Sunday, February 16, 2014

James L. Cambias's "A Darkling Sea"

James Cambias has been nominated for the Nebula Award, the James Tiptree Jr. Award, and the 2001 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He lives in Western Massachusetts.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, A Darkling Sea:
A Darkling Sea is probably the most unfilmable story ever told. Most of the action takes place in the dark, and half the characters are giant lobsters without facial expression who communicate with sonar images.

That being said, if James Cameron were to call me up and say "Unfilmable? I take that as a challenge! We're making the best damned giant alien lobster movie ever! It'll have an hour of black screen with no sound but clicks and pings. It's surefire Oscar bait!" . . . well, then this is the cast I'd request.

The Humans:

Alicia Neogri: She needs an actress who can be geeky and obsessive, but also a romantic pairing for Rob Freeman, so I'll pick Natalie Portman.

Henri Kerlerec: He's a brash, self-promoting French archaeologist. Javier Bardem would be a good choice, as his part in Skyfall shows he can be utterly over-the-top when he needs to be. (My friend Jonathan Hirsch "plays" Henri on the promotional Web site www.ilmatarmission.com. Casting directors take note.)

Josef Palashnik: He's a big, taciturn Russian guy. Adam Baldwin would be good. It would also be a nice breakout part for some other actor who only plays silent menacing henchmen.

Richard Graves: He has to be able to shift between endearingly geeky about languages and borderline psychopathic. The British actor Jason Flemyng would be perfect.

Robert Freeman: Rob is an Everyman who learns to become a hero. My wife suggests Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Dr. Vikram Sen: Ben Kingsley, no question. That's who I pictured while writing it.

The Sholen:

I assume all the aliens would be animated, so these are voice actor choices rather than faces. The Sholen all need "sexy" voices because so much of their culture is based on physical attraction.

Irona: Kevin Spacey, because he's great at voicing villains, especially villains who sound superficially reasonable.

Gishora: Kelsey Grammer, as he needs to be both pompous and tragic. James Earl Jones would be another good choice.

Tizhos: Scarlett Johansson has a marvelous voice, and would be a good choice. If not her, then Kathleen Turner.

The Ilmatarans:

Again, these are all voice actors. For a little internal consistency I've picked British actors. We will assume that dialogue is "translated" from sonar clicks to spoken BBC English.

Broadtail: Martin Freeman. He can be nervous and out of his element, but steely when he needs to be.

Holdhard: Emma Watson can sound shy and smart.

Oneclaw: Alan Rickman or Sylvester McCoy. Or any scene-pillaging older British character actor, really.

Longpincer: Jim Carter (best known as Carson the butler on Downton Abbey). He can sound patrician, like a country squire, but not too Wodehousian.

Strongpincer: Strongpincer's a barbarian bandit chief, so I pick Kai Owen. He's a Welshman so he sounds a little different from the others, and he can be a villainous goon when he needs to be.
Visit James L. Cambias's website.

--Marshal Zeringue