Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Dresden Files

I discovered The Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher earlier this year, and quickly zipped through the entire series except for the most recent (still waiting for Proven Guilty to come out in paperback). The setting is a combination of alternate reality and the near-future, in which there are wizards, vampires, and other supernatural beings living among ordinary humans. Harry Dresden, a wizard who earns his living as an investigator, is a rebel who's often in trouble with both human authorities and paranormal powers-that-be. His ad in the phone book reads,
Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.
Dresden's a man of honor and principle struggling to make a living in a world that doesn't value his talents. Remind you of anything?

Yep, the classic P.I. . . . and, like classic detective novels, the Dresden Files books are in first person p.o.v. Butcher gives Harry a wry voice and dry wit that make him memorable, funny, and real, while maintaining the overall noir-with-humor feel of the series. Butcher's talent as a writer shows not only in how well he develops Harry, but also in the excellence of the secondary characters who appear throughout the series, chief among them Bob (an intelligent spirit embodied in a skull, Bob is a wizard's version of a computer). Bob is a marvelous creation, funny, scatological, and perpetually horny (alas, since he's a spirit, all he can do is watch). Also important are Murphy, a tough cop who's Harry's contact on the police department (and, incidentally, female), and his best friend, Michael, a real "knight in shining armor." Many other characters reappear during the series and, with every book, Butcher has developed Dresdenworld into a place you want to visit (though maybe not to live--it's scary a lot of the time).

Well, heck, can't blurb the series any better than Butcher himself does on his website:
The Dresden Files are set in a 'alternate' Chicago where magic is real, but only a few actually believe in it; it's a first-person tale told by an irascible wizard named Harry Dresden, who regularly gives the magical establishment indigestion — and the police, the same. Take Sam Spade, your Average Joe Underdog Action Star, and toss in some spellcraft, and you get Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Heck of a guy.
The latest news is that the Dresden Files is being made into a TV series for the SciFi channel that will debut on January 21. There's a brief video promo that looks intriguing. I have marked January 21 on my calendar and plans to catch the first episode.

And, oh yeah, the actor playing Harry (Paul Blackthorne) is Hot.


Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

I am looking forward to this series. Now, based on your recommendation, I am going to go out and get a couple of the books.

Do you remember an HBO film called "Cast A Deadly Spell". Set in LA, it features a harboiled dick who is investigating a murder. The world around him is one where all things supernatural exist and are treated as mundane realities. Much of the show is tongue-in-cheek, and much is a tip of the hat to Lovecraft. Actually, the detective may be called Phil Lovecraft.

If you haven't seen this, or its sequel (which isn't as good), you might pick it up if it is becomes reissued on DVD.

Charles Gramlich said...

I saw the advertisement on the Sci Fi channel and hope it comes out well. Unfortunately, Sci Fi Channel hasn't always done the best work with series. I had high hopes for the new Kolchack the Night Stalker series but that tanked.

Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

The Night Stalker tanked because the producers tried making something for vapid twenty somethings, trying to cash in on image over substance. The producers forgot that the character of Kolchak..scruffy, ill mannered, fidgety, ADD..Darin McGavin made the show. MADE IT. Had they cast someone like Michael Richards (before the racists remarks) or Jeff Daniels, and fashioned the show around their personalities, Stalker might have stood a chance

Charles Gramlich said...

I agree with you Stewart, on the problems with the new Night Stalker.