Eric Luke was (and probably still is) a tallish person with pleasant manners. This interview took place at A Change of Hobbit, the world’s largest speculative fiction bookstore. The time was somewhere around 1982-84. And then more was added some time in the ’90s.
In the back room among stacks of paperbacks, Luke said he had been there since January of 1981. “There was a sign on the window so I went in and applied. Sherry called me up almost the next day and said, ‘It looks like you’ve got the qualifications.’ They needed someone to take over the back room. She said, ‘Your new title is Head Stock Clerk.’ At the time there wasn’t really anybody else, so I was head stock clerk of nothing.”
I asked Eric Luke about Sherry Gottlieb, founder and owner of the unique emporium.
“She’s very disciplined where she has to be and very loose where she can be. It’s nice to work for her. Practically all my jobs have been for a combination of men and women bosses or a woman boss. A lot of my film work was done as a production assistant, and that’s always done for the production coordinator, who’s usually a woman.”
Luke elaborated on the positive aspects of working in a bookstore. “I get a real personal sense of satisfaction when someone comes in looking for something they read when they were a kid, and they don’t know the name, don’t know the title or the author. But they know there was a boy who found a stone and wished on it, and he went into this other world, and such and such happened…and you go, ‘Yep, I know what that is,’ and their face just lights up. When you help somebody find something that’s real satisfying, ’cause they’re so happy…. If more people read science fiction there would be more imagination. People wouldn’t be rotting in front of their TV sets. They’d be expanding their minds.”
This Dungeons and Dragons aficionado had already made an 8mm film called The Farmer and the Wise Man, gained an agent through his short feature Dark Ages, and had a number of scripts making the rounds including one he described as “an amalgam of all the 1950’s science fiction movies.” This project had attracted the interest of some backers “who wanted to do a post-holocaust film with barbarians running around hacking each other up,” a project Luke declined.
Dark Ages is a clever and amusing exercise in science fiction comedy. The hero, Jack, is accompanied on his picaresque adventures by a personal computer which resembles an edematous golf club, provides advice (‘You might want to get behind something, if you had any brains’) and plays a lullaby at bedtime. When chivalrous Jack and his yenta-stick set out to rescue a fair maiden, the cyber-counselor is annihilated and Jack’s encounter with his archenemy is resolved in a quite original manner.
In the review I quoted the maxim ‘Money is what you use when you run out of imagination,’ and pointed out how brilliantly this low-budget, high-quality independent work proved it. Still, I expressed the fervent hope that the future projects of Eric Luke would find the financing his talent clearly deserved. And it came to pass. Before long his screenplay Explorers was bought by a studio and made into a feature film, released in 1985.
Today, Luke says, “If you keep slugging away, hold on to what it is that you enjoy about creating, try to be true to that, you can make a living at it.” Since Explorers, he has written and directed Not Quite Human II (1989) and written Still Not Quite Human (1991), a Disney Movie of the Week. He has written the four-part movie Gargoyles that has since become a series, been interviewed on Hour 25, and had various projects in development at Paramount that, for one reason or another, didn’t get produced.
Lately, Luke has been writing a comic called Ghost, published by Dark Horse, whose heroine is a crime fighting paranormal. (According to an expert in the field, the series is one of the more intelligent of the “battle babe” genre.) Ghost is also in development at Universal, on its way to becoming a live-action feature. Dark Ages may also become a series or feature.
Sometimes there is justice, even in Hollywood. Nice guys don’t always finish last. It’s enough to make you believe in good karma.
“When you help somebody find something, that’s real satisfying, ’cause they’re so happy…….”
Eric Luke at Internet Movie Database