Art thieves: Ripping
the most depressing things for me
is to see an artist stealing from his/her earlier works in order to
keep a series going.
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The Dune sequels
Although it isn't the same author, it's the
same series, and perhaps even sadder, it's his son. The later
Brian Herbert Dune books were written as direct sequels that picked up
where Frank Herbert left off when he passed away. According to
Brian Herbert, the plotting of these novels was found in notes his
father left, but I am extremely skeptical (for reasons too lengthy to
go into on a page not about that topic).
Most of the
story in the later Dune books is original, but all of a sudden all the
original characters from the original trilogy start to reemerge.
There's no reason for it in the plotting, and there was nothing to
foreshadow their reappearance thousands of years later. It's as
though Herbert and co-author Kevin J. Anderson were plotting the
novel(s) and said, "Hey, you know what would make the fans real
emotionally satisfying in its own way, sure, to bookend the series with
the characters we started out with and to give them a happy ending, but
I know that's not what his father would have written. Frank
Herbert often eschewed expectations and classic narratives with a
triumphant hero. (There is correspondence reprinted in "Maker of
Dune" between he and his editor wrangling over his decision to turn
Paul into more of an anti-hero.) It saddens me that the series
wrapped up with unoriginal material instead of something pure and
Floyd's Division Bell
When the first single was released from Pink
Floyd's Division Bell, I
remember thinking "This plays like everything on their last album all
blended together in one place." The song "Keep Talking" sounded a
lot like pieces from all the previous songs on the last album (e.g.,
the same guitar sounds, the delay on the riff used for the rhythm part,
the keyboard swells, etc.). One of my friends described it as
Pink Floyd covering their own song. There are some original
things like the use of the talk box on the solo and the speech
synthesizer on the intro, but underneath gimmicks like that, it's
basically a rehash of the sound of their previous album.
Hunger Games/Catching Fire
The climax of The
Hunger Games is, naturally, the Hunger Games themselves.
That's what the book leads up to, and you figure this is a microcosm of
the larger conflict. That is, all the districts are represented
in the arena, and thus the alliances formed and the most persistent
enemies foreshadow how the revolution will play out. You figure
the next books will move outward from metaphor to a fuller reality.
be wrong. Catching Fire
starts fresh. You think it's going places. But then you're
back in the arena all over again. All the originality and
intrigue is swept aside so we can go back to the original organizing
piece of plotting that drove the first novel in the series.
Return of the Jedi
The final part of the original trilogy is
usually criticized for being anti-climactic. Frankly, that's the
least of its problems. Another one is its cloying attempts at
humor to offset the dark mood people grumbled over during the three
years that followed Empire.
But the worst mistake of all is larger than its coloring or a weak
ending. It's the fact that the entire movie is a complete rehash
of the previous two.
We start off with Luke on Tattooine (which
was how the series started), have to deal with Jabba's beef with Han,
see a bunch of rowdy drunken monster aliens (yep, just like the
cantina), rescue Leia (which has been done twice before), then Luke
goes to see Yoda and ghost Ben (just like in Empire), then Luke fights Vader in
a reluctant re-match that is actually tamer and less interesting than
the one in Empire (while the most interesting character in the movie
just sits there and watches!), and the movie climaxes with an attack on
the Death Star by a bunch of small fighters shooting the reactor to
cause a chain reaction and blow up the thing.
We saw it all before, and nearly the only
thing somewhat original in the picture were the Ewoks, which were
simply inverted Wookies (It's just the word "wookie" turned