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Le Guin Peeved About Earthsea Miniseries

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  • by kalidasa (577403) * on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:13PM (#11105856) Journal
    I'm guessing her next blog posting will be a complaint about Slashdot.
    • by Creepy (93888) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:22PM (#11105987) Journal
      complaining about slashdotting her blog before the first 5 posts were up?

      I admit, I wasn't much of a fan of the book, but watched the miniseries anyway. I've seen worse adaptations, but I can certainly see why fans (and the author) are unhappy. I taped it for a good friend of mine who _worships_ Earthsea, so I really want to see the look of horror on his face when I show it to him (yes, I am that evil).
    • Slashdot has no business linking to "normal" sites.

    • by Pxtl (151020) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @02:19PM (#11106890) Homepage
      I feel so special. I just Slashdotted my childhood goddess! w00t!

      Hmm - couldn't help but notice that 90% of her complaints were about the fact that they changed the story into all white people. I didn't get the impression that race was a huge issue in the novels - it was just part of the *colour* of the setting, if you'll pardon the pun. While it certainly isn't nice to lose that part of the story, it seems kinda odd to obsess over it. On the other hand, the scuttlebutt is that Ender's Game is being made with a less international cast, which really hurts the story.

      At any rate - after reading her comments, I suddenly don't feel so bad that I missed it.
      • I have fond memories of Earthsea, and I think the fact that it WASN'T a group of pseudo-European white people appealed to me. It added a certain different flavor to the story, it took me out a of the standard images I had.

        I think to her, having fought hard to even get the covers of her books right, it was an example of how ridiculous the changes got. I mean would it have killed them to hire some actors that looked like the characters for the most part? Were they afraid that people wouldn't take to a less
        • Hell, they had John Wayne play Temujin Khan in "The Conquerer". Hollywood sucks ass!
        • by curunir (98273) * on Thursday December 16, 2004 @04:38PM (#11108834) Homepage Journal
          The commercials for it constantly mentioned "X-Men's Shawn Ashmore and Smallville's Kristin Kreuk" so I think they probably felt that the books alone wouldn't be able to draw enough viewers. Moreover, they would be the wrong viewers since they would be expecting something that could never live up to their experience reading the book. I think it was clear that the Sci-Fi channel was aiming specifically for audiences that had not read the book but have an interest in Sci-Fi.

          As she brought up, the current state of Sci-Fi leaves very few candidates of color with a tagline like Ashmore's. She can't really criticize the casting of Kreuk since she basically fit the description from the book and is, in fact, half Asian. Her criticisms of the casting of Vetch and the lack of minority bit parts and extras make a lot more sense since those characters could easily have been played by a minority actors with no significant difference in ratings.

          As it is, I don't think she should be too upset with it. There is now likeley to be a whole new group of people who saw the mini-series and will now go out and buy the books. When they read them, they will discover that they are so much better than the mini-series and their images of the characters will be replaced by those from the book simply because they are so different from those portrayed in the mini-series.
      • by itwerx (165526) <itwerx@gmail.com> on Thursday December 16, 2004 @02:53PM (#11107420) Homepage
        couldn't help but notice that 90% of her complaints were about the fact that they changed the story into all white people

        Um, I think you must have read a different article/post/something/WTF? She doesn't say anything like that at all!
        Here's a copy of what she posted. You show me where she says anything like that:

        "Earthsea"
        11/13/2004

        "Miss Le Guin was not involved in the development of the material or the making of the film, but we've been very, very honest to the books," explains director Rob Lieberman. "We've tried to capture all the levels of spiritualism, emotional content and metaphorical messages. Throughout the whole piece, I saw it as having a great duality of spirituality versus paganism and wizardry, male and female duality. The final moments of the film culminate in the union of all that and represent two different belief systems in this world, and that's what Ursula intended to make a statement about. The only thing that saves this Earthsea universe is the union of those two beliefs." Sci Fi Magazine, December 2004

        I've tried very hard to keep from saying anything at all about this production, being well aware that movies must differ in many ways from the books they're based on, and feeling that I really had no business talking about it, since I was not included in planning it and was given no part in discussions or decisions.

        That makes it particularly galling of the director to put words in my mouth.

        Mr Lieberman has every right to say what his intentions were in making the film he directed, called "Earthsea." He has no right at all to state what I intended in writing the Earthsea books.

        Had "Miss Le Guin" been honestly asked to be involved in the planning of the film, she might have discussed with the film-makers what the books are about.

        When I tried to suggest the unwisdom of making radical changes to characters, events, and relationships which have been familiar to hundreds of thousands of readers all over the world for over thirty years, I was sent a copy of the script and informed that production was already under way.

        So, for the record: there is no statement in the books, nor did I ever intend to make a statement, about "the union of two belief systems." There's nothing at all about the "duality of spirituality and paganism," whatever that means, either.

        Earlier in the article, Robert Halmi is quoted as saying that Earthsea "has people who believe and people who do not believe." I can only admire Mr Halmi's imagination, but I wish he'd left mine alone.

        In the books, the wizardry of the Archipelago and the ritualism of the Kargs are opposed and united, like the yang and yin. The rejoining of the broken arm-ring is a symbol of the restoration of an unresting, active balance, offering a risky chance of peace.

        This has absolutely nothing to do with "people who believe and people who do not believe." That terrible division into Believers and Unbelievers (itself a matter not of reason but of belief) is one which bedevils Christianity and Islam and drives their wars.

        But the wizards of Earthsea would look on such wars as madness, and the dragons of Earthsea would laugh at them and fly away...

        Toto, something tells me Earthsea isn't Iraq.

        I wonder if the people who made the film of The Lord of the Rings had ended it with Frodo putting on the Ring and ruling happily ever after, and then claimed that that was what Tolkien "intended..." would people think they'd been "very, very honest to the books"?

        Ursula K. Le Guin
        13 November 2004
        • by Sandor at the Zoo (98013) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @03:03PM (#11107598)
          Um, I think you must have read a different article/post/something/WTF?

          Yes, the rest of us read the Slate article [slate.com] that is 80% about how race was a big thing in the Earthsea (and other Le Guin) books.

          • Yes, the rest of us read the Slate article

            My bad! :)
            I figured the Slate article was a rehash included for bandwidth purposes and went straight for the "true word".
            Of course now I've read the Slate article and see that she wrote it as well and it is indeed all about color (funny she didn't mention that at all in the post on her site).
            However, many people who see a movie will read the book just to see what got left out. This could be a good thing! I'm sure there's a segment of the population t
      • I didn't get the impression that race was a huge issue in the novels

        I can understand someone not seeing that. The more subtle the message, the more powerful the art, I guess.

        LeGuin is not happy about the whitey cast because of two things.

        1) Race is a big deal in her work because it wasn't a big deal.
        2) Race is (sometimes) a big deal in her work because it's really (or also) referring to gender. (or visa versa)

        The thing that (at least in the sixties and even seventies) that was important was that her p
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 16, 2004 @03:11PM (#11107734)
      I had to turn the website off temporarily. 90% of you were getting errors, anyway. Sorry, but we're a little hosting company, and a single Slashdot mention can swamp our connection.

      Please get the article from Google's cache, or any of the mirrors mentioned in this thread.

      I'll bring www.ursulakleguin.com back up later.

      Jeffry Dwight
      Ursula's Administrator (among other chores)
  • Le Guin's work is one of the greatest in fantasy writing, comparable to Tolkien in my opinion. That said, expecting a TV/movie adaptation of any book to compare favorably to the written work itself is unrealistic. Peter Jackson's LOTR was a masterpiece and by definition masterpieces are rare. I am not going to watch this Earthsea product; I don't want to mess with my memories of reading the series.
  • by XCorvis (517027) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:16PM (#11105886)
    Text from her website...

    "Earthsea"
    11/13/2004

    "Miss Le Guin was not involved in the development of the material or the making of the film, but we've been very, very honest to the books," explains director Rob Lieberman. "We've tried to capture all the levels of spiritualism, emotional content and metaphorical messages. Throughout the whole piece, I saw it as having a great duality of spirituality versus paganism and wizardry, male and female duality. The final moments of the film culminate in the union of all that and represent two different belief systems in this world, and that's what Ursula intended to make a statement about. The only thing that saves this Earthsea universe is the union of those two beliefs."

    Sci Fi Magazine
    December 2004

    I've tried very hard to keep from saying anything at all about this production, being well aware that movies must differ in many ways from the books they're based on, and feeling that I really had no business talking about it, since I was not included in planning it and was given no part in discussions or decisions.

    That makes it particularly galling of the director to put words in my mouth.

    Mr Lieberman has every right to say what his intentions were in making the film he directed, called "Earthsea." He has no right at all to state what I intended in writing the Earthsea books.

    Had "Miss Le Guin" been honestly asked to be involved in the planning of the film, she might have discussed with the film-makers what the books are about.

    When I tried to suggest the unwisdom of making radical changes to characters, events, and relationships which have been familiar to hundreds of thousands of readers all over the world for over thirty years, I was sent a copy of the script and informed that production was already under way.

    So, for the record: there is no statement in the books, nor did I ever intend to make a statement, about "the union of two belief systems." There's nothing at all about the "duality of spirituality and paganism," whatever that means, either.

    Earlier in the article, Robert Halmi is quoted as saying that Earthsea "has people who believe and people who do not believe." I can only admire Mr Halmi's imagination, but I wish he'd left mine alone.

    In the books, the wizardry of the Archipelago and the ritualism of the Kargs are opposed and united, like the yang and yin. The rejoining of the broken arm-ring is a symbol of the restoration of an unresting, active balance, offering a risky chance of peace.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with "people who believe and people who do not believe." That terrible division into Believers and Unbelievers (itself a matter not of reason but of belief) is one which bedevils Christianity and Islam and drives their wars.

    But the wizards of Earthsea would look on such wars as madness, and the dragons of Earthsea would laugh at them and fly away...

    Toto, something tells me Earthsea isn't Iraq.

    I wonder if the people who made the film of The Lord of the Rings had ended it with Frodo putting on the Ring and ruling happily ever after, and then claimed that that was what Tolkien "intended..." would people think they'd been "very, very honest to the books"?

    Ursula K. Le Guin
    13 November 2004

    • huh?

      She claims that the books are NOT about "a great duality of spirituality versus paganism and wizardry, male and female duality. The final moments of the film culminate in the union of all that and represent two different belief systems in this world."

      She then claims the books ARE about "the wizardry of the Archipelago and the ritualism of the Kargs are opposed and united, like the yang and yin. The rejoining of the broken arm-ring is a symbol of the restoration of an unresting, active balance, offeri
  • by Anonymous Coward
    At least it didn't have Will Smith in it!

    (Name Withheld)
  • Since when (Score:4, Insightful)

    by topham (32406) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:18PM (#11105915) Homepage

    Since when does the Authors opinion count!?

    One of my sisters likes telling the store of how they had discussed a book in class in great detail. The teacher going to great depths about how the story originated, etc. Later the teacher was able to get the author of the story to appear before the class, where she dismissed every 'insight' into the story as being completely wrong and misinformed.
    • by GoofyBoy (44399) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:25PM (#11106023) Journal
      I had that same thing happen in my high school.

      One author was invited to speak to my English class and he talked about how people will read things into his writing that he never considered and about how a reviewer once make a comparison between his story and and King Lear. He had never even read King Lear.

      At that point one of the English teachers in the back, who had invited him to speak, yelled "Don't listen to him!"
      • Re:Since when (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Feanturi (99866)
        When I was in high school, I had a theory. If I could build a time-machine, I would try to write a really great literary work and send it back say 50 years, so as to ensure it would have time to work its way into the school curriculum of my native time. The theory went that, if given the novel as an assignment for study and dissection, I would surely fail that unit. Almost guaranteed.
    • This happened in the Rodney Dangerfield movie "Back to School". Dangerfield's character hires Kurt Vonnegut to write an essay on one of Vonnegut's novels. The professor gives Dangerfield an "F", saying he (Dangerfield/Vonnegut) had no clue what Vonnegut was talking about.
      • Re:Since when (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sphealey (2855) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:34PM (#11106154)
        This happened in the Rodney Dangerfield movie "Back to School". Dangerfield's character hires Kurt Vonnegut to write an essay on one of Vonnegut's novels. The professor gives Dangerfield an "F", saying he (Dangerfield/Vonnegut) had no clue what Vonnegut was talking about.
        OTOH, Isaac Asimov had essentially the same thing happen to him (slipped in to a lecture hall where his books were being discussed), and the conclusion he came to was that he probably didn't understand the meaning of his own work. Which, given his self-described arrogance, was a very interesting thing for him to say.

        sPh

        • Re:Since when (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Blain (264390) <slashdot@b3.14lainn.com minus pi> on Thursday December 16, 2004 @04:51PM (#11108984) Homepage Journal
          I was at EnderCon a few years back, and sat in on a panel with Prof. Michael Collings about the connection between the epic tradition and Enders Game (and, iirc, comic books). During the panel, Orson Scott Card slipped in and listened as Collings gave examples of literary devices in the text that were taken from the epic tradition, and were used at key pieces in the story.

          After these were listed, Scott pointed out that every one of the things Collings mentioned was there, they were all intentional, and, if anybody noticed them on their first time through the story, he was failing in his job as a writer.

          Scott has also said that Collings knows more about the meaning in his work than he does himself. I don't think this is unusual.
    • Re:Since when (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:44PM (#11106290) Homepage
      We first had this discussion in an English class when reading Huck Finn (if you recall, Mark Twain says in the introduction specifically that you shouldn't read any meaning into the story, blah, blah).

      So of course we all said that we shouldn't be reading into the story, the author specifically said not to!

      Years later, as an artist, I can honestly say that yes, 85% of the stuff people "read into" my work is totally random and stupid (or optimistic on their part). But the other 15% is either outright correct or something that rings very true even though I hadn't intended it.

      So much of the creative process is subconscious that I have to grudgingly agree with my old English teacher that the author doesn't always realize (or even recognize!) all of the things they put into a work.

      So even when an author says "I didn't mean to represent X as Y", it doesn't make it any less true that X is represented as Y, or that it tells us something about the story, the author, or the characters. it just means the author didn't intend it consciously (or wants to disavow it after the fact).

      But of course, 85% of the theories are still utter crap.
      • Re:Since when (Score:4, Insightful)

        by amerinese (685318) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @02:21PM (#11106921)
        Good point. But let's be specific in this case.

        Le Guin wrote a sci-fi series that was intended to complexify and breakdown the super-whiteness of sci-fi and fantasy, i.e. LOTRs, Vampires, etc. Look, I liked LOTRs but it got a little creepy how white everyone was, and how the only slightly non-white, Arab/African looking guys are bad guys. Le Guin knows she achieved her intended effect because people write to her telling her it did.

        So big media wants to turn this written work into a widely viewed video work. Because they believe in the racism of the general public, they commit a racist act themselves (of course they may claim so only to deflect the accusations of racism to others). The theoretical discussion about authorial intent versus thematics is interesting but besides the point--what "unrealized" or "unintended" insights were brought into the film by white-washing it? That's the point.

      • Re:Since when (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Phanatic1a (413374)
        But that's *supposed* to happen. A hallmark of truly great art is that the reader can take things away from it that the author never put *into* it, apply it to situations which the author never even considered, and so forth.

        Shakespeare almost certainly never put the consideration into almost every one of his lines that modern students study them with, but that's just an indication of the far-reaching and timeless nature of his work. "How should we stretch our eye when capital crimes, chewed swallowed and
      • Re:New Series (Score:3, Interesting)

        by stonecypher (118140) *
        So even when an author says "I didn't mean to represent X as Y", it doesn't make it any less true that X is represented as Y

        I disagree. Witness:

        The author of parent represents writing, in particular that of Ursula K. LeGuin, as a russian space opera in which elephants control an interstellar parliament whose primary concern is the equitable distribution of custard.

        See, it's all well and good to note that commentary and criticism can carry content despite the author's conscious intentions. That taken i
      • 80-20 Rule (Score:3, Informative)

        by sckeener (137243)
        Next time just round out to 20% is outright correct or something that rings very true.

        Anything less than or equal to 20% can use the 80-20 Rule [wikipedia.org]

        Quote:
        The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 Rule, the law of the vital few and the principle of factor sparsity) states that for many phenomena 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes. Moreover, among those "top 20" it is also the case that 80% of consequences result from 20% of causes, and so on. Thus, for example, 20% of 20% of 20% is 0.008, or
  • by _Sharp'r_ (649297) <sharper@NoSPAm.booksunderreview.com> on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:18PM (#11105927) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone think that the Sci Fi channel will ever get actual decent Sci Fi authors to do their scripts and come up with series for them?

    It's one thing to be low-budget in production (the original Star Trek was about as low budget as Sci Fi comes), but they could at least make an attempt to get decent writers. Someone should explain to them that people who watch/read a lot of Science Fiction are more interested in a decent scientific plot instead of their writer's latest flavor-of-the-week politically-correct-philosophy with "futuristic" stuff tacked on. I can think of at least three recent "original series" that may have been a series, but were original in all the wrong ways.

    USA has better "Sci Fi" original series than the Sci Fi channel. What's up with that?
    • /me raises hand (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:36PM (#11106192)
      I know the answer! I know the answer!

      "No."
      Does anyone think that the Sci Fi channel will ever get actual decent Sci Fi authors to do their scripts and come up with series for them?
      No. Because they aren't interested in Science Fiction. They want the tech-fantasy crap.

      The stuff that will be guaranteed to appeal to the 12 - 24 year old male audience.

      This isn't even about "low budget". Look at Red Dwarf's first few seasons. They had no budget, yet they had great characters and amusing plots.

      They haven't realized that going with the status quo will always result in mediocrity.

      In order to produce something memorable, they have to push the envelope.

      Watching their crap, I get the feeling that the actor's salaries, the FX, everything is calculated to the exact penny and matched against the ad revenues. They know exactly how many people will watch another rendition of the same-old same-old and they're not going to break a profitable formula.
      • Re:/me raises hand (Score:4, Insightful)

        by 87C751 (205250) <sdot@rant-[ ]tral.com ['cen' in gap]> on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:45PM (#11106326) Homepage
        They haven't realized that going with the status quo will always result in mediocrity.
        What gave you the impression that Sci-Fi (or any other non-subscription TV channel) is interested in anything other than mass-appeal, lowest-common-denominator mediocrity? High concept doesn't attract masses of viewers, and masses of viewers are required to keep those ad revenues up.

        Free TV isn't about art. It's an advertising conduit, and nothing more.

        • by khasim (1285)

          What gave you the impression that Sci-Fi (or any other non-subscription TV channel) is interested in anything other than mass-appeal, lowest-common-denominator mediocrity? High concept doesn't attract masses of viewers, and masses of viewers are required to keep those ad revenues up.

          Compare The Matrix's revenues and popularity to any other Sci Fi channel's "original" movie.

          When you aim for mediocrity, you hit mediocrity. Low popularity, etc. The sort of movie that is forgotten as soon as you finish watch

  • by StefanJ (88986) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:21PM (#11105970) Homepage Journal
    Years ago, I went to a panel discussion at an SF convention about how books are adapted to film. The authors on the panel had all had their works adapted.

    First up was Barry Longyear, whose novel Enemy Mine was turned into a "B" movie. He rattled off a good-natured Hollywood horror story.

    Next was Gary Wolf, whose book Who Censored Roger Rabbit was turned into what I recall was a rather popular movie a few years back. He was wearing the fancy jacket provided to the cast. He got to go to the Hollywood premiere and got very rich.

    When he described getting to sit with Kathleen Turner at a celebratory banquet, Longyear got up and pretended to strangle him.
  • So far, I've only watched the first episode, but I'm very unimpressed.

    It is like watching "Harry Potter of the Rings", with some good old Dune mythology thrown in...

    The plot thus far is old, forumlatic and clique.

    The other tragedy is that CG isn't even that good. When they did the fly over of the city/village, it was very very VERY obviously CG...

    Who knows, maybe it'll get better?
  • Complain about movies made from their books often have just cause. However one very rarely hears about them returning the money they received when they sold the rights.
    • Re:Authors who... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:50PM (#11106411)

      However one very rarely hears about them returning the money they received when they sold the rights.

      Heh, you've obviously never looked into the publishing industry. 20 years ago it was pretty bad, you could publish your own works, which were never put in book stores, or available to the public and no one would ever read your work. Or you could sign a contract to give up the rights to your work and your next several works, and a publishing house would ship it to all kinds of stores. Most stories were then ignored but some became popular and the authors wrote more stories (already owned by the publisher) for the already negotiated fee. Today things are even worse. You see some authors, like Stephen King, developed a large following and then, were able to make money on their fourth or fifth novel, and dictate terms to publishing houses who wanted to make some profit. Now they pretty much make you sign away the rights to anything you want to write for the next 10 years if you want a shot at a mainstream audience. It is ironic that avoiding this exact situation in Europe was one of the primary concerns of the authors of our copyright law. Ben Franklin predicted this outcome which was why he railed against the passage of our copyright laws.

      Simply the fact that one can make a movie based on and using the title of a copy-written work without consulting the author, is proof that our system is horribly broken. No author wants to give up rights to their creations, but if they want to be published, they have little choice.

      • Re:Authors who... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stonecypher (118140) *
        It is ironic

        Whereas I agree with the sentiment, that's not what irony means [tri-bit.com].

        Simply the fact that one can make a movie based on and using the title of a copy-written work without consulting the author

        That's not frequently true of well-known authors, or in fact of most book contracts with little-known authors. Pretty much the only publishing subindustries with that sort of conjoinder in their contracts standard-issue are science fiction and horror; if you try to run that sort of clause in a fiction con
  • by Deadstick (535032)
    Movie producers have been reducing SF and fantasy to mindless drivel at least since "The Wizard of Oz," with only a handful of glowing exceptions. If a writer is willing to sell screen rights without some defense written into the contract, one can only assume that they'd rather have their work defaced than do without the money.

    rj
  • by Japong (793982) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:26PM (#11106035)

    I can just picture it now, the Left Hand of Darkness: The Movie.

    A romantic comedy about men and women, trying to find love together in a tropical paridise. Starring Julia Roberts as Estraven and Hugh Grant as the Envoy.

  • another missive (Score:2, Redundant)

    by X_Caffeine (451624)
    Le Guin has written another public apology, published at Slate [msn.com].

    I have mixed feelings about her reactions. She seems a lot more peeved with the skintones of her characters being changed than with the entire plot being gang-raped.
  • by sconeu (64226) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:27PM (#11106063) Homepage Journal
    Within the first five minutes we had:

    * People throwing around each other's true names (witness the girl talking to Ged).

    * A hot-looking Kossil sleeping with some guy.

    In the books, you *NEVER* spoke someone's true name out loud. And Kossil was a fat, dumpy, ugly woman who was high priestess of an order that shunned men.

    • by Daniel (1678)
      * People throwing around each other's true names (witness the girl talking to Ged).

      To be fair...I thought so too, but I held my nose and watched a little longer. What actually was going on was (slightly) less stupid: they weren't throwing around true names, they switched Ged's true and use-names! Really! You knew when they said a true name, because those were weird and echoey (I guess to show that they were magic).

      But when the gebbeth chases Ged, it shouts his use-name (Ged) at him, in probably probab
      • they switched Ged's true and use-names!

        What I don't get is, why make such a change at all? It serves no dramatic purpose, but it's jarring to those of us who read the books. Do they make changes just for the sake of making changes?

        I am usually a pretty accepting type when it comes to these kinds of adaptations. I give the makers a lot of benefit of the doubt, and I really wanted to like it. I tried to like it. But I thought this thing absolutely blew. Very, very disappointing.
    • Within the first five minutes we had:

      * People throwing around each other's true names (witness the girl talking to Ged).


      And, of course, his True Name is Sparrowhawk. ROTFLMAO.

      * A hot-looking Kossil sleeping with some guy.

      In the books, you *NEVER* spoke someone's true name out loud. And Kossil was a fat, dumpy, ugly woman who was high priestess of an order that shunned men.


      What about the girls in the School? Women weren't allowed in the School, except as visitors, by special permission.

      And, by tra
      • I agree with your main point... but in the book, most of the priestesses were dedicated to the temple of the Kargish Kings, and they were doing quite well. There was only one priestesses left who was "sacrifices" and "emptied" for the nameless ones, who's temple was decaying into ruins.

        Nothing at all like the SiFi rendition.
  • well the article is 503'ing, and it didn't get coralized, so here is a link to the google cache'd copy [tinyurl.com].
  • by ChaoticCoyote (195677) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:31PM (#11106123) Homepage

    I'm not a big Le Guin fan, and I looked at The Legend of Earthsea simply as a diversion.

    The mini-series was not awful, but it certainly wasn't very good, either. The actors were so understated as to be boring; the only reason I cared about Tinar is because she was cute. ;) As for the main character, he was a stereotypical pretty boy; his sidekick Vetch was the traditional pudgy geek. The best character was a dragon, who figures in about three minutes of screen time.

    Le Guin should be upset, but not surprised. Publishers, TV execs, and movie makers have always twisted ideas to their own ends; even examples such as Jackson's LOTR do not prevent "the powers that be" from dumbing down artistic vision for mass audiences.

    So why do creative people let their worlds be perverted by publishers and movie makers? Because you can't make money if your work doesn't get printed and sold. It's a myth that people will pay artists through online contributions; it just doesn't happen.

  • by TrueJim (107565) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:34PM (#11106160) Homepage
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_L._Kroeber [wikipedia.org]

    Alfred Louis Kroeber (June 11, 1876-October 5, 1960) was one of the most influential figures in American anthropology in the first half of the twentieth century.

    Kroeber was born in Hoboken, New Jersey. He received his doctorate under Franz Boas at Columbia University in 1901, basing his dissertation on his field work among the Arapaho. He spent most of his career in California, primarily at the University of California, Berkeley. The anthropology department's headquarters building at the University of California is known as Kroeber Hall.

    Although he is known primarily as a cultural anthropologist, he did significant work in archaeology, and he contributed to anthropology by making connections between archaeology and culture. He conducted excavations in New Mexico, Mexico, and Peru.

    Kroeber and his students did important work collecting cultural data on western tribes of Native Americans. The work done in preserving California tribes appeared in Handbook of Indians of California (1925). These efforts to preserve remaining data on these tribes has been termed "Salvage Ethnography." He is credited with developing the concepts of Culture Area and Cultural Configuration (Cultural and Natural Areas of Native North America, 1939).

    His influence was so strong that many contemporaries adopted his style of beard and mustache as well as his views as a social scientist.

    He is noted for working with Ishi, who was claimed (though not uncontroversially) to be the last California Yahi Indian. His second wife, Theodora Kroeber, wrote a well-known biography of Ishi, Ishi in Two Worlds.

    His textbook, Anthropology (1923, 1948), was widely used for years.

    Kroeber was the father of the academic Clifton Kroeber by his first wife and the fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin and academic Karl Kroeber by his second. He also adopted the two children of his second wife's first marriage. Clifton and Karl recently (2003) edited a book together on the Ishi case, Ishi in Three Centuries.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:37PM (#11106197)
    Here is an excerpt from an interview http://www.bookslut.com/features/2003_10_000738.ph p [bookslut.com]
    with Augusten Burroughs (author of Running with Scissors) that is relevant here:

    INTERVIEWER: Are you going to write the screenplay?

    BURROUGHS: He is. I'm not going to write the screenplay.

    INTERVIEWER: Are you going to have an advisory role with it?

    BURROUGHS: Yeah, but I'm not writing the screenplay. That's one of those things -- maybe my advertising background makes it easier -- but when you come up with an ad campaign, you come up with this vision, something you think is really smart, yet really entertaining, and then you give it to a director and he takes it to the next level. You learn early on in your career -- if you're going to have a long career -- that you need to let it go. You either need to have complete control over [a film], write the screenplay, choose the director, much the way John Irving did for Cider House Rules, or you need to let it go. But you can't option it, and then whine about it not being good, because the only reason you option it is for money. That's why you do it.
  • by emmayche (840980) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:46PM (#11106330)
    Like others, I was more surprised at LeGuin's ignoring the plot changes (including switching use-names and true-names) and focussing on skin color.

    Who gives a flying fsck about skin color, anyway? I'd say "dinosaurs from the 50s," but I was born in the 50s! In the South, yet!

    Besides, Caucasian though I am, leave me out in the sun long enough and I certainly turn "red-brown." In fact, if I had to describe the skin color of "white" people, it'd be pinkish-brown anyway.

    Perhaps she's just trying to see if anyone noticed that.





    ...Naah.
  • by fishbowl (7759) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:56PM (#11106496)
    I don't see where she gets off comparing the SciFi channel's treatment to changing the LOTR ending.

    I also don't understand, financial considerations aside, what would posess an artist to relinquish so much artistic control over their material, that such complaints ever need to be raised. With Tolkein or Heinlein, it makes sense that they might not be respected by a screenplay writer -- but this author is alive.

    Does Stephen King have this problem?

    You can't have your cake and eat it too, Ursula.

    If you surrender your rights to control of your work, you pay the price.
    • Does Stephen King have this problem?

      Stephen King is the very very very rare exception. He wrote a number of books, under contract for very little money and whose rights he did not retain and became so popular that he had real bargaining power for the rest of his works (and was thus able to retain the rights to them). Most authors are not so fortunate. And most publishers now require even more lengthy contracts just to prevent this from happening again.

      If you surrender your rights to control of your

  • gah! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DarkSarin (651985) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @01:56PM (#11106502) Homepage Journal
    Having just watched the first half last night (taped!), I have to say that I am dissappointed.

    Let's leave alone the obvious deviations from the plot, and focus on more germaine aspects of the production.

    First, acting. When you are producing something like this, having good actors is appropriate. The chick from Smallville (Kristin Kreuk) is good, as is the guy who plays Ged (Shawn Ashmore). Some of the others are decent, such as the Arch-Magus, the King (decent) and his whore(er.. preistess), Ogion (Danny Glover), High Priestess Thar (Isabella Rossellini) and even Vetch (Chris Gauthier). Ged's father? Terrible acting--wooden, poor delivery, obviously fake, and poorly written.

    This (the father's acting) is TYPICAL of ALL the non-central characters. The sound is off too, but that could be a function of the tape I was watching it on.

    The special effects are decent (the scene where Vetch is describing his island and using bits of sugar to represent them [the sugar turns into the islands breifly] is interesting), as is the scene where the Arch-Magus comes to talk to the king. But they are only decent. The fire shot out by the mages defending Roke? Pathetic. In fact, the entire seige of Roke is pathetic. They DO NOT tap into HOW difficult it is to find Roke, or the releationship between the king and his pet wizard.

    Overall, I think it has been worth my time to watch the show, but I won't be keeping it on tape, nor will I be recommending it to anyone for viewing. This would be true EVEN IF I had never read Earthsea.

    A final complaint--when Ogion and Ged meet, Ogion raises him, and then gives him his name. As I recall this was a much more lengthy and involved ritual than is shown. The whole treatment of names is done FAR too lightly from what I remember. This is characteristic of the show in general--there is NO real character or plot development.
  • Race Comments (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @02:10PM (#11106742) Homepage Journal
    It seems as though the author's main complaint is that instead of using native american or other ethnic actors, the producers used almost all white actors. That complaint is fine and good if race plays a role in the story, but her original reason for making diverse characters comes across as pretty shallow ("I didn't see why everybody in science fiction had to be a honky named Bob or Joe or Bill"). Sure, it would have been nice to have a diverse cast, and it would have been more realistic, but the author comes across as very whiney in her blog. Perhaps it was the use of "honky" when it was completely inappropriate.

    Why does everything have to be about race? :/
  • by Embedded Geek (532893) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @02:23PM (#11106951) Homepage
    In addition to her site and Slate, she has put up a more detailed chronology at the Agony column called "Earthsea in Clorox" [trashotron.com]. While the second half is a reiteration of the Slate essay, I provide the first half here to prevent slashdotting:

    1. Background: my (non)involvement with this production.
    For people who wonder why I sold out to Halmi, or let them change the story -- you may find some answers here.

    The producers (not yet including Robert Halmi Sr.) approached us with a reasonable offer. My dramatic agency at that time was William Morris. The contract of course gave me only the standard status of consultant -- which means exactly what the producers want it to mean, almost always little or nothing. The agency could not improve this clause. But the purchasers talked as if they genuinely meant to respect the books and to ask for my input when planning the film.

    As I had scripted the first two books myself, with Michael Powell, years ago, and also worked with another scriptwriter to plan his script of the first book, I was in a position to be useful to them. I knew some of the difficulties in carrying this story over to film. And some of the possibilities that could be fulfilled, too, the things a movie can do that a novel can't. It was an exciting prospect.

    They were talking at that time of a large-scale theater movie, although the possibility of a TV miniseries was mentioned. They said that they had already secured Philippa Boyen (who scripted The Lord of the Rings) as principal scriptwriter, and reported that she was eager to work on an Earthsea film. As the script was, to me, all-important, her presence was the key factor in my decision to sell them the option to the film rights.

    Time went by. By the time they got backing from the Sci Fi Channel for a miniseries -- and Robert Halmi Sr. had come aboard -- they had lost Boyen.

    That was a blow. But I had just seen Mr Halmi's miniseries Dreamkeeper with its stunning Native American cast, so I said to them in a phone conversation, hey, maybe Mr Halmi will cast some of those great actors in Earthsea! -- Oh, no, I was told -- Mr Halmi had found those people impossible to work with.

    Well, I said, you do realise that almost everybody in Earthsea is 'those people,' or anyhow not white?

    I don't remember what their answer to that was -- it may have used that wonderful weasel word colorblind -- but it wasn't reassuring, because I do remember saying to my husband, oh, gee, I bet they're going to have a honky Ged. . .

    This was in the spring of 2004. They moved very fast then, because if they didn't get into production, they would lose their rights to the property. Early in this period they contacted me in a friendly fashion, and I responded in kind; I asked if they'd like to have a list of name pronunciations; and I said that although I knew well that a film must differ greatly from a book, I hoped they were making no unnecessary changes in the plot or to the characters -- a dangerous thing to do, since the books have been known to millions of people for over 30 years. To this they replied that the TV audience is much larger, and entirely different, and changes to a book's story and characters were of no importance to them.

    They then sent me several versions of the script -- and told me that shooting had already begun. In other words, I had been absolutely cut out of the process.

    I withdrew my offered pronunciation guide (so Ogion, which rhymes with bogy-on, is Oh-jee-on in the film.) Having looked over the script, I realised they had no understanding of what the two 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 MacMagic movie with a meaningless plot based on sex and violence. (And fai
  • by Control Group (105494) on Thursday December 16, 2004 @02:38PM (#11107199) Homepage
    There's an interesting discussion [fantasybookspot.com] about this very topic over at FantasyBookSpot [fantasybookspot.com]'s forums.*

    Pretty much the consensus seems to be that the adaptation is as bad as she claims, but she did sign the rights away. No matter what she may have thought was going to happen, if it's not in the contract, it's not going to happen.

    As soon as the line was crossed from not involving her to putting words in her mouth, though, she's got every right to complain as loudly as possible about what was done to her work. To her credit, she stayed quiet out of an honorable respect for the contract, and only began publicly making her feelings known once ideas and motives were attributed to her that weren't hers.

    As sour grapes as her last salvo might come across, it's important to bear in mind that it was only caused by the producers clearly stepping over the line. They opened the floodgates, she's simply providing the water. Also note that she does not claim that the producers were under any legal obligation to stay true to her books, she simply claims that the books were better, and what the producers put onscreen is essentially unrelated to what she wrote.

    *Yes, this is a shameless plug.

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