In a recent interview with the Adventures in Scifi Publishing podcast, Stargate Atlantis executive producer Joseph Mallozzi joined Lou Anders of Pyr Books to discuss the relationship between media and literary science fiction. An avid reader, Mallozzi talked about rediscovering his passion for books.
“I always kind of liken SF literature to the older, cerebral, perhaps not as good looking brother,” Mallozzi said, “and SF media like film and television as kind of the younger, suaver, but perhaps not quite as deep or significant younger brother. To be honest with you, I used to read a lot as a kid and I was hugely into sci-fi and fantasy and horror. And as other aspects of my life took over, the more I wrote the less I read – which is kind of sad. It has only been in the last seven or eight years that I rediscovered my love of literature – science fiction literature in particular.”
Mallozzi discussed the power of science fiction to tell stories, and the differences between book writing and screenwriting: “One of the things that really struck me about science fiction literature is the fact that it’s so wide-open in terms of the realms of possibilities to be explored, and you generally don’t have to worry about being shackled down. You don’t have to worry about necessarily appealing to a certain demographic, unless you have one of these tyrannical editors, which is something Lou can cover later on. But for the most part you write what you want to write – whereas in television and film, you’re writing what everyone else wants you to write … unless you’re a Joss Whedon, who’s incredibly successful, and because he’s incredibly successful can pretty much call his shots. I say ‘pretty much’ because at the end of the day there’s still that network that’s going to be giving him notes on his scripts and the direction of his show.”
“A lot of the times, when you’re dealing with networks and studios, their main concern is that as much of the audience as possible gets it. So they’re always, I guess, on your case to – I wouldn’t say to spoon feed – but to make everything absolutely clear. After awhile that kind of robs viewers of the challenge of viewing.
“I was telling someone recently that I think all great art challenges, in certain respects. If you don’t challenge the reader or the viewer, then you’re providing entertainment but not much beyond that.”
In the full discussion Mallozzi and Anders go on to discuss how literature impacted the course of Atlantis, the movement towards more sophisticated material in television and books, whether or not adaptations are good or bad, and Mallozzi’s own online book club (blog). They also talk about why fantasy books are often adapted within a few years but science fiction books require decades to bring to the screen.
Listen to the full discussion in episode #74 of the Adventures in Scifi Publishing podcast!
(Thanks to Morjana for the tip)