Yesterday J.J. Abrams was on PBS talking about working on his recently released interactive novel "S.". He also briefly discussed his other projects including Star Wars...
Here's the interview. While talking about his innovative approach on certain things Abrams briefly discussed Star Wars and how they want to do it. Watch around the 16th minute. Still I suggest you see the whole thing. J.J. is such a great guy. I'm glad we have him directing Episode 7.
If you're interested in the book here's a quick inside look:
And more on Abrams' extraordinary project:
Abrams was born in New York, in 1966, and raised in Los Angeles, with both his parents working in the industry he now bestrides. One shouldn't read too much into this confluence of East Coast intelligentsia and West Coast free-thinking, given that the genuinely significant event of his childhood was the 1977 release of Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope.
Although Abrams worked on a number of cinematic projects – notably Regarding Harry with Star Wars star Harrison Ford, about the nature of identity, and two comedies, Gone Fishin' and Taking Care of Business (released as Filofax in the UK) – his breakthrough work was in television and with his own production company, Bad Robot. That show was Alias, about a young woman, Sydney Bristow, who is a triple agent for the CIA. It established a set of Abrams-esque themes: arcing mythologies (in this case, the prophecies and technologies of Milo Rambaldi), a willingness to reboot the series radically at certain junctures, and a canny eye on audience expectations. There were hints of these associations in his earlier career. His fascination with end-of-the-world scenarios chimes neatly with working on Armageddon. Moreover, although the TV series he co-wrote first, Felicity, was primarily a realistic comedy about a college student, it contained the seeds of ideas that would be fully realised later. Towards the end of season four, the audience was given alternate timelines and parallel realities. Just before season two, the eponymous star Keri Russell sent producers a prank photograph of herself with, apparently, her trademark golden locks shorn off. This became integrated into the show itself, a trick that would be used well during the filming of Lost.
Abrams withdrew from Lost to direct Mission: Impossible III and co-created a similar TV show, Fringe, in 2008, with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Collaboration seems his preferred mode of production, and this is borne out with the novel S, which Abrams "conceived", but which has been written by Doug Dorst.
A minute-long YouTube trailer, featuring a man with his mouth stitched shut and a voiceover stating "what begins at the water shall end there" and "this is what happens when you become lost", was the first hint of S. Online speculation wondered if this was a teaser for a Lost spinoff series, an adaptation of DC comics' Phantom Stranger, or even a cryptic reference to the new Star Wars film. Instead, it heralded a book.
S is a "fake artefact", much like the monster movie Cloverfield, which Abrams produced in 2008 and which used found footage. Not only do we get a novel, Ship of Theseus, purportedly by a "VM Straka" – about a man shanghaied onto a mysterious boat with a demonic crew – the copy in the reader's hand is heavily annotated by two other readers, Jennifer and Eric, who are attempting to make sense of the text and themselves, as well as the enigmatic figure of Straka himself. Interleaved into it are countless pieces of ephemera: postcards, telegrams, a map scribbled on a napkin from the Pronghorn Java coffee shop. It even has a fake library sticker (813.54 STR 1949). It winks at Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire – another book about the role of the reader in creating the story – and is probably the most intricately designed piece of literature since Mark Z Danielewski's two novels, House of Leaves and Only Revolutions.
The ship of Theseus paradox is first recorded in Plutarch's first-century Life of Theseus: if every plank of a boat is replaced during its voyage, is it the same vessel that embarked or a different one when it reaches its destination? The novel raises similar questions of identity. How much can you change before you are different? How much does interpretation change the text?
For the full interview go to The Guardian.