Letters: Iain M Banks, Star Trek, SHIELD and TV shows

Our final letters page of the year! So: are our Star Trek: The Next Generation lookbacks returning? And do we hate The Mentalist?

Welcome to our final letters page of the year! What started as a bit of a daft idea in the pub – starting a letters page on a website – bizarrely seems to have worked. As such, we shall be retreating to the pub far more often in 2015 to think of more daft ideas. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that plan.

For now? Here’s our final selection of your missives for 2014. And thank you for supporting this, one of our daftest ventures to date…

Iain M Banks Books

I’m not much of a bookworm, but when I am, I got a lot of time for Iain M Banks books.  

I chanced upon your interview with Dougray Scott from October last year, where it is mentioned that Dougray was in The Crow Road. I have to say I’ve never seen The Crow Road, nor have I read the book, but I wanted to ask Den Of Geek (with your Borg style collective knowledge of sci-fi films and TV) are there any adaptions of any of the classic Banks Culture novels?  

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Consider Phlebas and The Player Of Games have got so much in there, they are crying out for a three part movie adaption or a 10-part series on Netflix.  Orbitals, Culture, GSVs, Drones, Minds, this would all look fantastic on screen.  

So here’s my question. Given the diverse sci-fi universe that Banks created before he sadly passed away, why are there little or no well-known screen adaptions of his sci-fi work?  Is it because Banks never sold the rights, or simply because no channel/Movie studio/production company was ever interested?  

Cheers me dears,

Andy Pancheri

Louisa writes: Hi Andy, you’re not alone in thinking that the Culture series would make great movies – Iain Banks for one agreed with you. Banks’ favourite candidate for the big screen was 1987’s Consider Phlebas, a novel that he told Empire Magazine in 2009 he was prepared to accept any number of changes to to see it arrive on the big screen, “They could have it that nobody dies at the end and they all go off and be happy together. They could cast Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis as [non-Culture shape shifter] Horza… I wouldn’t mind as long as they just did it.”

The two that came closest to making to cinema have been Player Of Games, which Pathé bought the rights to in the 90s before the project fell by the wayside, and short story A Gift From The Culture, which was reportedly being developed by Film and Music Entertainment with director Dominic Murphy in 2009. Neither of those made it sadly, but it proves that there are creative out there with a will to see the Culture series adapted. We suspect the hefty budget required to recreate the vast worlds of Banks’ space opera might be a sticking point for these studios.

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Until they sort their act out, why not watch The Crow Road? It doesn’t feature any shape shifters but it does feature Peter Capaldi with massive hair, which is almost as good.

Two Letters, One Answer

Here’s letter one of two that both raise a similar question

Why do some reviews of US TV series also showing in the UK only appear on the U.S. site: C5’s Castle, C4’s Homeland and ITV2’s Scorpion to name a few?


Mark Pledger

And then here’s the second…

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First off you’re [redacted nice comments, but thank you]. But how come with some shows (Psych in particular) you only review one or two episodes a season? Are the other reviews just removed from the site over time or is there another reason?

Also how come you don’t review The Mentalist? I know it is headed into its final and shortest season but it is a amazingly well put together cop-drama with very deep character development and interesting mysteries.

And finally both the UK and the US site seem to have articles on similar topics (both reevaluated X-Men Origins: Wolverine), however the content is different. Why do you do this? Is it worth reading both articles or do they come to the same conclusions using different words?

Again you’re [nice thing redacted, but thank you]

Cesc Haberfellner

Simon writes: A couple of things here. Whilst we’re good chums, and talk to each other regularly, Den Of Geek and Den Of Geek US are different sites, that crossover some material, but mainly we each run our own content.

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Then, our rule with TV shows is that we only review them if we’ve got a writer who’s really into them. We never want to assign a show to a writer who’s not interested, just to fill space. To be clear: that doesn’t mean that the writer concerned has to like the show in the end – far from it, in many cases – but it at least has to be something they’d be interested in watching if they weren’t writing about it.

So, amongst the Den Of Geek US team, they have people who are into shows that we don’t, and vice versa. It’s genuinely as simple as that. It’s frustrating sometimes, when we don’t get to cover shows we want to, but we just about prefer it to the alternative.

Now, there are shows we start reviewing, and then drop after a few episodes (although we don’t delete the reviews we’ve done). There are a few reasons for that. Firstly, life circumstances in most cases. Secondly, the reviewer really begins to have a problem with the show, and doesn’t feel they can do it justice. And thirdly, you fine people out there just aren’t interested. For instance, I started writing 24: Live Another Day reviews, but the response to the reviews was very negative – which is fair enough – so I thought in the end it was best to leave them. In hindsight, I regret that. But that’s hindsight for you.

Occasionally, as with the Wolverine feature, we both have similar articles in the works. It happens every now and then, and there’s no editorial dictate that everyone has the same opinion, thus the conclusions are likely to be different. As such, if you’re interested, feel free to read both!


Hello Den of Geek-ers!

Just a quick one – my mother, who is a massive fan of the Marvel cinematic universe, is constantly noticing the various SHIELD logos popping up and is convinced there is a great meaning behind it. Like a grand plan, clue or conspiracy.

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Personally, I think it’s something far more sensible and boring like a nod to comic book fans or to demonstrate the history of SHIELD (as most of the new style logos appear in the AoS sets etc)  

Do you have any fun theories? Or even know the reason behind it?

All the best,

Georgie Simon writes: Hello Georgie, and hello Georgie’s mum. It’s a good question. So good, that I’ll pass it over to James Hunt. He’s bound to know.

James writes: I don’t think there’s any particular master plan. I’d say you’re right in guessing that it’s used to demonstrate the organisation’s history and as an easter-egg for comics fans. The curvy version of the eagle is the one from the comics, and there’s a general trend to slap it on older SHIELD hardware while the more angular eagle appears on newer stuff. Basically, all it suggests to me is that SHIELD updated its brand identity at some point in the recent past and not everything has the new logo on yet.

There’s a good post showing all the logos here, but it definitely confirms that they’re not used very consistently or with much intent.

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Make It So (Again)

Quick one for your letters page – can we have more Revisiting Star Trek: The Next Generation soon please?



Simon writes: A quick answer to end the year: yes. We’re starting those up again early in 2015. See you then!

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