Thursday, April 8, 2010

Another Book I've Read, Which Could Make a Good Film

Just got done reading Xenos, the first book in a trilogy of novels dealing with Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn.  It was collected in an omnibuswith the other two novels about him and some short stories that fill the spaces in between.

I think Xenos would make a good Warhammer 40,000 movie and possibly a sounder basis for introducing the franchise to cinema than the in-production Ultramarines movie I mentioned earlier.  You don't need to know scads about the 40K universe in order for the story to work.  Eisenhorn's adventures throughout the course of the book explain the Inquisition and its purpose along the way.  With the exception of the demon-host Cherubael (who can be left out in a film adaptation), the story ends without any loose ends.  And along the course of the story, Eisenhorn and company visit several planets and have lots of fun, gunslinging adventures.

As far as characterization goes, Eisenhorn is an Inquisitor who isn't an evil totalitarian enforcer (unlike many Inquisitors in the 40K-verse).  Although he recognizes the nature of his job means he's got to do ruthless and bad things sometimes, he regrets not being able to save the lives of badly-wounded people he comes across and he provides employment in his entourage for people he initially does not like, the Arbiter Fischwig and Bequin, a woman who has no psychic presence around whom he's always unsettled.  He also doesn't kill or order the killing of Imperial Guard who've seen supernatural manifestations in the course of helping him, unlike many other Inquisitors.

In one of the short stories, rather than go after a group of renegade Imperial Guardsmen who kill people they view as Chaos cultists with guns blazing, he shows up and tells them he's there to relieve them and their war is over.  This almost works.

The fact that, despite the often nasty nature of his job, he manages to retain his humanity would make him a good movie protagonist, even though he is an Inquisitor.

Hopefully, if a Xenos movie were made, the Hollywood types wouldn't try to create what TVTropes calls a "Romantic Plot Tumor" with the relationship between Bequin and Eisenhorn.  Given how Bequin initially thinks Eisenhorn is hiring her to be his concubine (and not for her psychic talents), this could easily turn into some kind of SF version of Pretty Woman.

(Someone on a 40K internet forum said that is reason enough to keep the Ultramarines movie direct-to-DVD, lest an Ultramarine end up dating a Dark Eldar witch who teaches him how to break-dance.)

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