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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old August 5 2009, 11:01 AM   #1
Chris_Johnston
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Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

I'm rediscovering Asimov for the first time since reading I, Robot as a kid, having just plowed through a beat-up used copy of Robot Visions.
I got myself a fresh new copy of Fantastic Voyage (having watched the film several years ago), and I'm loving how much more detailed and plausible Asimov's explanations are, particularly his solution for how the miniaturization process actually works.

One little thing got under my skin, though: Dr. Michaels (the Donald Pleasance character) is consistently referred to as the "Pilot", not the "Navigator".
Every time it comes up, I keep saying to myself, "Ummmm, no. The person at the controls is the Pilot, and the one working with the maps & charts is the Navigator."
In fact, I'm on page 76, and I have yet to see the words "navigator" or "navigate" in any context.
It bugged me so much that I went and got the movie, and right there in the briefing the General says, "Dr. Michaels is a circulatory specialist, and will act as your navigator."

So what was Asimov's glitch with that term?
Dunno why it bothers me so much, but it just does.
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Old August 5 2009, 05:34 PM   #2
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Re: Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

Chris_Johnston wrote: View Post
I'm rediscovering Asimov for the first time since reading I, Robot as a kid, having just plowed through a beat-up used copy of Robot Visions.
I got myself a fresh new copy of Fantastic Voyage (having watched the film several years ago), and I'm loving how much more detailed and plausible Asimov's explanations are, particularly his solution for how the miniaturization process actually works.

One little thing got under my skin, though: Dr. Michaels (the Donald Pleasance character) is consistently referred to as the "Pilot", not the "Navigator".
Every time it comes up, I keep saying to myself, "Ummmm, no. The person at the controls is the Pilot, and the one working with the maps & charts is the Navigator."
In fact, I'm on page 76, and I have yet to see the words "navigator" or "navigate" in any context.
It bugged me so much that I went and got the movie, and right there in the briefing the General says, "Dr. Michaels is a circulatory specialist, and will act as your navigator."

So what was Asimov's glitch with that term?
Dunno why it bothers me so much, but it just does.
Sometimes a pilot navigates.

When a ship enters unfamiliar waters or busy waters, often someone who works for the harbor control agency is sent out to make sure the ship gets in safely. This would be a harbor pilot, but his job is to help navigate. There is no glitch.

As for book versus movie, I've always liked the movie better, implausible explanations notwithstanding.
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Old August 5 2009, 05:38 PM   #3
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Re: Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

Asimov said in the intro to his book Fantastic Voyage II that in the movie novelization he was trying to minimize the scientific implausibilities as much as he could while still keeping the story intact... which was why he wrote the "new" version eventually to try and make miniaturization more believable.
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Old August 5 2009, 05:47 PM   #4
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Re: Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

Klaus wrote: View Post
Asimov said in the intro to his book Fantastic Voyage II that in the movie novelization he was trying to minimize the scientific implausibilities as much as he could while still keeping the story intact... which was why he wrote the "new" version eventually to try and make miniaturization more believable.
Oh, I get that, but it's the one instance where a prefer another version to his. But I did love FVII.
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Old August 5 2009, 06:07 PM   #5
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Re: Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

Admiral2 wrote: View Post
Sometimes a pilot navigates.

When a ship enters unfamiliar waters or busy waters, often someone who works for the harbor control agency is sent out to make sure the ship gets in safely. This would be a harbor pilot, but his job is to help navigate. There is no glitch.
Except that's not what's happening in this case.
What do you call a member of a ship's assigned crew that mans the chart table?
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Old August 5 2009, 07:20 PM   #6
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Re: Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

Chris_Johnston wrote: View Post
Admiral2 wrote: View Post
Sometimes a pilot navigates.

When a ship enters unfamiliar waters or busy waters, often someone who works for the harbor control agency is sent out to make sure the ship gets in safely. This would be a harbor pilot, but his job is to help navigate. There is no glitch.
Except that's not what's happening in this case.
What do you call a member of a ship's assigned crew that mans the chart table?
I would call him the navigator. That doesn't make the term "pilot" wrong. It's an alternate term.

F'rinstance, what you call the pilot - the guy at the controls - is more commonly known as a helmsman in nautical terms, and we are dealing with a ship here. Again, that doesn't make the term "pilot" wrong. It's an alternate term.

There is no glitch.
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Old August 5 2009, 07:40 PM   #7
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Re: Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

Admiral2 wrote: View Post
F'rinstance, what you call the pilot - the guy at the controls - is more commonly known as a helmsman in nautical terms, and we are dealing with a ship here.
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Old August 5 2009, 09:33 PM   #8
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Re: Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

The book might deal with this, but a problem I have had with this movie for years is the question of what happens to the mass of the ship and it's crew when it is shrunk? It may be smaller but it would have to have the same mass therefore the same weight it had at full size. The mass has to go somewhere.
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Old August 5 2009, 09:45 PM   #9
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Re: Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

Davros wrote: View Post
The book might deal with this, but a problem I have had with this movie for years is the question of what happens to the mass of the ship and it's crew when it is shrunk? It may be smaller but it would have to have the same mass therefore the same weight it had at full size. The mass has to go somewhere.
The book definitely deals with that, and with many other scientific and plot errors in the movie. Asimov even rewrites the hero's role to make him more intelligent. It's a terrific novelization that really enhances the story; I strongly recommend it to anyone who has credibility issues with the film.

This book was published back in those days when there was no home video and no pressure to make a novelization exactly match its source; instead, novelizations were generally treated more like self-contained works of prose inspired by the films and TV shows they were based on, and their authors were thus free to adapt them to work better as prose stories, to reflect their own authorial styles, etc. These days, films based on novels are often greatly changed and reimagined while novels based on films are tightly constrained; back then, the reimagining often went both ways.
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Old August 5 2009, 10:05 PM   #10
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Re: Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

Davros wrote: View Post
The book might deal with this, but a problem I have had with this movie for years is the question of what happens to the mass of the ship and it's crew when it is shrunk? It may be smaller but it would have to have the same mass therefore the same weight it had at full size. The mass has to go somewhere.
If I remember the technobabble correctly, in Asimov's book the extra mass is effectively shunted sideways into 'hyperspace'. Whilst in FV2, the whole miniaturisation thing is dealt with by modifying Planck's Constant, so the atoms themselves are smaller and have lower mass.

The movie made no attempt to deal with these matters, but in it's favour it did have Raquel Welch in a wetsuit, cool sets, a brilliant submarine design and Raquel Welch in a wetsuit.
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Old August 5 2009, 11:29 PM   #11
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Re: Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

^Plus superb special effects for its day. Including Raquel Welch in a wetsuit.
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Old August 5 2009, 11:31 PM   #12
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Re: Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

Asimov's novelization, as stated, is more like a real novel. It does address the miniaturization better than the movie, which has no clue about the scientific issues involved. But I would add that the movie is not really about the miniaturization, any more than Wells' Time Machine is about time travel. The point is the new world the miniature sub (or time machine) reveals. The science they worried about in the movie was the biology. They did a pretty good job on that. The spy plot and personal jeopardy thrills are nowhere near as amazing as the new perspective on the human body.
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Old August 6 2009, 02:13 AM   #13
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Re: Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

If I remember the movie correctly didn't the surviving crew members exit out the tear duct as the miniturization was wearing off but they left the ship inside. Wouldn't the ship also grow tearing the patient apart from inside?
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Old August 6 2009, 02:32 AM   #14
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Re: Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

Davros wrote: View Post
If I remember the movie correctly didn't the surviving crew members exit out the tear duct as the miniturization was wearing off but they left the ship inside. Wouldn't the ship also grow tearing the patient apart from inside?
The book suggests that the white cell had sufficiently broken it down by then so the pieces wouldn't get any bigger...
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Old August 6 2009, 06:50 AM   #15
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Re: Fantastic Voyage: Book vs Film

As to the "pilot" title. In the days of sail the navigator was referred to as the pilot. I imagine Asimov was simply using the old fashioned usage which I have seen used in a number of Golden Age science fiction stories in my life.
Since Asimov was one of the greats of the Golden Age his using the term "pilot" for the navigator makes sense.
To see the term in use check out the miniseries Shogun. Throughout the show Richard Chamberlain's character, the navigator on the wrecked English sailing ship, is referred to as pilot by the crew. As for how they were using the term, it might as well have been his name.
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