Monday, February 27, 2006

It figures

My writing hero, Joss Whedon, was asked, "If you knew you were going to spend the next 10 years on a desert island and could only take 5 books with you, which books would you take?"

His answers:

Assuming they're books I've already read:
1) A Little Princess
2) Dombey and Son
3) Dune
4) Hitchcock by Truffaut
5) Pride and Prejudice

Joss Answers Questions - FIREFLYFANS.NET

It's #5 that stands out, Pride and Prejudice. In retrospect this is not surprising coming from the man who created Buffy and always has strong, confident women leading his stories.

And it shows once again how he and I are on parallel tracks - though his tracks are skyrocketing upwards with success. I suppose he's my favorite writer in part because we have similar tastes and sensibilities. But things like this still surprise me sometimes. I'm the only guy I know who'd even consider listing Pride and Prejudice as a top five favorite book.

What's pleasantly annoying is that he often trumps my "finds". I'll discover a new, off-the-beaten-path song and then see an old episode of Buffy and hear that very same song used to great effect (The Sundays' cover of "Wild Horses", to be specific).

I'll write a sci-fi story set a couple hundred years in the future where technology is run down, mankind is ravaged by civil war, and there are no aliens whatsoever and then Joss comes out with Firefly which echoes all of my same story choices for similar reasons used to similar effect.

I wrote a Buffy spec screenplay and, despite five or six years' worth of Buffy episodes, I came up with a great line that was new - so of course later that year a new episode of Buffy aired that had a variation on my line (though, for a change, my line was better).

At least this time I'd previously stated my appreciation for the novel. But damn Joss - he's like the older brother that does everything you do but does it better and gets credit for doing it first.

ps - "Dune" is an interesting choice. I don't think I'd include it on my top five list, but it is a very valid choice. It certainly would help to pass the time on that deserted island. However, like most sci-fi, it's a bit lacking in the human dimension. There are deep, complicated forces and emotions at work, but the human side isn't explored nearly as deeply as the society, religion, politics, and geography are in Dune. You are constantly inside Paul Atreides' head, but the book is not about Paul's internal world.

I guess that's why the choice surprises me. For someone like Joss who is so deeply interested in character and human struggle it seems an oddly cold choice.


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