Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Slaughtering Stories

If one-and-a-half chicken produce one-and-a-half eggs in one-and-a-half days, how many eggs do nine chicken produce in nine days?

Many months ago I saw I, Robot on TV and liked it enough to eventually buy the book, which I finished reading yesterday. Plot-wise, it was probably the most surprising book I have ever read. If you have a film fashioned after a book, you expect them to have roughly the same plot (with many cuts and edits, granted, but essentially similar). This is not the case here. What I, Robot the film and I, Robot the book have in common are an Earth that has managed to manufacture robots and the three Laws of Robotics - nothing else. My distant memory of the film tells me its plot was altogether different to what I have just finished reading.
Which is unexpected, surprising, but not necessarily bad. (It means you definitely get more plot than you could ever have expected.)
Isaac Asimov's novel is different to the books I usually read, because it does not build up suspense through character interaction and character development, which are my main interests. I normally find it hard to enjoy a novel if it has no appealing characters. That's probably why I don't read so much Hard Science Fiction - it often evolves more about the future scenario than about single people (here is, to my understanding, the essential difference between Fantasy and SciFi; Fantasy uses a world's destiny and future to build up a story around people, and SciFi uses people to visualise a possible future of our world). Surprisingly enough, I enjoyed I, Robot nevertheless and read through it quite quickly. It's a bit like a short story collection on a common theme and tells about the different stages of robot "evolution" on Asimov's Earth. It's interesting to read about these Laws of Robotics that Asimov invented and at the same time (/in the same book) he pointed out the mistakes and possible fallacies in them; an exemplary thought experiment.


Plot discrepancies till the end weren't the only surprise yesterday. I read that Hayao Miyazaki is a feminist, which is a term I'd never have associated with him. I guess it makes sense - the strong female characters are distinctive for his films. Still, I wouldn't have classfied the working women in Mononoke Hime as a sign for feminism; rather as an analogy to the women who had to work during war times - that's probably part of what you miss out on when you watch films from a different culture; you tend to put the situations in them into your own mindframe. Makes me wonder how many more layers foreign films have that I have no access to.


Lastly, I came across a great song by the comedy act Tripod. Both their song and their website make my geek heart beat a bit louder.
(Ghost Ship is quite good, too.)


Sketches for poses, movements, (weird) anatomy, etc.:


A Dream of Green said...

You should probably try to get hold of Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" novels, which are his best work in my opinion and also one of the greatest work of SF.

They even received an special Hugo Gernsback Award, which was only given to them.

If you are more interested in the Robot stories, you should have a look into the "Elijah Bailey" novels by Asimov. The first one is "Caves of Steel" and expands the theme of Robots, the Three Laws and humanity quite a bit. It is also a superb detective novel.

Asimovs writing style is a real pleasure to read. I could read hundred pages without ever getting tired.

Manuela said...

Yes, he has a nice style. That's probably what lead me through the book despite the lack of suspense. It's fascinating how Asimov could write a book with such huge time jumps and no typical story per se and still made it appealing.

The Foundation novels are probably what I'll try next. I need some diversity from the robots ;)
But first I still have to read Hyperion, before I buy more SciFi books.