Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What a Revoltin' Development This Is

The rise and fall of quicksand. - By Daniel Engber - Slate Magazine: "For now, quicksand has all but evaporated from American entertainment—rejected even by the genre directors who once found it indispensable. There isn't any in this summer's fantasy blockbuster Prince of Persia: Sands of Time or in last year's animated jungle romp Up. You won't find quicksand in The Last Airbender or Avatar, either. Giant scorpions emerge from the sand in Clash of the Titans, but no one gets sucked under. And what about Lost—a tropical-island adventure series replete with mud ponds and dangling vines? That show, which ended in May, spanned six seasons and roughly 85 hours of television airtime—all without a single step into quicksand."

I firmly believe that quicksand improves any adventure story. I'll bet James Reasoner agrees.


Snidely Whiplash said...

First I'm glad it's gone, as someone who has actually been in quicksand, I realized a simple truth, in almost every conceivable circumstance you are one easy step from the edge and safety.
Another plot device that I hate and would love to see disappear(WARNING- Senile rant dead ahead) is... which wire do you cut to disarm the bomb? the simple and useful answer in a real world bomb is cut any wire and the timer stops.
If you do wish to booby trap the bomb it is a simple matter to make cutting any wire set it off

Bret said...

Quicksand can be dangerous, but not in anyway that I've ever seen in the movies. I have seen quicksand suck a horse in while riding through a sandy river (the Red River between Oklahoma and Texas).

For a human, you can just float in it and the less you resist the less trouble you get into. But for a horse, the violent reaction can lead to serious trouble.

Having said that, I think it may be a thing of the past. And I'm okay with that. They don't make shows like they used to. Now it's all about the big special effect. Today's audiences don't have the time for the idea of someone slowly sinking into quicksand.

Richard R. said...

Last thing I recall seeing it in was Indy Jones and Crystal Skull.

James Reasoner said...

I certainly agree. Quicksand and/or a sword fight improve any adventure story. In fact, I may see if I can think of a way to work some quicksand into the book I'm writing now. (It may be difficult given the setting.)

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I love quicksand scenes. I also remember Jackie Vernon's slides from his summer vacation. CLICK: "Here's our guide leading us around a pool of quicksand." CLICK: "Here is is from the waist up." CLICK: "Here's his hat."

Toby O'B said...

@ James: make it a scene that has a swordfight in the quicksand!

Thanks for this article, Mr. C - it's given me an idea for Inner Toob!