Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Cenotaxis Review

JP of SF Signal has posted a fairly glowing review of Sean Williams's Cenotaxis.
There's lots to like in Cenotaxis, particularly in the setting, which is an extension of the one from the series. However, Williams adds some rather cool SF-nal ideas to Cenotaxis. First, we have Jasper, the man who believes he is God. Jasper is unique, as he appears to be a the result of a breeding program to produce 'God'. In this case, Jasper, while not omnipotent, is omniscient in a limited way, due to his 'achronistic' way to experiencing time.


Sideways in Crime

The unflappable Shaun Farrell of Singularity Audio and the Adventures in SciFi Publishing has put together what the kids are calling an "audio promo" for Lou Anders's forthcoming Sideways in Crime, an anthology of alternate history mysteries. My own "and puppet show..." contribution is "Death on the Crosstime Express," a murder mystery set on a dimensionally transcendent airship, that connects in sneaky ways to most of my other work.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008



Say what you will about the notion of Will Ferrell in the lead of the forthcoming Land of the Lost remake, but these look like Sleestaks to me...


The Cognitive Surplus

(via) This is already everywhere online, but you know what? I don't care. I'm sharing it anyway.

Here is Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody, on what he calls the "cognitive surplus," and the way in which television for the last half of the 20th century served the same societal role as gin in the mid-19th. This is genius.

(The transcript is here, if you don't have fifteen minutes to spare, but trust me. Find fifteen minutes to spare by, I don't know, skipping a few commercials...)


Tribute to Michael Moorcock

This last weekend at the Nebula Awards, Michael Moorcock was officially named the 25th Grandmaster of the Science Fiction Writers of America. My pal John Picacio was asked to give a tribute speech before Moorcock was introduced, the full text of which John's now put online at his blog.

John solicited testimonials about Moorcock from a heavy hitting group of writers--Neil Gaiman, Jeff Vandermeer, Jeffrey Ford, China Mieville, and Alan Moore, to be precise--and for some reason deigned to have me be the "and puppet show..." in that lineup. I am only glad he didn't put my little tribute after the pyrotechnics of China's quote.

In any event, here is my contribution to John's speech, read aloud before the attendees of the Nebula Awards banquet, God, and all his angels while I fidgeted self-consciously in a borrowed chair...
"I was never quite the same after discovering the novels of Michael Moorcock in my suburban high school library. Elric, Cornelius, Bastable, and the rest of the multiversal gang expanded my brain into dimensions that I didn't even know existed. I wasn't the first to fall under his spell, and I won't be the last. As writer and editor Moorcock has changed the nature of fantasy itself, expanding the definition of what fantastic literature is, and the uses to which it can be put. He is the brightest light in my own personal constellation of influences and inspirations, and I continue to labor in his shadow."
And here's a photo ganked from John's blog, taken a short while before the ceremony.

(pictured above, L to R, back row: Kyrinn S. Eis; Chris Roberson; Sanford Nowlin; Linda Moorcock; Traci and John Picacio; foreground, seated: SFWA Grandmaster Michael Moorcock)

Monday, April 28, 2008


Beanworld Returns!

Rejoice, you millions! Rejoice!

This is the best damned news I've heard in ages.
Dark Horse plans to republish the first 21 issues of Tales of the Beanworld, possibly in deluxe hardcover editions, then deliver Marder's new adventures sometime in early 2009.
Holy cats! Or should I say, "Hoka-Hoka-Hey!"

I didn't discover Larry Marder's Beanworld comics until close to the end of the original run, at which point they blew the top of my head off. Beanworld is a strange, two-dimensional world which exists in a careful state of balance, and when an element from outside is introduced at the beginning of the series, strange things begin to follow. Kind of like Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, if Edwin Abbot had been an environmentalist who read stacks of Jack Kirby comics while taking took a lot of hallucinogens.

Beanworld is all kinds of crazy, pure genius and unalloyed joy. It's been, what, something like twelve or thirteen years since we've seen a new Beanworld story? Marder has been teasing images on his blog for a while now, so the fact that new stuff is in the offing isn't a complete surprise, but the idea that we might be getting "deluxe hardcover editions" in the bargain is a nice one.


Sidewise Awards

I step away from the computer for a few days (primarily to build a swingset in the backyard, and I've got the blisters and bruises to prove it), and someone goes and releases good news to the web.

I was delighted to learn that my story "Metal Dragon Year", that appeared last year in the pages of Interzone, has been included in the list of nominees for this year's Sidewise Awards, in the Best Short-Form Alternate History category. This is the third Celestial Empire story to be nominated in the category, following "Red Hands, Black Hands," which was on the list in 2004, and "O One," which won the award in 2003.

I can't say I like my chances of winning, though. Look at the list of powerhouses I'm up against, here:

Best Short Form:
Elizabeth Bear, “Les Innocents/Lumiere” (in New Amsterdam, Subterranean Press)
Michael Flynn, “Quaestiones Super Caelo Et Mundo” (in Analog, 7/07)
Matthew Johnson, “Public Safety” (in Asimov’s, 3/07)
Jess Nevins, “An Alternate History of Chinese Science Fiction” (in No Fear of the Future, May 17, 2007)
Chris Roberson, “Metal Dragon Year” (in Interzone, 12/07)
Kristine Kathryn Rusch, “Recovering Apollo 8″ (in Asimov’s, 2/07)
John Scalzi, “Missives from Possible Futures #1: Alternate History Search Results” (in Subterranean Magazine, Winter 2007)

Best Long Form:
Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (HarperCollins)
Robert Conroy, 1945: A Novel (Ballantine Books)
Mary Gentle, Ilario (The Lion’s Eye and The Stone Golem) (Eos)
Jay Lake, Mainspring (Tor Books)
Sophia McDougall, Rome Burning (Orion)
Jo Walton, Ha’penny (Tor Books)

We'll find out at WorldCon in Denver which of these lovely and deserving people takes home the plaque in each of the two categories.


Watching the Watchmen, Redux

For the ongoing Comics of 1986 series over at RevolutionSF (for which I've previously bloviated about Miracleman and Squadron Supreme), I've done a short essay about Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's Watchmen, and its lasting significance to the field of superhero comics.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Saturday Morning Action Adventure Television

If you've been following the Interminable Ramble a while, you may remember an image I posted last summer by Dusty Abell, an homage to the action figures of his (and my) childhood.

This morning, he's got a new bit of awesome on offer over on his deviantART gallery, this time of Saturday Morning Action/Adventure Television characters.

Here's what Abell has to say about the piece:
This is my loving homage to the awesome bunch of Live Action/Adventure Saturday Morning TV Shows I grew up watching as a kid throughout the 70's. Saturday morning was a huge time to look forward too every weekend for me growing up and these shows were a big part of the reason why. Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dinosaurs, High Adventure, we had it all back in the day! I think every boy my age had a crush on Joanna Cameron (Isis) in the mid 70's. If you're under 30 you might not have the vaugest idea who any of these guys and gals are, but I would recommend looking any of them up on YouTube to get an idea what they were like, and if you dig what you see, pretty much all of them are available on DVD (i've got most of them) but remember, my memories of these shows were formed watching them when they were brodcast for the very first times on good ole thirteen channel televisons, pre-Star Wars when Pong was about the most sophisticated video game in the pizza parlors, I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for these wonderful reminders of how much fun I had being a kid growing up in the best decade to be one of ALL TIME! I have full descriptions of the various characters and the shows they're from plus isolated shots of all the characters minus color in my scraps section here-
and here-
So, how many can you name without checking? The only one I missed, to my shame, was Queen Medusa from Jason of Star Command.


Save the Earth

At Georgia's preschool this last week, the curriculum has revolved around environmental concerns, recycling and such, in the lead up to Earth Day. The class put together a bulletin board, illustrating their own responses to the question, "What can you do to save the Earth?"

This was Georgia's response. (The penmanship isn't Georgia's, as she was helped with that, but the rendering of the Earth, and the sentiment itself, is all hers.)

That is, "I can take care of the Earth by... not throwing trash outside so the sun cannot go away and it doesn't turn dark outside."

So, all of you worried about Global Climate Change, greenhouse gases, and the like, better listen up! If you throw trash outside, the sun might go away and it will turn dark outside. So be fair warned.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade

Landry Walker and Eric Jones, who were responsible for the very excellent "Kid Gravity" series in the late, lamented Disney Adventures (and who are collectively X-Ray Studios), appear to be doing a new all-ages book for DC Comics: Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade.

Speaking as the parent of a little girl who is obsessed with superheroes, but who has already started noticing the relative lack of girl superheroes, this comes as extremely welcome news.

A few years back HarperFestival did a whole series of young reader and middle reader Wonder Woman books, written by Nina Jaffe and illustrated by Ben Caldwell. The books were excellent, but sadly didn't get the books the marketing push they deserved, and immediately sunk without a trace, but I picked up a complete set, figuring that Georgia would want them sooner or later. She's still a few years from being ready for them, I think, but something like this Supergirl book might well bridge the gap. In the meantime she's got WordGirl, Wonder Woman and Jayna on Superfriends, and Raven and Starfire on Teen Titans and in the pages of Teen Titans Go. (Last night, as she lay in bed, she recited Raven's mantra of "Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos," over and over again. For all I know, she was trying to levitate...)


The Venture Bros Season Three Preview (for reals)

The other day I linked to the bootlegged footage. Well, internets be praised, here's the official version. Begin the awesome...


MIND MELD: Underrated Authors

The good folks at SF Signal asked me to take part in another of their Mind Meld roundtables, this one on the subject of "Underrated Authors." If you're curious to learn "Which author, living or otherwise, [I] believe deserves more recognition than they currently receive and why?", here's your chance...

(Hint, his name is Kim Newman.)


Myriad Universes

It appears the full solicitation copy for the two Star Trek: Myriad Universe omnibuses (omnibi?) has been released to the web, including the description of my own humble contribution.
BRAVE NEW WORLD by Chris Roberson: Dr. Noonien Soong's dream has been realized: androids are now woven inextricably into the fabric of the Federation, revolutionizing Starfleet and transforming the quality of humanoid life. But when Soong's long-missing breakthrough creation, Data, mysteriously resurfaces, civilization reaches a crossroads that could lead to a bright new future, or to ruin.
This was a ridiculous amount of fun to write. I just finished looking over the page proofs the other day, and even that was a ridiculous amount of fun. Getting paid to sit around and watch countless hours of Star Trek, and then to make up a Star Trek story of my own? How is that even possible?


Avatar: The Last Puppet Bender

I love the internet. Used to be, if you weren't able to attend a convention, you missed all the convention-only announcements and previews and such like. Now, just wait a day or two and they turn up online.

As I've said before, my love for Avatar: The Last Airbender is all out of proportion. It's developed into the most skillfully wrought, entertaining, complex, and subtle adventure series for kids ever to appear on American television (and I'd put it up against the best from Japan in a heartbeat). With worldbuilding on par with the best epic fantasy novels, it's appeal goes far beyond the kids to which it's ostensible targeted. Which isn't to say that it doesn't connect with the kids, as well. Check out the photos from the panel at NYCC last week to see the face of a real and growing fandom.

And for that same panel, Kevin Coppa created the following bit of puppet-based wackiness. Here's how Coppa describes it:
Created for presentation at the 2008 New York Comic Con Avatar Fan Panel, I slapped this skit together with a short deadline mostly taken up by building the puppets.

It's just after episode 311's cliffhanger and Zuko is about to catch up with our heros! If you like & know about Avatar, you'll get the humor. If you don't... Probably not. XD

But hopefully you can still get a kick out of the puppet craft.
I can't imagine this making much sense to anyone who doesn't watch the show, but the puppetry is quite charming, even so.

If you've not checked out the show itself, I recommend it highly to any fan of fantasy, animation, or anime. There's an obvious Miyazaki influence to what the creators are doing with Avatar, but the syncretism between the Asian cultural influences and the American storytelling has produced a truly unusual product. The third and final season is about to come out on DVD (though the last three episodes have bafflingly yet to air), and the first two seasons are available in boxed sets.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


War Comes to Fabletown

Head over to Newsarama and check out the lengthy interview with Bill Willingham about the upcoming war storyline in Fables, the most consistently entertaining and unpredictable ongoing comic currently on offer. I always try to second guess the plot twists in Fables (as I do with just about every bit of entertainment I take in) and I am nearly always completely wrong.

The hint of "Horatio Hornblower type stories" in connection with Prince Charming and the Arabian Fables is a tantalizing one, isn't it?


Working Class British Brothers: Star Wars Edition

From "British brothers William and Richard complain about their rigorous job responsibilities under the Rebellion."


The Troubling Truth About Superman

A few years ago I wrote a story called "The Trouble With Superman," a little bit of silliness that eventually was published in the inaugural edition of Space Squid, and ended up getting an honorable mention in Gardner Dozois's Years Best Science Fiction, amazingly enough. The story was about the little bits of personal detail about Superman that just never made it into the comics.

This morning, a post on Blog@Newsarama lead me to the new blog of Kerry Callen, whose Halo and Sprocket, a series about a girl, a robot, and an angel, has long been a favorite of mine. And in Callen's most recent post he's thrown the spotlight on this unpublished gem, entitled "The Truth About Superman."

Different truths than in my story, perhaps, but no less valid...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Forthcoming Stories

One of these days now, I'm going to do an overhaul on my website. It's long overdue, I think. But in the meantime, I'll try to keep it limping along as best I can.

I've just updated the Stories part of my bibliography, adding a few recent sales. And here's a handy checklist, in case anyone's interested (the cover for the Star Trek omnibus appears not to be the final, and I've just dropped in the Firebird logo as a placeholder for Firebirds Soaring). In no order other than chronological, here are my forthcoming short stories (and one novella) for this year. There's a few more still to come, I think, but these are the ones that have been solicited so far.

"Death on the Crosstime Express" in Sideways in Crime, edited by Lou Anders (Solaris)
June 2008

Brave New World in Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Echoes and Refractions (Pocket)
August 2008

"Abominable Memory" in Gaslight Grimoire: Dark Tales of Sherlock Holmes, edited by Jeff Campbell and Charles Prepolec (EDGE)
October 2008

"All Under Heaven" in Firebirds Soaring, edited by Sharyn November (Firebird)
October 2008


Muppetstar Galactica

(via) It is what it says on the label.

Honestly, I think I'd rather watch a whole season of this than the last limping days of BSG...


The Pixar Story

If your cable or satellite service includes Starz, be sure to tune in tonight (April 22) at 10PM ET/PT for an airing of The Pixar Story, a documentary about the best filmmaking outfit in business today. (And if you're Tivoing it, be sure to pick up the following hour and change as well, as Starz will follow the broadcast with The Pixar Story Continues, an update to the documentary hosted by Richard Roeper that includes scenes from WALL-E.)

Check out the Starz website for previews and more info.

Monday, April 21, 2008



My kid? This kid right here...

Loves balloons...

(BTW, for your reference, having nametags for the kids at a birthday party is a brilliant idea, and one that should be adopted universally.)


Watching the Watchmen

While I could not be less enthused about the forthcoming film, which can't be anything but a trainwreck in the making, this is extremely welcome news.

Voted among Time magazine’s 100 Best Novels from 1923 to the present, a perennial bestseller over the past twenty years and widely considered the greatest graphic novel of all time, WATCHMEN is a gripping, labyrinthine piece of comic art. Written by comics living-legend Alan Moore and featuring the iconic artwork of Dave Gibbons, it has earned an acclaimed place in modern literary history.

Now, Titan Books is to shed new light on this seminal work with WATCHING THE WATCHMEN by Dave Gibbons [October 2008, 9781845760413]. Providing the ultimate companion to the comics masterpiece, artist Dave Gibbons gives his own account of the genesis of WATCHMEN in this dust-jacketed hardback volume, opening his archives to reveal excised pages, early versions of the script, original character designs, page thumbnails, sketches and much more, including posters, covers and rare portfolio art. Featuring the breathtaking design of Chip Kidd and Mike Essl, WATCHING THE WATCHMEN is both a major art book in its own right, and the definitive companion to the graphic novel that changed an industry.

“I’ve had a great time, re-visiting the very beginnings of Watchmen and unearthing material I haven’t set eyes on for many years. As a fan myself, this is the kind of stuff I eat up and I’m sure the many devotees of the graphic novel will do the same!” says Gibbons.
Yes, please!


Monday Morning Awesomeness

I first discovered Evan Shaner's blog a little while back when his "What if Charles Schultz created the Watchmen?" piece made the rounds of the comics blogosphere. Check out this bit of awesome I found over there this morning:

About it, Shaner says "What you've got here is what could very well be the greatest idea for a crossover ever." The Strong Family and the Fantastic Four the greatest crossover ever? Sounds about right to me!


Book Report

Good morning, internets. I haven't been fielding too many meaty posts lately, I'll admit. After finishing up Three Unbroken a few weeks ago, I did a little work-for-hire that I'm not sure I can talk about yet (but which I'll be shouting to the rafters as soon as I can), and then spent a bit of time doing some research for some other potential franchise gigs. But having worked more or less for a year and change straight on a number of Celestial Empire projects (with short sidetrips for various short stories and the Star Trek gig), I decided I needed a bit of recharge, and something of a palate cleanser before starting the next big project. And so, as a result, I did something I haven't done in a long, long time: I read a few books just for pleasure.

Shock and horror.

I've raved often and loudly about Kage Baker's Company sequence. I'm responsible for converting at least four other people to the Cult of Kage, so far as I know, and those four might well have gone on to infect others. Simply put, I think that the Company novels are the best SF series of the current generation, and that Baker is one of the best writers working in the English language today. Her prose is so skillfully put together that it comes across as deceptively simple, but is compulsively readable. I picked up a copy of Black Projects, White Knights in the summer of 2004, having heard good things about it. I immediately sought out the first in the series, In the Garden of Iden, which was still on bookstore shelves in its original mmpb edition. I consumed it in a day and rushed out to find Sky Coyote, which as I've said before includes the funniest line I've ever read in a novel. Then I was able to find Mendoza in Hollywood without too much difficulty, and read it in a trice. But when it came time to read The Graveyard Game, things got a little complicated. It was the last book published by Baker's previous publisher, Harcourt, and apparently had a relatively low print run. In those dark days before the series was reissued by Baker's new publisher, Tor, thanks to the efforts of David Hartwell, it was all but impossible to find a copy of The Graveyard Game for anything like a reasonable price. But to give you an idea how badly I needed to read that next installment, even knowing that within another year or so Tor would be issuing an affordable tpb edition, I paid something like one hundred dollars for a second-hand copy of the Harcourt edition online.

And then, when the copy didn't show up in a week or so, and I found another copy available online as well, I paid another hundred bucks to buy a second copy and have it express shipped to me.

Crazy? Well, probably. But that should give you an idea of the desperate hunger to find out What Happens Next that the Company novels engenders. (As for that extra copy of The Graveyard Game I then had lying around, I ended up trading it for a review copy of The Life of the World to Come, which wasn't due out in hardback for another few months, to Jude Feldman, who hadn't found a copy of it for herself. So it was still a win, all around.)

So you can imagine what it's been like for me, for almost two years now, to have an ever growing pile of unread Kage Baker Company novels in my office, that I just couldn't find the time away from work to read.

The week before last, with a few days open in my schedule, I finally was able to scratch that itch.

The Machine's Child

The basic idea behind the Company novels is simple. In the future, the Dr. Zeus corporation makes two groundbreaking technological discoveries--the ability to time travel, and the process for making humans immortal. The problems are that it is only possible to travel into the past and back, not into the future, and the immortality process is long, painful, and only works on certain individuals when they are very young. Recorded history cannot be changed, but there are gray areas, "event shadows" in which there's a bit of wiggle room.

The Company's solution to these limitations, naturally, is to travel back into the past, locate children who fit the profile for the immortality process and who won't be missed (orphans, children who would have otherwise died in fires, floods, and wars, etc.), and make them immortal with cybernetic implants. Then these immortal cyborgs will work as agents for the Company throughout history, saving things that would otherwise have been lost, and squirreling them away in hidden places for the Company to "discover" up in the future. Lost Shakespeare folios, forgotten masterpieces, extinct species, and historical rarities.

Gods and Pawns

We are introduced to the world of the Company through the eyes of Mendoza, in the novel In the Garden of Iden. Caught up by the Spanish Inquisition in the sixteen century and destined for the stake, she is whisked away by a Facilitator, a cyborg named Joseph, and transformed into an immortal. Like several of the novels and stories in the sequence, In the Garden of Iden is told in first person, in "Cinema Standard", the lingua franca of the immortals. Cinema Standard is, quite simply, the way that people in 20th Century American movies talk, as movies are a regular source of entertainment for the agents of the Company.

(You may note that I'm not actually offering much in the way of capsule reviews of the books themselves. That's because these are the last entries in the series, and even a cursory plot summary would give away way too many spoilers for the earlier books.)

Rude Mechanicals

In addition to the main sequence of eight novels and two short story collections (or nine novels and one short story collection, or seven novels and three collections, depending on how you slice them), there have been a few associated shorts that have appeared here and there, well worth reading in their own right but not essential to an appreciation of the whole. The story which appeared in my anthology Adventure Vol. 1, "The Unfortunate Gytt," is one such, and this recent stand-alone novella from Subterranean Press, Rude Mechanicals, is another. Completists will also want to track down a copy of Mother Aegypt and Other Stories, the title story of which contains some tantalizing bits of backstory, and The Empress of Mars, which provides some context for some of the later events of the Company sequence. Other than these, though, all of the other short stories related to the Company have been collected in one of the two story collections, Children of the Company and Gods and Pawns, including what may be one of the best short stories I've read in the last twenty years, "Son Observe the Time," set before and during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

The Sons of Heaven

As the sequence begins, with In the Garden of Iden and Sky Coyote, it appears that the business with the time travel and the immortal cyborgs is really just an excuse to tell historical stories from a contemporary perspective, interweaving modern and archaic language. (And it is here that Baker truly excels; an expert in Elizabethan English, the language in In the Garden of Iden, to cite just one example, is absolutely convincing as period English, while at the same time being compulsively readable.) Beginning with Mendoza in Hollywood, though, things begin to take a strange turn, as a character thought long dead in the first novel appears to return under a different guise. And an offhand reference to something called Crome's radiation in the first novel turns out to have far greater importance. Then, as The Graveyard Game unfolds, things become increasingly complicated. In the short stories, particularly the aforementioned "Son Observe the Time," we begin to get inklings that not everything we have been told about the Company and its aims is entirely accurate, and with The Life of the World to Come we are presented with the solution to one mystery, that serves only to raise even more questions.

Eight novels, two short story collections, and a constellation of satellite stories culminate in the final novel, Sons of Heaven, which handily answers all the questions posed by the series. I had my own guesses, along the way, nearly all of which proved to be wrong. And there was something of a bittersweet sensation to knowing that I'd reached the end of the road, and that so far I know there won't be any more to follow.

I've read and enjoyed some of Baker's non-Company work, in particular the fantasy novel The Anvil of the World. And while I'm looking forward eagerly to her forthcoming The House of the Stag, I'll admit that there's a large part of me who'd prefer for the Company sequence to keep spinning off novels and stories, into infinity. It's such a terrific idea, deceptively simple and yet capable of such subtlety and invention, that I burn with jealously that I didn't think of it first.

I can't recommend the Company sequence highly enough. And don't just take my word for it. Everyone that I've convinced to read just one of the novels in the sequence immediately goes on to read the rest, without fail. They represent a high-watermark in contemporary English-language science fiction, and I predict that they'll be read and appreciated for long decades to come. Jump on the bandwagon now, and you'll be able to tell your grandchildren you were reading them when they were still just hot off the presses (or close enough to count).


Sunday, April 20, 2008


The Venture Bros Season Three Preview

Go, watch it quick before they pull it down.

June 1st cannot come fast enough!

Saturday, April 19, 2008



Dan Piraro, the deranged genius behind Bizarro, the best thing in the funny papers these days, is now posting his daily strips on his own BizzaroBlog, in hi-res full color. What could be better?


High Tech Noon

(via) This one has been online for a few years, but appears to have been rediscovered. Darryl Gold did some creative reediting and effects work on a western classic, and managed to make it 100% more awesome.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


The Mountain Goats' "Sax Rohmer #1"

(via) I came for the title (a reference to the writer of the Fu Manchu novels, in case you're not up on your pulp history), but stayed for the lyrics and the music. The dizzying home-brew type-based video is just the icing on the cake.


Mad Jack

(via) There must be a novel in this somewhere...
Jack Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill was born on 16 September 1906 in Hong Kong, to English parents, and lived his entire life with an affection for all things Scottish. He was a lifelong soldier who knew no fear, and in fact thrived on violence. He graduated the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 1926 and was commissioned in the Manchester Regiment, but in 1932 all the peace that was roaming around Europe irritated Jack right out of the army. He spent his years off mastering the bagpipes– an unusual hobby for a Brit– nevertheless, it was a pastime at which he excelled. His leisure time came to an end with German’s attack on Poland, and Jack promptly re-enlisted, and was assigned back to the Manchesters. He insisted upon carrying a bow, arrows, and a sword with him into combat.
A bag-pipe playing, Scottish-culture-obsessed Brit who insisted that "any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed."
In another attack Mad Jack and one of his enlisted men managed to sneak up on a pair of German sentries making rounds. He leapt at them, sword in hand and shouted, “haende hoch!” The Germans obeyed by dropping weapons and raising their hands. One sentry was taken back to camp while the other had Jack’s belt wrapped round his throat, and together they continued the rounds. At each guard post his prisoner would say something to lull the guards into complacency, then a mustached-mad-man with a sword would jump out and order them to drop their arms. All in all, the two Brits rounded up forty-two prisoners that night.
Lots more about "Mad Jack" here, if anyone's interested.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


End of the Century (revisited)

My masters at Pyr have informed me that the page on their site for my forthcoming End of the Century is now live, and can be found here. I have further been instructed to tell all of you nice people about it.

And now I have.

So there.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Matt's New Gig

I've known this news for a little while, but it's finally announced and official. My old college pal and erstwhile roommate Matt Sturges has a new gig, writing one of my favorite DC books of the moment, Blue Beetle.

Here's the solicit...
Written by Matthew Sturges
Art and cover by Rafael Albuquerque
New series writer Matthew Sturges (JACK OF FABLES, HOUSE OF MYSTERY) comes aboard to kick off “Boundaries,” with returning series artist Rafael Albuquerque! As Blue Beetle struggles to establish himself as the protector of El Paso and Cuidad Juarez, he finds himself thrown into the heart of the immigration struggle, made all the more complicated by the involvement of Intergang — and another, more mysterious, figure. Coming at you straight outta Texas, Sturges takes our hero into new territory as Beetle works out his responsibilities as both a hero in the DC Universe and a citizen of a border town.
On sale July 30 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

"Straight outta Texas." That sounds very street, doesn't it?

Anyhow, if you're interested in hearing Matt's plans for the book, check out the first couple of interviews with him on the subject. I, for one, can't wait to see what he does with the book!

Monday, April 14, 2008


New Review

Jeremy over at has reviewed Set the Seas on Fire, and gives it a passing grade:
I like the character of Hieronymus Bonaventure very much. I like the feeling of “This is only the beginning”. He seems to be at the beginning of a heroic journey. The Author’s Notes at the end, which Roberson included because he likes to provide just a little more, bear that out. He writes a lot of alternate history fiction at this point. The basic underlying history and flavor in the story seemed very real to me. I enjoyed that very much, as I waited to see exactly where that history and ordered universe was going to take a very sharp turn. Roberson definitely seems to not be so obsessed with writing a story of a ship’s crew encountering unimaginable horror that he glosses over the historical flavor part of it to get there.



Ambush Bug: Year None

Let the rejoicing commence, it's official...

Written by Keith Giffen & Robert Loren Fleming
Art by Giffen & Al Milgrom
Cover by J.H. Williams III
Variant cover by Giffen
The wait is over — everyone's favorite Bug is back, courtesy of the original AMBUSH BUG team of Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming! Cities will be destroyed! Cats and dogs will live in sin! Every unanswered question of the DC Universe will be answered! Live heroes will die and dead heroes will live! Okay, none of that actually happens, but join us anyway for this totally irreverent romp through the DC Universe as only Ambush Bug could give you!
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 10 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by J.H. Williams), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Keith Giffen). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale July 23 • 1 of 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Over on his blog, cover artist JH Williams III breaks down the process of crafting the cover, from start to finish.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Blog Review

Dragon's Nine Sons on his blog, and seems to have liked it.
Roberson keeps the action moving, and the pages fly by. It has a really cinematic feel which is funny because Hollywood would never touch something like this. The characters area dynamic mix of good and bad you would expect from this story. The best testament I can give this novel was as they reached the objective of the suicide Mission I found myself wishing the characters to get out of danger, you see I wanted them back for sequels.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Previously on Lost

(via) It's strangely hypnotic.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Multiple Warheads

A few months back I raved about Brandon Graham's King City. A couple of weeks ago, at long last, I picked up his "Multiple Warheads," the first issue of an irregular (in more ways than one) science fiction comic from Oni Press. The publisher's flak for the book is as follows:
WolfWar 3 ended almost 50 years ago and snow has been falling on Dead City for almost as long. A war-torn wasteland that stinks of radiation dust and broken dreams, it’s the town Sexica and Nikoli call home. But not for long. They’re packing up their cyber-organic-hybrid car and hitting the road. Soon maybe all of the pain, mayhem, and space ship crashes that have plagued their lives will be reduced to nothing more than memories.
That about sums it up, I suppose. But it falls short of conveying the awesomeness of the enterprise. Like King City, Multiple Warheads is packed with brilliant, baffling ideas, and absolutely made of win. If my word's not good enough (and really, why should it be?) check out the 18-page preview over at the Oni site.

The book came out last summer, but the better comic shops (like Austin Books, where I found it) might still have it on the shelf, and if not, Oni still has copies to sell.

Now, I knew from his bio that Graham had done some, shall we say, naughty comics before turning his attentions to King City, and I knew in a vague way that Multiple Warheads grew out of one of them. Well, this morning, over on his LiveJournal, he's been good enough to share the whole thing with the world, gratis.

It is, suffice it to say, completely Not Safe For Work. But if you're interested in seeing some more of Graham's wacky brilliance on display, head over and see for yourself.

Monday, April 07, 2008


A Moment of Silence

This makes me sad in ways it's difficult for me to articulate.
It's official—Marvel Comics has announced that Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and David Aja are leaving The Immortal Iron Fist after issue #16, to be replaced by the team of Cable writer Duane Swierczynski, who will be joined by artist Travel Foreman.
I have no beef with Swierczynski or Foreman, neither of whose work I know, but come on... As I've said many times before, my love for Immortal Iron Fist knows no bounds. I fully expected Brubaker to have to back away from the book, too busy with other commitments, but was sure that we'd have Fraction on the book for a while to come. But no.

I mean...

Jesus. That sucks.


The Alien and the Missing Dot

All parents of young kids know that they go through little phases, periods of obsession with one thing or another. Georgia's a particularly fickle kid. She'll want to read one book every night for two weeks running, and then never want to hear it again, or will watch the same cartoon over and over and over again for days, and then refuse ever to watch it again.

She does much the same thing in her drawing. At home and at preschool, she'll go through little phases, where she'll draw the same elements every time she's got a crayon, paint brush, or marker in hand, for weeks on end, and then suddenly start up with a new subject. It'll be cats for a long time, or dogs, or what-have-you (granted, this is a four year old, so the difference between "cat" and "dog" in her drawing often requires a bit of explication on her part).

Lately, though, it's all aliens. Usually standing beside Georgia, sometimes with a cat to keep them company.

I'm not sure where this came from. Probably one of the cartoon shows we watch together. (Her favorites of the moment are WordGirl and Krypto the Superdog, naturally, both of which have some alien action to them, in one way or another.)

Yesterday, while Allison and I did a bit of yard work (to be fair, Allison had done most of it, I just came along and did a bit of raking at the end), Georgia drew with chalk on the driveway. I suggested she draw one of her aliens, which she did. When Allison came back around, I told Georgia to tell us about her drawing, and she proceeded to explain.

"It's an alien from ten thousand years ago," she said, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world, "and he's looking for the missing dot."

Well, certainly, I thought, why wouldn't he be?

Earlier that day, she'd done some drawing on the backs of old letterhead in the backseat of the car, using a pencil and a lapdesk, and it was only this morning as I belted her in for the ride to preschool that I saw what she'd drawn. I had her identify each of the elements, and I've added text labels, in case it isn't obvious.

This particular visual shorthand for "person" is one that Georgia's been working out for the last few years, btw.

Anyway, my first question was, "Where's the missing dot?" I haven't had a chance to ask her yet, but I'm guessing I know the answer. It's not there, obviously, because it's missing...

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Space Chimps

Not sure yet whether this will be any good or not, but it's definitely in my wheel-house...


RIP Charlton Heston

When the Last Man on Earth is gone, what comes after?

For most of my childhood, Heston was the hero. They don't make them like him anymore...


Heat Vision and Jack

Okay, John at SF Signal, you almost had me. I almost admitted defeat.

And then I remembered this. The Citizen Kane of unproduced sf/f TV pilots.

(Honestly, though, I'm amazed to discover the debt HV&J owes to Northstar, which I'd never even heard of before...)

Saturday, April 05, 2008



Okay, John at SF Signal, I see your Baffled!, and raise you one Spectre.

Granted, this low-rent promo lacks the swinging soundtrack of the Baffled opening, but it does have Robert Culp with psychic powers in Merry Old England, fighting cultists.

Arguably the best of Roddenberry's unproduced pilots (though there's a lot to be said for The Questor Tapes...).

Friday, April 04, 2008


H.P. Papercraft

(via) Matt Burnett and Ben Levin, the wags behind this bit of holiday hilarity, are back with a new bit of video funny for us all.

Speaking of which, check out these "responses" to "IM IN UR MANGER KILLING UR SAVIOR." (The first of these was posted in December, when the Gygax line wouldn't have been in poor taste, btw.)


Elvis Costello's "Veronica"

For no reason whatsoever, here is the best video I've ever seen. I first saw it almost twenty years ago, and it haunted me for the better part of two decades until I was finally able to find it on DVD a few years ago. Of course, now it's on Youtube and anyone can see it anytime they like. I love the future.

Directed by Evan English and John Hillcoat, here's the video for Elvis Costello's "Veronica."

Still the best video I've ever seen.


Armillary Sphere Ring

The Brass Goggles blog points to this amazing creation by the Acanthusleaf Design studio: an armillary sphere ring.

Here's the ring closed, able to be worn:

And here's the ring opened into a full armillary sphere:

How cool is that? Don't be surprised to see something like this turn up in one of my stories, sooner or later.


Hellboy II: The Golden Army

The new trailer for Hellboy II: The Golden Army is up on Yahoo.

I've got my reservations about the first Hellboy (the movie would have been improved 200% if the "normal human" POV character had been left on the cutting room floor), but this looks all kinds of awesome.

What's fascinating is seeing more and more of Guillermo del Toro's design sensibilities bleed into the Mignola-inspired world of the Hellboy films. Pan's Labyrinth was one of the last films I saw in the theater, and we may just have to plan a grown-up's only night out at the movies when Hellboy II opens, as well.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Copyright Term and the Public Domain

If you've dipped your toes in the comics blogosphere at any point in the last week, you've doubtless run into the news about the court decision regarding the wife and daughter of Superman creator Jerry Siegel recovering half the copyright on Action Comics #1, published in 1938. If you haven't been following the news, there's no better place to start than with Jeff Trexler's posts, and his subsequent analysis of the issues surrounding the decision for Newsarama.

In his most recent post, he points to this table on the Cornell Copyright Information Center site, which is the most exhaustive summary (if you've forgive the contradiction) of copyright laws and the public domain that I've yet come across. I've spent the last few years trying to educate myself on the laws surrounding the public domain, and kidded myself that I knew a bit about it, but there are wrinkles in here (in particular those about unpublished work) that I'd never come across before.

Not everyone finds endless amusement in the intricacies of intellectual property law, but if you're like me, this last week has been like three Superbowls all at once.


End of the Century

I've gotten the high sign from my masters at Pyr (in the person of editor Lou Anders) to share with all of you lovely people the glory that is the cover for my upcoming novel, End of the Century. I've been a fan of Dan Dos Santos's work for years, and when Lou and I first started talking about what sort of cover might suit the book, Dan's was the first name that came to mind. Lou concurred, and then Dan agreed to do the book, and then I settled back to see what he'd come up with.

See what kind of awesome the hand of Dan hath wrought...

I first saw this a few weeks back, during the Clockwork Storybook retreat, and when I showed it to Matt Sturges, he described it as "looking like a poster for a movie I want to see." I couldn't put it better myself. Dan has done a sterling job here of capturing the characters, and his illustration perfectly suits the book, which isn't just the best novel I've written to date, but is I think the best novel I can write at this point in my development.

The 2008-2009 Pyr catalog is being proofed at the moment, and should be going out shortly, I understand, but in the meantime, if you're interested in seeing the full solicitation copy and details, it's as follows:

End of the Century
by Chris Roberson
275 pp • ISBN 978-1-59102-697-6
Trade Paperback • $15 • January 2009
Three people. Three eras. One city. Endless possibilities. End of the Century is a novel of the distant past, the unimaginable future, and the search for the Holy Grail. Set in the city of London, the narrative is interlaced between three ages, in which a disparate group of heroes, criminals, runaways, and lunatics are drawn into the greatest quest of all time.

Twilight—Londinium, Sixth Century, CE
Galaad, a young man driven by strange dreams of a lady in white and a tower of glass, travels to the court of the high king Artor in Londinium, abandoned stronghold of the Roman Empire in Britain. With the dreams of Galaad as their only guide, Artor and his loyal captains journey west to the Summerlands, there to face a threat that could spell the end of the new-forged kingdom of Britain.

Jubilee—London, 1897
Consulting detective Sandford Blank, accompanied by his companion Roxanne Bonaventure, is called upon to solve a string of brutal murders on the eve of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. The police believe that Jack the Ripper is back on the streets, but Blank believes that this is a new killer, one whose motive is not violence or mayhem, but the discovery of the Holy Grail itself. And what of the corpse-white Huntsman and his unearthly hounds, who stalks the gaslit streets of London?

Millennium—London, 1999
At the eve of the new millennium, American teenager Alice Fell is on the run, and all alone. On the streets of a strange city, friendless and without a pound to her name, Alice is not sure whether she's losing her mind, or whether she is called by inescapable visions to some special destiny. Along with a strange man named Stillman Waters, who claims to be a retired occultist and spy, she finds herself pursued by strange creatures, and driven to steal the priceless “vanishing gem” that may contain the answers to the mysteries that plague her.

The three narratives—Dark Ages fantasy, gaslit mystery, and modern-day jewel heist— alternate until the barriers between the different times begin to break down, and the characters confront the secrets that connect the Grail, the Glass Tower, and the vanishing gem. And lurking behind it all is the entity known only as Omega.


New Review

Fábio Fernandes has reviewed George Mann's The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction: Volume 2 for The Fix, and liked it.
All in all, Volume 2 is a welcome addition to the ever-growing list of original anthologies. And a pleasure to read. Mann, who is already planning a third installment in what may well be a yearly series, hopes this apparent trend has come to stay. So do I.
He had this to say about my contribution to the proceedings.
Chris Roberson’s novelette, “The Line of Dichotomy,” is a no-nonsense, military approach to the question of peace in the middle of a war on another planet. Set in the universe of The Dragon’s Nine Sons, this is the story of the war between the Chinese and the Aztecs on the red planet of the solar system, Fire Star. “The Line of Dichotomy” shows us the POV of a group of Chinese scientists and military people trapped with a Mexican soldier, and the slow, painful recognition of the futility of war. However, it’s not a manifesto of any ideology; the story’s title was well chosen. The ending is not surprising but is quite convincing.




Sure, the character is little more than a "direct lift" of Michael Allred's Madman, and much of the humor comes from repurposing and recycling comedic bits you might have seen elsewhere, but on Saturday mornings in the mid-90s I could invariably be found sprawled in front of the television in the living room, usually deeply hung over, watching the latest episode of Freakazoid! There was a kind of willful insanity to the proceedings that had a charm of its own, however derivative other elements of the show might have been.

Aside from digging up clips on Youtube, like the Jonny Quest parody I mentioned a while back, though, I don't think I've seen an episode of the show since it went off the air, more than a decade ago. So I was a little surprised how jazzed I was this morning by the news that the first season is coming out on DVD.

Warner Bros has just announced the complete first season of Freakazoid!, the 1995 animated series starring Paul Rugg as the D.C. defender, Freakazoid. The 2-disc set includes 14 episodes, and sells for a suggested price of $26.99 (Warner initially posted a lower, incorrect price for this set - this is the correct price).
I might just have to add that one to my Netflix queue.

And for no added charge, here's a little language lesson for you all.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Drunk Jeff Goldblum

(via) Some pranksters have taken an Apple ad from 1999 and slowed it down just a bit. The result? Pure hilarity.


Battle Sector 17

(via) A little bit of funny (at the expense of sf space opera, largely), from the guys at Human Giant.


More Futurama

Good news, everyone!

I knew that the next direct-to-DVD Futurama release was coming up soon, but before reading this SCI FI Wire story this morning I didn't know it had been given a release date.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release the second of four new Futurama movies, The Beast With a Billion Backs, on DVD June 24.

The company described the movie this way: In their latest extraterrestrial exploit, Bender, Fry, Leela and the crew encounter a repulsive, planet-sized creature with billions of probing tentacles and find themselves involved in a disturbing--yet sensuous--interplanetary love story.

The movie will feature guest voice performances from David Cross, Brittany Murphy, Dan Castellaneta and physicist Stephen Hawking.
And hey, look, you can already preorder it on Amazon!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I'm F*cking Obama

(via) A nice little bit of editing.


Mr. T Versus

Sure, it's just an April Fools gag, but I have to admit that some small part of me wished, on seeing it, "If only..."
Mohawk Media, publisher of the Mr. T graphic novel, have decided to celebrate ‘Fool’s Day by taking pity by the early announcement of a series of Mr. T Versus crossover comic magazines, beginning with Mr. T Versus Dracula.
And for the next installment?

I pity the fool...

This page is powered by 

Blogger. Isn't yours?