Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Voynich Manuscript as storyboard...?

Note: this article has now moved to voynich-manuscript-as-storyboard on Cipher Mysteries

A couple of VMs-related links for you today, one old and one new (but nothing blue, sorry): I thought I'd run them together for a bit of fun...

Back in January 2005, the Independent on Sunday ran a piece called "Nudes, triffids and the mother of all riddles", a review of Gerry Kennedy & Rob Churchill's book "The Voynich Manuscript: the unsolved riddle of an extraordinary book which has defied interpretation for centuries". The writer - Scarlett Thomas, who Voynich News regulars will doubtless recognise as being the author of crypto-geeky NoLogo-esque Voynich-themed novel "PopCo" - colourfully described the VMs as like "a storyboard for an other-dimensional remake of Day of the Triffids", and thought that the basic story of the VMs' history "(which makes The Da Vinci Code seem like a slightly lame round of Hangman) would work in the hands of any authors." The conclusion of her review was that Kennedy & Churchill's book should be sufficient to bring the "beautiful, frustrating and compelling" VMs to the attention of the world.

Fast forward to last weekend (June 2008), and the Guardian's book review section ran a short review by Steven Poole on "The Enigmas of History" (third piece down on the page) by Alan Baker. Though this covers a number of non-enigmas, the Voynich Manuscript does get a reasonable mention (I should hope so too!), with Poole describing the VMs as being "like a storyboard for The Matrix with annotations in an indecipherable language."

Hmmm... two book reviews, both with Voynich storyboard metaphors... Perhaps, back in 2005, Scarlett Thomas was secretly hoping for her book to be optioned by a moneybags film studio (these things do happen, though not as often as novelists would like) and this guided her choice of words; and then Steven Poole (or indeed Alan Baker) happened to read her review.

Or is there a Voynich film lurking in the collective unconscious? Even though the story of the VMs may well be something that a "proper" historian could never sign off on, it may well be a set of bones that Hollywood screenwriters could happily boil up into a tasty filmic soup. Do you think?

As long as they don't cast Tom bl**dy Hanks as a Warbugian-style secret historian again and they leave Jesuit priests right out of it (the VMs very probably predates the Society of Jesus by 50+ years!), I wish them luck! :-)

No comments: