Sunday, August 31, 2008


Gremlins Fan Film

(via) I'm going to let Sacha Feiner explain this one in his own words:

In the middle of the movie Gremlins 2, there is a sequence where the film seems to break, and where the gremlins invade the projection booth. For the VHS edition in the early 90's, they reshot a special sequence where the VHS tape seemed to be torn apart and in which the gremlins invaded a John Wayne movie. The DVD just kept the original theatrical version.
This is the alternate sequence I made, supposed to replace the theatrical one on the DVD.


The creatures effects are all made with puppets. I made a new mold out of a hard cast of one of the original sculptures from the production. I created a batch of new foam puppets especially for this project. Their performances are enhanced by computer effects, which makes them able to do nearly anything, from running to jumping or facial expressions. The entire shooting takes place in a bluescreen studio, arranged in my basement, in order to superimpose the gremlins in the chosen movies.


Sacha Feiner - I am a movie and animated movie director, special effects creator and sculptor, in Brussels.
I made several short films, documentaries, and cartoons; I also work as a graphist.
In 2007 and 2008, I made an animated series and recut trailers that were played at the BRUSSELS INTERNATIONAL FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL (largest genre festival in Europe), before each screening.

Okay, so now that it's set up, here's the finished short itself.

And if you're curious to learn how it was done, here's Feiner's own "making of" documentary:

Two things strike me. First, this guy loves Gremlins. Second, that it's amazing what one person (with a bit of assistance from family and friends) can do with some off-the-rack equipment, a bit of inventiveness, and enough free time.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Adventure Time: The Series

Do you remember Pendelton Ward's Adventure Time, which I've raved about before? Probably one of the greatest things ever.

Imagine my delight this morning to see on Cartoon Brew that, according the Animation Guild blog, the short has been picked up for a full series commitment by Cartoon Network.

That's the best news I've heard in a while. If you're not as excited as I am, it's bound to be because you haven't yet seen the short. So...

See? One of the best things ever. Now, imagine a whole series of that kind of awesome...

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Cult Tree

Check out this awesome image that artist Scott Campbell did for a poster promoting the recent Crazy4Cult show at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, in which artists reinterpreted classic films.

(Click to embiggen)

How many characters (and films) can you identify?


No Heroics

Behold, the trailer for ITV's No Heroics, a new series about what British super-heroes get up to in their off-hours...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The Adventures of the Flame

"Oh, sh*t, did I just touch that with my elbow?"

The Wrong Door looks worth checking out.


The Paranatural Persons League

Over at the Project: Rooftop site, Dean Trippe points out Alex Mitchell's terrific reimagining of the X-Men as Victorian (or Edwardian?) Occult investigators, the Paranatural Persons League.

More awesomeness can be found at Mitchell's DeviantArt site.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Ella Cinders

You learn something new every day. Here I am working on the first script of Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love, and Garen Ewing (the cartoonist responsible for The Rainbow Orchid) posts about a golden age comic strip, Ella Cinders.

On his Toonopedia, Don Markstein has this to say about the strip:
Everybody likes a good rags-to-riches tale, the exemplar of which is Charles Perrault's Cinderella — in fact, a common term for them is "Cinderella stories". Here's one whose authors didn't just admit where they got their inspiration. By the very title, they proclaimed it. And yet, during most of the strip's existence, the title was the only connection to the story it came from.

Those authors were writer Bill Conselman and artist Charlie Plumb, neither of whom is known for other work in comics. The strip was distributed by United Feature Syndicate, which also handled Peanuts, Gordo, Twin Earths and many others. The daily version began June 1, 1925, and a Sunday page was added two years later.
There's a digital archive of the first couple of years worth of daily strips at Barnacle Press, and from the little I've had a chance to read so far they appear to be not-a-million-miles from Little Orphan Annie, which interestingly didn't debut until two months after Ella Cinders, on August 5, 1925.

At Digital Funnies, there are a few samples of the later Sunday color strips, available from that site on CD and DVD. From this brief sampling, it looks like Ella Cinders later moved into something nearer to Tintin territory (and I can see what Ewing likes so much about the strip).

I've been a student of the history of comics (strips, books, etc) my whole life, and before this morning had never heard of this strip before. What else don't I know?!


A Former Slave Declines His Master's Invitation to Return

(via) On the Digital History site, hosted by the University of Houston, there are a number of primary sources under their "African American Voices" topic, including the following letter, which carries this annotation: "Jourdon Anderson, an ex- Tennessee slave, declines his former master's invitation to return as a laborer on his plantation."
Dayton, Ohio, August 7, 1865

To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee

Sir: I got your letter and was glad to find you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Col. Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again and see Miss mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville hospital, but one of the neighbors told me Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here; I get $25 a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy (the folks here call her Mrs. Anderson), and the children, Milly, Jane and Grundy, go to school and are learning well; the teacher says grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday- School, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated; sometimes we overhear others saying, "The colored people were slaves" down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks, but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Col. Anderson. Many darkies would have been proud, as I used to was, to call you master. Now, if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free- papers in 1864 from the Provost- Marshal- General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you are sincerely disposed to treat us justly and kindly- - and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty- two years and Mandy twenty years. At $25 a month for me, and $2 a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to $11,680. Add to this the interest for the time our wages has been kept back and deduct what you paid for our clothing and three doctor's visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams Express, in care of V. Winters, esq, Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night, but in Tennessee there was never any pay day for the Negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.

In answering this letter please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up and both good- looking girls. You know how it was with Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve and die if it comes to that than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood, the great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits. <>P.S. -- Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

From your old servant,

Jourdon Anderson

Source: Cincinnati Commercial, reprinted in New York Tribune, August 22, 1865.
What so strikes me about this is what goes implied but unsaid behind all the civility that Jourdon employs. In just over 800 words, he manages to communicate all that you ever need to know about everything that's gone before, about what kind of man the "Colonel" was, about what kind of life Jourdan's family had before leaving the plantation, etc. The economy and precision of the language is impressive, even moreso considering that it was penned by a former slave, who doubtless wasn't given the best of educations.

Monday, August 25, 2008


First Day of School

Georgia's been going to preschool for a while now, but today she officially starts Pre-Kindergarten, which at her school means a new classroom, more robust curriculum... and school uniforms.

Here's Georgia in her new uniform (or "schooliform", as I call them, as Lauren Child does in I Am Too Absolutely Small For School):

And here she is just a few moments before, reacting to something ridiculous I've said, no doubt (Allison is behind the camera, so I'm the one off to the right prompting with "Say slurpee-nozzle" and such like. Why does it always have to be "cheese," anyway...?)


Jason Lutes on Process (and D&D)

Jason Lutes, the writer and artist of Jar of Fools and Berlin (both of which are highly recommended), was recently interviewed about his work and process by the Wall Street Journal.

See, kids! Role-playing games are good for you!

(That's what I always told my parents, way back when, but they still insisted that D&D was satanic...)

Sunday, August 24, 2008


How Fan Fiction Can Teach Us a New Way to Read Moby-Dick

Gerry Canavan points out an intriguing discussion on the blog of Henry Jenkins (the Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program) on the topic "How Fan Fiction Can Teach Us a New Way to Read Moby-Dick" (part 2 is here).

In part one Jenkins talks about Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, the Artistic Director of the Mixed Magic Theater, and his work getting incarcerated youth to read Moby-Dick by having them rewrite and update Melville's novel for the 21st century. Here's Pitts-Wiley discussing the experience in an interview with Jenkins.
I had an opportunity--and this was probably the best part of the experience for me--as a teacher to release their imaginations. Boy oh boy, no matter how much I write I'll never be able to fully capture the degree to which their imaginations were released and they released me, too, to say you don't have to play by the ABC game. You don't have to go by the numbers. You can rethink these characters and it's okay, and you can honor them and rethink them at the same time. When we started the writing process, I started by saying, "Pick a character and write a story about the character." They all chose their favorite character in the novel and wrote a story about just their character.

One of the young men who chose Ahab--it was a great story, too! Ahab was at home. He had just come back from a very successful voyage of drug dealing for WhiteThing, his boss. It was so successful that he worried that he was now a threat to the great omnipotent WhiteThing. He was making some decisions that it was time for him to either challenge the boss for control or to get out of the business. He's home, he's got this young wife, she's pregnant, and the drug lord sends agents looking for him. In looking for him, they kill his wife and unborn child. They don't get him. His revenge is based on what they did to him.

Another one chose Elijah, the prophet, and the awful dilemma of being able to see the future and no one believing or understanding what you're trying to tell them. "I'm going to warn you about this, but if don't heed my warning this is what's going to happen," and the awful dilemma that you face. His story was about 9/11. "I'm trying to tell you this is going to happen," and then nobody listened, and how awful he felt that he knew and couldn't stop it.

In part two, Jenkins approaches the subject in a more general sense, using Moby Dick as a specific example of the different ways in which readers engage with a text.

Fans are searching for unrealized potentials in the story that might provide a springboard for their own creative activities. We might identify at least five basic elements in a text that can inspire fan interventions. Learning to read as a fan often involves learning to find such openings for speculation and creative extension. [1]

  • Kernels -- pieces of information introduced into a narrative to hint at a larger world but not fully developed within the story itself. Kernels typically pull us away from the core plot line and introduce other possible stories to explore. For example, consider the meeting between the captains of the Pequod and the Rachel which occurs near the end of Melville's novel (Chapter cxxviii). Captain Gardiner of the Rachel is searching for a missing boat, lost the night before, which has his own son aboard. He solicits Ahab's help in the search. In doing so, he tells Ahab, "For you too have a boy, Captain Ahab - though but a child, and nestling safely at home now - a child of your old age too." The detail is added here to show how much Ahab is turning his back on all that is human in himself. Yet, this one phrase contains the seeds of an entire story of how and why Ahab had a son at such a late age, what kind of father Ahab might have been, and so forth. We may also wonder how Gardiner knows about Ahab's son, since the book describes him as a "stranger." The John Huston film version goes so far as to suggest that Gardiner was also from New Bedford, which opens up the possibility that the two men knew each other in the past. What might their previous relationship have looked like? Were they boyhood friends or bitter rivals? Were their wives sisters or friends? Did the two sons know each other? Might Ahab's wife have baby-sat for Gardiner's son? Soon, we have the seeds of a new story about the relationship between these two men.

  • Holes -- plot elements readers perceive as missing from the narrative but central to their understanding of its characters. Holes typically impact the primary plot. In some cases, "holes" simply reflect the different priorities for writers and readers who may have different motives and interests. For example, consider the story of how Ahab lost his leg. In many ways, this story is central to the trajectory of the novel but we receive only fragmentary bits of information about what actually happened and why this event has had such a transformative impact on Ahab, while other seamen we meet have adjusted more fully to the losses of life and limb that are to be expected in pursuing such a dangerous profession. What assumptions do you make as a reader about who Ahab was -- already a captain, a young crewmember on board some one else's ship -- or where he was when this incident occurred? In fandom, one could imagine a large number of different stories emerging to explain what happened, and each version might reflect a different interpretation of Ahab's character and motives.

  • Contradictions -- Two or more elements in the narrative which, intentionally or unintentionally, suggest alternative possibilities for the characters. Are the characters in Moby-Dick doomed from the start, as might be suggested by the prophecies of Elijah and Gabriel? Does this suggest some model of fate or divine retribution, as might be implied by Father Mapple's sermon about Jonah? Or might we see the characters as exerting a greater control over what happens to them, having the chance to make a choice which might alter the course of events, as is implied by some of the exchanges between Ahab and Starbuck? Different writers could construct different stories from the plot of Moby-Dick depending on how they responded to this core philosophical question about the nature of free will. And we can imagine several stories emerging around the mysterious figure of Elijah. Is Elijah someone gifted with extraordinary visions? Is he a mad man? Does he have a history with Ahab that might allow him insights into the Captain's character and thus allow Elijah to anticipate what choices Ahab is likely to make?

  • Silences -- Elements that were systematically excluded from the narrative with ideological consequences. As Wyn Kelley notes in "Where Are the Women?," many writers have complained about the absence of female characters in Moby-Dick, suggesting that we can not fully understand the world of men without also understanding the experience of women. Some works -- such as the John Huston version -- call attention to the place of women in whaling culture, if only incidentally. Melville hints at this culture only through a few scattered references to the families that Ahab and Starbuck left behind. These references can provide the starting point for a different story, as occurs in Sena Jeter Naslund's novel, Ahab's Wife; we might imagine another version of the story where Ahab was female, as occurs in Moby-Dick: Then and Now, or we might use the plot of Moby-Dick as the starting point for creating a totally different story set in another kind of world where women can play the same kind of roles as the men play in Melville's novel, as occurs in the Battlestar Galactica episode, "Scar."

  • Potentials -- Projections about what might have happened to the characters that extend beyond the borders of the narrative. Many readers finish a novel and find themselves wanting to speculate about "what happens next." As Pugh writes, "Whenever a canon closes, someone somewhere will mourn it enough to reopen it....Even though we may feel that the canonical ending is 'right' artistically, if we liked the story we may still not be ready for it to end, for the characters and milieu that have become real to us to be folded up and put back in the puppeteer's box." For example, we might well wonder what kind of person Ishmael becomes after being rescued. Melville offers us some hints -- even if only because Ishmael chooses to tell this story in the first place. Yet, in our world, someone like Ishmael might be wracked with "survivor guilt," feeling responsibility for the deaths of his friends, or wondering why he alone made it through alive. How might Ishmael have dealt with these powerful emotions? How might these events have changed him from the character we see at the start of the novel? Might we imagine some future romance helping to "comfort" and "nurse" him through his "hurts"?
What's fascinating to me about this discussion is the way it overlaps with a lot of the intertextual/metafictional "fiction about fiction" that I enjoy as a reader, and that I write myself from time to time.

It was probably the influence of Philip Jose Farmer and his "Wold Newton" stories that lead me to that kind of thing, writing between the lines of other stories, searching out linkages between the work of different writers (though the case could be made that early and persistence exposure to the comics work of Roy Thomas probably had a formative influence as well). In the years since I've been just as influenced by the work of Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, and Kim Newman, all of whom have tilled those same fields, in one way or another (as I've mentioned a time or two).

But maybe my fascination with "between the lines" and "what happens next" was inevitable; Jenkins quotes Michael Chabon talking about the ways in which this kind of thing is almost a function of popular literature itself:
"All enduring popular literature has this open-ended quality, and extends this invitation to the reader to continue, on his or her own, with the adventure....It creates a sense of an infinite horizon of play, an endless game board; it spawns, without trying, a thousand sequels, diagrams, and web sites..."
Jenkins explicitly links the intertextual (for want of a better term) fiction of Farmer, Moorcock, Moore, and Newman (and the various other "sequels by other hands") with fanfiction, citing the work of Sheenagh Pugh to illustrate the linkages:

In her book, The Democratic Art, poet Sheenagh Pugh discusses what motivates large numbers of women to write fan fiction. [3] She suggests that some fans want "more from" the original source material because they felt something was missing and some write because they want "more of" the original source material, because the story raises expectations that are not fulfilled. Pugh discusses stories as addressing two related questions -- "what if" and "what else." Pugh's discussion moves between fans writing about science fiction or cop shows and fans writing about literary classics (for example, Jane Austen's novels). She focuses mostly on the work of amateur writers yet she also acknowledges that a growing number of professional writers are turning their lenses on canonical literature and extending it in new directions. She opens her book, for example, with a discussion of John Reed's Snowball's Chance (2001) which rewrites George Orwell's Animal Farm. Other examples might include Isabelle Allende's Zorro (based on a pulp magazine character), Gregory Maguire's Wicked (The Wizard of Oz), Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea (Jane Eyre), Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are DeadHamlet), J.M. Coetzee's Foe (Robinson Crusoe), Linda Berdoll's Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife (Pride and Prejudice), Nicholas Meyer's Seven Percent Solution (Sherlock Holmes), Alice Randall's The Wind Done Gone (Gone With the Wind), and Sena Jeter Naslund's Ahab's Wife (Moby-Dick).

While such works are sometimes described as post-modern, such practices run throughout the history of literature and as Abigail Derecho notes, this mode of creative reworking of canonical literature has been a way some female authors have asserted their perspectives onto their culture. [4] If anything, modern conceptions of copyright have slowed down a long-standing tendency of people to retell existing stories. Fan fiction revitalizes that creative impulse, operating in a world where many different people might retell the same story and in the process, expand the range of potential interpretations of the source material.
(I first encountered the argument that fanfiction was traditionally a way that "female authors have asserted their perspectives onto their culture" through Naomi Novik's Organization for Transformative Works. I don't have any reason to doubt that fanfiction has served as a female creative act, both historically and in contemporary times, but at the same time it's clear from my own experience--and that of the writers who inspired me--that fanfiction and its more respectable literary form are not exclusively the purview of women.)

Jenkins raises some intriguing points, some of which I'd not considered before now, and his posts are well worth seeking out for anyone interested in this kind of thing.


Our Dream Ticket

We've been hoping for this ticket for a good long while now.

Of course, Allison has to keep reminding me that she's had pancakes at midnight in a diner with the Democratic Vice Presidentidal candidate (and tooled around with him in a private plane), but that's to be expected.

(For those of you who don't know, my wife worked on Biden's presidential bid, part of the team that put together his radio and TV spots--and she helped get his son Beau Biden elected as Attorney General of Delaware, to boot.)

Friday, August 22, 2008


Cat Blogging

We had a new addition to our house this week, much to Georgia's delight.

Internets, allow me to present Blue the Cat...

Obviously, Georgia is overjoyed at the new pet upgrade (Blue the Fish [Beta] continues to linger on, but he's not as lively these days as he once was), but her cat-juggling skills can use some work.

However, Georgia was a quick study with the "fishing-rod-thingee-with-feather-on-a-string", and Blue the Cat is much happier chasing after it then being carted around by Georgia.

And here's Blue the Cat when not being tormented by an enthusiastic four-year-old girl.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


A Banner Day

Today, for the first time in literally months, our home contains a functional refrigerator and a functional microwave... at the same time. (At any given point in the last few months we've had one or the other, but never both simultaneously.)

I look forward, as soon as the new fridge cools enough to produce ice cubes, to enjoying a bowl of microwaved popcorn and a glass of tasty iced tea. Pure decadence...


Help Amelia Beamer's Family

I'm going to let John Picacio explain this one. I'll just add that Amelia is one of my favorite people, and that she and her family deserve any assistance that can be sent their way.
Amelia Beamer is a class act, and one of the main editors of LOCUS MAGAZINE. She lost her father-in-law to a sudden heart attack on August 13. Ellen Datlow's blog has details, but in a nutshell, her father-in-law was a man of the people who worked on behalf of poverty-stricken communities. His family could use some financial help in the wake of funeral and cremation costs that his limited insurance couldn't cover. The economy's tough on everyone right now, but if you can pitch in a few dollars to help one of the good ones in our science fiction community, it would be appreciated.


Dear all,

It is with deep sadness that we inform you that Arthur Wayne Jokela has passed away. He was traveling home from his work in Malawi and Mozambique when he collapsed suddenly during a layover in London, and died of a heart attack in St. Thomas's hospital on August 13, 2008. The body is being cremated and brought home to Los Angeles by friends.

In lieu of flowers or cards, we will be accepting donations to the Arthur Jokela Memorial Fund to cover funeral expenses and travel costs incurred by his environmental and civic outreach projects in Africa and around the world. There is a Paypal account set up to receive donations of any size, with a web page at the link below. You don't need a Paypal account; there is a link on the left side of the page to continue with a credit card.

Memorial services will be announced within the next few months, most likely to occur in early November to commemorate Arthur's birthday on November 5th. You can keep in touch via the new email address:, or my email address:

Karen Jokela and family
1801 West Orange Grove
Pomona CA 91768
phone: 909.620.6288

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Hector Plasm: Totentanz

A little over two years ago, I raved on the Ramble about a one-shot comic entitled Hector Plasm: De Mortius. Here's what I said then:
Written by Benito Cereno with art by Nate Bellegarde, the comic is 48 pages of ghost-busting goodness. Hector Plasm is a benandante, accompanied by a beatnik devil and an avenging angel who could just have stepped out of a Sergio Leone western, and together they ramble around fighting ghosts and exorcizing demons. Well, appparently Hector does all the ghost fighting, for the most part, but you get the idea.


Having looked forward to Hector Plasm: De Mortius for months, I was amazed to find that it's even better than I'd anticipated. One of the best comics I've read in recent months, and a tonic when faced with the never-ending events of the Big Two, I can't recommend it highly enough. Buy lots, so Cereno and Bellegarde won't have any choice but to keep churning out follow-ups.
Well, it took a little over two years, but the first of those follow-ups is now on its way.



Written by Benito Cereno, art and cover by Nate Bellgarde.

The creative team behind Invincible Presents: Atom Eve return to their original creation, a modern-day member of an ancient cult whose duties dictate that he roam the earth to protect the living from the dead...and occasionally to protect the dead from the living. It's the follow-up to the book WIZARD MAGAZINE called one of the top 200 comics released during its publication history.

48 pages, $5.99, in stores on Nov. 5.
Who doesn't want that? So get down to your local comic shop and order a copy, already!

Now, if we could only get Cereno to do more Tales from the Bully Pulpit...


Birthday Meme

Hey look, internets! A meme! (I haven't done one of these in a long while, so...)

Look up your birthday in Wikipedia. Pick 4 events, 3 births, 2 deaths, and 1 holiday.

1609 - Galileo Galilei demonstrates his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers.
1768 - James Cook begins his first voyage.
1835 - The New York Sun perpetrates the Great Moon Hoax..
1944 - World War II: Paris is liberated by the Allies.

1819 - Allan Pinkerton, American private detective (d. 1884)
1930 - Sean Connery, Scottish actor
1954 - Elvis Costello, English musician

1688 - Henry Morgan, Welsh privateer
1900 - Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher (b. 1844)
1984 - Truman Capote, American author (b. 1924)

Roman festivals - Opiconsivia held in honor of Ops.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


That's *My* Krypton

Longtime readers of the Ramble may recall that Geoff Johns was responsible a while back for the return of my Fortress of Solitude. Not "my" Fortress, that is, but the Fortress of my Superman. (Who is pals with my Batman, in case you didn't know.) And now Johns is about to bring back an even bigger set-piece to Superman continuity.

I've fallen in and out and in love again with Johns's work over the years, but I have to agree with Dean Trippe when he says that Johns appears to have "leveled up" the last couple of years. Between his work on Green Lantern and his run on Action Comics, Johns is all aces in my book these days.

And while he's been gradually rebuilding the Green Lantern franchise from the ground up (using as a framework the contributions of Alan Moore to the canon), he's been refurbishing Superman as well, gradually reworking the character and his continuity with an "include and transcend" approach that is more than a little reminiscent of the Superman 2000 pitch worked up years ago by Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Mark Millar, and Tom Peyer (more about which here). In the current arc he's busy reinventing Brainiac, but as soon as that arc is through he'll be moving onto a storyline called "New Krypton."

Here are Alex Ross's covers to Superman #681, Action Comics #871 and Supergirl #35 (parts 2-4 of the nine part "New Krypton" storyline):

Talk about "include and transcend"! There are characters there from damn-near every interpretation of Krypton I can think of, in comics, television, and film. Right there in the center? That's Nightwing and Flamebird, the "Batman and Robin of Kandor" (though they don't appear to be exactly any version we've seen before). And on the right there, in the red, white and blue? That looks an awful lot like the Kristen Wells Superwoman, who was teased early in Johns's run on Action.

My favorite Superman of the moment remains Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman, but Geoff Johns's run on Action Comics is running a very close second.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Ronald Chevalier's Art of Relaxating

I'm back at my desk after ArmadilloCon, and trying to get my brain back up to speed. No more cons for me, please, at least not until my liver's had a chance to regrow a bit.

ArmadilloCon was low-impact, as it usually is, and I had a great time as always. Lots of great conversations with terrific folks. In one of those meandering discussions, Jayme Lynn Blaschke told me about a YouTube "viral video" featuring Jemaine Clement (of Flight of the Conchords fame) as a science fiction writer. He couldn't remember any more detail than that (Blaschke brews his own beer, so we have to make certain allowances for him), but a bit of Googling yesterday turned this up.

For more about Dr. Ronald Chevalier, author of such works as The Cyborg Harpies Trilogy and Brain Cream, check out his website (or web-sanctum, as the intro puts it) at (or you could wait for Jared Hess's Gentlemen Broncos, due out next year...)

Friday, August 15, 2008


ArmadilloCon 30

There's no rest for the weary...

This weekend I'll be a programming participant at ArmadilloCon 30, here in sunny Austin, TX (and for "sunny," read "ungodly hot"). If you're in the area and planning to attend, here's where you might find me (or might want to avoid if you don't want to find me... and you know who you are).

Sa1300DZ Cartoon Network
Sat 1:00 PM-2:00 PM deZavala
B. Foster, Martinez, Roberson*, Rosen, Salvaggio
Our panelists discuss recent highlights from this essential cable channel.

Sa1400R Reading
Sat 2:00 PM-2:30 PM Robertson
Chris Roberson

Sa1900DW Book Covers
Sat 7:00 PM-8:00 PM deWitt
Denton, Picacio, Hart, Roberson, Rosen, Spencer*
What makes a great -- or not-so-great -- cover? How much difference can it make to the success of a book? How can the artist and author collaborate?

Su1300PN From Agent to Editor to Publisher to Store
Sun 1:00 PM-2:00 PM Phoenix North
Finn, G. Haldeman, Leicht, Roberson, Rosen*
We examine the process and decisions between an author finishing a book and it showing up on store shelves.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Echoes and Refractions

I'm informed by reliable sources that the omnibus Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Echoes and Refractions, which includes my short novel Brave New World, is now available in stores. In the last week or two that I've been on the road, a few reviews and related pieces have appeared online about the book.

The site TrekMovie (which also features an interview with me on the story, Star Trek, and sf in general), has given my contribution a fairly glowing review:
In quite possibly the most though provoking of the six Myriad Universes tales, Chris Roberson explores the practical and philosophical implications of the proliferation of both mechanical life forms (in the wake of Dr. Noonien Soong’s wildly successful android program) and the ability to migrate the consciousness from the organic to the positronic mind of an android.

Roberson makes effective use if the work of TNG’s pioneers of artificial life (Soong and Dr. Ira Graves) to create a storyline replete with plenty of action and an unparalleled depth of thought that brings the volume to an effective conclusion. Throughout the story we meet many new and interesting android characters, each of them playing a role in exploring the questions of existence on their own terms.

Brave New World presents many ideas that are somewhat foreign to the various Star Trek television series. While Trek is often used as a lens to examine the human condition, Roberson attempts to drill down to the essence of sentience, and where it is to be found. When the examination is complete, nothing is ever the same again.

While the story itself is fast paced, interesting, and surprisingly humorous for the subject matter, the real payoff of Roberson’s work is the epilogue, which ends the tale in a manner that can only be called pure science fiction at its best.
Another Trek site, TrekWeb, has also weighed in with the following review:
Chris Roberson proves he should be writing more Trek stories with Brave New World. Doctor Soong was successful in his experiments and now cybernetics is common throughout the Federation. Several years before, Data mysteriously disappeared and the crew of the Enterprise has always wondered why he left. When Picard receives a mysterious message from him asking the Enterprise to come into the Neutral Zone, he must decide if he can trust his former officer. And, is it really Data? The epilogue is unnecessary, but the rest of the story provides excellent character arcs and surprises.
And a fan blog, Musings of a fandom geek, has done an overview of the omnibus, and seems to have enjoyed my story as well:
Closing out this second volume, newcomer Chris Roberson weaves a tale of a more personal nature than the others that have gone before, which takes its place as my favourite story from the book. Here, Noonien Soong’s research proceeds ahead of schedule, leading to his creating Data long before the Crystalline Entity arrives to interrupt his work. The Soong-type android is unveiled to the Federation, and more are soon created. The story picks up in 2378, with androids now recognised as sentient beings, although with some limitations on their rights. The technique used by Ira Graves in the TNG episode “The Schizoid Man” has been developed here, too, and people have been permitted to transfer their minds to android bodies in the event of bodily deterioration.
The questions of morality, spirituality, and science raised are extremely thought-provoking, as is the spotlight thrown on the role and impact of technology, which forms the heart of the story.
Has anyone here had a chance to check out the book yet? I'm curious to hear the reactions of readers with a prior familiarity with my work, as well.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008



Hello, internets. Remember me?

I've been to two conventions in the last two and a half weeks, and will be at another in three more days. Last night was the first time I'd slept in my own bed in a week in a half, and only the sixth time I'd done so in nearly three weeks. My brain and body (and especially the long-suffering liver and lungs) are beaten, but I've had a great time and seen lots of terrific people. Now I have loads of work to get done before the end of the month, and have to try to remember how this whole typing thing works.

I'll share a bit more when I'm a little more cogent, but thought I'd chime in so no one suspected I was dead or anything.

I'm not dead.

So, how are you, internets? Hear any good news lately?

Friday, August 01, 2008


WorldCon - Denvention 3

Here's my scheduled program items for next week's WorldCon in Denver, in case anyone is interested.

And, as always, at all other times I can most likely be found either wandering around the dealer's room or else flying the flag in the hotel bar in the "party hotel".

(Note: My travel plans have changed a bit, and I'll be getting in a little later than planned. I should be able to make it to my Wednesday at 1:00pm panel, lord willing and the creek don't rise, but if there's any snags along the way I might not make it there in time.)

Wednesday 1:00PM
14 Has there ever been a good movie adaptation of an SF book?
CCC - Room 507
From War of the Worlds to the adventures of Harry Potter, some people love the movie adaptations and some hate them. What makes the movement from page to screen worth watching? What literary devices have to be cut or changed for the transition to the silver
screen? Are there any really good movie adaptations
out there?
Chris Roberson, Craig Miller, (m) Matthew Rotundo

Thursday 2:30 PM
173 Kaffeeklatsch

CCC - Korbel 4E
Charles Brown, Chris Roberson, David Gerrold, Ed Bryant

Thursday 5:30 PM
228 Swashbucklers in Space
CCC - Korbel 1C
Not as evil as pirates, but twice as much fun! Swashbucklers, whether in space or on the high seas, are often found fighting on the side of the good guys - but in quite non-standard ways!
Chris Roberson, Darlene Marshall, (m) Karl Schroeder, SM Stirling, Tobias Buckell

Friday 10:45 AM
286 Signing (45 minutes)
CCC - Hall D
Bill Patterson, Chris Roberson, Jody Lynn Nye

Friday 5:30 PM
427 Sidewise Awards
Sheraton - 2nd Level, Tower Court D
Chris Roberson, Evelyn Leeper, Jay Lake, Jo Walton, John Scalzi, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Michael Flynn, Sheila Williams, Stephen Baxter, Steven Silver

Saturday 1:00 PM
496 Battlestar Galactica
CCC - Room 505
Who did it best and why? Was it really the same story told a different way, or was it something altogether different with a few familiar names?
Chris Roberson, (m) Edward Muller, John Joseph Adams, Randy Smith

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