05 May 2008

Writing on Reading: The Tempest

I recently read The Tempest by William Shakespeare, dated 1610-11, generally accepted to be his last play. (You're wondering what the heck this has to do with spec fiction--but I'll get to that). A very brief plot is: A sorcerer/Duke, Prospero, and his daughter, Miranda, are stranded on an island. Prospero has magic powers and is served by a spirit, Ariel, who he rescued from a witch's imprisonment, and the witch's son Caliban, a deformed monster. Prospero raises a storm to crash his brother Antonio's ship (which just happens to be passing by), and using spells separates the survivors of the wreck into several groups. Then three plots run in parallel: Caliban falls in with 2 drunken crew members and they try to rebel against Prospero, Prospero fosters a romantic affair between Miranda and a young man from the ship (Ferdinand), and Antonio and a buddy conspire to kill the king so the buddy can be king. In the end, Prospero foils all the plots and succeeds with the Mirando-Ferdinand love affair, and they all go back to Italy, happy, and Prospero gives up his powers.

Clearly, this is fantasy, i.e. speculative fiction, with all the magic, the witch, the spirit, etc! Who know spec fic was so old? Not I. :)

Supposedly, the 1956 science fiction film Forbidden Planet was a film adaptation of The Tempest. I recently watched this, too. Instead of a magical island, it's set on the planet Altair-IV, but there is a 'magic' scientist father and a beautiful daughter, a helpful spirit: Ariel/Robbie-the-Robot, a ship of men who crash one of whom has a romance with the daughter, and a monster: Caliban/the scientist's id. ...Okay. I must admit there are some similarities.

Supposedly, Star Trek is also based on The Tempest. Hhm...there's a ship and they have various adventures. I'm not sure I see it, but I'll keep you posted if I get any additional info.

However, a very obvious spec fic TV shows comes to mind...Isn't the plot of The Tempest basically the TV show Lost? I think so! What do you think?


David E. Hughes said...

I'm a Shakespeare fan, so was was happy to see your post. If fact, my very first attempt at a novel was a novelization of Hamlet (Note: more spec fiction--a ghost in the first act!). Alas, that novel sucked, but it was still an interesting exercise.

I've never watched Lost, so I can't comment on that. I used to watch lots of Star Trek, and I'm not seeing the connection.

ssas said...

yeah, but did you see THE CAGE--the REJECTED pilot???

I haven't read the Tempest in nigh on 20 years, so back to it...

lesleylsmith said...

I did see The Cage, B. But I must admit I don't remember it too well. Are you saying The Cage is The Tempest? :)

lesleylsmith said...

I did just read a plot summary of The Cage and it seems VERY similar to Forbidden Planet. The bard strikes again! :)