March 27, 2014


Brian Aldiss speaks to Booksquawk about the writing of the Supertoys trilogy, and his dealings with Mr Kubrick and Mr Spielberg…

Interview by Pat Black.

Booksquawk: “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” drew the attention of Stanley Kubrick, before the project was passed onto Steven Spielberg. I understand that your relationship with Kubrick was strained during the writing process for the movie – were you happy with the finished version? How did your experiences with Spielberg compare with those involving Kubrick?

Brian Aldiss: Here's an attempt at a response.  A limousine with a Spanish chauffeur would arrive early every morning at my house on Boars Hill, to take me to Kubrick's rambling palace north of St Alban's.

We would work all day, smoking heavily [eughhh], and Stanley would cook us a snack of mainly string beans.

Progress was difficult. Stanley rejected the psychological aspect I suggested.

In an evening, the car would take me home. I would then write up the day's notes and send them to Stanley via - what was that primitive instrument called?  I have forgotten.

Stanley seemed to be unwell. He remained witty. But one morning he said, 'We're getting nowhere.  I'm letting you go'. He turned his back on me. But Stanley had a pleasant family, his wife being an artist; only his manners were not first class.

Steven Spielberg was already a friend of Stanley's. It was natural for him - the ingenious producer of so many movies - to take over and finish 'A.I.' after Stanley's death. Somehow, New York had become flooded.

Stanley had consulted Arthur C Clarke, living in what was then Ceylon, for a script writer: this resulted in contradictions in the little boy's behaviour and the alarming dampness of the American city.

I wrote a letter to Steven, suggesting a way in which the tangled tale might end.

Steve wrote back by return, offering me a generous sum of money for just one sentence of the letter.

He also suggested we should meet when he was next in London, staying at the Ritz. 

Steven was always pleasant to deal with.

Eventually 'A.I,' appeared on our screens.  I returned to my habitual amusement of novel and short story writing.

Readers can ask themselves which they consider the more seductive a title, 'A.I.' or 'Supertoys Last All Summer Long'.

Probably my title would not have fitted on the billboards...

Read the review of Supertoys Last all Summer Long here.

Read the excerpt here.

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