The Long Earth (by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter) is a great book. It was a Christmas present from my mum but for some reason I hadn’t started reading it until just recently, lucky for me since I promised myself that I’d post some rambling or other every (week)day on this new blog of mine and I mean to stick with that to the best of my abilities.
I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels and a newbie to his non-Discworld fare (Good Omens, Nation, both amazing) so I was psyched when I finally got started on this. The tale goes something like this: One day, a mysterious device is discovered which allows humans to “step” between parallel Earths, all exactly the same geographically except no other Earth contains humans. On the surface it’s a cool sci-fi concept but of course the authors play with it to the full extent of their abilities, deciphering the social, economic and cultural impacts of such an event. The story has a main character but it also often sidetracks to other people’s stories relevant to the current goings on or discoveries happening in the main plot. The existence of easily accessible parallel realities seems to be a good way to explore what would happen if capitalism suddenly ceased to function. The other Earths are just as full of natural resources as our home Earth and so natural “valuables” like gold and diamonds suddenly lose their currency. The return to a system of bartering and living off the land feels almost idyllic from my job hunter’s perspective.
I’d be happy with a book that explores those concepts alone, but The Long Earth’s main story involves the existence of a stepping race known as the trolls who seem to be fleeing something from a far off Earth. Our hero (Joshua) sets off with an odd Tibetan man in a robot’s body to discover more about the mysteries of the Long Earth and what the trolls could be running from. It is an intriguing storyline which I assumed would be wrapped up rather hastily, given my proximity to the end of the book. However, after googling the book to get the Amazon link at the top of this very blog I stumbled across the fact that there will be a sequel. I guess I’m going to have to wait a little while to find out whether all of human society is doomed… Rats.
I probably wouldn’t have gone to see Warm Bodies if it wasn’t for my beau suggesting it. I had it in my head that this was “Twilight-but-zombies” but luckily that wasn’t more than a smart marketing tactic. The love story told by Warm Bodies is much more honest and sweet than Twilight ever was (though I’ll end the comparisons there and let the film stand on its own). I haven’t been out to a movie theatre since The Hobbit and I’ve been itching to go, so we hit up the local cinema (The Carlton) on cheap Tuesday and settled in for this weird sounding but intriguing film.
The film’s main characters are R and Julie, and though it didn’t click until near the end of the film for me, it is very obviously (though loosely) based on Romeo and Juliet. It becomes especially clear when R shows up at Julie’s house one night, and talks to her from the ground as she sits on a balcony. I hit myself for not putting two and two together at that point. Another cute link to R+J is R’s closest zombie buddy, M (if you could call moaning at each other occasionally friendship). M (Rob Cordry) is an obvious stand in for Mercutio, and the film’s amazing comic relief. He had the whole theatre guffawing with his perfectly zombified line delivery and general look of confusion at R’s very un-zombielike antics.
This all isn’t to say that it doesn’t make for a good zombie film either. Though I haven’t seen many purely scary zombie films I can safely say that Warm Bodies fits right in with it’s fellow zombie genre benders like Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland. There is decidedly less gore in this one than its counterparts, but I found that to be a bit of a relief. There is still plenty of violence and people getting eaten, but we don’t have to be treated to graphic gut-tearing. Talk about killing the mood. This movie’s meant more for back of the theatre makeouts, and it has its fair share of tense moments perfect for cuddling up to your sweetie in mock-terror. Quick shoutouts to the seats at the Carlton for their armrests, which may be folded away for easier snuggling access, no matter where you sit. Why the heck isn’t that a standard everywhere?
All in all, this was a very enjoyable film because it took its strange premise and totally ran with it. As a purely human/human romance film it would probably be quite boring but the zombie element totally makes it. Need more reasons to see it? It was shot in Montreal with a Quebec crew, if the credits were anything to go by (Support Canadian film makers!) and John Malkovich playing Julie’s apocalypse crazy military father is another piece of icing on the cake.