Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
I thought there were 17 chapters of this book, but there’s actually 18. That means after THIS chapter we will be at the halfway point of the book. I wasn’t watching the clock so I don’t know how long the movie took, but it felt less than half the movie before we finally got inside Benes. That urgency to get in there fast has been missing in the book to focus on character and the science involved. I know Asimov is a great science fiction writer and I don’t hate what I’m reading. There have also been additions I’ve enjoyed. However there are things the movie did better as a sci-fi action piece. While some of Asimov additions do serve the story better or at least better serve the transition to prose, there are other things that the movie has done better.
In this chapter we are finally in the patient and the trip begins to reach the blood clot and save Benes. What other changes are in store and will they be good ones? Let’s dive in (no pun intended) and find out.
Chapter 9: Artery
One of things I remarked about the movie in my review were how amazing the visuals looked inside of Benes’ body, especially when you consider that they were using practical effects and a little hand-drawn animation. There was no CG back then, not even the vector graphics of the classic Battlestar Galactica, which wouldn’t have worked anyway. We may not know what the inside of the human body would look like at microscopic size but you can imagine this is it. That was the challenge for Asimov, to give us in prose what the movie did visually. I think it works rather well. Asimov takes the opportunity to explain a little more, either through narration or Michaels giving his usual exposition. So points to Asimov. Again, I don’t know if he’s any more accurate than the movie was because I have little medical knowledge but I believe it, if only for the sake of the story.
Asimov does add things not in the movie. For example there is some extra damage in the artery allegedly caused by the car accident. I don’t remember that. There is more discussion of Brownian motion, noting that the blood isn’t as thick as water (like the old expression says I guess) and thus the sensation of shaking isn’t that bad. When they hit the unexpected eddy Grant actually gives advice to Owens on what to worry about, showing his previous experience. It’s also more violent for them as Grant has to rescue Peterson when her harness isn’t on and she’s thrown out of her chair, which I also don’t remember from the movie, nor do I remember Grant being injured and bleeding (from a supposedly minor wound sustained while helping Benes escape The Other Side). So he rescues the girl and gets injured because of it, so now she shows concern that I know from experience but really still hoping we aren’t getting a romance from this. Again, Grant and Peterson don’t “hook up” in the movie and it was a nice change of pace.
Earlier Duval wants to stop and collect samples despite the time crunch, which Grant immediately puts a stop to. I don’t remember this from the movie and it makes Duval look bad, which given that he’s one of the suspects if there is a traitor aboard may or may not work. The unexpected current sends them off-course and basically scuttles the mission, which is from the movie. Michaels is also the one to suggest they should immediately give up, which also happened in the movie, but I’m now realizing that his freak-out during the shrinking or just before injection is absent. Or maybe I missed a page. I can’t decide if that benefits the story or not. On the one hand it puts Michaels further on the suspect list and could bring into question if he did this on purpose. On the other hand it was because it made it look like he was willing to kill them all. As the book has noted, they still have to get the sub out of Benes before the time limit expires or he’ll still die when a large sub grows in his innards. That’s also why they aren’t sure they can get back to the right spot and try again within the 52 minutes remaining.
Of course we know the story isn’t over yet. Even if you haven’t already seen the movie we are at the half-way point of the book. There are still nine chapters to go, so there has to be a solution in here somewhere.