Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Emily Devenport's "Medusa in the Graveyard"

Emily Devenport has written several novels under various pseudonyms including one which was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick award.

Here Devenport dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Medusa in the Graveyard:
I thought up a cast for Medusa Uploaded while I was still writing it, and I'm still happy with the people I pictured in those roles: Ruth Negga as Oichi, Vanessa Williams as Lady Sheba, Nichelle Nichols as Lady Gloria, Michelle Yeoh as Oichi's mother, Neal McDonough as Gennady Mironenko, Mehcad Brooks as Nuruddin, Sendhil Ramamurthy as Captain Nemo, Chiaki Kuriyama as Medusa. I pictured them all while I was writing the sequel, Medusa in the Graveyard, but a few of the new characters may be more challenging to cast.

For instance, there's Cocteau, an engineer on the Union Ship, Merlin: Her hair was so white, I wondered if she lightened it. The contrast with her dark skin made her look like a magical creature. A fairy godmother? An elf? Yet despite her apparent age, her skin was smooth, and Cocteau’s accented voice possessed the timbre of a fine instrument...

Cicely Tyson is the first actress who comes to my mind, but possibly that's because I'm American. Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge are also easy to picture. I'm not as familiar with African actresses, or French, or British. Someday soon I may see a movie or TV show in which the perfect Cocteau is a player.

Merlin's captain, Epatha Thomas, is much easier to peg. I knew who she was as soon as she appeared on the page: S. Epatha Merkerson, who played Anita van Buren on Law & Order. As far as I'm concerned, they should have called that the S. Epatha Merkerson Show.

Baba Yaga, the world engineer, is another challenge. In stories and movies, she has been depicted as an evil crone, her features sometimes ridiculously distorted. I think it makes more sense for her to be played by an elderly Lidiya Vertinskaya, who played the Phoenix/Siren in Aleksandr Ptushko's film, Sadko. Lidiya has the sort of demeanor you would expect from a woman who could hatch plots for thousands of years.

If you remember the young Keisha Castle-Hughes from the cover of the Whale Rider DVD, you can picture Ahi, and I would be tempted to cast Grace Park as Fire. While we're on the subject of Polynesian actors, I'd like to state, for the record, that any resemblance between Jay Momoa, scion of Momoa movers, and the actor Jason Momoa is purely coincidental. However, should Jason Momoa decide he would like to play a role in Medusa in the Graveyard, that would be so awesome!!

Dr Mirzakhani, another Merlin crew member, might be played by Tala Ashe – and while I'm mining the cast of Legends of Tomorrow, I think Keiynan Lonsdale, who plays Wally West, would make a perfect Ashur. Representative Lee, an expert negotiator, should be played by the peerless B.D. Wong.

Communications Officer Narm could be played by Lee Min-ho. Dress him all in black, and he's there. When I think of Ambassador Argus Fabricus, I can't help picturing Max von Sydow in his heyday, from The Seventh Seal. Cocteau's colleague, Engineer Wilson, is also a Scandinavian type, so maybe Alexander Skarsgård has the right vibe for him.

Last but not least is Bomarigala, survivor of OMSK and muckety-muck of the Weapons Clan. Picture Mark Chao from the Detective Dee movies, and you'll have a good idea what he's like.

The cast of Medusa in the Graveyard is a lot more diverse, so much so that many of the characters will have to be depicted through CGI. At least I wrote in a ready-made soundtrack.

Cue the Default Majesty Music, roll credits...
Visit Emily Devenport's blog.

My Book, The Movie: Medusa Uploaded.

--Marshal Zeringue