When in Rome
1260 words long
Traditions, like organisms, evolve.
this fictionette heaved a great big sigh of relief and another of disappointment
All right! That's it! I'm all caught up! The appallingly late Friday Fictionette for February 16th is now up, and so is the mildly late February 23rd one. They go something like this:
"When in Rome" (teaser excerpt, full text ebook and audiobook), in which we explore the effects of photosynthesis on the U.S. tradition of Thanksgiving dinner, and also the international tradition of teenage rebellion and frustration.
I'm not entirely done with February's Fictionette work, of course. I've still got to type up, illustrate, and mail the not-yet-late January Artifacts; I should be able to take care of that in the next few days. And of course there's the late-but-low-priority Wattpad excerpts for most of February; ditto. But as far as Patreon posts for February go, I am finally up to date. I can breathe a little easier, having once more temporarily relieved myself of the weight of The Overdue. And I can look forward with excitement to working on next week's release. So that's fantastic.
Speaking of excitement, I feel like I misplaced some. Annihilation, the movie, was... just a really poor adaptation. I'm sorry, but I honestly think so. It was visually stunning but so, so incoherent. And the maddening thing about it was, most of the plot holes were so unnecessary. They could have been fixed simply by not abandoning the relevant elements from novel. While I admire the attempt to take a sprawling trilogy and turn it into one compact movie, combining elements and sometimes conflating separate characters to make things tighter for the big screen, 2-hour-ish format, it ultimately didn't work.
But what disappointed me the most--and, to be fair, surprised me the least--was the erasure of some of the things that make the trilogy the masterwork that it is. They sawed off the inconvenient things, which were powerful things, and replaced them with predictable tropes. The gloriously misanthropic biologist was replaced by a woman defined by and motivated by saving her husband and their marriage. The ineffable Area X was replaced by, more or less, a mere dragon to slay. The trilogy's relentless deconstruction of identity, its insistence that you leave your name at the border and wear your function as both camouflage and armor, is erased entirely; the characters have names, they share their backstories with each other, they form a camaraderie familiar from any number of SF horror-thrillers in the "hostile territory" subgenre. There is nothing here you haven't seen before, and that is where the movie ultimately fails its source material.
I suppose, if we want to get all meta here, the failings of the movie adaptation are rather an extension on the novels' exploration of the theme of identity, duplication, replacement and failed copies. But I can't give anyone credit for doing it on purpose. There were some subtle and not-so-subtle details in the movie that felt like a nod toward the theme of duplication, but I can't entirely trust these were meant and not mistakes. And if they were meant, they're cheats, because they're things the main character ought to have recognized and reacted to. I mean, if you make the abandoned house they camp out in have the exact same floor plan as the protagonist's house, but you don't have the protagonist appear to notice this at all, you risk your audience thinking not "oh, wow, that's creepy, how unsettling, it's a dark mirror version of that earlier scene," but rather "oh, for crying out loud, were you so cheap you had to reuse that set?"
In short: Pretty visuals, emotionally intense movie, earned its R rating plenty times over, and even sometimes manages to evoke the feeling of the way people fall apart when they explore Area X (the videos especially captured the creeping horror of the one we don't want to watch in Authority)... but in the end it was a mess of wasted opportunities. I am sad about what could have been and must console myself by rereading the books now.