James Caterino's Reviews > Total Recall

Total Recall by Piers Anthony
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Solid novelization of the irreverent 1990 Paul Verhoeven directed sci-fi classic starring current persona-non-grata Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I may actually be underrating this book a bit due to high expectations. "Total Recall" is one of my favorite films of all time and it goes without saying the source material and just about anything written by Phillip K. Dick is visionary to say the least. Given Piers Anthony's impressive resume I was hoping for something in the mode of Orson Scott Card's masterful adaption of "The Abyss" or one of the many great, classic Alan Dean Foster novelizations.

But that being said, Anthony does a good job fleshing out the characters and the movie's slam-bang smash-mouth style action sequences and playing with the "is it a dream or reality" storyline. He also is very effective at capturing the sexuality of the characters. Remember this was a Paul Verhoeven film.

Where this book really picks up is on the Mars setting and the mystery of the alien artifacts. Great stuff that goes beyond the movie. It is the only place where Anthony has room to indulge as a novelist. The downside of adapting such a tightly wound and densely plotted (and perfectly paced) screenplay is it gives the writer limited area and word space expand very much beyond what is on screen.

This adaption not in a class with the best novelizations of Alan Dean Foster or John Jakes. But make no mistake, this is an expertly crafted, entertaining book and a must own for fans of the film. Fun stuff.

On a side note, I really wish there was a novelization of the 2012 remake. I am one of the few fans of the new version (loved the art direction and Kate) and would love to see an A-list science fiction writer take it on and fill in some of the screenplay's gaps, especially when it comes to the villain's motivations.
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