When I’m queen of the sci-fi universe, prequels will be the first works of fiction up against the wall.
Rarely, in my experience, are prequels any good, except to deliver one more morsel of a franchise to a ravening fandom. I can’t remember a single prequel that’s advanced a plot, or developed a character more or better than the original work has.
Prequels (and some sequels) just feel like official forms of fan-fic, and maybe that’s what I hate most about them. Prequels are a sort of control freakishness on the part of a the creator. Rather than allow a story to take root and develop in the minds of the audience, prequels – more than sequels – are an attempt to control the story and profit by it.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t love certain franchises – I do. But I’ve decided to be selective about what I consume. I don’t read all the sequels and I try to avoid prequels. Let me give you some examples:
I’m crazy about Dune, by Frank Herbert. I’ve read the original book, and the glossary, appendices and all related Wikipedia entries, multiple times. But I will not read the sequels by Herbert. I choose not to believe that the prequels, written by Herbert’s son and Kevin Anderson, exist. The original was too awesome. I refuse to have my image of it ruined by universe over-development.
For the same reason, I have not been able to read The Silmarillion. I love Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit unconditionally. Sure, I get mad at them from time to time, and no, they’re not perfect books, but I love them anyhow, warts, dwarf-misogyny and all. I don’t need anything beyond those four books. I don’t want anything beyond those four books. I don’t need a Middle-Earth creation story. And I really can’t get beyond the fact that J.R.R. didn’t really put together The Silmarillion. His son did.
To me, the words “boxed set” suggest that a series creator has acknowledged the end of a franchise.
One last example: The Alien “trilogy.” When I was in middle school, Alien 3 came out. My dad, who loves him some Alien, went bonkers, and then Ridley Scott released the boxed Alien Trilogy set. We bought that for my father for Christmas and there was an Alien movie marathon at our house over the holidays, a marathon complete with gore, the void that is space and Sigourney Weaver sweating and delivering her lines in a whisper like an extra in Das Boot.
That was it for me; I mentally closed the door on the Alien franchise. The word “trilogy” had been applied. There was a boxed set. I later, vaguely heard something about an Alien 4 had come out. But I was able to pretend that it didn’t exist, á la the Dune prequels. Alien vs Predator seemed like a franchise all its own, and one I’m not terribly interested in, so I just ignored it.
Then, last week, my dad asked if we’d take him to see Prometheus for Father’s Day.
**Warning: I tried to keep the Prometheus spoilers to a minimum, but there may still be a few. Read at your own risk, kids.**