Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tie-Ins: Star Wars

Star Wars has hundreds of tie-in novels, but the Expanded Universe had a slow start.  Prior to 1991 there were only the three novelizations and seven continuing (or previous) adventures novels.

1991 saw the novel Heir to the Empire and the first Dark Horse comic series Dark Empire.  These, and the hundreds of novels and comics to come, used source material from the West End role playing game to keep continuity straight.  These kept the fires burning until the prequel movies, and kept coming out until 2014.  At that point, it was declared that the entire body of work was no longer canon in order to give creative freedom for the new movies being produced.  Creative freedom which was then used to make big-budget fan-film remakes of the original trilogy, but I digress.

Impressively, in the four years since there have been at least a hundred books written in the new continuity, rewriting the history going back to the Clone Wars era.

My rule with Star Wars had been that it got better the further away from Lucas it got.  I've since added J.J. Abrams to that list.  This has given me hope that there's a good Star Wars novel out there, but I have yet to find it.  In the meantime, try Expounded Universe, a podcast which roasts the worst of the novels.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Genre Overview: Tie In Novels

As literary snobs look down at genre fiction, even lower down in the caste is the sometimes baffling, usually horrible world of media tie ins.

These include straight novelizations, which can be interesting when they divert from the original source, often due to being based on a early screenplay, or because they provide more depth and background than the original.  Film novelizations date back to the silent film era.

"Tie in" is also used to describe when the novel came first, then there's a movie, and the original is reissued, though these only differ from the original by the cover.

Then there's the world of continuing stories and expanded universes.  The hundreds of Star Wars and Star Trek novels are the most well known examples, but continuing adventure novels exist for everything from Friday the 13th to the Partridge Family.

Tie ins and novelizations aren't limited to novels based on films.  There are novels based on video games, TV shows, role playing games, and comic books.  They can stack multiple levels, such as a novelization of a movie version of a video game (Doom by John Shirley), or the novelization of a comic spin-off from a movie series (multiple Aliens titles).  The most spun off spin off to my knowledge is the fourteen book series Salem's Tails, a spin off of the 50+ novelization series of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch live action show, a reboot of a cartoon spun off of another cartoon based on a comic.

I'll be doing a deep dive in the world of media tie-ins, focusing on adultish novels and less on comics and children's adaptations.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Spider 15: Red Death Rain by Grant Stockbridge

The Spider 15
Red Death Rain
by Grant Stockbridge (Norvell Page)
December 1934

The Red Mandarin infects cities with a chemical that enhances other poisons, making tobacco, alcohol, and even coffee deadly.  The Spider runs around like Yul Brynner screaming "Don't smoke!" while Nina is threatened with orangutan rape.