>> Wednesday, May 05, 2010

It's been a helluva long day, and this is the first chance I've had all day to sit down at a computer with an Internet connection for more than five minutes, which is why there hasn't been a proper entry for today and there won't be.

What there will be, with a tip o'the hat to Boing Boing, is Aaron Ross' three-minute student film based on Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama; aptly enough, Ross apparently made this in 2001.

It's an indicator of just how cool a Rama film might be and just how cool it probably won't be if it finally gets made; various versions of a feature length adaptation have been in various stages of production over the past ten years or more, but it's hard to imagine Hollywood will nail the sense of pacing and mystery that Ross captures and that's at the heart of the original novel's success. (Maybe if Kubrick was still with us.) First contact stories are a penny a bushel, and it's not even enough anymore to have a really awesome alien or concept nor has it been sufficient for a long time; Rama remains a gem in the subgenre because it also brings to the table some of the tightest writing of Clarke's career and is essentially written as a whodunit, the mystery being "What the hell is this goddamn cylinder careening1 through the Solar System?"

What could be or could've been--Aaron Ross' Rendezvous With Rama:

1The adjective I want to use, naturally enough, is "barreling", except if I write "cylinder barreling through the Solar System" I'm guilty of a horrible, horrible pun I'd rather avoid. Like to avoid, only not enough not to mention it at all, mind you.


Jim Wright Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 10:47:00 PM EDT  

Of all the ACC novels, this was the one I always wanted to see on the big screen. Morgan Freeman bought the rights to it long ago, but I understand the project is stalled indefinitely.

WendyB_09 Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 10:58:00 PM EDT  

Too bad, the Rama series is one of my all time favorites.

Jim Wright Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 10:58:00 PM EDT  

Of course, I wouldn't mind seeing Childhood's End either, or my very favorite Clarke, The City and the Stars.

Damnit, now I must live with the fresh and burning disappointment yet again. Damn you, Eric, damn you.

Eric Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 11:40:00 PM EDT  

Jim, the key to fixing that disappointment is actually pretty simple. Try these two words for a start: I, Robot.

There's been a part of me that's wanted to see a Rama movie for nearly thirty years, ever since I read the book as a kid. But there's also that ugly little fact that there's a long history of bad movie adaptations of SF and Fantasy novels and short stories, especially when the original story is extremely high-concept and idea driven.

That's not to say you couldn't do a proverbial good science fiction movie with Rama as source material. You could do it much the way Kubrick and Clarke did the archetypal PGSFM, with a lot of the wonder shown without being told, pacing the story slowly as an unfolding mystery, leaving things hanging and unexplained. Somebody like Ridley Scott might be able to do something like that, something weird and brooding and epic and mysterious.

The problem is, they probably wouldn't do it that way. They'd give it to Roland Emmerich or Michael Bay would produce it. Bruce Willis or Will Smith would be brought on board to chew some scenery. Rama would be pointed directly at the Earth and they'd have to divert it's course by using the science to tech some tech with the tech, which they would manage to do with a mere second left on the timer. They would try to distract you with 3D and CGI and a female astronaut with an improbably-zipped jumpsuit revealing cleavage that defies gravity more plausibly than an actor on digitally-removed wires in an airlock scene.

You would leave the theatre with some sense of disappointment, loss; that sense of violation one feels walking out of a theatre when one's hopes have been raised and dashed and the popcorn was too cold, too salted and too oily and you ate everything but the kernels anyway and whatever you washed it down with isn't helping, whether it was the Brain-Freezie that hurts your head or the three-liter "small" diet soda that ruptures your kidneys. If the head of Paramount or Universal or wherever ambushed you on your way out of the twilit theatre to wag his tongue at you and yell, "Bet'ya feel cheated now, thbthbthbthbthbba!" you'd actually be too dispirited and depressed to punch him like he deserves. Probably.

So maybe we should count our blessings that the version of Rama most likely to be made is the perfect one inside our skulls, even if I'd go and see it on opening night if it did finally get made.

Jim Wright Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 12:24:00 AM EDT  

You lost me at "cleavage"


toomma - swear to Rama. Toomma!

vince Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 7:31:00 AM EDT  

I like cleavage.

I think the odds on a good Rama, or any quality SF book being made in to a quality movie is statistically equivalent to zero.

Carol Elaine Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 2:19:00 PM EDT  

They would try to distract you with 3D and CGI and a female astronaut with an improbably-zipped jumpsuit revealing cleavage that defies gravity more plausibly than an actor on digitally-removed wires in an airlock scene.

You mean like this?

Eric Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 5:36:00 PM EDT  

Exactly like that. Now if you'll excuse me....

Jim Wright Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 8:42:00 PM EDT  

Hahahahahaha I just watched that again last night. God I love that movie.

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