Review: Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis

After Narnia Week, I was getting curious about Lewis’ novels for adults. While I’ve had Till We Have Faces on my reading list for a while, I’ve had The Space Trilogy recommended to me—specifically, Perelandra, the sequel that deals with a planet in the throes of its own creation myth. But y’all know how I am about series; I have to start at the beginning. (I am getting better about this, however, but when it comes to old-school speculative fiction, I have to.) So Out of the Silent Planet passed into my hands as required reading. Which it pretty much stayed.

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Booking Through Thursday: Fan Fiction

Have you every written any fanfiction? If yes, why and for which book(s)? If no, would you like to and for which books(s)?

For that matter, do you ever READ fanfiction?

Oh, of course! Not for books, unless the Little Women AU in my head counts. But I’m from fandom, and I’ve written plenty for movies, television shows, and video games. (No links—I try to keep my fannish life and real life neatly separated.)

I’m always looking for good Little Women fanfiction starring Jo and Laurie, but I’m always up for good Sherlock Holmes fic or a good The Chronicles of Narnia addressing the problem of Susan. (I don’t like how Gaiman did it.) Really, I’ll read anything as long as I’ve read the source and the fanfic has been recommended.

And yes, of course I read fanfiction. I keep ’em on my phone to read if I don’t feel like reading my digital book. And I’d like to point out that fanfiction is a much broader category than you might think. I refer you to Aja Romano’s brilliant post, “I’m done explaining why fanfiction is okay“, which points out how works based on other works have been around since the dawn of time (Paradise Lost counts!) and are perfectly capable of being fantastic enough to win the Pulitzer. In short—my favorite fanfic is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Page to Screen: Prince Caspian (2008)

Prince Caspian
based on Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis

While I did see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in theaters with my brother and his future wife when I was fourteen, I barely remember Prince Caspian being released in 2008. I do, however, remember some girls cooing over Ben Barnes that year, so… there’s that? But I never saw it until I caught it on television a while back, but I didn’t want to review it until I saw the actual theatrical cut, since there were some bits and pieces that didn’t make sense. Unfortunately, none of that improved upon watching the DVD, but I still enjoyed myself.

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Page to Screen: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
based on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis

First off, yes, I’ve seen Prince Caspian—but it was cut for television and I didn’t want to review an incomplete cut for the blog. I may get back around to it someday, but I liked it—if it has Anna Popplewell, I’m a happy girl, and Ben Barnes’ Caspian (as well as the whole design for the Telmarines) was interesting, even if Caspian doesn’t have the sense Aslan’s dad gave a rock. But The Voyage of the Dawn Treader ended up being my favorite Chronicle during Narnia Week last November, so I was intrigued to see it brought to the big screen, especially since I thought the franchise was dead. But apparently they’re in talks for The Magician’s Nephew, rather than The Silver Chair, which this film sets up. In any case, I got my hands on a copy and settled in for some good, clean fun. And riffing. Always with the riffing, folks.

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Page to Screen: The Silver Chair (1990)

The Silver Chair
based on The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis

You may recall my review of the 1988 BBC television adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobeit was, uh, not a positive one. So why on earth would I want to subject myself to more of the BBC Narnia adaptations? Well, poking through a The Chronicles of Narnia message board to research some reviews, I discovered that Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor himself, played Puddleglum in the 1990 BBC television adaptation of The Silver Chair. As a New Whovian easing into old Doctor Who, I’ve heard fantastic things about Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and I thought this might be a good way to get introduced. In any case, the Pevensies are nowhere to be seen, so we’re safe, right?

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The Sunday Salon: Literary Criticism and Books

I just finished a class on young adult and children’s literature, which was cross-discipline; we had women from all sorts of backgrounds in this class. Of course, this meant that we had to spend one class getting everyone up to speed on what literary criticism and theory is. (Conclusion: literary theory is the hammer with which you forge your literary criticism, presumably into a sword. There was also an example with dead horses, but I think that was a “you had to be there” moment.) But what I want to share with you guys is this—one of my classmates raised her hand and asked (I’m paraphrasing here), “But if you read a book with a specific focus, aren’t you going to find stuff that isn’t there?” A much brighter classmate than I set her straight with a Hemingway story, but it got me thinking.

Does literary criticism, as some people think, destroy the pure enjoyment of a book?

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The Literary Horizon: Out of the Silent Planet, The Sparrow

I feel I’ve been neglecting science fiction recently, which is saddening—it’s often the site of magnificent and new ideas in speculative fiction. All fiction focuses, more or less, on the human condition, but I love the way speculative fiction can get at essential truths through impossible situations. In light of that reason, we’re going to look at two science fiction novels dealing with strangers in strange lands.

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Page to Screen: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
based on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia is a franchise born out of panic; with the success of The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, Walden Media acquired the rights to a property that contained elements of both—British children traveling on a train to somewhere mystical, complete with an association to Tolkien through Lewis. I’m not saying that Lewis’s books wouldn’t have been adapted independent of The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter film franchises, but it’s quite clear that the Walden Media adaptations are a reaction to both film series. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was filmed in New Zealand, for crying out loud, and WETA Workshop was called in. (And let’s not even mention the Extended Edition, which adds a whole eight minutes to the film.) All this being said, I do enjoy these films, although, as my friend Natalya puts it, it’s a bit excessive.

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The Sunday Salon: Fanfiction is Literary Criticism

Back in the May of last year, Diana Gabaldon made a post on her blog decrying the evils of fanfiction, calling it immoral and illegal. (The post has since been removed, but it’s been archived.) While it’s every author’s right to ask their fandom not to write fanfiction, such a violent outcry seemed a bit odd, seeing as her male lead was inspired by a certain Jamie from Doctor Who. The best response to this kerfuffle was Aja Romano’s post, “I’m done explaining to people why fanfic is okay.” If you do nothing else today, read Romano’s post—it’s a brilliant and damning response, which I’ve taken to heart. In fact, I’m willing to take it one step further.

Fanfiction is, at its best, literary criticism.

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Page to Screen: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1988)

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
based on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Once upon a time, flipping through channels, I encountered the end credits of what appeared to be an adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; the Pevensies were walking across snow, followed by the beavers. In my memory, however, the beavers were of a regular-size, unlike the beavers that appear in the 1988 BBC television adaptation I found at my local library, so perhaps it’s not the same adaptation at all—but I can’t think of what else it could have been, being live-action. In any case, I picked it up to have something to watch while I did chores, which turned out to be a good thing; I don’t think I would have ever sat through this otherwise.

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