Review by C.J. Bunce
TV tie-ins need to achieve a few basic concepts to be successful. First, they need to capture the feel and voice of each main character and do it quickly. Second, they need to skip over the setting and world building, or at most, give the reader the minimum necessary information to understand the world of the TV series being adapted, as adaptations tend to appeal to fans of the show who just want more. Third, the adaptation should take you to new places or throw the characters into new circumstances that are limited by the TV medium, primarily because of a the short time period of each episode and budget constraints.
For an adaptation of the SyFy Channel’s Warehouse 13, here Greg Cox’s Warehouse 13: A Touch of Fever, to hit the first mark of success, this means first and foremost that it reflects the brother-sister relationship (aka antics) between agents Pete Lattimer and Myka Bering. That we see the actor Eddie McClintock speak with every Pete line and the actress Joanne Kelley speak with every Myka line. It means that Pete gets to enjoy everything about being a Warehouse 13 agent that is cool. That we can see Myka’s eyebrow raised every time Pete opens his mouth. It means that Artie needs to be gruff and smart, that Claudia needs to be hip. That Artie brings in trivial details of tangent cases involving artifacts, especially when it is the most inappropriate and time is of the essence. That Claudia drops pop culture references with each breath and enjoys her own generational battle with Artie.
Step 1? Check.
For the second step, getting us right into the action and story, writer Greg Cox does quite well, giving readers new to the Warehouse only what is really needed to get to the heart of these characters. We get a few visual descriptions and he lets the catchy dialogue do all the rest. His best work here is for the thoughts of Pete Lattimer. With each line uttered you see the line being voiced by Eddie McClintock. Lines like “How come Artie never sends us to All-You-Can-Eat Cookies instead?” and lying to Artie via the Farnsworth video pre-cell phone. And he lets Myka save the day more than once, entering the frame to save the day with her Tesla electric gun.
Step 2? Check.
And for the last necessary element of a good tie-in, Cox hits the ball out of the park. Claudia and Leena are wading through the endless Warehouse and dozens of new artifacts are revealed. We get to see one artifact create an earthquake in New York City’s Central Park. And we learn that the Warehouse owns a certain brilliant red Fokker DR-1 triplane owned by the Red Baron, and Artie and Claudia get to fly it and use it to save nearby Badlands town Univille from an escaped thunderbird–that itself was released from a totem pole. Stuff that would be expensive to create in special effects, and scope outside any kind of television production budget.
Step 3? Check.
Warehouse 13: A Touch of Fever is the first adaptation of Warehouse 13 in print. In the afterward Cox says he wanted to write an adaptation of Warehouse 13 when he first saw it on TV. Who wouldn’t? The TV series only scratches the surface of dealing with all the strange and cool artifacts throughout history that could have their own episode. Here, this means tracking down and putting together for the first time since the Civil War the white gloves of Red Cross founder Clara Barton. It means finding the cutlass of Anne Bonney the pirate–all before too much blood is spilt. Cox includes dropped references to such great items that could have their own show, like Reagan’s jelly beans, Van Gogh’s ear, the seventy-six trombones, Harriet Tubman’s thimble, John Brown’s body, and the original grapes of wrath, and once found, getting to decide what does and what doesn’t end up in the Dark Vault of the Warehouse. We also get to see some Rube Goldberg-esque mayhem in the Warehouse when a certain metal pot used as a hat that was once owned by Johnny Appleseed spills some apple cider off the top of a shelf.
Greg Cox is one of the go-to guys for TV series and movie novelization tie-ins and he makes writing the Warehouse look easy. He has previously written novelizations of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CSI, Star Trek, Farscape, The Green Hornet, Roswell, Underworld and Xena: Warrior Princess.
While Warehouse 13 the TV series is on hiatus, the novelization is a good mid-season alternative to keep interest in the characters of the show. Fans of the series will be able to keep up with all the references in Cox’s book and afterward feel like they watched the equivalent of a TV movie special.
Greg Cox’s Warehouse 13: A Touch of Fever was released in June 2011 and is available in mass market paperback and lists for $7.99.