Is the novelization of Back to the Future a literary masterpiece? Shockingly, no.

Illustration for article titled Is the novelization of Back to the Future a literary masterpiece? Shockingly, no.

Today's must-read Tumblr is "B to the F: The Novelization of Back to the Future," in which one intrepid blogger does pretty much a page-by-page analysis of the Back to the Future tie-in novel, which was published before the movie came out.


This turns out to be an interesting exercise for a couple of reasons:
1) The novelization is clearly based on an earlier script draft, in which a lot of stuff is different (and mostly less good).
2) George Gipe, who wrote the book version, was not a good writer, and apparently nobody edited him. He goes into huge amounts of detail about stuff, with loads of purple prose, and sometimes goes on lengthy, weird flights of fancy that clearly were not in any version of the screenplay. (Gipe, who cowrote the Steve Martin movies Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and The Man With Two Brains, died soon after from a beesting.)

The novelization begins, totally randomly, with an ordinary family being destroyed by a nuclear explosion — which turns out to be a movie that Marty McFly is watching in class. Except that Marty McFly is a rebel, who listens to his Walkman instead of watching the movie, because he's into "stereo rock music," as Gipe puts it. The hilarious weirdness only escalates as we're given huge insights into School Disciplinarian Mr. Strickland's mental processes. At one point, Strickland is destroying confiscated Walkmans in a wood vise, and Gipe writes:

With gleeful deliberation, Strickland continued the crunching orgy.

You don't get prose like that just anywhere. There's also this initial description of Biff Tannen:

Whereas George [McFly] was reticent, Biff was loud and obnoxious, the type of person who talks loudly in movie houses or yells epithets at players during sports events. He was, in short, an intimidating lout

And then there's the weird, insanely detailed description of the Libyans who shoot Doc Brown, which tries to go into their heads but only winds up delving into some weird racial caricatures.

All in all, this Tumblr will happily transport you an hour forward into the future — because you can kill an hour poring over all the ridiculous details of George Gipe's attempts to flesh out every corner of the BTTF universe. [B to the F, thanks for the heads up Will Rogers 2000!]


I'm the sort of person who took almost 20 years to work out that misle wasn't a word, so I'm very pleased with myself for realising within 15 seconds that Gipe didn't get beested to death.

Because that would have been horrendous.