Boilerplate the movie

According to media reports, Paramount has moved in on the steampunk graphic novel ‘Boilerplate’, with Lost’s J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot unit in the pilot’s chair. Boilerplate was covered ages back by as a hot property, and features the Victorian/Edwardian adventures of the first sentient steam-driven robot as he travels across the world Young Indiana Jones-style, fighting in various wars, until he mysteriously vanished – presumed dead – in World War One.

Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett were the graphic novel’s creators, and they cashed in early on the steampunk craze by moving their online web concept into physical form, kind of a hardcover photoshoped robot travel montage thing. It was really a high-concept collectable without serious mass-market distribution.

I saw it once in London’s Forbidden Planet as a hardback coffee-table book, far too much money for a humble author like myself to afford, but boy, was it gorgeous (and did I want to get it, until the wife had words).

Looking forward to seeing what J.J. Abrams does with this one.


I am an author of various fantasy, science fiction, crime and other genre books from Gollancz, Hachette and HarperCollins. Some day I hope to grow up and be an astronaut. Exploring Mars would be nice.

6 thoughts on “Boilerplate the movie

  • July 30, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Just making conversation, but how come Hollywood havent paid $ for any of your books yet Stephen. Youve got sentient robots. Heck you defined the genre for them. And your books would make great movies really.

  • July 30, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Hi James

    Well, this has been a long-running topic of conversation over on the bulletin board (see where you’ll find most the points of view on this topic.

    After the original publishing auction for the first novel in the series, the Berlinale film festival people selected The Court of the Air as their top book to be made into a film, and there was a lot of Hollywood interest off the back of that.

    Sadly, at the same time, the Golden Compass movie bombed at the box office, and the studios’ quest to find the next ‘Lord of the Rings’ quickly went off the boil.

    Now that fans have begun to categorize my books as steampunk rather than fantasy, who knows, maybe some studio will see what JJ Abrams is doing and take a punt on the series?

    Of course, being optioned and being made are two different beasts. I think I’m with Terry Pratchett on his views of the novel-to-film making process.


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  • July 30, 2010 at 11:45 am

    I’m willing to bet that JJ Abrams picked up Boilerplate for a cup of joe and a few dollars in change. I mean come on, a tiny graphic novel that only a handful of steampunk fans have heard of. Your books tho Stephen are best sellers that HarperCollins would make the studios pay real money for. That’s the difference. Also your books would require serious dollars for the special effects budget. Boilerplate is a Wild Western town and a CGI robot or even cheaper a guy in a robot suit.

  • July 30, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Steampunk will become very popular into big screen thanks to the upcoming “COWBOYS AND ALIENS” and the new movie adaptation of Jules Verne`s 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA directed by David Fincher.

  • August 3, 2010 at 1:21 am

    The website that Guinan and Bennett devised on Boilerplate and other Victorian robots is wonderful and detailed — my sweetie was good enough to sate my faunches for the book for my birthday so I can say that it was very much worth it! Boilerplate had also appeared in the Heartbreakers graphic novel by Bennett and Guinan, as well as being used by comedian Chris Elliot’s “Shroud of the Thwacker” sendup of Victorian mysteries and time travel novels.

    Not to say that an adaptation of your books would not be welcome: perhaps a 200 episode mini-series?

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