Wednesday, September 17, 2014

David Barnett's "Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon"

David Barnett is an award-winning journalist, currently multimedia content manager of the Telegraph & Argus, cultural reviewer for The Guardian and the Independent on Sunday, and he has done features for The Independent and Wired. He is the author of Angelglass (described by The Guardian as “stunning”), Hinterland, and popCULT!

Here Barnett shares a glimpse of his vision of an adaptation of his new book, Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon:
It feels a little too much like tempting fate to think too deeply about a movie adaptation of the Gideon Smith series of books, either the first one Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl or the current follow-up, Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon. But what a joy it would be to behold! Hopefully, if it ever happens, money will be no object and no expense will be spared in terms of the casting and the locations and effects. The Gideon Smith series is set in an alternate 1890s, where London is a huge city of towering spires and ziggurats (following a brief architectural flirtation with South American design), where airships ply the skies and the perpetual fogs are fed by the hunger for steam-driven technology.

I tend to picture, in my idle moments, a trailer rather than a whole movie. It would open with a panoramic shot of Gideon’s London, dirigibles nosing through the smog, our hero gazing in wonder at the marvels of the capital, on his first visit from the tiny fishing village in the far north where he has spent all his life. Who would play Gideon? A newcomer, hopefully, one with an athletic build and curly dark hair falling over his collars. A young Johnny Depp, or someone with that air.

“Gideon Smith,” the voice-over would intone. “The boy from nowhere on whose shoulders might rest the fate of the very Empire...”

“It is a world of marvels...”

We see Maria, the mechanical girl of the first book, a clockwork automaton hidden away in a tumbledown house, given liberty by Gideon.

“A world of wonders...”

Rowena Fanshawe, the fearless airship pilot, struggles with the controls of her dirigible as it is dwarfed in Mediterranean skies by the larger ship belonging to the sky-pirate Louis Cockayne.
“...and of terrors.”

We see Gideon’s father on his fishing boat in a sea-mist dawn, suddenly overcome by black, slimy shapes leaping out of the water.

“Gideon Smith will have to travel to the ends of the earth...”

We see Gideon and his crew standing before a pyramid in the Egyptian sands.

“...and to the limits of his bravery...”

In the crushing darkness beneath the pyramid, Gideon panics as frog-faced monsters attack.
“ find love and save the day.”

A kiss, snatched in the interior of the pyramid, between Gideon and Maria. Then we cut to the sands above as Apep, the Brass Dragon of book two, erupts from the remains of the shattered pyramid while Aloysius Bent, the foul-mouthed Fleet Street journalist who has hooked up with Gideon, opens his mouth to let loose a stream of expletives... which are mercifully drowned out by an explosion of fireballs from the Brass Dragon’s mouth which engulf the screen.

Roll Titles. Gideon Smith. Coming soon to theatres.

Cut to final scene: Rowena Fanshawe, Gideon Smith and Louis Cockayne on the bridge of an airship, the brass dragon disappearing into the distance before them.

Rowena: “What is this, some kind of heroes’ club?”

Visit David Barnett's website.

The Page 69 Test: Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon.

Writers Read: David Barnett.

--Marshal Zeringue