Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Films II

(See previous post.)

The titles, Welcome To Mars and A Life For The Stars, express the ideas of interplanetary and interstellar travel, respectively. These works are two of James Blish's five juvenile novels. Since A Life For The Stars is also one volume of Blish's Cities In Flight or "Okies" tetralogy, we are talking about eight volumes in total.

I suggested that, for purposes of screen dramatization, Welcome To Mars could be reconceptualized as the prelude to the Okie series, thus replacing They Shall Have Stars since the latter was not going to be filmed. I have no idea whether anyone else considered this but it is an obvious implication in the circumstances.

This raises the question whether the remaining three juveniles could also have been fitted into such a film series. Answer: one yes, the other two no. The Lost Jet, set either in the present or in the very near future - "day after tomorrow" sort of thing -, features orbital space flight, the stage before either interplanetary or interstellar travel. Otherwise, there is no overt connection between these works but a connection could have been added on screen.

That leaves the Jack Loftus diptych, The Star Dwellers and Mission To The Heart Stars. Although, of course, these novels introduce new themes and ideas, they are structurally a sequel to the first Adolph Haertel story, "Common Time," explicitly referring back to the characters and events of that story. This does connect the diptych to Welcome To Mars but differentiates it from Cities In Flight. Loftus, flying a spaceship, not a city, contends with a Malan Hegemony, not with a Vegan Tyranny.

Also, intergalactic politics differ. In the Okie series, the planet He and the Web of Hercules, both originating within the Milky Way, contend at the Metagalactic Centre before an imminent cosmic collision whereas, in the Loftus novels, some of the energy beings called Angels date from the first twenty minutes of the universe while others were born later in the same processes that generate stars. The First Born possibly participated in the First Cause. The Angels have been allied to ten previous galactic federations, collapsed three of those galaxies and communicate between themselves throughout the universe into an indefinite future.

Thus, here are two alternative cosmic histories and potentially two spectacular film series.

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