13 March 2006

Masks and Machines

I've made a smallish update to the website today, adding to the A Life Worth Living pages my rejected story submissions for Big Finish's most recent follow-up volume, Something Changed. There are plot spoilers for the book, but as it's been out a while now I'm assuming that that shouldn't be a huge problem for anybody, given the appropriate amount of warning.

While I fully respect the editor Simon Guerrier's judgement about which submissions were going to fit into the volume and which wouldn't, I do feel slightly wistful reading these again, as any of the three would have been huge fun to write. Ah, well.

You can read the first chapter of Something Changed online at the Big Finish site.

B. and I went to see Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's stunning Mirrormask at the Watershed on Saturday. It's a mindblowingly good film -- if you've ever marvelled at the visual texture and general bloody weirdness of McKean's art, then seeing it translated into a fully realised animated world with actors walking around in it is unmissable. Gaiman's schizoid fairy-tale of a script was equally magnificent, although I'm not entirely sure about the ending.

[SPOILERS follow -- highlight the whitespace to read:]

During her time in the otherworld, Helena has been watching the Shadow Princess living her life for her: arguing with her father, dating unsuitable boys, burning her artwork and generally acting out. Helena's trapped sensation as she gazes out at this, helpless to intervene, is a powerful metaphor for the the tiny trace of rationality left in our psyches during our years of hormone-fuelled teenage excess -- which in Helena's case we know to be exacerbated by her mother's illness.

Unfortunately, the metaphor is de-clawed, and the plot rendered somewhat nonsensical, by the revelation at the end that only a night has passed while Helena has been in the otherworld, and that her mother is recovering fine from her operation. I couldn't help feeling that a more fitting, more emotionally honest and generally more Gaimanesque ending would have had Helena returning to a world where her mother's operation had been a failure, and where the Princess's actions had consequences for Helena to deal with.

[SPOILERS finish.]

Still a marvellous film, though, and one I'd recommend to more or less everybody likely to be reading this.

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