The Electric Commentary

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Ursula K. Le Guin is not happy with the Sci-Fi Channel.

She is the author of the Earthsea books, recently converted into a miniseries on the Sci-Fi channel. Apparently they took some liberties with everything important to the author:

They then sent me several versions of the script—and told me that shooting had already begun. I had been cut out of the process. And just as quickly, race, which had been a crucial element, had been cut out of my stories. In the miniseries, Danny Glover is the only man of color among the main characters (although there are a few others among the spear-carriers). A far cry from the Earthsea I envisioned. When I looked over the script, I realized the producers had no understanding of what the books are about and no interest in finding out. All they intended was to use the name Earthsea, and some of the scenes from the books, in a generic McMagic movie with a meaningless plot based on sex and violence.

Most of the characters in my fantasy and far-future science fiction books are not white. They're mixed; they're rainbow. In my first big science fiction novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, the only person from Earth is a black man, and everybody else in the book is Inuit (or Tibetan) brown. In the two fantasy novels the miniseries is "based on," everybody is brown or copper-red or black, except the Kargish people in the East and their descendants in the Archipelago, who are white, with fair or dark hair. The central character Tenar, a Karg, is a white brunette. Ged, an Archipelagan, is red-brown. His friend, Vetch, is black. In the miniseries, Tenar is played by Smallville's Kristin Kreuk, the only person in the miniseries who looks at all Asian. Ged and Vetch are white.

Read the whole thing.

I've never read this series (actually I was completely unaware of it until two days ago when I heard a commercial for the series on NPR) so I'm unfamiliar with the intricacies of the plot and whether it would adapt well to television. However, does it strike you as odd that the Sci-Fi network is producing adaptations that stray from the book versions? Isn't the entire Sci-Fi audience extremely concerned about this sort of thing? Can't you just imagine Comic Book Guy standing around pointing out every little flaw with any given sci-fi series?

Excuse me. I believe that the dragon in this scene is supposed to have four wings. The two-winged version was wiped out by the androcholera outbreak of 2468. Maybe if you employed more Ford Prefects in your fact checking department...

Isn't that the entire Sci-Fi channel audience? What were they thinking?


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