My first reaction was "Cool, Stephenson's awesome!" Then I remembered.

Did any of you catch Riverworld, the Alex Proyas adaptation of Philip Jose Farmer's brilliant cycle of books? I did, actually before I read them, and even though the movie was a horrible pile of crap, I was convinced to give them a chance after reading the short story "Riders of the Purple Wage" in Dangerous Visions. Sci-Fi butchered that story beyond simile. What about Earthsea? Dune? (I actually liked their version of Dune pretty well, except that the lighting, sets and compositing were all incredibly horrible.) My point is...they're going to ruin it.

Maybe it's because I still haven't forgiven them for canceling Farscape, but any classic story Sci-Fi touches seems bound for mass-market dumbing. Karen, our former supervising producer, and I snuck into the Comic-con Sci-Fi party with some other Cartoon Network friends in San Diego last year. It was on the rooftop of a posh hotel. Everyone there was dressed to the nines. Teal'c from Stargate SG-1 was hitting on women -- more than one at the same time. People in suits and slinky dresses were mingling and networking. Some guy from Battlestar Galactica (which I have yet to watch) tried desperately to suck up to us in an ultimately futile attempt to get on Family Guy. It hardly seemed possible that anyone there was a real bona fide sci-fi geek.

(I do have to mention that one of the more pleasant people I've ever met at one of those things was the lead actor from Eureka. Karen had seen the pilot only a few days before and had begun talking to him about it when he was pulled away by someone else. About half an hour later he actually sought her out, apologized for being pulled away and we engaged in what turned out to be a forty-five minute conversation about the show. Very nice man, I need to watch that show.)

My point is, I'm not sure the people at Sci-Fi have more than a marketing manager's understanding of the genre. When you stepped into (or rather on, as it was held on a boat) the Adult Swim party, the whole Adult Swim vibe was there in spades. Minimalist, strange and a little grungy. The Sci-Fi party was all flash and plastic, which unfortunately shows exactly what their attitude towards science fiction is. Shallow and marketable.

Though Diamond Age isn't my favorite Stephenson work (Snow Crash? Cryptinomicon?) I think I'm going to hate what they and George Clooney do to it.

1 comment:

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