Friday, August 17, 2012

Consequences in Fiction: Breaking the Long Price

Two pieces of fiction which I’ve been enjoying a great deal over the past few weeks are the marvelous television program Breaking Bad and Daniel Abraham’s slow-burn but rich and enjoyable Long Price Quartet. I’m finding something in common with both fictions the deeper I get into each (a rapid watching of Breaking Bad from episode one through to the episode 3 of season 5.A of this writing over the course of a few weeks) and book 3 of The Long Price Quartet, The Autumn War.

You might think what would be in common between a four-book fantasy series set in an imagined world with hints of magic and a television series about a bland chemistry teacher who begins cooking meth and is well on the way to becoming Scarface? Well, aside from the fact that Vince Gilligan (show-runner, primary creative force behind Breaking Bad) and Daniel Abraham are brilliant storytellers, quite a few things, but I’ll just highlight one element..

Consequences – both stories feature as a main theme the element of consequences. With a series title like The Long Price Quartet, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that consequences of past actions are playing out in the decades that thus far span the series (thee books into the quartet). Decisions made by the main players in The Long Price Quartet, Maati and Otah, from the very beginning of the series in the prolog to A Shadow in Summer are felt throughout and even more so, the closing event of that novel.

In Breaking Bad, Walter White (played brilliantly by Bryan Cranston in a sharp turn from his earlier comedic work) decides that to pay for his soon-to-be mounting Cancer treatment bills, he will begin cooking meth. He’s a brilliant chemist, we later learn a large company he helped to start was named in part for him. To sell his meth, he just requires the assistance of somebody in the drug world to distribute what turns out to be a revolutionary product. Of course entering the illicit world of the drug trade is rife with consequences, but the degree to which the consequences of Walter’s actions have effect is far ranging. Case in point (for those in the know) – Jesse’s girlfriend Jane and how Walter’s action (or rather inaction), results in catastrophic results for people extremely far removed from Walter’s situation. As the series progresses, the consequences of Walter – who very early in the series adopted the moniker Heisenberg to mask his true identity.

Slightly related, as I’ve been obsessed with Breaking Bad over the past month or so, I’ve considered doing seasonal recaps/reviews of the show here on the blog. Would that be of interest to you, my faithful readers?

For any of you who haven't been watching, Breaking Bad do yourselves a favor and remedy that situation. It is the best written and best acted television show I have ever watched. Also, Alan Sepinwal covers the show in great detail on his HitFix blog What's Alan Watching and he's interviewed many of the actors on the show.

I'll just end with this, not necessarily related thought...I know a lot of you folks watch Game of Thrones and are happy that Peter Dinklage is nominated for the best supporting actor Emmy for the second consecutive year, as am I. Much as I like him and his portrayal of Tyrion, the deserving winner is the brilliant Giancarlo Esposito who played Gustavo Fring on Breaking Bad in what is the most chilling, composed and compelling 'villain' role to perfection I've ever watched.

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