To Buy: The Book of the Dead

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s new book came out yesterday. I have a lot of catching up to do on their stuff before I’m ready to read it, but I loved The Relic and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of their stuff.

My understanding is that most of Preston/Child’s books are self-contained, even though characters cross over from book to book. This one is the third volume of an honest-to-goodness trilogy though, featuring FBI agent Pendergast and the New York Museum of Natural History again in a story about Pendergast’s violent rivalry with his brother.

Lost: Season Three spoilers

Spoilers Below!

In an interview with SCI FI Wire, Lost executive producer Carlton Cuse didn’t reveal any particular plot points, but was pretty liberal about the direction of the show next season. The Others will be a big focus, especially since this season’s finale left Kate, Jack, and Sawyer as the Others’ captives. For that reason, Henry Gale will continue to be an important character.

Cuse also promised that we’ll learn more about Desmond’s gal Penelope and that there’ll be plenty of lovin’. Claire and Charlie are obvious subjects for romantic stories. I’m rooting for Desmond and Pen’s relationship to be explored, but that’s just ’cause I want to see the excellent Henry Ian Cusick featured more on the show.

Speaking of actors, The Hollywood Reporter says that the show’s looking for a couple of new actresses to join the cast now that Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros’s characters are dead.

Speaking of mucking about with old movies…

Warner Home Video is releasing Blade Runner: The ACTUAL Director’s Cut, We Really Mean It This Time. Everyone knows the story of how Ridley Scott didn’t get to make the film he wanted with the original version of Blade Runner, because he ran over budget and the money guys took over and gave it a crappy voiceover and happy ending. That’s where the first Blade Runner: Director’s Cut came in.

What I never knew was that Scott wasn’t completely happy with that version either, claiming that he was rushed and unable to give it the attention it deserved. Anyway, the For Real Director’s Cut will be released in theaters in 2007, the 25th anniversary of the film. A special edition DVD will follow with all the versions of the movie and other bonus material.

LucasFilm, you need to be taking notes.

No good! No good! It didn’t go in.

I’ve already explained my apprehension about buying the upcoming releases of the original, theatrical versions of the first Star Wars trilogy. Looks like I was right to be nervous.

According to sites like Video Business and The Digital Bits, the prints for the original versions come from “laserdiscs of the films released in the mid ’90s.” Video Business explains, “This means that Episodes IV-V1 will be presented in widescreen but not anamorphic, thereby not making full use of modern TV screens.”

LucasFilm defends the move by saying that they “felt there was little need to invest resources into sprucing up films that have already been restored to pristine form.” Forgetting, of course, that the films that were restored are not the original versions, but “the late ’90s theatrical versions (that) represent George’s vision for Star Wars.” Lucasfilm also stated that they “hoped that by releasing the original movies as a bonus disc, it would be a way to give the fans something that is fun. We certainly didn’t want to be become a source of frustration for fans.”

That’s what bugs me about this whole thing. There’s obviously a huge market for the original versions, but LucasFilm treats them as throwaway material. That shows a large disconnect between LucasFilm and fans. Whereas fans were far more excited about the ability to buy the original versions of the movies than they were about the two-thousandth release of the Special Editions, LucasFilm thought of the Special Editions as the main event and the original versions as a fun throwaway item.

LucasFilm goes on to say that “at this time, there are no plans to release the original ’70s Star Wars versions in high-definition.” That’s actually the best news of all, because it’s exactly the same thing that they said about releasing them in the first place. My hope is that the large fan outcry about this whole thing will make LucasFilm realize the demand for quality versions of the original movies. It’s not an unfounded hope. That George does love a buck.

Shannara graphic novel and prequels

When I first read Terry Brooks’s The Sword of Shannara, I was torn about it. On the one hand, it’s a total rip-off of Lord of the Rings. Change the Ring into a Sword, the hobbits into a couple of innocent, young brothers, Gandalf the Wizard into Allanon the Druid, and you don’t even have to change anything about Legolas, Gimli, and Sauron but their names.

On the other hand, it was completely entertaining. Tolkien-lite, maybe, but face it: there are parts of Tolkien that can use lightening.

When the sequel The Elfstones of Shannara came out, I liked it a lot more. Same entertainment value; original story. I got kind of sidetracked after that, but I’ve always wanted to revisit the world. (I did read the prequel First King of Shannara, but that was sort of like seeing the Star Wars prequels after already knowing what happens in the original trilogy. It was kind of neat, but didn’t move the story at all.)

My interest in things Shannara is renewed with the recent announcement that Del Rey books is planning to publish a Shannara graphic novel by Terry Brooks. Not an adaptation of an existing novel, but an all-new story that doesn’t exist in any other form. Del Rey says that retailers tell them readers don’t want adaptations, but new material. God bless retailers, and God bless Del Rey for listening to them.

Actually, Brooks is writing the story for the graphic novel (called Dark Wraith of Shannara), but Robert Napton will be adapting it to comic script form. Edwin David will be illustrating it. Both guys have done work for Image Comics.

Publishers Weekly did a nice story about all of this and you can also read more about it here. Brooks himself talks about it a little in this interview about his upcoming series Armageddon’s Children.

Neither the interview nor the website for the series says so, but Brooks’s description of Armageddon’s Children make it sound like something he mentions on his site. In the interview, Brooks asks the questions: “If this world that we’re living in actually follows its thread that it’s currently on and eventually implodes under the weight of its own mistakes, mismanagement and poor decision-making, what would happen? What would be left and how would the world rebuild? And what shape would it take?” On his website, Brooks says that he’s working on “a set that will eventually link the Great Wars of the Shannara pre-history to the advent of the First Council of Druids at Paranor.” As anyone who’s read any of the Shannara stuff knows, the “Great Wars of the Shannara pre-history” were, in fact, the result of a world that imploded “under the weight of its own mistakes, mismanagement and poor decision-making.” Even though the marketing is vague, the math is pretty easy.

Re-Runs Get Lost

There’s a nice AP article about all of the mysteries and thrillers that are coming out in the Fall on TV. Honestly, most of the descriptions don’t do anything for me, but once we start seeing ads and TV Guide has had a chance to look them over, I could change my mind.

The coolest part of the article for me is the news that Lost will go re-run free next season a la 24.

In other Lost “news,” several blogs are “reporting” that the Lost season finale will answer some questions, while leaving others unanswered and raising still others. I also understand that the episode will take place on an island.