GRAVITY and the two degrees of separation

I’ve been receiving a number of emails from readers, congratulating me on the new movie GRAVITY, which they believe is based on my book with the same title. The film is slated to go into production next year, to be director by Alfonso Cuaron from a script written by his son. Here’s a description of the Cuaron project:

“‘Gravity’ will highlight a female astronaut’s efforts to return home to Earth and her daughter as she is stranded on a space station after satellite debris slams into it and wipes out the rest of the crew.”

And here’s the description of my book, Gravity, which was published in 1999:

From Publishers Weekly
Gerritsen (Bloodstream) meshes medical suspense and the world of space travel in another nail-biting tale of genetic misadventure. Much of this scary thriller is set aboard the International Space Station, where a team of six astronauts suddenly find themselves threatened by a virulent biohazard… As astronaut Emma Watson, the station’s onboard doctor, struggles to fight the outbreak, her colleagues are dying one by one. .. (until) Watson is the only one left alive…

Two tales about a lone female astronaut trapped aboard a space station and struggling to get home. Both are titled GRAVITY.

But the movie has absolutely no connection to my book. At least, not that anyone’s told me about. (Mr. Cuaron, feel free to email me!)

I have to admit, these coincidences do happen sometimes. And here are some other coincidences:

When the film rights to my book GRAVITY were sold (they’re held by 20th Century Fox) the studio hired a fine screenwriter named Michael Goldenberg to adapt the book to film. Goldenberg was also the screenwriter who wrote “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”

Alfonso Cuaron also has a Harry Potter connection. He directed “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

Finally, there’s David Heyman, who’s the producer of Cuaron’s “Gravity.” He was also the producer of BOTH “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” So he knows both Cuaron and Goldenberg.

It’s a small world out in Hollywood. I can’t help but wonder if the name “Gravity”, and “lone female astronaut trapped aboard space station” ever came up in conversation among the three of them!

15 replies
  1. sean
    sean says:

    Does your main character name choice of “Emma Watson” create 1 degree of separation from the Harry Potter movies anyways? lol. It’s almost eerie.

  2. Tess
    Tess says:

    yeah, I almost forgot about that! I came up with the character name “Emma Watson” when I was writing the book in 1998. Way before the first Harry Potter movie was filmed!

  3. cschmit1
    cschmit1 says:

    wow, I recently bought Gravity and I’ve been reading about the movie of the same name and I never made the connection. It is a bizarre “coincidence.”

  4. MarkYoung
    MarkYoung says:

    Interesting point, Tess. At one writer’s conference, this subject came up about coincidences like this. One author believed two writers can come up with a very similar exact story concept, but yet the finish work will be unique to each writer, unless … It’s that “unless” that makes one wonder.

  5. Tess
    Tess says:

    Mark, yes, it’s that “unless” that remains the great unknown here. You want to believe that people wouldn’t be so blatant as to copy, but sometimes you wonder.

  6. Tess
    Tess says:

    no, I’m afraid the project got stalled after the script was written. I’d always hoped that it would be made, but the studio seems to have dropped it.

  7. mdb
    mdb says:

    My name’s Marek and I’m from Poland. I have just finished reading “Gravity” – the very first book of yours that I’ve ever stumbled on. And I must admit – it’s not the last one :). I’m certainly going to read all of them. Which one do you recommend to read now? Thanks for response. Best regards 🙂

  8. Heather
    Heather says:

    Tess, I can’t believe this! For a moment, I was completely giddy while watching the Oscars. I heard the description of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney’s new film, Gravity, and instantly thought it MUST be your book!!!! How exciting!!! I have read all of your books and would love to see one on the big screen!

    I just remembered to look up the movie and was disappointed (and confused) to see that it was not yours! Bummer! Google brought me to this blog post of yours from 2010. So, has Fox had anything to say about this? I guess they won’t be making a movie based on YOUR book now? Bummer again!

  9. a9johnson
    a9johnson says:

    I just wanted to say when I saw the preview and title I was soooo excited because I thought it was a movie about your book. As I watched the preview I realized it was different. But I would like to say thank you for writing it Tess. It remains one of my favorite books to this day and the first book I read, that got me into reading. Good luck in your endeavors! -Adam

  10. juliap
    juliap says:

    Hi i am half way through book it is brilliant but i really thought it was the same as the film and pictured Sandra Bullock as Emma. Now i know it is not the same story line i dont know who to picture her as!

  11. kenfromcanada
    kenfromcanada says:

    I sounds like your a bit pissed about what they did with your book…and you should be. I understood your book to be about the effects of random chance on human events.
    The movie Gravity is what I call “New American Cinema”. NAC is described by: 1. the story narrative is relatively unimportant compared to the symbolic narrative, and 2. the symbolic narrative must conform to Evangelical beliefs and attitudes.
    Your book has people dealing with tragedy without making reference to God. The movie is an Evangelical smorgasbord. It is about the end of scientific secularism and how American can redeem herself by learning to pray. Sandra Bullock’s character symbolizes America and how Americans will by necessity, move inevitably towards belief in God.
    The movie starts off with her character suffering a major emotional trauma – the death of a child: the implication is that scientific secularism cannot deal with the traumas of life; this is why people turn to religion. Plus she is sent into space with only six months training – thus, science has left her completely unprepared. All hell brakes loose when the Russians blow up a satellite and unintended consequences occur. Eventually, she is in a capsule and, fearing death says “No one ever taught me to pray”. Finally, as scientific secularism literally crashes and burns around her, she crawls onto the beach and, after learning to stand on her own two feet is able to to say “Thank you” to God. The entire story then, is a message to Evangelicals confirming their beliefs that scientific secularism is ending and they are in the right.
    I think the Evangelicals are having a bit of nasty fun with you. You write in your book “During his last campaign, he’d demanded that public schools teach Creationism. Throw out the biology books and open the Bible instead.” Clearly you have a low opinion of religion. I can imagine them sitting at home giggling about how they took the movie rights from a scientific secularist and turned them into an Evangelical movie. I suspect this is true because at the end, America crawls out of the ocean onto the beach, then stands. This is a spoof of the classic evolution picture showing the fish coming onto land then turning into a walking man. Other example of NAC are Twilight (Edward=the Mormon Church, Jacob=the USA government, Bella=secular America). An example of New American Literature would be The Hunger Games (I haven’t seen the movies). The books subscribe to the Evangelical belief that women are emotional and men are logical – Katniss is told she was not allowed to participate in the planning of the escape because she was too emotional.
    So you have the right to be upset. Motivated by the Seven Mountains Movement, Evangelicals are in the process of taking over America. What I call “the Age of Women” is coming to an end.

  12. Frank Ely
    Frank Ely says:

    Regardless of the coincidence in your book and the movie I Will not be seeing the movie or rent it because you never know.

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