The Witcher series has become something of a multimedia monster of late; the original books were cult classics in the world of fantasy literature, but when they spawned a trilogy of best-selling video games, the series and its characters took on a whole new level of fame.
You'd think all of this would make Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski – the creator of The Witcher books – a very happy man indeed, but he's traditionally been quite dismissive of attempts to adapt his work into other forms of entertainment.
Although he has recently signed a new deal with CD Projekt for the rights to make games based on the world of the Witcher, in a candid new interview with io9 he reveals that is still firmly of the belief that video games and TV shows cannot encroach on or impact the original source material, which, he believes, will always be the most important part of the puzzle:
I cannot compare anything to video games, because I have never played any. Since I was a kid I haven’t played any games—with a possible exception of bridge and poker. Video games are simply not for me, I prefer books as entertainment. Anyway, in my opinion TV series and video games—any of them—cannot be compared. They are too different in approach, making—and objective. You cannot compare spaghetti carbonara with a bicycle. Even though both have advantages and disadvantages.
When pressed on his opinion of the Netflix series, he says: "My name appears in the credits. I cannot praise the show. It wouldn’t be decent", before adding he would be "an idiot" to discuss what he felt didn't successfully translate to the show. When asked how he felt about the news that the Netflix series had triggered a 500,000 copy reprint of his books, he replied:
How do you expect I answer this question? That I despaired? Shed tears? Considered suicide? No sir. My feelings were rather obvious and not excessively complex.
When quizzed about if he was looking forward to seeing season two of the series, he signed off with a trademark Sapkowski comment:
Allow me to quote Joe Abercrombie, the author whose books are very much to my liking: “Life is, basically, f*****g shit. Best to keep your expectations low. Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
Ahem. You could say Sapkowski has something of a reputation when it comes to these kind of comments. Back in 2012, he lamented the mixing pot of entertainment mediums to Eurogamer:
I realise that current times accustom us - which I find terrible - to the strange convergence of media and the freedom of mixing them. To me as a writer, the idea to write 'adjuvant content' and create something 'complementary' to a game or a comic is an absolute pinnacle of idiocy.
He has also, in the past, spoken of his fear that adaptations of the Witcher books will almost erase him from the picture – a fear that was embedded when someone mistakenly assumed he was writing books about a video game universe, and not the other way around:
I can remember my reaction: I know many bad words and I used all of them, in many languages. In 20 years, somebody will ask, 'Witcher, the game - and who's the author?" No one will know.
Do you think that Sapkowski has a point here? How would you feel if you created an entire fantasy universe, only to see it adapted into other new-fangled entertainment mediums which go on to gain more fame than the original books? Share your thoughts below.