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Films of books, etc.


Somehow this seems obliquely related to various fanfic debates (although perhaps not so much the current/recent ones):

According to a BBC article, Chris Weitz (director and writer for the movie version of the His Dark Materials trilogy) is excising references to God and the church in the movie at the request of New Line, the studio backing the film:

"They have expressed worry about the possibility of perceived anti-religiosity," Weitz told a His Dark Materials fans' website.

The article goes on to note that Pullman is "happy with the adaptation so far" and that Pullman said the Authority in the books could represent "any arbitrary establishment that curtails the freedom of the individual, whether it be religious, political, totalitarian, fundamentalist, communist, what have you."

Rumor has it, though, that Pullman has actually said that the news reports about this are "mendacious," apparently indicating that the script is not being changed in that way. Dunno. Especially odd since the news reports appear to be based on an interview with Weitz; possibly Pullman's just saying that the news reports took Weitz's comment out of context and read too much into it? Not sure.

Meanwhile, Ursula K. Le Guin has issued a statement about the Sci Fi Channel adaptation of the Earthsea trilogy, or perhaps I should say "duology" since my understanding is that the miniseries isn't adapting the third book. I had a whole lot to say about the information on the Sci Fi Channel's website for Earthsea, but never got it into a form I was comfortable posting publicly; and now that the first part of it has broadcast (is being broadcast right now, in fact), I should probably watch it before making snarky comments about it. Sadly, I neglected to ask any local friends who have the Sci Fi Channel to record it (or invite me over to watch it).

Anyway, I find it interesting that Le Guin is willing to allow a movie to be made from her work given her very strong statement against fanfic: "As for anybody publishing any story 'derived from' my stuff, I am absolutely opposed to it & have never given anyone permission to do so." She goes on to note that giving permission for performance pieces is very different for her; but she ends by noting that "Collaboration is one thing, co-optation is another."

I feel like that's sounding like an attack on Le Guin, so I should note that (a) she's my favorite author in the world, bar none; and (b) I do honestly feel that writers' wishes should be respected in such matters. But I also think it's interesting that there's such a sharp division in some people's minds between various kinds of derivative works. Certainly permission has a lot to do with it; the film was made with her permission, even though without her input. But I suspect that that's not the only difference for her. But I'm just guessing.


I find her attitude completely understandable. Transit across media is transformative. So writing in her worlds doesn't apply and isn't allowed, but anything that delivers it in a new medium does, and is fine with her.

I'm the same way.

Re: derivitave works, I asked Le Guin at a reading once whether she minded that Orson Scott Card had grabbed the ansible (and the name "ansible") from her universe for use in Ender's Game, and she said she didn't mind someone taking the artifacts as long as they didn't mess around with the characters. If I'd had the chance, I would have liked to ask the followup question about book-universes, which can be a lot like inventions and a lot like characters.

In case you don't get the miniseries from anywhere else, I'm having someone tape it for me and would be glad to lend it.

I'm surprised to hear she's so possessive. I guess we're seeing one of the differences between Taoism and Buddhism....

M.: I can totally understand feeling that media shifts are transformative; what surprised me in that part of her statement was her linking media shifts with collaboration per se. If one is measuring on that axis, I would expect that film adaptations in particular would feel more like co-optation than like collaboration (since the original author usually has no say in how they're done). But I suspect she was just combining two different things in one paragraph, without meaning to equate them: comments about having enjoyed her collaborations with people in other media, and the notion you mentioned of media transitions transforming.

And the artifacts/characters distinction is another interesting one. I'm now thinking that her actual views on the matter are probably more nuanced than the way I was interpreting her statement on her site.

...I should've mentioned that I have an oblique vested interest in this, having written a brief Le Guin parody not long ago. But (a) it's clearly a parody, so definitely legal, and (b) it doesn't use any of her characters or settings. So I hope she'll forgive me for it should she ever see it.

Must dash.

If you accept Dan P's kind offer to lend you tapes of the show, I'd love to see it as well.


Can you expand on your comments re: Taoism and Buddhism?

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