JJ Abrams has teamed up with Doug Dorst for the fictional book S. ANDREW GOMBERT / EPA
JJ Abrams has teamed up with Doug Dorst for the fictional book S. ANDREW GOMBERT / EPA

JJ Abrams keeps up his mind-bending streak in S



"Take a picture and tweet it. I killed J?J Abrams."
It's Saturday night at Symphony Space on Manhattan's Upper West Side and Abrams - the filmmaker and television showrunner who made his name thrilling audiences with smart hits such as Lost, Alias and Super 8 - is sprawled face down on the stage in front of a crowd of hundreds.
Lena Dunham, the writer and director of the HBO drama Girls (currently in its second season on OSN Comedy First) has just told him that she has seen the critically panned 1999 Star Wars film The Phantom Menace, after earlier revealing that she never watched the original trilogy. There are gasps and howls from the audience.
"Do I watch it now?" she'd asked him after that first admission. "Then I'm going to be the guy who's going around being like, 'Guys have you seen Star Wars? It's so good!'" Abrams had pretended to storm offstage, saying, "This is where it ends."
It was announced at the beginning of the year that Abrams would be directing a new Star Wars sequel due out in 2015, while continuing to take the reigns on Star Trek, the movie franchise that he rebooted in 2009. His second Star Trek film, Into Darkness, which he produced and directed, came out in the spring and a third is in development.
That's not even all he's been up to. Abrams's latest television series, Almost Human, for which he is credited as co-creator and executive producer, is being broadcast on OSN First HD (it's a futuristic cop show in which humans team up with robots to fight crime), and two days before Halloween he published a book, co-written with the novelist Doug Dorst.
S is a work of fiction in the form of a puzzle. While its real title and creators are displayed on the jacket, inside is a different book altogether: Ship of Theseus by the fictional author V?M Straka. It's designed to look like a public library book from the 1940s, complete with date stamps. And while the novel itself tells the story of a nightmarish voyage, a second narrative happens in the margins, where two readers scrawl notes back and forth to each other, and hide postcards, photos, clippings and, in one case, a map hand-drawn on a napkin. It's as exciting and as mind-bending as the best of Abrams's work.
"I couldn't even begin to give away spoilers," Dunham says by way of an introduction, "because I don't know what happened." The audience laughs and she clarifies: "In a good way."
 
. S by J?J Abrams and Doug Dorst, Mulholland Books, Dh143 from Kinokuniya. Almost Human is on OSN First on Saturdays at 9pm
artslife@thenational.ae
Quotable quotes from Abrams
On juggling Star Trek and Star Wars
They are completely different animals. One's a long time ago . and one's in the future. The truth is that while Star Trek is very much a science-fiction story, Star Wars is a fairy tale. It has a very different feeling. We're being led by what the story wants to be. These are obviously two enormous pre-existing things, but I never feel them overlapping.
On Jar Jar Binks
How would I kill him? By any means necessary. (Wild applause) It's such an easy target, to say that.
On Captain Kirk versus Han Solo
I am going to refrain from answering; only because if I answer the wrong way, I will get my ass kicked either by Harrison Ford, or by William Shatner, or Chris Pine, and all three of them could take me down.
On S's themes
As these two (characters) are falling in love, they're slowing revealing truths about themselves, so the idea of identity in a relationship is at hand. Then, of course, the whole title of the novel (refers to the philosophical puzzle): "If you keep replacing pieces of a ship until you've replaced all the pieces, is it the same ship?" That notion of identity is hit, beautifully, throughout.
On the book's structure
It wasn't always clear that the book wasn't going to be a pre-existing novel, but then I said: "No, I actually want to write the novel and use this notion of conspiracy about the author". So it became a much larger and more fascinating project. It was clear from the early drafts that Doug was writing something that transcended the gimmick at the book's core, because the writing was so compelling: so sweet, romantic, fun, mysterious.
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Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

RESULTS

9pm: Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (Dirt) 2,000m
Winner: Mubhir Al Ain, Antonio Fresu (jockey), Ahmed Al Mehairbi (trainer)
9.30pm: Handicap (TB) Dh70,000 (D) 2,000m
Winner: Exciting Days, Oscar Chavez, Doug Watson
10pm: Al Ain Cup – Prestige (PA) Dh100,000 (D) 2,000m
Winner: Suny Du Loup, Marcelino Rodrigues, Hamad Al Marar
10.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,800m
Winner: Jafar Des Arnets, Oscar Chavez, Ahmed Al Mehairbi
11pm: Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,600m
Winner: Taj Al Izz, Richard Mullen, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami
11.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,400m
Winner: Majdy, Antonio Fresu, Jean de Roualle
12am: Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,400m
Winner: Hamloola, Sam Hitchcott, Salem Al Ketbi

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
How to watch Ireland v Pakistan in UAE

When: The one-off Test starts on Friday, May 11
What time: Each day’s play is scheduled to start at 2pm UAE time.
TV: The match will be broadcast on OSN Sports Cricket HD. Subscribers to the channel can also stream the action live on OSN Play.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

Top 10 most competitive economies

1. Singapore
2. Switzerland
3. Denmark
4. Ireland
5. Hong Kong
6. Sweden
7. UAE
8. Taiwan
9. Netherlands
10. Norway

SPECS

Engine: Dual electric motors with 102kW battery pack

Power: 570hp

Torque: 890Nm

Range: Up to 428km

On sale: Now

Price: From Dh1,700,000

All The Light We Cannot See

Creator: Steven Knight

Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Hugh Laurie, Aria Mia Loberti

Rating: 1/5 

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

FIGHT CARD

Featherweight 4 rounds:
Yousuf Ali (2-0-0) (win-loss-draw) v Alex Semugenyi (0-1-0)
Welterweight 6 rounds:
Benyamin Moradzadeh (0-0-0) v Rohit Chaudhary (4-0-2)
Heavyweight 4 rounds:
Youssef Karrar (1-0-0) v Muhammad Muzeei (0-0-0)
Welterweight 6 rounds:
Marwan Mohamad Madboly (2-0-0) v Sheldon Schultz (4-4-0)
Super featherweight 8 rounds:
Bishara Sabbar (6-0-0) v Mohammed Azahar (8-5-1)
Cruiseweight 8 rounds:
Mohammed Bekdash (25-0-0) v Musa N’tege (8-4-0)
Super flyweight 10 rounds:
Sultan Al Nuaimi (9-0-0) v Jemsi Kibazange (18-6-2)
Lightweight 10 rounds:
Bader Samreen (8-0-0) v Jose Paez Gonzales (16-2-2-)

Getting there and where to stay

Fly with Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to New York’s JFK. There's 11 flights a week and economy fares start at around Dh5,000.
Stay at The Mark Hotel on the city’s Upper East Side. Overnight stays start from $1395 per night.
Visit NYC Go, the official destination resource for New York City for all the latest events, activites and openings.

Name: Peter Dicce

Title: Assistant dean of students and director of athletics

Favourite sport: soccer

Favourite team: Bayern Munich

Favourite player: Franz Beckenbauer

Favourite activity in Abu Dhabi: scuba diving in the Northern Emirates