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My wife Margaret


Steven Spielberg steps into the breach
Brian Aldiss Writer
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Steven [Spielberg] was such a nice guy. Steven was terrific. And Steven took over the making of the film and he wrote to me and asked me what I thought. And I wrote him a letter back, one page. It said, well, my idea was that this little boy was making out okay, but then he goes to a factory and in the factory he sees a production line of himself, duplicated and duplicated, and that… the shock kills him. That was what I proposed in this one letter. So, Spielberg wrote back and said, 'Brian, I would like to buy this letter from you'. And he offered me something that was the equivalent of the sort of down-payment I would get for a novel from one of the publishers. Very generous.

So that was it. That is, more or less, how the film ends with the little boy finding this production line. And Spielberg finished off the film to the best of his ability because of his friendship with Stanley.

It's curious, isn't it? I don't think it's a very good film, but the necessity to flood New York seems to me a lot of water too far, but then I am naturally prejudiced. So there we are.

So then Stanley died. His wife, who was artistic, and often when we were stuck, we would go and see her, sitting in a vast ballroom in the corner, painting. She was a sweet woman, I really loved her and it would cheer us when we went to see her. So she invited me over to some parties there. That was very nice. But now, the link has been broken. I know nothing more. Well, I wouldn't expect to know anything more. But it was rather a harrowing time of life, I have to say.

Brian Aldiss (1925-2017) was an English writer and anthologies editor, best known for his science fiction novels and short stories. He was educated at Framlingham College, Suffolk, and West Buckland School, Devon, and served in the Royal Signals between 1943-1947. After leaving the army, Aldiss worked as a bookseller in Oxford, an experience which provided the setting for his first book, 'The Brightfount Diaries' (1955). His first science fiction novel, 'Non-Stop', was published in 1958 while he was working as literary editor of the 'Oxford Mail'. His many prize-winning science fiction titles include 'Hothouse' (1962), which won the Hugo Award, 'The Saliva Tree' (1966), which was awarded the Nebula, and 'Helliconia Spring' (1982), which won both the British Science Fiction Association Award and the John W Campbell Memorial Award. Several of his books have been adapted for the cinema. His story, 'Supertoys Last All Summer Long', was adapted and released as the film 'AI' in 2001. His book 'Jocasta' (2005), is a reworking of Sophocles' classic Theban plays, 'Oedipus Rex' and 'Antigone'.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg

Duration: 2 minutes, 58 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014

Date story went live: 17 August 2015