The cover of A Match Made In Space is described here as “a bedroom with a space alien very reminiscent of Marty’s Darth Vader speaking to a young man cowering beneath the covers” which is awesome mainly for Gipe’s insistence that he put “space alien” in there in case we go away thinking A Match Made In Space is about an illegal Darth-Vader lookin’ Foreign National who is scaring a dude.
The movie goes through this quickly, and it’s almost too quick! Lorraine says its his first book, George says to his kids if they put their mind to it they can accomplish anything, and them BAM we’re busy with the 4x4. I guess I always wondered if the book was actually any good and if it sold. How is George an accomplished author if his first book is just coming out today?
Well FEARS: ASSUAGED, thanks to this Brady-Bunch level dialogue / entire scene!
“Holy cow,” Marty said. ”You wrote that, Dad?”
George nodded proudly. ”My first novel,” he said. ”I sure hope it sells.”
“Of course it’ll sell,” Lorraine gushed. ”After all, it’s not like you’re a nobody. You’ve been selling stories ever since college.”
“That’s right, Dad,” Dave added. ”You’re the one who’s always telling us to have confidence and a positive attitude. Where’s yours now?”
“You’re right,” George said. ”I’m sure this book is going to do just fine.”
Hold on hold on this sappy heartwarming family moment isn’t over yet!
Then, turning to Marty, he put a strong hand on his shoulder and said: “And that tape of yours is going to do just fine, too.”
Cue the audience saying “awwwwwww” in unison!
At this point Biff (“standing with a deferential smile during the previous conversation”, this dude has been transformed) gives Marty the keys to the 4x4 (Gipe taking this for-real-last-chance opportunity to drop some more brand names as he reminds us it’s “a tricked-out black Toyota SR5 truck, as shining and beautiful as when it sat on the showroom floor”), and Marty runs out and climbs inside and begins to have sex with it!
He ran to it, got inside and caressed the upholstery,
oh baby don’t stop
oh BABY, KEEP CARESSING, JUST GO NUTS WITH WHAT YOU CARESS, TELL ME WHAT YOU CARESS NEXT
every switch and dial within reach
that’s it, I’m done, Marty be sure to clean up the seats when you’re finished
An interesting difference between the movie and the book: here in booktopia, George asks for two coats of wax, and says the coat last time was a little sloppy:
“Yessir!” Biff replied in a voice that was friendly and eager to please. ”You’re the boss, sir!”
Meanwhile in the movie, George asks for two coats of wax, Biff says he’s finishing up the second coat, and George says “Don’t con me” and Biff says “I’m sorry, I was just STARTING the second coat”. So movie Biff still has some of his jerky ways about him (old Biff remains an echo of his formal self!) while in the book, new Biff is completely transformed (/ old Biff COMPLETELY KILLED) and he just wants to do a really really good job.
Anyway remember when Lorraine almost got raped by Biff? George and Lorraine do! They think about it with a smile.
“I’ve had to keep Biff in line ever since high school.” Then [George] added with a smile: “Although if it hadn’t been for Biff, your mother and I would never have met.”
“Yeah, Dad,” Linda interrupted. ”You’ve told us a million times already. You beat him up when he was bothering Mom and that’s how the two of you fell in love.”
“It was more than that,” Lorraine added. ”Your father literally came to my rescue.” She sighed. ”It was so romantic…“
Again, this works way better in the movie because the sexual assault was played down as much as is possible AND Linda and Lorraine don’t have this back and forth. Here in the book, where the word “rape” was used and her dress was torn open by Biff, this whole exchange is just really really strange. You can read it like George and Lorraine never telling their kids the full details, but Lorraine is still really into this night. Lorraine I don’t know what your deal is!!
Hey, remember how Marty kept going for those time travel laffs while he was in the 50s? He’s not the kind of guy to leave well enough alone, so at least he’s being consistent here in the 80s:
“Whatever happened to the other guy?” Marty asked.
“What other guy?” his father asked.
“The guy I was named after.”
“Oh,” Lorraine murmured. ”We never saw him again. He vanished into thin air.” Then, looking at Marty closely, she said “I don’t remember ever telling you about him.”
”Well, you must have. Otherwise I wouldn’t have known, would I?”
And man this exchange is winky and terrible and only exists so Marty can lord his time-travel knowledge over his family, but it could’ve been worse. In the first draft of the movie, George goes back to a photograph of that night, looks at Marty in the photo and says something like “Naaaahhhhhhh, it couldn’t be!” and then the movie ends which is even winkier and terribler (and YES if you understood “terribler” it is so a word). This first draft also solves the “two Marties” problem by having Marty 2 walk into a bathroom and TOTALLY DISAPPEAR, an event glossed over by Doc in one line and never mentioned again which is so unsatisfying that I can see why they simply ignored the problem in the final draft rather than try to attempt an explanation!
While everyone is reminiscing about Lorraine’s Busy Night, Biff walks in with a book called A Match Made In Space!
SPOILER ALERT: GEORGE MCFLY WROTE IT :0
SPOILER ALERT 2: OMG WHAT IS GOING ON WITH HIS HAIR IN THAT AUTHOR PHOTO
SPOILER ALERT 3: THERE’S, LIKE, A WING AT THE BACK??
Lorraine puts her arm on Marty’s shoulder (familiar physical contact suggesting an easy relationship between these two characters! YES) and then says “Tonight’s the big night, isn’t it? Isn’t tonight your big date with Jennifer Parker? She’s such a nice girl. I really like her a lot.” Gipe lets us inside Marty’s head and then shoots down his own rhetorical questions:
Marty could hardly believe this was his mother talking, even taking the physical transformation into account. Could this be the same woman who continually bad-mouthed Jennifer? Obviously not.
In both the movie and the book, Marty says that he can’t go because the car’s wrecked. In the movie, everyone freaks out and is all “Wrecked? When did this happen? How come nobody told me?” and then they go outside and see the car is fine. In the book, nobody freaks out but instead they take this opportunity to awkwardly hit us over the head with what happened, in case we’re all as slow as Marty:
“Wrecked?” Dad said.
“He’s been like this all morning,” Dave explained. “It’s like he went to bed and woke up in a different house with strange people.”
Wait wait, it gets better:
That was indeed the case but Marty didn’t say so.
Wow, Brother Dave sure is speaking naturally, and just like who had no idea what just happened would speak! They all calmly go out to see Biff waxing the car:
There in the driveway was a sparkling new BMW. Next to it stood Biff Tannen, polishing diligently. His expression also seemed subtly altered, devoid of the usual arrogance and belligerence. As he worked, he whistled a happy tune.
Out loud, Marty says “Geez,” and then “to himself” (though how his family standing right beside him knows which is which is a mystery) he says “What a difference a belt in the chops can make”.
So! Altered Biff: the dude goes from manager (of at least George McFly) to owning his own car-detailing business which as a self-employed dude (reviewing this crappy book = TOTALLY MY JOB) I can see as a step up. And he’s given up on a lot of his anger too, which is great! And here in the book he’s whistling a happy tune, which shows he’s even happier. So, hooray! Happiness!
But, maybe things aren’t so great? It makes me think of those dystopian science fiction futures where people get their minds messed with. Is Biff really happy? Or is his business in trouble and he’s putting a brave face on his faltering life? It’s pure speculation, obviously, but it’s a troublesome part of the ending because if Biff’s life isn’t unarguably improved like the McFly’s lives have been unarguably improved, then Marty has kind of done an ultimate dick move on Biff: improved his own life at the expense Biff’s. He’s used Biff (intentionally or not) and there’s all sorts of consequences we don’t see: for example, if Biff had kids in 1985 Prime that he didn’t have in this new 1985, there used to be some alive kids running around that aren’t running around anymore because WHOOPS THEY NEVER GOT BORN, HOPE THOSE STRAWBERRIES WERE WORTH IT MARTY
Something to think about, I guess! I know that Crispin Glover (dude played George McFly) argued to have something be wrong in this ending, to show that maybe messing with time wasn’t the greatest idea and there were unintended consequences. He got overruled, but that would make this ending even (arguably) darker!
All that aside, YES the fact that George and Lorraine hire to wax their car the man who tore her dress and tried to rape her in high school seems INCREDIBLY WEIRD no matter how you slice it.
Dave asks Marty if he’s all right, Marty says “Yeah. Are you guys all right?”, Dave says “Sure. Never better.” and then notices Marty’s got the music envelope in his hand and so offers to mail it from the office. I guess this sentence is there to confirm for us that Marty will actually get that letter mailed, so: ARC OF MAILING MARTY’S TAPE: CONCLUDED PRETTY UNAMBIGUOUSLY.
This next part is awesome:
Marty released the envelope and sat at the table. A bowl of fresh strawberries was waiting for him.
“I still don’t get it,” he muttered. “Strawberries… eggs Benedict. We never used to eat that kind of stuff. It was just cereal with toast and a paper towel for napkins. What’s going on?”
Oh man, “toast and a paper towel for napkins”. I love it. I love that it’s structured so that one paper towel has to act as multiple napkins. I also love that strawberries is considered by Marty to be the height of decadence, to be eaten only on the finest, most delicate linens. At first I thought maybe we Canadians were blessed with affordable, commodity strawberries but then I did some research and OH SNAP, not only do they cost the same in our two proud nations, but also:
Prices that [American] growers receive for fresh-market strawberries have more than doubled since 1970 but have not kept pace with inflation… the trend of inflation-adjusted strawberry prices was nearly flat at the retail level, rising less than 4 percent in 14 years. Retail prices reflect costs of packaging, transporting, and marketing, which rose faster than farmgate prices.
There’s even a chart, showing real and adjusted-for-inflation prices!!
Strawberries have been a pretty affordable fruit for a long time, dudes! They even grow on the side of the road sometimes for FREE. Plus in Canada (and America) you can go to those “You-Pick Berries” (Canada) or “U-Pik Berr-eez” (America) places and pick your OWN strawberries and you only have to pay for the ones you bring to the cash, not the ones you gobble!! I get that if the (original) McFlys were super poor then maybe strawberries would be totally out of reach, but we know the Book McFly’s weren’t “can’t afford strawberries” poor: they’ve got multiple incomes coming in and own multiple cars. Plus they bought a whole ton of peanut brittle like it wasn’t even a thing.
Hey, while you and I have had this strawberries conversation Marty has been eating his big bowl o’ berries, and
Halfway through his strawberries, he heard his parent’s voices from the hallway. Their conversation was light and happy-sounding
Marty asks where they were, Dave explains they were at tennis, Marty (still not getting that things have changed) says that Mom and Dad don’t play tennis, and Sister Linda shoots him down:
“Then that explains why they’ve been club doubles champions for six years,” Linda said archly.
“I can’t believe it.”
“Where have you been?” Linda demanded.
Marty seriously considered telling her
when his folks walked in the room.
Marty’s parents look “tanned and healthy”, George “radiated confidence and self-esteem” and Lorraine looks “thin and dynamic-looking”. These are some rad healthy confident dynamic tanned parents, and Marty’s jaw literally falls open and he says “Mom! Dad! You look — great!”
And new improved Sister Linda I guess still doesn’t like Marty that much because she thinks Marty’s saying this because he wants something from them so she says “What can he want? He’s already got everything.” so better go back and make some more changes, Marty!
Oh wait you still haven’t realized that’s what happened because you’re incredibly slow, Marty!!
WORKING THEORY: Gipe thought that readers really enjoyed shouting at a book in frustration when the characters always act like they’re touched in the head, so he cracked his knuckles before sitting down to write this and said “Baby you are gonna LOVE THIS”??
Remember the last page, where Marty quipped “Maybe you should hang around the emergency wards” and it seemed weird and out of place? Well that’s only because we hadn’t yet read pages 39 and 40, where he again throws out one-liners it EVERY SINGLE CHANCE HE GETS. I’m not joking. For the full reading experience, be sure to open each link in a new background tab as they appear:
LINDA: Yeah, well, I still don’t understand what Dad was doing in the middle of the street.
LORRAINE: What was it, George, bird watching?
GEORGE: What Lorraine, what?
Here Book Marty quips “He was probably just a very incompetent hitchhiker!” Oh ho!
The book continues a lot like in the movie:
LORRAINE: Anyway, Grandpa hit him with the car and brought him into the house. He was completely unconscious…
And Marty interrupts to say “Like now!” Oh ho ho!
The book conversation doesn’t have Linda say “We know mom, you felt sorry for him so you decided to go with him to the Fish Under The Sea Dance” but instead just has Lorraine give it to you straight, as she says “The very next weekend, we went on our first day. The ‘Enchantment Under The Sea’ School Dance.”
DOES MARTY HAVE A ZINGER FOR THIS ONE?? OH MAN HE DOES: “’Under the sea?’ Marty interrupted again. ‘You mean everyone came dressed as a clam or an oyster?’”
Movie version continues:
LORRAINE: No, it was The Enchantment Under The Sea Dance. Our first date. It was the night of that terrible thunderstorm, remember George? Your father kissed me for the very first time on that dance floor. It was then I realized I was going to spend the rest of my life with him.
Comedian book Marty interrupts with a well-timed “That really must have been some thunderstorm!”
The movie scene ends at this point, but here in the book - surprise! - it just keeps going and going:
“I can’t believe Dad actually got up enough nerve to kiss you in public,” Linda said.
Lorraine flushed. ”Well,” she said coyly. ”I may have encouraged him a little.”
“I bet you had to practically jump on his bones,” Marty offered.
And here I’m wincing because it’s clear this is the first time Gipe’s ever attempted to deploy the phrase “jump his bones” and, despite all his practice, that one little word “on” slipped in and blew it entirely for him. Aw no. Aw geez.
Okay! Now that Marty’s done cracking jokes, I would like to pause and offer up the following image in thanks to whatever editor it was who took it upon themselves to mercilessly cut EVERY ONE OF MARTY’S LINES IN THIS SCENE EXCEPT FOR ONE. Watch the film again and you’ll see all Marty does is say “Uncle ‘Jailbird’ Joey?” in this scene and then remains strangely, entirely, mercifully silent while all the other characters talk around him, even staying quiet when they discuss Jennifer and the fact that she called! Given what we now know Marty would’ve said if he’d gotten the chance, it was the right call, anonymous editor, and for that, I award you:
Oh wait, this scene isn’t over yet! Marty stands up, declines a piece of “nonhomecoming cake”, and Lorraine continues to reminisce:
“I did. I practically had to—”
Not wishing to fall into contemporary “obscene talk”, as she called it, she let the rest of the sentence die in her throat.
And this whole thing sucks because now it’s no longer a surprise at how sexually aggressive his mom is in the past, because she straight out gives us a heads up in advance. Anyway, then Lorraine looks around and sees Marty’s gone, George is lost in his papers, and Linda’s busy “looking out the window at something happening next door”. (This is amazing, by the way. Linda: you are amazing.).
Finding herself alone, what does she do? How does Chapter Two end? Well shucks, it ends with Lorraine REACHING FOR THE NEAREST KNIFE AND DRUGGING HERSELF UP ON CAKE:
Smiling in anticipation, she carved herself a four-inch wedge, shoved it onto her coffee saucer, and began to attack it. As the creamy icing melted in her mouth, so evaporated any feelings that the past thirty years had been anything but glorious.
Amazing. Chapter two, ladies and gentlemen!
PS DON’T WORRY BROS AND LADIES, YOU KNOW I’M NOT GONNA LEAVE YOU HANGING WITHOUT SOME CREAMY ICING PIXXXX:
Linda says she thinks it’s a major embarrassment having an uncle in jail, Lorraine says we all make mistakes, but now Book Dave says “Yeah, but Uncle Joey made them consecutively,” and I kind of really love that because it reminds me of John Campbell, who I also kind of really love.
Then Dave says “Damn, I’m late” and his mom says “Watch your language” like in the movie, but here he replies to his Mom with “Hell yes” and that’s kinda good too!
DID YOU KNOW: I am quickly becoming Book Dave Fan #1!
So then Book Dave goes off to work but instead of going by bus like in the movie he takes his car, and it’s good they changed it because it kind of raises the obvious question of WHY DOESN’T MARTY JUST BORROW DAVE’S CAR IF IT’S SO IMPORTANT, GOSH??
Anyway, the dinner conversation continues like in the film, but wordier, more loquaciously, garrulously, AND with unnecessary verbiage. Instead of Linda saying “Jennifer Parker called you twice” and then Lorraine jumping in with “I don’t like her, Marty. Any girl who calls a boy is just asking for trouble” we get:
”By the way,” Lorraine said, “That girl Jennifer called… wants you to call her back.”
“I think her last name was Parker.”
“I know her last name, Mom.”
“But it could’ve been another Jennifer, couldn’t it?”
“Yes, but I don’t know any other Jennifers right now.”
OKAY TERRIFIC; NOW WE KNOW FOR SURE THERE’S ONLY ONE JENNIFER IN THIS STORY. All I can guess is that this was meant to establish that Marty used to be a lady’s man, but… not anymore, because he’s down to just one Jennifer? So add that to your list of character traits of Marty McFly: Used To Get More Smooches, But Not Anymore, He’s Down To One Jennifer.
Then we get the “I never sat in a parked car with a boy” conversation from the movie, only now it continues with:
“Because when you behave like that, boys won’t respect you, Linda. They’ll think you’re cheap.”
Linda rolled her eyes. She’d heard it several hundred times already, although it probably seemed like at least one million.
Probably, huh? Then the “Don’t worry, it’ll just happen, like how I met your father” / “That was so stupid! Grandpa hit him with the car!” conversation happens and can you guess this conversation goes on longer than it needs to? If so you win 88 ultrapoints, 88.1 if you guessed it also features more Marty trying out standup:
“But that was so stupid!” Linda whined. ”Grandpa hit him with a car.”
“It was meant to be.”
“Maybe you should hang around the emergency wards,” Marty suggested.
“That wouldn’t do any good,” Lorraine said, unaware of his sarcasm. ”You see, you’ll meet Mr. Wonderful in a certain way that you just can’t make happen. And you won’t be able to avoid it either. It’s just bound to happen, like the sun’s supposed to come up tomorrow morning.
All this metaphysics did not impress Linda
nor did it impress Ryan, who was unaware that the REAL point of the upcoming time travel adventure was to prove how truly wrong Lorraine was in every sentence she says!
Also, can we talk about how weird the phrase “supposed to” is here? It’s so weird. Putting it in front of “come up tomorrow” is entirely unnecessary, and it’s such an odd and clunky phrasing that I looked into it and YES, it turns out that this post you’re reading now is the very first time that phrase has EVER been typed onto the internet, while the more natural non-awkward phrasing of the same sentiment that could’ve been used, “sun coming up tomorrow”, has been typed out over one million, four hundred and sixty thousand times.
Ladies and gentlemen: we now have quantifiable numbers as to how strange this book is! TRUE FACT: this book is 1,460,000 times weirder than it needs to be??
So Marty walks in on dinner and sees that his family:
were so wrapped up in their own lives that they didn’t think to ask him how the musical audition had turned out. He didn’t feel like explaining why he had lost or seeing their expressions of fake sympathy.
“Meat loaf again,” he said flatly.
His criticism did not keep the jaws from working.
OH MY GOD, WHAT THE HELL. You guys, the jaws must keep.. working? I guess? The jaws possibly being the jaws of his family? Because they’re eating? This sentence is so weird and scary, like there’s hungry jaws in the corner of the room, just chewing endlessly?
ANYWAY we meet the rest of Marty’s family:
And we see what they’re having for dinner, and suddenly Gipe is all about the brand names for no reason! They’re eating
It doesn’t come through here in list format, but the way these brand names is worked in is SUPER weird and conspicuous. As in:
“Sour grapes,” Linda said softly, not looking up from her dessert, which was Jell-O Instant chocolate pudding with a generic brand instant whipped topping.
In terms of word count, that sentence is 46% “events that happened” and 54% “GUYS GUYS here’s some brand name description”. It’s like product placement for books, only they couldn’t find a “whipped topping” sponsor so GENERIC BRAND IT IS!! Here’s a fun fact: this page was the very first one that was so weird that read it out loud to my wife (then just my girlfriend! But then I married her!) and then dog-eared it so that I could do something with it later. And here we are, later, and we’re doing something with it… together.
Anyway Mom asks how the audition went, Marty says he didn’t do well, his brother suggests it was fixed, Marty agrees, and his dad says “You’re better off not having the aggravation of dealing with that YMCA dance” because if he got it Marty would have to get his equipment there, and make contingency plans if someone got sick, then make sure they got paid, then divide up the money evenly, then settle with the musicians’ union (??), then if they were good and got other jobs they’d need to worry about scheduling that around schoolwork! So we learn George is both a pushover and a guy who is super worried about contingencies, which I guess… is nice?
In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, there’s so much unnecessary talking in this book, you guys. Everyone just talks and talks and talks. In the movie we just get the tiniest sliver of conversation and it’s ALL WE NEED: Movie George says “You’re better off not having to worry about all the aggravation and headaches of playing at that dance” which is nice because it I always thought it sounded more as him trying to think of something nice to say to his son than expressing his sincere fear of aggravation and/or headaches.
In the middle of this talking, Lorraine “Mom” McFly notices Linda eating the Jell-O Instant chocolate pudding with a generic brand instant whipped topping (find it at your local grocer in the pressurized desserts section) and says “You don’t have to eat that, you know, we’ve got cake.” and brings out the “WELCOME HOME UNCLE JOEY” cake, and NOT ONLY did Uncle Joey not get parole this time (as in the movie) but we all talk and talk about it and the backstory behind it and the motivations of the parole officers and OH GOD:
“It’s a shame,” Lorraine continued. They practically assured him he’d get out this time. Then there was a shake-up in prison management. I guess that hurt him more than anything. Everybody has his own axe to grind.”
Blah blah blah someone better drive a car through time soon is all I’m saying