Speculative Fiction Saturday: The Maze Runner

Maze RunnerOkay, this particular film has a particular place in my heart, because I have written a book known as The Labyrinth House that has a…somewhat similar plotline. I’ve already talked about the similarities on another post, and I just don’t think that I want to kill that dead horse all over again.

This is based on a book by James Dashner, and I suppose that this successful book series for young adults was put to the screen for the sake of that Hunger Games/Divergent money. Like Divergent, I’m starting to see formulaic patterns in these young adult dystopian adaptations.

In the case of The Maze Runner, there are some interesting speculative fiction elements that work to the film’s credit. It begins when a boy goes ascends an elevator in and finds himself in a place called “The Glade”. The main character is amnesiac, and all of the boys in this place are too.

Eventually, he remembers his name is Thomas, and he discovers that The Glade is in the center of a maze. This maze has doors on it that close at night, and within this maze are these half organic/half technological constructs called Grievers. Yeah, they kill people.

So, what is up with this film? It is a big mystery, and that is what is supposed to draw the viewer in. Does it? I think so, but I have to admit that the film differs from the book in several ways.

I’ll go ahead and say what I don’t like about this film. The original book was pretty cerebral, as they had to use their brain to find the exit out of the maze. Here they kind of find the exit, and figured something out.

Now, when I read the book, I saw that there were scenes were there would be hallucinogenic flashbacks. I knew that when I would watch the movie, they would do that weird and scatterbrained way they show flashbacks in movies, and they did.

Now, in case you are wondering why in the world these boys (and eventually a girl) are in this big maze? There actually is an answer, but I’m not exactly certain why. It kind of makes sense, but it feels odd to me. I think I will have to see the sequels or read the books to find out why.

Why my book “The Labyrinth House” Looks so much like “The Maze Runner”

Okay, I have written a book known as The Labyrinth House and it was published in 2014. The issue is that it bears a strong resemblance to a book out now, a bestseller that is also a movie called The Maze Runner, which was published in 2009.

I’m going to say that I am not at all upset with James Dashner (author of The Maze Runner), and I don’t think this is a case of plagiarism. This isn’t like Antz and A Bug’s Life, where one is trying to out-do the other, or however those movies went down.

This is a simple case of two authors having similar concepts, and releasing their works at different times. In my case, I first conceived of The Labyrinth House in 2003. At the time, I conceived it as a pilot to a TV series, and I even sent it to an agent who can hopefully back this up. I also have a copy of the screenplay manuscript that I sent to myself, and it is dated December 17, 2003. I’m not certain if this “poor-man’s copyright” still applies, but I’ve got some time-stamped files that can back this up.

I honestly don’t think that it will ever come to a lawsuit, because honestly, my book isn’t really selling at the level as The Maze Runner. The issue is my book looks like a Johnny-come-lately. It looks like I copied James Dashner, but trust me, I didn’t.

Now, here’s some similarities and differences.

1) The main character wakes up to find himself in a giant maze.

In Dashner’s work, the main character Thomas is not given a backstory, and wakes up as a partial amenesiac, which is the same case of the people there. In my work, the main character Bradley, finds himself in a maze, but he is fully aware of where he came from. All the people that he meets are not amnesiacs, and they have been there for several years, in some cases, centuries. Yeah, time doesn’t pass.

2) The main character meets a huge threat in the maze.

In Dashner’s work, the people imprisoned in the middle of this maze cannot go out because of these mechanical monsters known as Grievers that will kill anyone in their path. In my work, Bradley meets Robert, a human who essentially has the same agenda.

3) The pattern of the maze reveals the puzzle.

In The Maze Runner, the main character realizes that the maze is a pattern, and that it the shifting walls spell out letters. In my book, the maze walls don’t move, but there is a similar pattern. You can believe that when that part showed up in Dashner’s book, I was about ready to call foul.

Again, these are similarities, and these works, are incredibly different. It would be like comparing Antz and A Bug’s Life, two films that are extremely different in plotlines and tones. However, A Bug’s Life will be the one that will be remembered. I’m sort of hoping that my book won’t be the Antz, but honestly, I need to let people decide.

Now, there is a sequel written for The Labyrinth House that I am working called The Labyrinth City, and it should be out by next year. At this time, I’m going to need to stop reading Dashner’s series. It’s nothing personal, and I think it is a decent read. The issue is, I don’t want to pick up anything unconsciously from it.

For those that have read my book, and want to leave comment below, feel free.