In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, James Cameron discussed the as-yet-unscheduled Avatar novel he’s writing, and laid a smackdown on the term “novelization”:
I hate that term. A novelization is when the merchandising department hires a hack writer for $15,000 to adapt my script. This is the novel.
Was this a veiled slam against the writers of novelizations of past Cameron films? Some more than others, apparently:
Not a big fan. Since [Alan Dean Foster] did the Aliens novelization which I thought was pretty dreadful. I didn’t make that deal. But I did make the deal for The Abyss, which I had Orson Scott Card write, who did a fantastic job on The Abyss novel, which we didn’t even call a novelization, just a novel. (via)
In 1991 a second version of The Terminator novel was released simultaneously with the novel of T2: Judgement Day. Both written by Randall Frakes and Bill Wisher, friends of Cameron’s, these are presumably kosher. Not so much the 1985 original by Shaun Hutson, which according to the author:
was supposedly based on an unauthorised script… I worked from the 3rd draft screenplay (the first two must have been really bad…) But my publishers at the time, apparently, hadn’t bought the rights/cleared it with James Cameron or whatever, so my version was replaced by an authorised version. So, sorry, that one will never appear in print again as far as I can tell. (via)
However, given that he’s been not uncomplimentary about some of the movie sequels, one would imagine that Cameron isn’t completely opposed to expanded universe novels like Terminator Salvation: Trial by Fire (by the king of EU, Timothy Zahn), which hit bookstores this week.
You can check out a full chapter excerpt here. You might not like it, but hey, at least it’s a novel.