WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S GET THEE BACK TO THE FUTURE! / AUTHOR: IAN DOESCHER / PUBLISHER: QUIRK BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Ian Doescher has hit upon a particularly interesting formula for creating fun books that provide fleeting moments of fun - he takes popular movies and turns them into Shakespearean dramas. William Shakespeare's Get Thee Back to the Future! is the first of these books that isn’t based on Star Wars, and the result is interesting.
Doescher has a gift for Shakespearean-style prose, and it’s rather fun to imagine Michael J Fox delivering these long and overblown speeches, typically just before one of the movie's many slapstick moments. Everything is in iambic pentameter; old pronouns are used all over the place (usually to hilarious effect) and various scenes are written as a point of view in order to skip past the movie’s special effects. This also keeps in with the Shakespearean style, as his plays have minimal stage directions.
The result is, if we're honest, a very pretty mess. The central problem is that Back To The Future relies on very witty dialogue delivered quickly and earnestly. In the Shakespearean version, the Calvin Klein gag takes about two pages. This means that there isn’t a single dead horse that doesn’t go unbeaten. The quick and clever wit of the movie turns leaden and slow and, though the whole thing does remind us of Shakespeare, it’s closer to The Two Noble Kinsmen than it is Much Ado About Nothing. That is to say that it’s poorly paced rather than a work that would spawn a whole genre of comedy.
That said, we are being a little unfair. This is a book that’s meant to amuse, and it does that quite well - it’s not intended to help you pass an A-level. Familiarity with the movie is essential, and if you don’t care for Shakespeare then you really won’t enjoy this. However, some scenes are splendidly done; the scene where Marty coerces George by wearing a radiation suit and torturing him with rock music is written very well, straddling the line between genius and utter nonsense. Also, Einstein the dog gets the best lines. Seriously.
As a novelty, this book is a bit of fun and likely to amuse fans of classic drama and sci-fi alike. But it's also a book that would make your elderly English teacher explode with rage.