I had one more question from Burin Bache – whose name I now know how to pronounce!* — he asked: What is the Bishop’s real name? I asked Harry, who said he could tell me, but then I’d never leave the room alive. So I didn’t insist on knowing the answer.
If you don’t know who the Bishop is, you’re probably reading the wrong blog.
Today’s guest interviewers are J.B. Coldwell and Ben Sugden, who are – I think – from West Yorkshire in the UK, or at least originally from that neck of the woods.
BS: Why did you decide to stop writing the Deathworld series?
HH: I really had no more material; I exploited the idea to the ultimate – I gave the characters all the problems and they solved them all. Also, I didn’t want to do that forever, the way that some writers do. The Stainless Steel Rat is different – I’ve done eleven of those, but spread over a period of forty or fifty years, and all those books are completely different, even though the character is the same.
BS: Was there ever a plan for an English-language Deathworld 4, perhaps based on ‘The Mothballed Spaceship’ short story?
HH: I’m afraid not – what you see is what you get, so make the most of it!
BS: Is there any possibility of a Stainless Steel Rat or Deathworld movie in the short to medium term?
HH: It’s a great idea, I love it, I wish they would, they’re optioned. We have to have patience. I’ve had to be patient for 25 years, so I’m the same as you too.
BS: Which actors would you like to see play Jim and Angelina in a movie?
HH: It’s been optioned for so long that all the choice actors have died off! Very early on we were trying to get Steve McQueen, who would have made a very, very good Rat. But he snuffed it. One guy who had an option on it wanted to have a black actor play the Rat, but the option lapsed. It’s hard to say. Chances are we’d be better with a new, good actor. The older good actors are now on crutches! It would be like John Wayne with his pot belly running, you know!
BS: Do you have a favourite actress you’d like to see play Angelina?
HH: No, again its the same thing. In some ways its a very difficult role, because it has to be very physical, yet very feminine at the same time. The actress who was in The Producers and Kill Bill 1 and 2, Uma Thurman, was very good. She was very feminine – especially in The Producers where she gets her clothes off – there was a lot of girl there!
BS: And which actors would you like to see play Jason in Deathworld?
HH: Same thing as with Jim, it would require somebody new. You want the character to walk into a scene and establish himself as an individual.
BS: In a fight between Angelina and Meta (from Deathworld), who would win?
HH: I’m afraid my money would be on the Deathworld girl. They’re both pretty good, but she comes from a heavier planet, so she’s used to moving in twice the gravity so she has bigger muscles. Angelina has plenty of smarts, but the other one is a good cruncher!
BS: Have you seen the Ocean’s Eleven remake with George Clooney? Do you think his character is like the Stainless Steel Rat?
HH: He’s too old for the job!
JBC: How do you think you have influenced the field of science fiction?
HH: For the better I hope! I did invent steampunk, that’s first. I also worked hard to have an anti-military element in my books… I suppose I’ve tried to adult-ise the field. Science fiction was always a young boys’ fiction, even in John Campbell’s magazine.
JBC: Have you ever seen a character in a movie or on tv and thought that they reminded you of one of your own characters?
HH: No, they’re all figments of my imagination. With the possible exception of Steve McQueen… but that’s pretty rare. I don’t really set out to specify black hair or big eyes or… I try to keep it very general so that every reader can imagine himself in the role. It’s very important for the reader to identify with the hero.
* It’s like the last part of Chewbacca, but you have to clear your throat between the two c’s… 😉