Art thieves: Ripping yourself off
One of 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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Books: 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 happy?" 

It's 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 revolutionary.

Music: Pink 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.

Books: 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.

But you'd 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.

Movies: 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 inside-out!).

Copyright 2012 Ale[x]plorer.
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