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Literature / Back to the Future

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Back to the Future: The Novelization Of The Feature Film is a novelization of the first movie written by one George Gipe. It was written before the movie's script was finalized, so we get a whole lot of extraneous detail, weird characterizations, and Deleted Scenes. But this isn't just your average Early Draft Tie-In novelization - oh, no. It's much stranger than that. There's bizarre conversations and general WTF-ery galore. Just when you think the book can't get any weirder, it does. It really does. Obviously, the book is of major interest to any BTTF fan. The author also novelized several other movies, co-wrote two film comedies with Carl Reiner and Steve Martin, and then passed away after being stung by a bee the year after this book came out.

B to the F: The Novelization of the Feature Film is a Tumblr liveblog tearing the book apart.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Dumbass: Lorraine is stupider here than in the movie, making her more of a Brainless Beauty. She has a thing for emotional manipulation, too — she basically forces Marty to take her to the dance by guilt-tripping him into it.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the movie, Sam Baines is angry at Marty for getting in front of his car. In the novel, he is geuninely sorry.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Well, not adaptation personality change, as the book was clearly written before the movie's script got to final draft status. Still, the characters act quite differently in comparison to their movie counterparts:
    • Marty is not only a Jerkass half the time, he's an annoying smart-ass who sasses damn near everybody he comes across, including his supposed "best friend" Doc. He also says stupid things and makes a lot of idiotic decisions, almost to the point of an Idiot Hero.
    • A major one for Doc when it comes to the DeLorean. In the movie, he invents it 'cause he's a man of science! In the book? He invents it because he wants to get back at all the people who said mean things to him. Way to dilute Doc's coolness...
    • It's worth noting that as this novel was based upon an early draft script, it would have predated the casting of the lead roles, and Marty was famously recast a month after filming began. All this means that Gipe would not have been able to base any characterizations on the actors - or, at least, not Michael J. Fox as Marty.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In the beginning of the novel, unlike the movie, Doc says he got the idea for the time machine by having a dream specifically about the DeLorean many years ago. (This brings up a LOT of questions regarding what relationship Doc had with John DeLorean, by the way.) However, later on, when Marty meets the Doc of 1955, he, as in the final movie, says he got the idea for the flux capacitor, not the DeLorean, which admittedly makes much more sense.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Part of Marty's plan to escape detention involves using a mirror to refract sunlight onto a matchbook, setting it on fire.
  • Badbutt: Marty is a weird Zig Zagged version. He swears more often and is more smart-assy than in the movie, but he uses phrases one would never expect from a cool 1980s teen, like "Eureka!" and "milquetoast." This is more a side effect of Gipe being from an older generation, though.
  • Brainless Beauty: Lorraine. She's a lot more airheaded here than in the movie.
  • Darker and Edgier: In a few aspects:
    • Marty is a weird combination of this and badbutt; see above for more information.
    • While the movie deliberately shies away from calling Marty's plan and Biff's gestures involving Lorraine a rape, the book comes right out and says it. Assault, too.
    • There's a weird deleted scene where Doc ogles a woman in an 80s copy of Playboy.
    • When Marty does his "Darth Vader, Planet Vulcan" thing, he chloroforms his dad after the fact.
      • Fun fact? The above two moments are actual deleted scenes from the movie.
  • The Ditz: Almost everyone in the book says or does something really stupid at some point. It's not so bad in Biff and Lorraine's case, as they're supposed to be not very bright, but it's very bad whenever Marty and Doc of all people decide to do something stupid.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: The description of Marty's clothing seems to be based on how Eric Stoltz was costumed rather than Michael J. Fox. Instead of wearing the iconic vest that's mistaken for a life preserver, the people in 1955 instead think he's weird for wearing green shoes. He's also mentioned wearing a shirt with a U.S. patent design on it, which was worn by Eric Stoltz's version of Marty.
  • Expospeak Gag: Rhythmic ceremonial ritual, which was also in the movie.
  • Femme Fatale: A female Libyan named Uranda (she wasn't in the movie).
  • Flat Character: Jennifer. She's there to spout a couple awkward lines of dialoguenote  in the beginning, and that's about it.
  • For Want Of A Nail: When Marty first meets the 1955 Doc, he pulls the "Flux Capacitor" card before Doc throws him out. As such, Marty doesn't have anything on hand to convince him... at least until he gets the idea to just up and bring the DeLorean over.
  • Idiot Hero: Marty. There's a reason why B to the F: The Novelization of the Feature Film calls him "thick" several times.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • The Libyans are consistently referred to as terrorists.
    • The band playing at the Enchantment Under The Sea dance are black musicians.
    • In-Universe (that is, not the narrator), Marty constantly calls his dad a nerd.
  • Jerkass: Biff, Marty, and sometimes Doc.
  • Law of Conservation of Detail: Repeatedly averted. The third-person omniscient narrator goes on and on about pointless detail that has nothing to do with the characters or story. For example, it describes one of the Libyans' personalities.
  • Ludicrous Precision: Like in the movie, Doc brings up that "it's taken [him] almost thirty years and [his] entire family fortune to fulfill the vision of that day". Unlike the movie, Doc actually pulls out a calculator to do the math. And what he comes up with... well...
  • Newspaper Dating: Subverted. Marty realizes he's in 1955 by looking at the time circuits. He confirms by turning on the DeLorean's radio.
  • Verbal Backspace: After his "When this baby hits 88 MPH, you're going to see some serious shit" line, Doc realizes that Marty is filming this and quickly rewords his statement without colloquial language:
    "When a speed of eighty-eight miles an hour is attained, unusual things should begin happening in this phase of temporal experiment number one."
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Marty and Doc, weirdly enough, appear to be this. Doc, in particular, likes to put Marty down a lot; when he gives him the rhythmic ceremonial ritual speech, Marty is confused, so Doc quickly adds - "Dance, to you." Marty also insults the Doc of 1955 by telling him straight up that his mind-reading device won't work.
  • Voodoo Shark: If Doc had a dream about the DeLorean a long time ago, what was his involvement with John DeLorean and the DeLorean Motor Company? Did he give Mr. DeLorean the idea for the car? Did he ever work for the company?
  • What the Hell, Hero?: This very creepy line:
    If it hadn’t been for Marty, Lorraine would be enjoying the dance instead of having to fight to avoid being raped.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: When Doc checks to see if it really has been 30 years since he got the idea for the time machinenote  Doc gets "twenty-nine years, eleven months, and 355 days". The problem is that he included the total number of days since the 29th anniversary of when he got the idea in addition to grouping together most of that time in the eleven months figure. The actual difference would either be described as 29 years, 11 months, and 21 days or 29 years and 355 days (without any breakdown by month). He essentially combined the two alternatives together, resulting in eleven months' worth of days being counted twice. So taken literally, the statement would add a nearly an extra year's worth of time.