Wednesday, March 07, 2007


The Missus and I were sucking on the Glass Teat this evening, watching (gasp!) American Idol.

Yeah, I’ll cop to watching Idol. It’s a guilty pleasure. But rather than harboring dark fantasies of being America’s next pop music star, I tend to put myself in place of the judges, who have to decide what makes a given performance Rule...or Suck...and then deliver the news to the Hapless Contestant. Of course, the name of the game is to figure out what will sell to the Average American. You know: the one with one tit and one ball.

Once in a while, you can see flashes of genuine talent, too. Melinda Doolittle impressed the hell out of me yet again. Not that I’d ever buy one of her records. As good as she is, I’m holding off until I hear her version of “Pygmy Twylyte,” and that ain’t happening anytime soon.

But as we watched, strings of drool forming at the corners of our mouths, an ad came on for a movie that is soon to be released: The Last Mimzy. From the looks of it, it is a Family Friendly SF Movie with a PG rating. Not something I would rush out to see...and yet...

I knew this story!

It was the same kind of lightning-stroke realization I had when I first heard of Idiocracy, a movie that owed a good chunk of its plot to Cyril Kornbluth’s classic SF short story “The Marching Morons.” A debt, by the way, that is unacknowledged - at least, officially.

The Last Mimzy, it occurred to me, was also based on a classic SF short story. It could be none other than Lewis Padgett’s “Mimsy Were The Borogoves,” a title yanked straight out of the Lewis Carroll poem, “Jabberwocky.”

In the 1943 short story, a child from the distant future builds a time machine and sends boxes of his old toys into our present. Not only toys: educational toys, made for the purpose of instructing the Kiddies of the Future how to cross into another dimension - something, apparently, that everyone is expected to do before becoming an adult.

The plot of the story revolves around what happens when a couple of current-day siblings get hold of these Wonder Toys of the Future. And “Jabberwocky” comes into play, too...for some of those toys end up in the hands of a young Oxford don in the early 1860’s...

The short story has a light tone, although it darkens considerably toward the conclusion. I’ll avoid sticking spoilers in this post, but I am curious to see what the screenwriters did with the story. At the very least, they’ve made no secret of the fact that the screenplay is based on the Padgett short story. [“Lewis Padgett” was the joint pseudonym of husband-and-wife SF authors Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, both of whom apparently received writing credits for the film.]

Could this mean that other Vintage SF stories might get dusted off for their long-awaited Filmic Closeup? Hell, I’m still waiting for them to do the Ender’s Game movie, even though I know it will inevitably be a disappointment compared with the Orson Scott Card book. And how ’bout Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End?

Hrm. I may just have to go see this one.

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