Over at the Pegasus Pulp blog, I take a further at the current discussion about the New Pulp Fiction and try to define for myself where I stand on this.
In other news, it was announced today that Ron Moore is supposed to adapt Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander saga into a TV series.
With the success of True Blood and Game of Thrones, it seems that American cable TV channels have discovered the fantasy genre as a fertile hunting ground for properties to turn into TV series. And Outlander is pretty much the ideal candidate, since it has a rabid fanbase (though it’s almost all female), can be adapted fairly easily, won’t break the bank and has enough sex and violence (and rape and gay sex and gay rape) to satisfy the gritty tastes of American cable television viewers. It’s certainly a more logical candidate than Game of Thrones with its secondary world setting (albeit one that’s fairly close to 14th century England) and cast of thousands.
Now I’m not a huge Outlander fan. I read and enjoyed the first book, but I never felt the urge to read the rest of the series and actually prefer the Lord John Grey books. Nor am I a rabid Jamie Fraser fan – indeed, I never quite forgave him for the spanking scene halfway through the first book. If a series were made, I’d probably give it a try, but I don’t really have any strong feelings either way.
However, I do have very strong feelings about Ron Moore. In fact, he’s still in my personal top five of “people I can’t fucking stand”. Because you see, I was a big fan of the original Battlestar Galactica. When I was a teenager in the 1980s, the original Battlestar Galactica was one of the very few examples of post Star Wars SF or of SF period to ever show up on German TV. Sure, it wasn’t Star Wars, but the chances of ever getting to see Star Wars before I was old enough to have my own flat and buy a VCR and buy or rent it on video were slim anyway. And Battlestar Galactica was the next best thing to Star Wars there was. Besides, it had Richard Hatch on whom I had a huge crush at the time. And I could persuade my Mom to watch it, because it had Lorne Greene and Terry Carter on whom my Mom had something of a crush. So yeah, I’m very fond of the original Battlestar Galactica.
When the new series was announced I was highly skeptical and I grew ever more skeptical the more information we got from the US. Starbuck and Boomer are women now? The guy who played the police chief in Miami Vice was the new Adama? Cylons looked human now? In short, it sounded like the worst series ever and when I actually got to watch it, once it made it to German TV, it managed to exceed my worst expectations. Because Ron Moore had turned what used to be a decent space opera with likable characters and episodes ranging from the stupid to the pretty damn brilliant, took out almost everything that made the original good and turned out into a thinly veiled analogy of US politics that was not very interesting, if you happened to live outside the US and happened to prefer your SF with a little less overt politics. And let’s not even mention the endless discussions about philosophy and religion, which were designed to feel “deep” to a particular kind of fan (I argued with that kind of fan. A lot). Even worse, Moore turned the characters that I had loved into murders, rapists and worse.
So in short, I hate what Ron Moore did to Battlestar Galactica and I never liked Deep Space Nine in the first place. What Ron Moore excels in is the sort of grimdark faux grit that a certain kind of fanboy loves, because it feels deep and realistic to them, though it’s really just nasty and often deeply sexist (in the new Galactica, women had only three stories: They could get raped, get pregnant or get breast cancer). What will happen when Ron Moore gets his hand on Outlander, which unlike the original Galactica actually does have plenty of violence, rape and problematic gender issues? I shudder to imagine and I’m not even an Outlander fan.
Meanwhile, the actual Outlander fans are worried, too, though more about the casting than about Mr Moore’s contribution. Those worries are justified, because an Outlander cast filled with Americans attempting bad Scottish accents would indeed be a disaster. As would be casting name actors, just because they are names.
Indeed, some Outlander fans have posted an open letter to Sony and Ron Moore at My Outlander Purgatory, asking them to do right by Jamie Fraser.
I certainly hope he does better by Outlander than he did by Battlestar Galactica.