Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Busy & Snowy

Quite a busy recent few days, work has been very hectic with three pretty big projects needing to go out the door on the same day. Oh yeah, it also snowed, too. I commute to and from work on the hell road that is I-287, and the past two days, with all the snow, were two of the easiest commutes I’ve had in the past year. Of course the snow has resulted in many, many more potholes, but I’ve become more familiar where they are in relation to mile-markers and Interchanges and can avoid them pretty well.

How was Wicked? Well, I have two responses. As a musical, it was very good. The story was told very effectively through song and the sets must have cost a fortune. There were some interesting things that played on the characters of the film of the Wizard of Oz, and an interesting take on what we know as the “real” story in the film. The first act was a bit slow, but it ended on a spectacular note. Shoshana Bean, the woman who portrayed Elphaba (aka the Wicked Witch of the West) has a powerful, astounding voice, and should have received top billing. In the novel Elphaba is hands down, the lead character. In the play, Glinda, the Good Witch gets top billing.

However, as an adaptation of Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked, it was not nearly as successful. One of the reasons I enjoyed the novel so much and why it succeeded is that Maguire didn’t change the story of the Wizard of Oz. I haven’t read the original novels by Baum so I’m going by the movie, which everyone in the world has seen. Maguire structured the novel around the events of the original story and provided background and details that were not present. The story in the novel Wicked, despite portraying Elphaba in a less villainous light, still was true to the spirit of Baum’s story. The musical however, changed a few key characters and scenes, and made the story more about Galinda/Glinda, the Good Witch. In the novel, she was an important character, but not the major player she was in the musical. I was buying some of the changes and thought they were clever, up until the end, which disappointed me. I guess it worked in the context of an alternate version of the film but as an adaptation of the novel Wicked, it was a betrayal. There were nice nods to the novel Wicked, but in the context of the musical, they made little connection since those things the play referenced in the book really didn’t make it to the stage in a manner that was important to the overall story the musical told. For example, in the novel there is a big to-do about the Clock of the Time Dragon. The physical Clock of the Time Dragon was a huge set piece on the stage. It looked pretty impressive and probably cost a fortune, but was referenced, once, maybe twice throughout the course of the musical and wasn't anything other than set dressing.

So, did I enjoy the musical? Yes, quite a bit but I think I would have enjoyed it much more had I not read the novel, and more so, if I hadn’t enjoyed the novel so thoroughly and so recently before experiencing the musical/play.

I guess this, in part is why endings can be so important. I think the last time the ending of a story felt like such a betrayal of what led up to the ending was when I read Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour. The closing scenes flew in the face of everything the protagonist did, how she acted, and what she said until that point.

Over the weekend, I picked up the first trade of Mike Carey’s Lucifer. I’ve been seeing good things about it for some time, so I figured what the Hell. Ba-dum-bum. Seriously folks, I thought it pretty good, but not a series I will run out and collect right away. There are other series I would rather finish and/or sample. I need to finish out my Y, Fables and Starman trades, Moore’s Swamp Thing and more Grant Morrison. I’ve also been intending to get into Ellis’ Planetary, too.

Seems like I wasn’t the only one who was thinking the most recent issue of Fantastic Four was Waid/Ringo’s last. One more to go, which is a good thing.

I am really excited about Lost tonight, as it looks like we will finally see the back-story of Hurley.

New SFSite on-line, with the Readers’ choice for best SF&F Books of 2004. I guess I’m a pretty good sample reader for this list since I read 7 out of the top 10 and would rank 5 or 6 of those in the list. Can’t remember the exact list I sent as my votes, but I know I didn’t list Susanna Clarke’s good, yet over-rated Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

SFFWorld’s Fantasy Book of the Month: Sunshine by Robin McKinley. I bought it and just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. In the midst of a couple of review books for SFFWorld.
Our Science Fiction Book of the Month: Natural History by Justina Robson.

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