Alasdair Stuart writes for Bleeding Cool.
I thought Avatar was beautiful, technically brilliant and almost entirely toothless. At the time it struck me as odd because Cameron is a director – and scriptwriter – whose previous work all sits* very high on my list of all time greats. He's very smart, technically brilliant and he doesn't deliver toothless scripts.
Until Avatar. At the time it seemed like it was due to the massive technical audacity encoded into every single frame of the movie but now, with the sequels gearing up, it looks to be something a little more internal. The world of Avatar, as Cameron envisions it, is too big for him to deal with by himself. That's why he's announced the extra scriptwriters on the sequels, why we're getting three more instead of the usual trilogy and, now, why Avatar novels are on the way too.
The Wrap are reporting that Steven Charles Gould has been signed to produce four standalone novels set in the Avatar universe. Gould is best known for the novel Jumper but his overall back catalog is really strong too. He's been Hugo-nominated twice, has a raft of novels and short stories to his name and, crucially, is completely at home working with film as source material.
For example Griffin's Story, a sequel-sidequel to Jumper was written after the movie and at least partially in response to how popular Jamie Bell's character was. In other words, Gould has no problem working with worlds too big for one medium, and that looks to be just what Cameron needs.
Cameron's also got form working with novelists in parallel to his screenplays; the novelization of The Abyss featured extra material that the actors worked into the background of their characters. And as a bonus, unlike The Abyss novelization, the Avatar books won't be written by Orson Scott Card.
That sound you can hear is every PR flak at the studio breathing out.
The number of books interests me too; four movies, four novels. I can't help but wonder if Gould's work will echo back into each of the movies. Maybe one of them will be the prequel Cameron was talking about a while back? Maybe each one will build on events or characters glimpsed in the movies? Or maybe it'll be a four book prequel dealing with Steven Lang snarling and punching his way across Pandora. I could totally get behind that.
Either way, Avatars 2 thru 4 will be in cinemas Christmas 2016, 2017 and 2018. So Gould's got plenty of time to start drafting. Further Avatar adventures are also on the way with a theme park "land" from Disney and, according to Brendon's chat with James Cameron a year ago, comic books and video games very much in the offing too.