What makes a story engaging? It’s something I’ve been wondering as I make my way through Samuel R. Delany’s Babel-17. It’s a science-fiction novel from 1966 about a young linguist, Rydra Wong, trying to decipher the language – codenamed ‘Babel-17’ – of an alien Invader. It’s a novel that’s very much focused on ideas and has very little colour. The thing it most lacks, in my opinion, is memorable characters.
It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post for my own website. What can I say? I’ve been extremely busy with my editorial duties at Karwansaray Publishers and have only recently started to feel like I’m getting a handle on things. I’m planning on rebuilding this website, as well as building a few new ones, in the not-too-distant future, so great things – I hope – are ahead.
But the reason for writing a new blog post is this absolutely asinine article over at PC games website Rock, Paper, Shotgun. It’s written by Alec Meer and has the kind of headline that makes you scratch your head. Without even a hint of irony, Meer declares: ‘I wish Mass Effect was like The Expanse.’ I’m utterly baffled. I simply don’t understand why you would complain, in this instance, about X not being (more) like Y for reasons that I will briefly explain below.
Yesterday, I wrote about the remastered version of the Homeworld games. One of the most interesting elements of the original game is its plot. The Kushan (our protagonists) have found a hyperspace core and reach for the stars. The evil Taiidan Empire wants to stop them from doing so and destroys Kharak, the world of the Kushan. A ragtag fleet, centred on the mighty Mothership, manages to escape and goes in search of the Kushan’s original homeworld, Hiigara, from which they were exiled millennia earlier.
Hollywood, apparently unable to come up with much in the way of original ideas, has come to focus on producing new films based largely on existing properties. In the past twenty years or so, we’ve had movies based on popular book series such as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, as well as a seemingly endless stream of films based on comic books. There have also been loads of largely unnecessary remakes of older movies, such as the relatively recent Robocop (2014), and reboots of older franchises, such as Star Trek (2009). And then there are movies based on old television series. One of these is The Man from Uncle, directed by Guy Ritchie.