Saturday, October 15, 2005

What Order?: It's a problem that people have faced for years. What order do I read these books in? What order do I watch these movies in?

CS Lewis said, the minute he wrote it, that he thought people should read The Magician's Nephew first. It took place first chronologically, so that made sense, right?

Only people rejected that. Since they'd read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe first, they thought the only way to give people the full impact of their own experience was to have others read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe first, too. So strong is the thought of that as the first book that Disney is filming it first, even though they're clearly looking to turn this into a Lord Of The Rings-esque series of blockbuster movies based on a beloved book series.

So now, there's two questions, posed by Becky. The first is, can you read "Mazer in Prison," the short story in the Enderverse from OSC's new magazine, without having read the last couple of Shadow Series books? And the second is, can you watch Serenity without having watched all of Firefly?

The first question is easy--I'd argue that you can read "Mazer in Prison" before you've read Ender's Game. There is nothing in the story that would even spoil that book, let alone any of the books in the Shadow Series. Some people might argue that you want to read Ender's Game first, because that's where they first met Mazer and some of the other people in the story, but I don't think knowing who a character is is so much a spoiler as some might.

So what about Serenity? I'll tell you, there's a part of me that wants to tell everyone to see this movie right now, because it's doing bad at the box office and it's the kind of movie I want to make, so I'd like to see it doing better. So I'll warn you up front that my first response is to say, "Go! Now! Take twenty friends and see it!"

And I would not be at all wrong in this. You can absolutely enjoy every minute of Serenity even if you never saw a minute of the TV show. The writer and director of this is used to writing for episodic television, so he knows how to hook people in while catching them up.

But I've got to be honest--there are some moments in this movie that absolutely will not have the same effect if you haven't seen the series. If you don't know who these people are, if you haven't got to know them through the series, then some things in the movie won't be nearly as important to you as they could be.

In other words, if you go watch the movie without having seen the show, you'll have a great experience. If you go watch the movie having seen the show, you'll have an incredible experience.

I will say I don't think you have to watch the whole series. In fact, I know some people who only watched the pilot--they were even a little put off by the pilot, which is why they never finished the series--who went to the movie, "got" everything, and loved the film enormously. "Browncoats" will probably want my head for saying this, but if you're on disk 3 or 4, for heaven's sake go out and see this movie while it's still in theatres!

If you've heard some bonehead say you have to watch the series first and you have no intention of giving that many hours of your life to a $50 set of some cancelled TV show, ignore them and go see it. You'll dig it.

And for those of you who have heard the title--Serenity--and thought it sounded like a chick flick with Emma Thompson in it, go here at watch some trailers and video clips. It should ease your mind.

I guess what I'm saying is, prepare yourself to the degree you're interested in preparing yourself and then see the movie. But above all, most important, no matter what, do see this movie.

Editor's Note: I realize that I'm making a terrible mistake here. I'm hyping the movie so much that it may end up being a let down for some people who see it. They're going to go in thinking, "Erik said this would be the best experience I had in the theatre this year," and then end up disappointed when it's still only a movie. I use such adamant language not to get you overly hyped, but to overcome what seems to be some level of resistance to seeing a movie that has no known stars in it and a chick-flick title. So I'm not going to tell you it will be your new favorite movie. I will make this promise though: You will like the characters even though you don't know the actors who play them. You will like the story, even though the title puts you off. And you will definitely be glad you went.

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