You know what I’m talking about, those moments in film or literature where you think you know exactly what’s going to happen right up until the moment when the director/author throws you a wicked curveball and all of a sudden you see everything in a brand new light.
The first time this happened to me was when my Dad took me to see a ‘Star Wars’/’Empire Strikes Back’ double bill at the cinema. I was about six at the time and after having seen Darth Vader keep trying to kill off Luke Skywalker for several hours I couldn’t believe it when Vader turns round (right at the end of ‘Empire Strikes Back’) and says… well, you know what he says! Part of me still wonders how the film would have turned out if Vader had told Luke much earlier on instead of just after Luke having had his hand chopped off…
Luke: “But why didn’t you just tell me to start off with? I’d have been cool with it and I’d still have both my hands! Nice one Dad!”
Vader: “Well, you were using my lightsaber and I certainly don’t remember giving you permission. You won’t be doing that again in a hurry, have we learnt our lesson?”
Luke: “Yes Dad…”
The unexpected twist that really got me though came years later (around nineteen eighty eight) when I was reading Tad Williams’ ‘The Dragonbone Chair’ for the first time. Now bear in mind that I’d been reading a lot of David Eddings around that time as well as a lot of generic sword and sorcery where the good guys always win no matter what… If you haven’t read the ‘The Dragonbone Chair’ (and are planning to) then you may want to skip the next paragraph)
So I’m happily reading away safe in the knowledge that even though things are looking grim it’s all going to turn out ok. Prince Josua and his subjects are holed up in the castle of Naglimund, under siege from the mad Prince Elias.
It’s going to be all right though. Look, there’s Duke Leobardis and his army, marching to crush Elias and raise the siege. Wait a moment, why is the Duke’s son drawing his sword? He’s not going to… he did! Benigaris has just killed his father, taken control of the army and retreated (he then goes on to ally himself with Elias). But, but… what’s going to happen now?
Not only was this a twist in the plot where I least expected it but it completely blew my expectations, of fantasy literature, right out of the water. The story wasn’t meant to go like this… but it did and all of a sudden a whole load of new possibilities opened themselves up to me. These days I almost expect at least three wicked twists in any story but back then it was brand new to me and had me thinking that maybe the genre wasn’t running off just the one plot after all…
So, it’s over to you now. What’s your ‘WTF?’ moment (sci-fi, fantasy or horror) that sprung to mind while you’ve been reading this? It can be something that you never saw coming or something that made you realise the potential of the genre all over again.
You know where to leave your comments :o)