Three Monkeys - Ten Minutes : Presidents Page August 2001

Last month I told you about the Mona Clee book that I had just read and how I was looking forward to reading her latest work Overshoot. Well since then, thanks to Ziesing Books I have obtained and read that work. The thing is that I did not enjoy it to anywhere near the same extent as the earlier work. The problem was that this time the author got carried away preaching her environmental message. The earlier work, Break Point, certainly also had an similar message about global warming and eco-catastrophe generally which was central to the plot, but the message did not get in the way of telling the story and developing the characters. In fact, the two books make for an interesting lesson in the difference between making a point and labouring a point. Produced by the same author, they both show similar and considerable levels of writing skill. The characters in both are well developed and the stories are coherently plotted with the environmental aspects being central to those plots. But in Overshoot, there are just too many gratuitous descriptive scenes added to drive home the message, and it just does not work. Itís a pity really as Clee does have lots of talent. Lets hope she can bring it back on track with the next one.

At the last main Phoenix meeting we had a session on web sites, concentrating on ones with an SF connection. Of course, all Annette and I were able to do was give you a taste of some of the huge number of sites out there. The only way to really get an idea of what is out there is to go surfing. In order to give a starting point for this, I have put up a page on my personal web site with links to most of the sites we showed you last month. Go to this link to the page with all these links.

Continuing the theme of looking back over the last little while, it is worth mentioning that for the last 3 months at Vid SIG we have been watching the Sci-Fi channelís miniseries adaptation of Frank Herbertís Dune. What is unusual in this series is that the adaptation from the book to video is quite faithful to the original. While there are a few plot variations and the story misses some of Herbertís religious angst, overall it come closer to the source work than any other adaptation of a major SF work that I can think of. As I write this, the movie version of Isaac Asimovís Bicentennial Man is screening on my television. The contrast between Dune and this wretched Robin Williams cute star vehicle could not be more marked.

The Dune miniseries is not a perfect work. In particular, some of the acting is atrocious and the evocation of the desert planet is a pale imitation of the David Lynch movie version of the book. I guess it is worth remembering that while it is nice to have a faithful rendition of a story, it is also necessary to have all the other elements which make for good cinema. While the Sci-Fi channel has made a good rendition of Dune, as a work of art it does not match up to the Lynch movie as a work of art. Of course, Lynch had a bigger relative budget and a rare talent that is not seen very often in committee built Hollywood Sci-Fi movies.

I hope you have all been watching Blakes 7 on Prime every evening. I know that for those of you who like bright lights, big guns and fancy special effects then this show has always been pretty creaky and old fashioned. In fact it probably seemed that way when it was first released. But even though many of the plots are silly, the personal and political themes which underlie them are on a grand scale. Of course the reason why most people remember the series fondly is because of the interplay between the gloriously overblown characters. It does occur to me that this character interplay is what drives the more recent appeal of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I wonder if there is a significant overlap in the fan base of these two shows.

While we can be glad that the local channels are prepared to show old shows like Dr Who, Blakes 7, Buck Rodgers etc, there are a lot of genre TV series which have gone and never seem destined to return. I suppose some of them are gone forever like the lost episodes of Dr Who, but some of them must still be around. Perhaps a little pressure in the right places might see some of them come back. I have been leafing my way through my copy of the Sci-Fi Channel Encyclopedia of TV Science Fiction and came across a few shows which might be worth a replay. Then again they may not. The following dozen are all real shows from the '50s through to the '90s. See how many of these titles you remember - some are well know while some are pretty obscure.

Adam Adamant Lives
The Adventures of Don Quick
The Man from Uncle
The Invaders
Time Tunnel
Phoenix Five
The Guardians
The Fantastic Journey
Eerie Indiana