Gollancz helps kickstart sequel to classic computer game ELITE

Leading SF publisher Gollancz, an imprint of Orion Books, is to publish three new original novels to tie-in with the sequel to classic 80s computer game ELITE.

Gollancz announced the new novels after pledging over £13,000 to help make ELITE: DANGEROUS, a sequel to the classic space trading game published in 1984 but which still enjoys a cult status. Having reached their £1.25 million goal on crowdfunding website Kickstarter, the game’s producers, Frontier Developments, plan to release the game in March 2014, and the books will be published to tie in to the game’s release.

Gollancz Editor Marcus Gipps and Orion Deputy Publisher Jon Wood were both fans of the original game and had already discussed with ELITE co-creator David Braben the possibility of publishing original ELITE fiction. Uniquely for the time, the original game came packaged with a specially commissioned novella called The Dark Wheel by Gollancz author Robert Holdstock. Although Holdstock sadly passed away in 2009, Gollancz were keen to add his tie-in work to the SFGateway, an online repository of classic science fiction, and discussions continued from there.

Gollancz have purchased the rights to publish three tie-in novels, and will work with Frontier to integrate the stories into the game. Marcus Gipps says: “When we saw that David Braben was seeking funding on Kickstarter for a new ELITE game, both Jon and myself were very excited at the potential of this new form of creative ownership. Luckily, one of Braben’s ‘pledge levels’ included the rights to publish an official tie-in book. After some discussion with David, and then within Orion, Gollancz put ourselves down for three of the ‘writer’s packages’. We currently plan to publish all three books around the game’s launch, and although each story will stand alone, there will be elements and characters that link all three works.” You can read more about Marcus’ restrained reaction to the announcement of the Kickstarter camapign here, and follow him on twitter here.

Publishing plans and authors have not yet been finalised, but Jon Wood commented: “We wish we could work with Robert Holdstock on this project, but we’re sure he would be excited to see David creating a new ELITE game. Although we aren’t yet in a position to announce details of our plans, we can say that we’re in discussion with some potential authors – some already published by Gollancz, some new to the Orion group – and have been very pleased by the response. Many were deeply touched by the original ELITE, and the accompanying novella, and it clearly had a significant impact on the SF genre. Negotiations are ongoing, but we hope to announce the involvement of three major names in due course.”

The ELITE: DANGEROUS kickstarter concludes at midnight (UK time) on Friday January 4th. Go and spend some money, and join us in March 2014 for exciting new adventures!