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1996-04-26 00:00:00 - Slider's Book Review SPOILERS - (bycer45@futures.wharton.upenn.edu)

THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE SLIDER'S NOVEL You have been warned. Just remember that this is, of course, all of my own opinion. For the most part, I thought that the novel was OK. Not particularly great, but not really that bad either. However, because the negatives are the particulars that tend to remain rattling around in my head more than the positives, I'll be spending a lot of time expounding on those. Beginning at the beginning, I'll start with the prologue. Excellently written, but poorly executed. Now, I haven't seen the polit since it originally aired, but I would have to say that I did not see the level of violence that was portrayed in the prologue (i.e. mass slayings, extensive beatings, etc.). In fact, when I read the statement that included "two line segments crossing each other and forming a sinister symbol he never thought he'd see in the streets of San Fransisco", I immediately thought "swastika". In fact, the descriptions of violence that had preceeded this statement seemed much more in character with the actions of the Nazis than of the Soviets. But later it is mentioned that they were killed, "added to the pile of corpses growing ever larger undre the crimson symbol of the hammer-and-sickle." I realize that history records that the Soviets under Stalin were just as bad (if not worse) than the Nazis, but if we consider that this takes place in 1996, I think that the Soviet environment that we should have seen in both the novel and the tv episode should have reflected a late 1980's Soviet environment, perhaps a little rougher. After all, there are no external enemies, only the internal enemies. My next gripe is the sexual descriptions of the characters. Not that I have anything against sex, far from it, it just seemed that every character's introduction included a sexual description. It just seems so out of place, much like the scene on the Breeder's World, when the female soldier began to suggestively lean against the wall while unbuttoning her uniform where Arturo was being held. If I recall, there was a lot of flack for that particular scene, and similarly it seems out of place in the novel. Perhaps if the series had a different slant on the subject... There's another series of scene that seem to be inserted just to fill space. Don't get me wrong, there actually very well written scenes, but they lead to nothing. It seems that there is a subplot beginning, then developed, and then...nothing. The novel is 234 pages, and I would hazard that (give or take) 50 pages dealt with this subplot, and then it just gets dropped. The subplot is about Stephanie, who has workered her way into the Soviet ruling hierarchy while plotting its downfall. Her family was killed by the Soviets, and so she's essentially sleeping her way into positions of power. They develop this until...until...nothing. First off, she never actually DOES anything, she's just there. Secondly, after the Soviet Arturo has a heart attack, that sub plot simply dies. I really hate it when that happens. Here's a problem that I have with the writers, actually. When Arturo is talking with the guard at the gate when they are trying to bluff there way in, Arturo asks the guard his name. The guard's response? "You know my name..." These writers must have never served in the military (neither have I, for that matter) because in the military, the quick and proper response is "Sir, John Smith, sir!" If the commander asks the same question ten consequtive times, the response shouldn't change. If we assume that the Soviet military was stricter than the US military, then I would have expected him to get shot. Summary execution. Game over. But no, Arturo jokes, "We are incognito, so you wouldn't know us, now would you?" Ouch. Just poor. One of the best parts about the pilot was that the Soviet Arturo was never around. It allowed the viewer to speculate what it was that Arturo was doing when the Sliders were stirring up trouble. The author takes it upon himself to describe his actions to us. That wouldn't be so bad, except that the author makes the Soviet Arturo into a stumbling fool. At one point, the general secretary says, "...Are you a complete imbecile? Do I have to spell it out for you?..." In the pilot episode, we are given the impression that he is a power-hungry and intelligent person with a plan to become the next Emperor (or the equivilant position). Instead, he is only a cowardly fool. Pity, as he was so highly touted... A few minor nitpicks before I end with a bang. Because I don't know which version of the script the author worked with, I can only assume that there wasn't enough time to add these few lines to the novel. When Rembrant is sentenced to 15 years in prison, Rembrant responds, "Don't you mean $150?" This line is cut out in the novel. And then the even better line is cut out from the post-trial interview with Doug Lewellon. "15 years?!? 'Small claims' my ass!" That was perhaps the best line in the entire episode, and I was extremely disappointed when that line wasn't present. Here's my big bang ending: I was most disappointed by the ending (the wine glass scene). The author composed the scene wrong. That's neither clear, nor descriptive, so I'll use an example: Quantum Leap. In every episode, he says, "Oh, boy!" That's the last thing he says. Always. In this scene, as written for television, had the slow-motion shot of the wine glass falling (not hitting the floor) and fading to black. Worked great for television, but kind of hard to write for a novel. It was my contention that Quinn's line, "Hi, dad", should have been Quinn's "Oh, boy!" However, the author another two paragraphs after that statement (and he also has the glass shattering on the floor). I would have written the final scene as such... They all lifted their arms in a mutual toast. Quinn glanced around the table, his eyes finally resting upon Wade. A glimmer of mischeif resided in his eyes as he thought about the future. Now that they had this thing figured out, they could do anything, or go anywhere. A door opened somewhere, but Quinn didn't notice it. If they could market this, then they could become rich beyond their wildest dreams. If they could publish this, then they could become more famous then they could possibly imagine. But regardless of their future plans, they would definately be Sliding again. And they would have the greatest adventures that anyone had ever had, greater than anyone had evre dreamed. But regardless of wherever they went, or the adventures they had, there would always be a special place in their hearts for home. Home. Where they were not strangers where they did not belong. Home. Where there were no surprises waiting around the corner. Home. Where they were...home. A white-haired man in an overcoat walked into the room. "Hey, did I miss anything?" the newcomer asked flippantly. Quinn slowly stood up, still holding the glass in his hand. The Sliders were either looking at the shocked look on Quinn's face, or they had turned to face this new stranger. So they weren't exactly sure what happened first-- --Quinn dropping his glass--his glass which seemed to slow down, as if begging Time itself to slow down, to turn back, before some sacred line was crossed. But the glass was ignored, and fell on, ever more slowly-- --Quinn, making the comment that damned them all. "Hi, Dad." Now that's how I would have written it. All in all, a pretty good book. If these little things don't bother you as much as they bother me, then definitely buy the book. If not, then it's still pretty good. Note to Gharlane: Don't bother. It's just more of the same rehashed "shoulda been Doorways", "it's not science fiction", "the writers suck", Sliders that the rest of us enjoy. Don't waste your time.