The Abyss, Orson Scott Card

I’m on vacation though October 25, so for the next few posts, I’ll be sharing brief reviews of some of my favorite books.

Is it weird that one of my favorite books is actually an adaptation written to flesh out a movie that had already been made? I’d seen the film many times before I even knew the book existed. I loved it – the special effects, the wonderful characters, the awe and terror of being trapped so deep in the ocean, the aliens – it’s still one of the all-time greatest movies I’ve ever seen.

And yet, the book is better. Card was hired by James Cameron to improve upon the movie script, to give the characters more depth and logical reasoning for taking the actions they do, and in just three chapters, he nails it. That is one of his gifts as a writer; he will make a person care about both the worst human beings and the best in the span of a few lines.

It was especially powerful to see what he could with a story that wasn’t his own. In a world created by another talented artist, he took what was already canon and created completely believable, rich backstories. When I read the book the first time, I actually thought that it must be the basis for the film rather than the reverse – he was that good at taking what had already been created and merging what could be into one amazing story.

This is probably the one instance when I’ll ever suggest watching the movie before reading the book. It’s the only time that the relationship between these two very different formats does not ruin either, but rather, makes each more beautiful.

Interested in Orson Scott Card? Go here. For more on James Cameron, I recommend his twitter feed.

3 thoughts on “The Abyss, Orson Scott Card

  1. yes! this adaptation blew me away when i was in junior high school, and fueled my obsession with the film. in those days before extended editions, i devoured novelizations because they were often the only clue about what material was in the original script – and the original ending presented in the book blew my mind, and is much stronger than the original theatrical cut of the film.

    1. That’s an awesome reason for reading it – I don’t think that would have occurred to me until college, when I was writing my own screenplays, but it’s brilliant. And knowing you, I’m not surprised that your film love brought you to that place so much sooner! I’m sensing the need for a dramatic reading at Thanksgiving…

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