There has been a lot of discussion, understandably, about the new Star Trek movie. Let me admit, first off, that I have seen very little Star Trek and what little I have seen I pretty much loathed and despised. (NB: I’m neither judging nor prosecuting here, merely expressing a personal opinion. Live long and prosper.) That being said, the talk about the so-called “rebooting” has me wondering why television and film are so prone to remakes while there appears to be no similar practice in literature.
For example, much of the Seventies science fiction that reflected the norms of the preceding decade’s youth culture could do with a bit of revisiting these, as could the thinly disguised polemics against the Vietnam War. The latter have lost a bit of their punch now that we’ve learned Ho Chi Minh and company weren’t actually an Asiatic version of the American founding fathers intent on setting up an equitable worker’s paradise. And the evils of the Nixon administration, as admittedly foul as they were, look rather pedestrian in light of the killing fields of the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea. All the Cold War-influenced novels are also looking very out-of-date these days too, although I admit that a reboot involving the sudden and inexplicable collapse of one superpower on the basis of a satellite state no longer requiring exit visas for travel to a neighboring state might prove less enthralling than exotic weaponry and climactic space fleet actions.
But who could resist a reboot of John Norman’s Chronicles of Gor, where instead of finding women to be beautiful in chains and enslaving them, Tarl Cabot finds himself drawn to strong, independent women who take no stick from men? Or a reboot of Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, in which Valentine Michael Smith is a derivatives trader attempting to share the golden secret of post-scarcity economics with the rigid and short-sighted world of Wall Street? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to contemplate a more multiculturally aware reboot of The Lord of the Rings, in which the motivations of the so-called “Dark” Lord are explored in more sensitive detail and the orcs are revealed to be a peaceful, artistic people much given to poetry and erotic wood carvings.