Thursday, August 31, 2006


New Trek Confirmed

Well, thanks to the keen eye of my friend Richard Terrell, I've learned that the rumors about a refurbished Trek have been confirmed.

The "upgraded episodes" will begin airing on September 16 with "Balance of Terror," and continue airing once a week (and out of order) thereafter. My favorite scenic-art supervisor, Michael Okuda, is involved in the project, as his his wife Denise Okuda and David Rossi.

I'm on the fence about this one, but I'm eager to check out the finished product for myself.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Trek Refurbished, Redux?

A few months ago I mentioned a past proposal (apparently moribund) to repack the original series of Star Trek with new CGI effects. Well, now comes word that Paramount might still have something of the sort in the offing. It doesn't appear to have risen above the level of rumor and circumstantial evidence as yet, but it's an interesting prospect to consider.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Red Defender

(via) J. J. Sedelmaier, the genius behind such things as TV Funhouse, The Ambiguously Gay Duo, and The X Presidents, and who helped get Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law off the ground, has done a new series of animated PSAs promoting blood donation, featuring a hapless superhero named the Red Defender. The campaign's site is full of all sorts of groovy bits. Check it out.


All Cons are One Con

I'm home. Got in late last night after many, many hours spent in the Orange County airport yesterday (alternatively Santa Ana and John Wayne Airport, too, confusingly). Tried to read, gave up, and ended up staring into the middle distance for about ten hours, trying not to drool on myself. Which, in the final analysis, indicates I had a pretty good convention. But as I told anyone who asked in the final hours of the dead dog on Sunday night, I've come to the realization that All Cons Are One Con, and that I really can't even distinguish one from another. The cast of players changes slightly, from show to show, but the same conversations just roll on and on. Looking forward to the next iteration at World Fantasy Convention in Austin already.

Oh, and if you're like me and check out the blogs of people you've been hanging out with at conventions, hoping to see if you rate a mention in their convention posts or wrapups, then this is my special message for you: "Drinking/talking/eating/arguing with you was the highlight of the convention." And it was, too.

Special congratulations to John Scalzi on his Campbell win. In particular because I had money riding on him to win, and ended the evening with ten bucks of Garth Nix's money in my pocket.

Now I'm off to the grocery store, as the cupboards are bare, and I'm eager to eat something that isn't the Oasis Burger at the Hilton bar. Nine of them at nine meals in a row was just dandy, but I need a little variety in my diet.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006



X-Men: The Return, she is done. Just finished typing the last chapter, attached my afterword and bio, and sent it off to my editor. Now, barring any revisions or changes that Pocket or Marvel request, I'm done.

I ended up spending a few hours working last night, and between that and the two hours or so of Georgia's naptime, managed to get close to a full day's work in. Then it was just a matter of finding a couple of hours this morning to write the last three brief chapters. I ended with Doug Ramsey and Betsy Braddock out by the boathouse as the sun rose over Breakstone Lake (all but the most diehard of X-Men fans are now saying, "Who? In the where?"), after having revealed the secret origins of the Weird Happenings Organization (which origin is neither really secret nor weird, but more along the lines of "untold"). So now I'm off to run some final errands before leaving first thing tomorrow for Anaheim and WorldCon, where I plan to spend five days indulging those few vices I have left and having a grand old time.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Early Muppet Commercials

Well, I've got one day's worth of work left on X-Men: The Return. Sadly, though, it appears that day won't be today. That pesky life thing getting in the way again. Instead, I'll be spending a day on the Georgia Patrol, probably running a few necessary errands and the like.

I still have nothing but Claremont-era X-Men on the brain, so I won't be much for the cogent commentary until after WorldCon I'm guessing. But to tide you over, here are some really incredible early commercials that Jim Henson did for Wilkins Coffee. Truly anarchic stuff, and one can easily see the roots of later characters in these. I particularly like the sales hook, which is essentially, "Drink Wilkins Coffee, or horrible things will happen to you." Instant Coffee Karma.

Have I mentioned lately that I love YouTube?

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Stephen DeStefano Blogs

Stephen DeStefano, he of 'Mazing Man fame (along with Bob "Answer Man" Rozakis), to say nothing of Instant Piano, has a blog. Rejoice, why don't you?


New(ish) Paragaea Review

I've known about the review that John Berlyne did of Paragaea for the SFRevu site for a few weeks, but keep forgetting to mention it. So now I've mentioned it, and can go back to forgetting it again.

In other news, all four plot-threads of X-Men: The Return are rapidly approaching their respective climaxes, and in my office the desk, side table, and floor can hardly be seen for the piles of comic books and Essential collections stacked everywhere. In less that four days I'll be catching a flight to Anaheim, and installing myself in the Anaheim Hilton bar for five days or so, with brief forays out to panels, meals, parties, and award ceremonies. Before I leave, I plan to type "the end" on this X-Men caper and email it off to my editor at Pocket, so I can drink with a clear conscience. I've got three "safety" days on the schedule after I get back, in case that proves overly optimistic, but if I can maintain the pace I've hit since Monday, I should be able to make it with time to spare (well, on the order of a couple of hours to spare, but still spare time, for all of that...).


Friday, August 18, 2006


The Haunted World of El Superbeasto

(via) I'm not a big Rob Zombie fan, and don't think I ever saw the comic on which this forthcoming feature is based, but luchadores, secret agents, supervillains, zombies, and Hitler's brain in a jar? If that's anything to go by, I'll definitely be checking out El Superbeasto.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Superficial Friends

(via) Consider this my gift to you, while I work out what Cyclops says to Nightcrawler and Colossus onboard the Blackbird, en route to the city of Dis. I was going to have Rogue snoring in the back seat, but I think she's better served riding in the Quinjet with Beast and Cypher, heading down to Ecuador.

In any case, I give you the Superficial Friends.



(via) I've been posting pretty light, some of you may have noticed. I'm under the gun to get X-Men: The Return finished before I leave for WorldCon next week (!), so I'm doing pretty much nothing but writing for the next few days, taking only the occasional break to eat a protein bar or pick up Georgia from preschool. Luckily, when I take those rare breaks, there's always something great in my bloglines feeds to keep me briefly intertained.

Case in point, this truly hypnotic dance video from the band Ok Go. I know nothing about them, except that they exist, and they can dance the fuck out of a treadmill. When I get a spare minute, I plan to google them, but in the meantime, I'll just share the video-y goodness with you nice people.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Trunk Monkey

(via my good friend Paul Ryan) How did I miss these before?

My favorite, though, is this gem:

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Ernest and Bertram

It's no Ert & Bernie, but this still makes me feel pretty damned dirty.

Monday, August 14, 2006


For want of a manky towel...

Over on Meme Therapy, a bunch of worthies are discussing how they'd change history with only a manky towel. Now, I had to check their definition to know just what the heck made a towel manky in the first place. (My people, once upon a time, might have called it "grody." Perhaps even to the max.)

Some perverse instinct means that my own first impulse would be to go back to the moment when the first organic molecules assembled into anything resembling life in the primordial soup, and use the towel to mop that mess right up. Leave the planet all neat and tidy. But what fun would that be?

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Monkey Style

I've been offline for a few days, doing the whole ArmadilloCon thing. As some small recompense for my long silence, here's a chimpanzee doing martial arts.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Chris Nakashima-Brown on RU Sirius's NeoFiles

Chris Nakashima-Brown, one of the most talented writers I know, has just been interviewed by RU Sirius for his NeoFiles Show. The segment, the first of two, is now available online as an MP3 for all you podcaster types. Chris reads excerpts from two of his stories, and talks about the media, warfare, and the Love Boat.

I've never understood why Chris wasn't a superstar, but maybe more exposure like this will gradually bring him the acclaim he deserves.


Afro Samurai

(via) Triangulated somewhere between Ghost Dog and Samurai Champloo, with a soundtrack by the RZA and the vocal talents of Samuel L. Jackson himself, is Afro Samurai. (There's a goofy age verification thing, but just enter the month and year of your birth and get onto the ass-kicking...)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


You're On Notice!

This is simply awesome.


Cover Story on SF Signal

A new review of Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio is up at SF Signal. Check it out.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006



One of the highlights of Comic Con for me was checking out Weta's display, which included a new addition to the Weta Originals collection, "Dr. Grordbort's Infallible Aether Oscillators." Or, to you and me, rayguns.

Come on, tell me you don't want one of these! John Picacio and I stopped and talked to the Weta folks, who said they hadn't yet put a price tag on these things. I imagine, given the care and artistry involved, that they're going to be considerably out of my price range, but if some loving person wanted to display their affection for me by picking one up as a gift, I certainly wouldn't refuse!


WorldCon Pyr Panel

One more thing to keep me away from the bar...

I'm sorry to see that John Meaney won't be in attendance, as the most enjoyable aspect of the Pyr panels at the last two WorldCon's has been heckling John's physics (though from a safe distance, of course; the man knows Shotokan karate, for god's sake...).


Cross Plains Universe in the news

Over on SCI FI Wire, the redoubtable John Joseph Adams has interviewed Scott Cupp on the subject of the forthcoming Cross Plains Universe, the Robert E. Howard tribute anthology slated for release this year at the World Fantasy Convention. Check it out.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Truthiness Comes to Comics

An idea whose time has come. Stephen Colbert's Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne: A Tek Jansen Adventure will soon be a comic book from Oni.


Flatland: The Movie

(via the unflappable Karen Jones) Austin resident Jeffrey Travis has apparently been at work adapting Edwin Abbott's Flatland into a short movie, set for release this fall--though what kind of release it's not yet clear. An article from the Austin Chronicle this spring (in pdf) suggests he's going to be marketing it to children and classrooms, but I see no reason why the story of A. Square couldn't find a wider audience.

Of course, the nitpicker in me couldn't help but notice that in a world of only two dimensions (and perhaps a tiny bit of "thickness") it would be impossible for a creature to walk over grass--they'd have to walk around it, of course--and so the street scenes of the opening section drift quite a bit from Abbott's strictly mathematical vision, but I understand the need to sell the idea, and might be willing to forgive it, if the finished product lives up to the promise of some of the trailer's scenes.

By the way, the single best book on this sort of stuff--in addition to Abbott's own, of course--is Rudy Rucker's The Fourth Dimension, now sadly out of print. Well worth seeking out.



Today sucked. I needed to write five thousand words, at a minimum, to keep on schedule. But even being generous and adding the 958 words of outline I wrote (which I won't) to the 2,190 words of finished story I managed, I don't come anywhere near 5K. Which means, in short, that today sucked.

Tomorrow, in related news, is Georgia's first day of preschool. Which, on reflection, tends to suggest I'm not going to be hitting my production targets tomorrow, either.

Or, to put it another way... Aargh.


ArmadilloCon Program Schedule

This coming weekend I'll be attending ArmadilloCon 28 here in Austin, and it looks like they've just posted the program schedule online. Apparently I'll be discussing comics, small press, monkeys, fantastic Victoriana, and doing a reading and an autographing. Nothing too early in the day, and nothing too late. Just right.

If you're in Austin this weekend, stop by. I'll be there with the usual local recreants and miscreants, most likely to be found in the hotel bar when not shooting my mouth off in some panel or other.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


The Man from the Diogenes Club in the San Francisco Chronicle

Michael Berry, a good friend to the genre, reviews Kim Newman's The Man from the Diogenes Club in today's San Francisco Chronicle:
"Kim Newman, author of 'Anno Dracula' and 'The Quorum,' recounts the adventure of super-groovy psychic investigator Richard Jeperson in The Man From the Diogenes Club (MonkeyBrain; 389 pages; $15.95 trade paperback).

When the security of 1970s Britain is threatened by haunted seaside resorts, homicidal golems and sinister mental institutions that train brainwashed assassins, the local authorities call in Jeperson, the most valued member of the country's most secret intelligence agency. Aided by forthright cop Fred Regent and the lovely, mysterious and ultra-competent Vanessa, Jeperson uses his psychic sensitivity to ferret out spectral presences, mad doctors and Nazi zombies.

Newman is something of a magpie, grabbing shiny bits of material from a wide range of sources, and it doesn't take a literary detective to spot his homages to 'The Avengers,' 'The Prisoner,' Sherlock Holmes and even Scooby-Doo. For readers who need extra help, this volume contains a witty glossary that explicates the more obscure references to pre-Thatcher pop culture in the United Kingdom.

The Jeperson stories are great, giddy fun, but probably shouldn't be read in one gulp. A few, like the overlong 'The Serial Murders,' are likely to tax the patience of anyone who didn't grow up glued to BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. Taken together, though, the stories in "The Man from the Diogenes Club" are a smart and fond celebration of a very strange decade."


Bloglines Distress

Does anyone else use Bloglines as an aggregator? And is it behaving remarkably screwy for you the last few days, too? It didn't update almost all day yesterday, and now has an annoying tendency of marking as read things I haven't yet seen, occasionally "forgetting" all previous posts on a feed. Aargh!

Saturday, August 05, 2006


World Fantasy Awards Nominations

The shortlist for the 2006 World Fantasy Awards is now up. Big ups to Hal Duncan, Jess Nevins, and Lou Anders (and I'm not so humble that I don't find some satisfaction in ending up on the lists for both Anthology and Special Award). And congrats to Graham, and Laird, and Stephen, and Deborah and Jay and Kelly and everyone else on the lists. Some tough competition in all the categories this year, I think.


Order Early, Order Often

For those who were wondering when that X-Men book with the sexy Picacio cover was coming out, Amazon's got it down for an April '07 release, and is now taking pre-orders.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Continuity? You're soaking in it...

If I've been a bit lax in posting the last few days, it's because I've been--while not on the Georgia Patrol--elbow-deep in old X-Men comics. I'll be finishing X-Men: The Return between now and the end of August, and I'm making an effort to include every underused supporting character that I can squeeze in. To give you an idea what I'm going for, here, two of the principal characters in the novel are Brigadier Alysande Stuart and Aleytys Forrester. Doctor Peter Corbeau gets a significant cameo, and I'm trying to work in Colonel Michael Rossi at the moment. If you have to ask, "Who?", then you obviously didn't waste as much time as I did reading Chris Claremont comics a couple of decades back. Claremont had a habit of littering his little corner of the Marvel universe with fascinating supporting characters that he'd use once or twice, then discard for years at a time. Occasionally they'd come back, sometimes in significant ways, but sometimes they'd be forgotten forever. With any luck, as many of them as possible will be making onstage appearances in The Return, if only for brief cameos, and I'll get to show what I think they got up to in the intervening years.

As for pre-Claremont characters, I should assure Jess Nevins that, yes, I'm making every effort to include Bernard the Poet, though I suspect that Coffee-A-Go-Go might end up a bit worse for wear, when it's all said and done.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


You Need This - Agents of Atlas

I'll make this easy for you. Tell me you can resist a comic with a lineup like this...

The Secret Agent. The Robot. The Mythic Beauty. The Spaceman. The Gorilla. The Mermaid.

Who are they? Why, the Agents of Atlas, of course. But does it even matter? It's a robot, a gorilla, a mermaid, and a spy!

Writer Jeff Parker (whose The Interman was a splendid bit of fun) and artist Leonard Kirk are the brains behind the new Marvel miniseries, Agents of Atlas. The first issue hit the stands yesterday, and it's exactly as advertised.
"In the late 1950'’s, The U.S. Government let FBI Special Agent Jimmy Woo forge a team of unlikely heroes: Together they stormed the fortress of a criminal mastermind to rescue President Eisenhower, and the group disbanded soon after. Now almost 50 years later, an unauthorized S.H.I.E.L.D. mission goes down in flames--and from the ashes arise forces from the GOLDEN AGE OF MARVEL!"
If the lineup, and the concept for that matter, seem slightly familiar to readers of bronze age Marvel comics, it should come as no surprised. This particular assortment of gorilla, robot, spaceman, and beauty first appeared in the pages of What If #9, published in 1978. In "What if... the Avengers had been formed during the 1950s?", Marvel golden age characters Marvel Boy, Gorilla-Man, Venus, 3-D Man, and the Human Robot came together to act as a precursor to the Marvel superteam, the Avengers. It seemed to be a secret history, except there was a broad hint at the end that we were viewing some alternate history, instead.

Now, under the auspices of editor Mark Paniccia, Parker and Leonard revisit the concept, running with the conceit that something like that What If story actually did occur in the Marvel Universe, only in secret. And that now, decades later, circumstances demand that the erstwhile teammates regroup. (No 3-D Man this time around, I'm afraid. Maybe in the next miniseries.)

While the first issue just came out this week, Marvel has been hosting a "Temple of Atlas" blog for the last few months, presumably written by Jeff Parker. I've held off digging too deeply into the story unfolding in the blog, but now that the issue's out I'll definitely go back and check it out. Also, newsite the Comic Wire has been running a series of "agent profiles" and interviews with the creators that I'll be checking out (part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six).

So how good is Agents of Atlas? Good enough to make me break my "no Marvel miniseries" rule. (Briefly stated, the rule holds that I won't buy any Marvel miniseries in individualissuess, since they'll invariably be available in trade collections almost immediately.) I just wasn't willing to wait six or seven months to see how it all plays out. Anyone who enjoys the kind of pop culture I typically natter on about would likely be well served to seek it out.


Solaris Books

I was a bit coy earlier in the week, but now that the contracts are signed and in the mail, I'll at least reveal the titles and the publisher.

Next summer Solaris Books, the new imprint of Black Library, will be publishing an expanded version of my novel Set the Seas on Fire, the Napoleonic-era nautical adventure which introduced Hieronymus Bonaventure, the male lead of Paragaea: A Planetary Romance. Sometime after that, they'll be publishing The Dragon's Nine Sons, a new novel in my Celestial Empire sequence, set in the days of the Second Mexic War, a couple of decades after the events of The Voyage of Night Shining White.

I'll be blabbing more details as they become available, I'm sure, but those are the basics here at the outset.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Ambush Bug Archive

I'm unaccountably pleased to discover that something like the Ambush Bug Archive exists. In retrospect, Giffen and Fleming's various outings with the character were the most enjoyable comics DC published in the 80s, if not ever.


Hurricane Chris?

First I have to deal with the fact that I share a name with players in the MLB and the NFL, and now I have to contend with the possibility that I might be the next Katrina? Great...


Sarah Jane Investigates

Even as an avowed fan of the character of Sarah Jane Smith, I greet the announcement of a new Doctor Who-spinoff, Sarah Jane Investigates, with some trepidation. This new series is to be written by Russell T Davies, the Who-helmer who's also responsible for the forthcoming Torchwood, and I hope that he's not spreading himself too thin. While I actually preferred David Tennant's Doctor to that of Christopher Eccleston, and The Girl in the Fireplace and Love and Monsters rank among my favorite Who episodes to date, the second series of Who overall was considerably weaker than the first, and I wonder how much of that was due to potential distractions from the Torchwood preproduction. Still, it'll be great to see Elisabeth Sladen back in harness again.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


X-Men: The Return

So, I'm writing an X-Men novel for Pocket Books, and they hired this guy John Picacio to do the cover. So here it is.

I think this Picacio kid has a promising future ahead of him. Don't you?


My WorldCon Schedule

Last year at Interaction, I was on a lot of programming items. This year I've got a much more manageable amount. Three panels (two about television programs I blog about regularly, one about my publisher Pyr), a reading, and a kaffeklatsch. So this is where I'll be when I'm not in the hotel bar...

Thu 8/24 1:00 PM, 60-90 minutes.
Participants: Chris M. Barkley, Perrianne Lurie , Nicki Lynch(M), Priscilla Olson, Chris Roberson
Precis: So just what is Lost? Is it a science fiction series? If it's not, what is it? And why do so many people like it?

KAFFEKLATSCH: Chris Roberson
Thu 8/24 4:00 PM, 60 minutes.

Fri 8/25 2:30 PM, 60-90 minutes.
Participants: Lou Anders
Precis: One of science fiction's newest major publishers give a look at their future publications.

Fri 8/25 5:30 PM, 60-90 minutes.
Participants: Mark Altman, Shaun Lyon(M), Greg Pak, Chris Roberson, Kevin Rubio
Precis: The two versions of this series couldn't be more different. The original series, while fun, was far from great. Rolling Stone named the new version the best drama on television. Why do people still love the original series? What's the difference between them?

READING: Chris Roberson
Sat 8/26 3:00 PM, 60 minutes.


Book Meme

I've been tagged. I don't think I've ever been tagged before...

I really suck at these things. I find it almost impossible to think of an answer for the questions on the spot, and end up spending far more time on them than is necessary or appropriate.

1. One book that changed your life?

The sad and honest truth is that a really crap book changed my life. Reading it, I first grokked what storytelling was about, and my already burgeoning desire to be a writer solidified into a full-blown ambition. The book was L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth, which if you haven't read it is every bit as bad as you might think. There's one scene in which the protagonist is getting suited up for a big meeting with shark lawyers from space or some such thing, and after reading Hubbard's description of the clothes he was wearing, I realized that I could see what he looked like in my mind. No doubt I'd had this experience before, but this was the first time I realized it was happening. I mentioned it to my dad, who explained that a good writer could make a reader visualize something using only words. And that's when I decided that writing was the job for me.

As an adult, I went back and tried to reread Battlefield Earth, and couldn't make it terribly far into the book at all. I reached a point a hundred or so pages in, when it became clear that Hubbard had forgotten what had happened at the novel's beginning and gone off in a different direction. I suppose when dictating a book that length, that sort of thing is bound to happen...

2. One book you have read more than once?

I haven't reread it for years, but from college onwards I used to read Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle ever few years. Looking back on it, I'm not sure how I found something like affirmation and hope in such a bleak, cynical portrait of human failing, but I did.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

I'm with Lou in wanting to take along a book too long for me to finish in regular life. Stephenson's Baroque Cycle seems as good a choice as any.

4. One book that made you laugh?

Actually, the last time I laughed outloud reading a book was a point midway through Kage Baker's Sky Coyote. It's a really understated moment after Joseph has outlined the threat of the white men in their magic canoes for the Chumash, in lengthy and mythical terms, and after a pause the Chumash chief says, "So... we're to interpret all of this literally, then."

5. One book that made you cry?

Dan Simmons's Hyperion. As a parent, the stuff with Sol Weintraub and his de-aging daughter literally wrecked me.

6. One book you wish had been written?

I'm not sure I get the question, but I'll give it a shot. Clearly, the book the world needed and was denied was Tarzan on Barsoom by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

7. One book you wish had never had been written?

Nothing really springs to mind.

8. One book you are currently reading?

On the flight to San Diego a week and a half ago I started Edgar Allan Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, and got bogged down halfway through, well before anything interesting happens (assuming anything interesting happens, about which I'm not confident). Since my return, I've done little more than read a few comics and magazines.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

I'm in the process of reading all of Michael Moorcock's novels and stories at the moment. In the last few weeks I've read the Cornelius Quartet, Revenge of the Rose, and The Dancers at the End of Time. Having realized that so much of what I'm currently doing Mike did years ago, and better, I've decided that I really have no excuse for having read only about half of his body of work. Starting in June, then, I've resolved not to read anything for pleasure until I read all forty odd of Moorcock's books. I'll still read books for research (like Poe's Arthur Gordon Pym) and the occasional comic book, but until I've finished with Moorcock I won't read anything else on my To Read pile.

10. Now tag five people.

Paul Cornell
Deanna Hoak
Jess Nevins
Mark Finn
Jayme Lynn Blaschke


New Paragaea Review

Mark Teppo reviews Paragaea for Strange Horizons, and while he likes it, he finds it ultimately unsatisfying.



Emerald Twilight

Over on the Emerald City blog, Cheryl Morgan has announced that the zine will cease publication in the very near future. That's a damned shame, as it doesn't sound as though she can be talked out of the decision. Emerald City will certainly be missed.

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