Monday, July 28


Anyone who wants to read the stories I would have written if Caine had been inspired by MacGyver can just go ahead and pick up Daniel Keys Moran's Trent stories (start with EMERALD EYES, which isn't actually a Trent book but introduces the character, and go on through "The Star" and THE LONG RUN and THE LAST DANCER).

The best way I can describe Trent is that he springs from the tradition of Simon Templar (that would be the Saint, for you heathens out there) and Robin Hood -- the lone thief/freedom fighter/general do-gooder -- but who finds himself facing dilemmas that really challenge his moral convictions.

I know you meant that comment as a joke, but I can't pass up the chance to plug Dan's stuff. Trent is one of the few SFF characters I've come across who deserves broader exposure even more than Caine does.

Gio --

I'd love to see Caine come to whatever screen might be available, large or small; he is, after all, designed as an action-movie star (more or less). The aforementioned Dan Moran, by no coincidence at all, has a Caine treatment out there. There's another friend of mine named Moe Suleiman who's been trying to pull together a Heroes Die animé series. My own endeavors into screenwriting won't be Caine (unless I'm just collaborating with Dan, or somebody like him: somebody with some perspective, not to mention experience and actual screen credits).

But Caine doesn't have any traction in Hollywood. He's just not famous enough.


Caine has another issue, too: he's not a superhero.

Sure, he does superheroic things, but the defining characteristic of the superhero is that he (or she) is essentially unmarked by his adventures. Emotional scars are largely relegated to origin stories; each new adventure begins afresh. And I'm not talking strictly about comic-book underwear-on-the-outside types. James Bond is a perfect example, as is Indiana Jones. Even (most) long-running detectives.

To get a look at what happens when the scars actually accumulate, check out John D. MacDonald's Travis Magee books. They are as compartmentalized as the Bond novels, but there is just enough carry-over that each book finds Travis a little older, more tired, more cynical, less resilient . . .

These are brilliant stories, among the best hard-boiled detective stories ever written. But nobody's ever made a really successful Travis Magee movie (there was a TV show in the 70s, but it kinda stunk), because a lot of Travis' power as a character depends on the feel of that long and painful history.

The Acts of Caine takes this all a bit further. They're not self-contained at all, though each is its own tale. I think of the AoC as a single biographical series; each book is an episode that's only part of the story-arc of Hari Michaelson's life.

As Hari himself puts it, in the first chapter of Caine Black Knife:


Everything I've ever done pursues me. Like a doppleganger, a fetch, my past creeps up behind and strangles me in my sleep. When hunted by a monster in your dreams, you save yourself by facing the monster and demanding its name. In learning the monster's name you rob it of the power to haunt you. But I was awake. And anyway I already knew my monster's name.
It was Caine.

Somebody may very well be able to capture Caine in a movie or TV show . . . but I don't know how. And even if the script managed, it would still take a hell of a fine actor to pull it off.

Anybody got Robert Downey Jr's email address?


MaxGC said...

Well you could say that Caine doesn't have enough Hollywood clout to make a movie, but I think with the advent of movies like Batman- Dark Knight, the anti-hero type hero will become a bit more commonplace.

So you still have a chance! Bring Caine to the big screen! Maybe not a remake of HD or Blade, but an entirely new story for one of his past adventures.

And if not in theaters, maybe a short TV bit to test the waters?


Shane said...

The problem with Batman is that there's already so many crappy superhero movies out there that people are aching for a good one. And Batman has two things going for him: Enough fans that a blockbuster success is almost completely inherent, regardless of whether it's any good or not. And two, Batman is also plagued by a lot of camp, especially in Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, the latter of which is still made fun of constantly whenever anybody talks about "worst movies ever." So making Batman grittier works as a result of all the camp. The same thing was going on with the Bond movies.

But there's a reason all the Marvel movies have that HD sterilized crisp to it that just oozes high budget action movie, and it seems to sell a lot more than the occasional super-gritty movie. These are all things that stand in the way of a relatively unknown like Caine.

Which is damned unfortunate, if you ask me, though I really think Caine would lose a lot during translation unless Matt was doing the script himself.

Gio said...

Robert Downey Jr.? The guy I see playing Caine is Russell Crowe. I think he can pull off that tough, swarthy look with the wolfish grin, and he's got some acting chops.

Hell, I think I'll stop now with the fantasy casting before this becomes a twenty page comment.

Matt, if it's any consolation, if I ever hit it big - as in having enough millions that would lead nicer people to philanthropy, I would SO finance a Heroes Die project.

Mind you, you can go on ahead without me, but I'll be your outside chance, just in case.

Chris said...

I'm still plugging Caine, for the record. A copy of the book is with a friend from Pathe. Other than him, though, even my higher placed film industry chums seem to be more in the business of making films that have been bought already (i.e. special effects et cetara) than purchasing.

Which doesn't mean I will stop, 'cos I ran into the director of Jesse James in my fuckin' local last year, after all. In fact, I should keep a copy of Heroes Die in my bag.

You don't have any in Dave McKean covers, do you...

Tim said...

I second the idea of an original adventure for a film project. Last Stand at Ceraeno? Escape from the Boedecken? There are so many untapped, potentially awesome Adventures that might be more easily commercially viable. Think of the marketing! "The action-packed prequel to novel Heroes Die by New York Times best-selling author..."

And those Trent books? Consider them bought.

While I'm here; damn you for writing so eloquently. Your closing statement in Star Wars on Trial was really potent and touching.

NSB said...

Moran's books are out of print and may or may not be difficult to find used, but he has very graciously offered them (as well as several other stories and scripts) as free downloads (as both .pdf and .rtf files). Look to the sidebar of his blog:

MWS said...

Tim --

Just so you know,"Escape from the Boedecken" forms roughly half of CAINE BLACK KNIFE.

If Caine ever starts making me enough money that I can afford to keep writing about him beyond his current contract, I may very well tell the story of "Last Stand at Ceraeno" in some fashion. It's a corker. Intrigue, betrayal, kinky (interspecies) sex and ruthless murder . . .

As Caine would say, what's not to like?

Bob said...

Hi, Matt,

Have you heard any word about Blade of Tyshalle being reprinted? I can't find any more copies, and mine is worn out . . .

Bob S.

Anonymous said...

Two words for you guys:
Gary Oldman.
If you get Russell Crowe or Robert Downey, Jr then you wind up with either 'Russell Crowe as Caine' or Robert Downey,Jr as Caine.' With Oldman, you'd just get Caine. Past his glory days, bitter, used up, and willing to burn the earth.

What's not to like?

Of course, the only problem is that interpreting it for the screen (whether big or small), will likely reduce the potency of the story. Too much of the sheer power comes from identifying with Caine through the first person narrative, and seeing Hari in the third person. It would come off as awkward and stilted if they tried that in a movie.


MWS said...

I have been tremendously impressed with Oldman's take on James Gordon in the Nolan Batman flicks. I sure wouldn't turn him down if he wanted the part, though I'd be a bit leery of his ability to handle the physical side.

Right now, I wouldn't turn ANYBODY down. Stallone? Bring it on. Bruce Willis? Boo-yah. Kiefer Sutherland? Absolutely. Jason Stathan. Vin fuckin' Diesel. Matthew Broderick. Nathan Lane. Charles Nelson Reilly. Even though he's dead.

Doesn't matter a damn who I'd like to see in the role.

The only way this will ever become a film is if one of you fans out there becomes a Hollywood Big Wheel and pushes it through.

So get to work.

WarlordGrego said...

I said it once on frameshift, and I'll say it again. Timothy Olyphant in Deadwood looks almost exactly how I originally pictured Caine.

Anyways, Matt, its good to see you back in the saddle. Thanks for the small excerpt from CBK.

I know it will rock.

MWS said...

Another good actor. Give him a call.

Max said...

...Robert Downey Junior...

Oh holy shit, that *is* what Caine looks like, isn't it.

Aaron said...

Nah. Remember gang, Caine isn't white bread. He aughta be swarthy, dusky, even a little mixy-matchy.

Not that I would be unhappy either way, mind you - however when I picture Caine, I picture the guy on the front of Heroes Die with a bit more of a tan.


Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron said...


As a supreme-hardcore Caine fan, I am always looking for more ways to fund my addiction. If there is ever a way that you can facilitate this, please make us aware.
Whether it's paying a few bucks for a short story in E-format, paying fifty for an Omnibus or 30 for a re-edit (read: new "Afterward") of HD or BoT - I'm down town.

As far as movies, here's my 2 cents: The Acts of Caine books could be as much about Ma'el-Koth as Harry, depending on how you look at them.

For example: In Heroes Die, Ma'El-Koth mentions that he has drawn Caine with the force of inevitability and that no matter the world or circumstance, Harry would have been brought to him on a specific date even through the reaches of time. Ma'El-Koth's ultimate rise to power...a subtle change in the nature of the books, and they could become his.

The point here is simple: If you make a movie and Caine isn't super-hero-enough for you, would the movie be less (from a fan perspective) with a subtle shift of attention for the first movie, just to get it rolling?

The Rise of a God. Hanto the Scythe, Big and Bold Cometh.

...I guess that brings up some juicy questions about the inevitability of divinity, and those who act as representatives for Gods (Avatars, High Priests, Christ, etc.)

EricC said...

"I picture the guy on the front of Heroes Die with a bit more of a tan."

I'm still amused that that cover looks JUST like the Stover I first met a couple 100 years ago

MWS said...

Yeah, back when I was skinny.

The funny thing is, the artist (Doug Beekman) had never, to the best of my knowledge, seen a picture of me.

Funny how shit plays out.

Joseph said...

A Caine anime series sounds like a very interesting idea. I think that might play out better for the action scenes, at very least. Hollywood could afford it, but I dunno if anyone else could afford to school it's actors in JKD and the assorted other disciplines needed to make Caine and company look like they ought to when they move. With anime, I would think that's not as hard.

- Joseph

Anonymous said...

You know I think that Caine actually would be _very_ popular and a potentially huge success in the tv/movie world if somehow you could find a decent actor and director to bring to deliver the attitude/atmosphere of the Cain novels.
Why? The success of emotionally crippled heroes like Batman (in the Nolan movies) or 'cynical bastards' like Dr. House shows that the audience is tired of the old (and boring) cliché of the 'white knight in shiny armor' type of hero. You want to identify with your hero, you want him to have him the same struggles that everyday people have and see him overcome them In a way that inspires you. Caine does that. "Fuck giving up. Never give up. Never." and "Inch toward daylight. Always take those baby steps." even "Fuck the city, I would burn the world to save her" or "The Future of gonna have to fuck off" and some other lines along that line do that. Even when you know that rationally the arguments may not hold up, there is something exciting and inspiring about Caine's irrational stubborness, the refusal to give in to logical perfectly valid but abstract concepts, his 'dont let them bullshit you, it's always personal' attitude, his honest-to-the-bone idividualism (I first wanted to say egoism, but when I think about how he - without so much as blinking - would sacrifice himself to save Shanna, that doesn't seem to be the right word).
I can identify with that and I think I'm not the only one.

MWS said...

I agree completely (and thanks, by the way).

But good luck convincing anyoen in Hollywood.

Andrew said...

I agree with Shane. Attempting to fine tune Caine for film would be fraught with problems. Namely, that MWS would most likely lose the privilege of having a say in the adaption process, that major areas of the books would go unexplored and the level of violence would be extremely toned down to get at least an R rating. Effectively making Caine just another standard, hollywood antihero.

Perhaps it'd be better if Caine went the way of Erikson's "Swords of Fire and Ice" which is being developed into a large miniseries for HBO. It'd allow for more authorial control and would provide an extra eight hours of so of screentime that'd allow for a much deeper and worthwhile experience.

Robert said...


I say you forego the whole movie thing altogether. Get Ubisoft to use their Assassin's Creed engine to make a Caine videogame! ;)

Honestly though, Heroes Die would make an incredible film (or game honestly).

MWS said...

Ekshully, I've occasionally speculated that the Earth/Overworld environment would make an absolutely stellar MMORPG, combing a sort of dystopian Sims on the Earth side (maneuvering to gain wealth and possessions, fame and political privilege and sex with good-looking avatars) with mission-based asskicking on the Overworld side.

There might also be a chance for people to play the flip-side, too: Overworld natives who raid Earth for fun & profit.

So, Geekdom: on your marks, get set . . .

Peter Scheyer said...

I'd pay to play that MMO. I've always wanted something with separated action and social sides and combination sci-fi/fantasy. Seriously, that's like something I'd dream about.

And hey, if the Song of Fire and Ice can go HBO there's no reason why Caine can't. Or at least the SciFi channel. They did pretty well with the Dune miniseries, and they did the Dresden files, though i have no idea how well the latter went.

'Intrigue, betrayal, kinky (interspecies) sex and ruthless murder . . .'

Sounds like a good version of Laurell K. Hamilton. I'd buy that too.

Robert said...

Here's the only thing I think would be an issue translating Caine to the silver screen or even a video game: Hari himself.

It's not his actions; it's the internal monologue of the character that would be difficult to translate, and I think might cause it to lose something in said translation.

I say this basically because (and this is one of the things I've always loved about these books Matt) the growth of the character seems to happen almost entirely in Hari/Caine's head.

I'm not saying that it cannot be done, I'm simply pointing out the difficulty in finding a way to translate that growth to a visual medium.