Too much!

Despite my avid and longstanding interest in fantasy/sci-fi, I’ve not yet read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. I know, I know, major omission. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to read it, just that I haven’t had the time. Other commitments arose. Now, that Pullman’s extremely well-regarding books are receiving their small-screen due on HBO, there’s a quandary — read the books before approaching the series? Or take the series on its merits as its own story before measuring against the books?

Such measuring is inevitable in any case like this. Game of Thrones is the obvious comparison in many ways. I read the books before even knowing of the show; for me, the show was a matter of seeing how my own visualizations, vocalizations, theories of plot, mannerisms, etc. translated into a “television” (the switch from non scare quotes to legitimate scare quotes happened about season four or so) series with a seemingly unlimited budget and full license to display the darkest corners of George R.R. Martin’s delightfully licentious mind. For those unfamiliar with the story, pivotal moments like the early Battle of Blackwater Bay or the Red Wedding came as complete shocks, upending previously held theories of plot. For us veterans, it wasn’t a question of what would happen, but rather of how it would look and sound.

It makes for an entirely different experience. I’ve not read “Watchmen,” but am invested by this point enough in the HBO series glad I haven’t yet, though I knew of the series and some of its details before. With His Dark Materials, I still have the choice. Have neither seen nor read yet, but imagine I’ll watch first. The point is that the same story can be experienced in many different ways, depending on the manner in which it was first encountered. I’m as earnest a “Lord of the Rings” fan as Stephen Colbert; a great part of the trepidation beforehand and the satisfaction afterward regarding the film trilogy (“The Hobbit” films are another matter entirely), stemmed from the correspondence of the visual experience with the mental world I created reading the books. I can never know what the reverse was like. You can’t read “A Song of Ice and Fire” then see Game of Thrones, just as you can’t see Game of Thrones then read “A Song of Ice and Fire.”

~ by Benji on December 9, 2019.

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