The Terminator movies are the epitome of science fiction history.
On a side note, James Cameron is trying really hard to remind us of that fact in every other commercial we see on television. Cameron, after all, gave us Terminator and T2: Judgment Day, creating a mythos that I have a feeling will long outlive that of his December 18th $400 million budget science fiction film, Avatar.
Last week the history of Terminator added another page to its book. Terminator: Salvation, the fourth installment of the franchise, was released on DVD/Blu-ray with a Director’s Cut edition. The movie is not the only page added to that history log though. Greg Cox, author of Terminator Salvation: Cold War, was asked by the movie studio to write a tie-in novel centering around the Russia retaliation to Skynet’s missile strikes and the resulting fallout in Alaska.
At least we know what happened to Alaska now!
Unbound Worlds had the opportunity to talk to Greg about Terminator Salvation: Cold War:
Unbound Worlds: Hi Greg! Thanks for joining us on Unbound Worlds. How are you today?
Greg Cox: Thanks for asking! Today is going fine so far. I’ve already walked my dog and started proofreading an upcoming Star Trek story. Now I’m taking a break to munch on some popcorn and, of course, talk about Terminator.
UW: You have written novels set in Star Trek and movie novelizations/tie-ins
for Ghost Rider, Underworld, Buffy, Alias and others. How did you get involved with Terminator Salvation: Cold War?
GC: The opportunity came out of the blue. An editor at Titan Books sent me an email asking if I would be interested in a writing a Terminator novel for them. “Definitely!” I wrote back.
It was as simple as that.
UW: For those who may not know, what is the premise of Terminator Salvation: Cold War?
GC: There are two parallel plotlines. One involves Captain Losenko, the Russian submarine commander seen briefly in Salvation, as he copes with the ghastly aftermath of Judgment Day. The other takes place several years later in 2018 and involves a band of scrappy human Resistance fighters in Alaska. Naturally, the two storyline converge in the end.
UW: Did you have an opportunity to view Terminator: Salvation before the movie’s release?
GC: No. But the movie people sent me a top-secret copy of the script (minus the last few pages). I also got to read Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of the
movie as well as a previous prequel by Timothy Zahn. Titan also sent me a copy of the official movie companion, as well as a book on the art of the movie. (Both by Tara Bennett.) So I had plenty of reference material to work with.
I also tracked down some of the earlier Terminator novels and read them, too. Just to thoroughly immerse myself in the series!
UW: In my opinion, the movie got a lot right and some wrong. What did you think of the movie?
GC: I’m biased, of course, but I really enjoyed the movie. I was in the middle of writing Cold War when the movie came out, so I admit I was mentally taking notes the whole time I watched it! I paid particular attention to the LOOK of the film; I thought the filmmakers did a great job of creating that whole devastated, post-apocalyptic setting, which I worked hard to capture in my book.
UW: Did you have to do any research concerning the actual US/Russia Cold War
to discover how Russia would truly retaliate to the US Skynet missiles?
GC: Getting the submarine stuff right was the hardest part. I watched every nuclear submarine movie I could find: The Hunt For Red October, K-19, Crimson Tide, etc. Plus, I read several books on the subject. (I now have an entire library of non-fiction books on nuclear submarines!)
GC: Ooh. That’s a hard one. After three hundred pages or so, it’s hard not to get attached to ALL of your characters. I’m fond of Molly Kookesh, my indomitable Alaskan forest ranger, whom I wanted to be a formidable heroine in the tradition of Sara Conner. And I had fun fleshing out Dmitri Losenko, who only appeared for a few minutes in the movie. (Remember him? He’s the Russian Resistance leader who tells John Connor that Skynet has targeted the young Kyle Reese.)
And then there’s Sitka and Geir and . . . .
UW: Did you have to consult with someone from the movie studio about content
in the novel?
GC: Absolutely. James Middleton at Halcyon was heavily involved with Cold War at every stage, from the original outline to the final draft. James contributed many valuable ideas and suggestions. He even figured out what kind of plane to use for the final dogfight scene!
UW: There have now been four Terminator movies. What is your favorite? Do you have a favorite scene? And what actor would you most like to meet from those movies?
GC: It’s hard to pick a favorite. I’ve seen all of them several times now, especially the third one, which seemed to be playing on cable every week when I was writing the book. (I watched it frequently for inspiration.) If I have to choose just one, though, I probably have to go with T2. The CGI effects in that movie were just mind-blowing in its time, and Linda Hamilton was amazing as Sarah Connor.
I’m usually several steps removed from the actual actors. But it might be fun and useful to talk to Anton Yelchin, since he’s done both Terminator and Star Trek. I’d love to pick his brains on both Kyle Reese and Pavel Chekov.
UW: What are you working on right now?
GC: I just finished a Star Trek novel based on the new movie, and I have another DC Comics novelization, Final Crisis, coming out in July. I’m not entirely sure what my next book will be about, but I’d certainly be happy to do another Terminator novel someday.
UW: Thank you for your time, Greg! Do you have anything else you’d like to share?
GC: Thanks for having me. I hope readers enjoy Cold War. I certainly had a ball writing it!
Greg Cox is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous Star Trek novels, including The Q Continuum, To Reign In Hell, The Eugenics Wars, Assignment: Eternity, and The Black Shore. He has written numerous official movie novelizations and novels set in DC Comics and Marvel continuity. Greg also works as a Consulting Editor for Tor Books.
You can visit Greg at his website, www.gregcox-author.com!