Oh Ye Gods of Science Fiction and Fantasy!
I come before you a broken man. Years ago I had an inner child. This inner child made my parents despair because I would write fantasy novels instead of papers for my English class in high school. It aggravated my teachers in elementary school because I would pretend my pencil was a rocket ship, complete with sound effects. It annoyed my soccer coach because I’d rather sit down on the field and fantasize about flying than participate in the game. I can still remember organizing the entire family together in our front room, arrayed like the bridge on the Enterprise-D.
But my inner child is dead now. I can point to the exact moment it died, long after it should have. I held on to that childlike wonder until 2004, the childlike wonder of being transported to another place or another time or another universe not my own. Your fallen prophet, George Lucas, killed my inner child. But I have not abandoned the faith. I still read from your sacred texts, O Gods of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Since that horrible moment in 2004 I have discovered many wonderful new shows and books and graphic novels and video games and movies. But none of them held the same amazement and escapism that I was once capable of.
But I come to you with hope. For this year one of your earliest sacred texts is finally making the leap to the big screen. I speak, of course, of A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs being adapted into Disney's John Carter. The character turns 100 this very year! And yet Burroughs’ Barsoom series is far too much forgotten these days, even if it has been explicitly acknowledged by those who have used its ideas for their own movies.
Despite the prayers of many of the faithful, it has languished in movie development hell since the 1930s, when it was almost the first animated film, by the Looney Toons guy no less. (Oh how different would cinematic history have been if John Carter of Mars had been made instead of Snow White!)
Though that is a longer exile to development hell than any movie I’m aware of, it was worth the wait. I acknowledge your mercy in deciding whose hands the granddaddy of all science fiction adventure would fall into.
Thank you, for granting the rights to Disney and Pixar! Thank you that your servant, Andrew Stanton, has written and directed it, the man who took a movie about a fish and a movie that was half silent movie about a small robot who cannot talk, and won two Academy Awards! He’s a big fan of the Barsoom books, too, so at least in your graciousness we have that going for the project. (You Gods were merciful when the project was NOT granted to Tom Cruise and John McTiernan back in 1992.) The music is being scored by Michael Giacchino. Initial reviews of the movie have been positive. I have much reason to hope, but for me hope itself is painful.
Because, as you know, so many other good science fiction and fantasy projects have not seen the light of day, or have been cancelled before their time-just this very day I was saddened by the loss of Terra Nova (Fox is obviously another of the devils sent to thwart your plans, as evidenced by their cancelling Firefly 10 years ago.) I worry for the general future of science fiction and fantasy in movies and on TV. Disney’s marketing of this adaptation of your early sacred text has been lacking, prompting criticisms from many sources.
At least there are those true believers among us who make good fan trailers for it.
But please. Please. It’s been so long since I’ve wanted to pretend I’m flying, or that I’m sword fighting with someone with the fate of many people in the balance, or rescuing the princess, or anything, really, like that. It’s been so long since I’ve experience the wonder of escapism, despite the fact that I still play Dungeons and Dragons.
Many of my favorite shows simply don’t hold the same delight to me I used to have. I genuinely wonder if the fact that I enjoyed Battlestar Galactica and Stargate: Universe so much was because I was in a darker place with regard to the kinds of stories I liked to watch. A few days ago, I even had to look up the subtitle for Star Wars Episode II, because I had so dismissed the movie in my own mind, apparently.
But this Friday, at midnight, all that might go away. So I implore you, I beseech you, I beg of you, Oh Gods of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I call upon all the wondrous creations you have given my imagination. I call upon the Weirding Ways of the Bene Gesserit Witches, I call upon the Deep Magic of Narnia, I call upon the mysterious technologies of the Tycho Monolith and its brothers, the Ansible, the Magic of the Istari Wizards of Middle-Earth, the collected wisdom of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Three Laws of Robotics, the Stargate, the Jedi Council, the ancient rites of the Necronomicon, anything, everything, to Beam my inner child back from what feels so far away to me it might as well be The Phantom Zone.
I just want to feel like a child again. The second trailer for John Carter already gave my dead inner child a small, yet temporary, lease on life. But I don't want it to just be temporary. I want my inner child to fully resurrect. I know this is possible. One reviewer said "I didn’t know I still had an inner 12 year old in me, but there he was at the JOHN CARTER screening, hepped up on crack."
So I implore you, as one of your most devout adherents, but as one who has lost his way. In your reality spanning-power, bless that when I see it this Friday morning at midnight, that my inner child may be returned to me.
And also bless that enough other people will go see it that Andrew Stanton will be able to finish the rest of the John Carter Trilogy. [Those of you listening in on my prayer, this would be you.]
In the name of the “big three” science fiction writers, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke (and of course invoking the name of J.R.R. Tolkien) . . .