Films and books – exploring parallel universes

We interrupt your normal Friday Reads with a special post.

Today Gollancz says farewell (for now) to Mark Stay who is off to have adventures in film making and become our future Robot Overlord! Mark is an integral part to the Gollancz Team and we’re going to miss him terribly. We also couldn’t be happier for him. Good luck, Mark!

Now, we’ll let Mark tell you a little but more books, films and robots! 


After years of working on scripts that have settled in various comfortable retirement condos of development hell (with superb views of the lake of fire), one of my projects is actually being filmed, and the good people at Orion have gracefully allowed me to take 6 months leave to make the most of it, ie: begging for more work, calling my poor agent every day, visiting the set and telling everyone how to do their job etc.

And while I look forward to the freedom to write every day, it does mean that I won’t be able to pop up to the 5th floor at Orion House and chew the cud with my chums at Gollancz.

I’ve been selling books for roughly 20 years now, and when I was a bookseller I always ran the science fiction section, and when I joined Orion, I immediately gravitated towards Gollancz, home to those lovely yellow hardbacks I used to take home from the library when I was a kid.

And I’m delighted to say that they were incredibly welcoming. In my first week I was taken to lunch by the team, including Simon Spanton and Jo Fletcher, and in minutes I had blotted my copybook, ‘Oh yeah,’ I grinned, ‘I love sci-fi!’

There was a sudden and collective sharp intake of breath around the table. Jo explained it me, ‘In publishing, it’s SF, not sci-fi’.

‘But this is why people think we’re nerds!’ was what I didn’t say in reply (I was too new to be so cocky), but on reflection, I think she’s right.

SF literature has always been years, if not decades, ahead of sci-fi film. Novels can get inside the minds of characters in a way that films never could, they can explore ideas on paper that could never be expressed on screen, and whatever book you write, no matter how good, or how bad, they’ll never cast one of Will Smith’s kids as your lead.

So it’s right to make a distinction between the two. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but they both feed off the great question ‘What if?’ and as kissing cousins, I look forward to enjoying both flavours.

I’ve been at Orion for nearly 10 years now, and I’m grateful for every opportunity it’s given me, not least meeting and reading some of our most talented and inspiring authors. I’m hoping that I can continue to jump between the worlds of film and books, and see if I can help film catch-up with some of SF’s great ideas.

If you want to know more about the film, do please follow us on Twitter @Robot_Overlords, and I occasionally blog about it.