This is the personal site of Chris Roberson, writer of stuff and things. My bio is here, my bibliography is here. Below is my blog where I mostly talk about books and cartoons and TV shows that I enjoyed, The Good Stuff, but from time to time I also post about my own work, Stuff I Wrote, or interesting things that I’ve encountered while roaming around the internet, Interesting Stuff. I’m leaving up the old blog archives below, which for the last several years of the previous incarnation were largely announcements about signings and convention appearances, but farther back are very much this kind of stuff. (And the static archive of really old posts from the pre-WordPress days are still lurking back there, going from 2010 all the way back to 2005.) And if you’re here trying to get in touch with me, I’ve added a contact form here that goes straight to my email, and I promise to try answering in a timely manner.
Socials and Media
With the current sad state of the bird site, just a quick note here that I’m still active on Tumblr as @chrisroberson and on Mastodon (or the Fediverse, if you prefer) as @firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m going to try to do a better job of posting here on a more regular basis, but I can usually be found at either of those sites.
First Contact Day
On April 5, 2063, a Vulcan survey ship lands in Bozeman, Montana after detecting a warp-capable ship launching from there earlier that day. The Vulcans are greeted the ship’s designer and pilot, Zefram Cochrane, and the rest is (future) history.
I’ve always been a hardcore Trekkie, having started watching the original series in reruns as a kid in the Seventies, seeing all of the original cast movies in the theater, watching all of the spinoff series from The Next Generation through Enterprise live in broadcast. I read the comics and the novels, played the video games and got the roleplaying games. I’d return to Trek whenever I needed it, and these last few years I’ve needed it a lot.
At the beginning of the pandemic I started rewatching The Original Series, introduced my son to Deep Space Nice, and then proceeded to rewatch all of The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Enterprise, and am currently working my way through the last few seasons of Voyager. I’ve read giant stacks of Star Trek novels and comics, technical manual and series companions. And with all of the new Trek being produced–Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, and Strange New Worlds, to say nothing of all of the legacy shows being available to stream, I don’t think there has ever been a better time to be a Star Trek fan. And with the state of the world and all of the challenges facing us today, it’s arguable that we’ve never needed Trek more than we do right now. Stories about competent people working together, overcoming their differences and finding strength in their diversities, solving problems with science and cooperation. Sounds pretty good to me.
Happy First Contact Day to all who celebrate. Live Love and Prosper, Peace and Long Life.
The Venture Bros’ “Peril of the Bells”
Back in the olden blogging days the annual holiday songs from the good folks behind The Venture Bros was always a treat, and I was delighted last night to see that this year we got a brand new installment. There’s also a YouTube playlist of all of the Venture Bros Holiday Songs to date, and all of the songs can be downloaded from Ken Plume’s Patreon.
An issue of Hellboy & The B.P.R.D. that I worked on, “Forgotten Lives” with art by Stephen Green, has appeared on Multiversity Comics list of the Best Single Issues of 2022. Here’s a bit of what reviewer Ryan Fitzmartin has to say about it:
“Mignola and Roberson use the story of a ghost in a mass grave in the Bronx as an entry point to explore death and legacy. Hellboy and Trever Bruttenholm are investigating a ghost, but their heads are really occupied by the thoughts of recently departed friends. It’s an elegiac, sad story, with great dialogue that really understands how people cope. The overarching narrative, of the death of a forgotten comic-book writer, feels in some ways as if Mignola and Roberson are wondering about what they’ll leave behind when they depart.
“The art in ‘Forgotten Lives’ likewise is somber, and constrained, lending gravity and weight to a heavy issue. Many artists have drawn Hellboy over the past two decades, but Stephen Green’s pencils manage to do a standout job. Hellboy’s face is expressive and deeply emotive. Green does great work with his eyes, which speak as much as the words do. Dave Stewarts’s coloring is of course completely on point, albeit a little more muted than normal, perhaps to allow the dialogue to take more weight.”
Another of Mignola’s titles, Koschei in Hell, appears higher up on the list, along with one of my absolute favorite single issues of the year, Nightwing #87, so we’re in pretty good company!
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
I’ve written before on many occasions about my longtime obsession with Indiana Jones. I first saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in the theater the summer I turned 11 years old, and was there for each of the three sequels on the opening weekend. A trip to Disney World a few years ago got me on a serious Indiana Jones kick and in the span of a few months I rewatched all of the movies, all of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, read all of the Marvel and Dark Horse comics and a huge pile of Rob MacGregor novels. I found that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was much better than I remembered from my one viewing on opening weekend, and that The Last Crusade was even better than I remembered and I remembered it being awesome, and that the original Raiders film is pretty much without a single flaw.
But when there were the first rumblings that Harrison Ford would be reprising the role in a fifth feature film, I was skeptical. Ford is still a fantastic actor, but he’s a little long in the tooth to be an action star. Admittedly, James Mangold’s Logan made it clear he knew how to handle the story of an aging adventurer, but I remained unconvinced. Willing to be convinced, but skeptical.
Then I saw the trailer yesterday, and all of my doubts evaporated. I have no idea what’s happening here, or what this has to do with what appears to be the Antikythera mechanism. Is Phoebe Waller-Bridge playing Marcus Brody’s daughter, or granddaughter? Or is she one of Sallah’s kids who went off to school in the UK? Are those Nazis who got recruited in Operation Paperclip who are up to no good years later? I don’t know, and at the moment, I don’t care. Because that’s Indiana Jones, dammit. I’m sold. That’s the GUY.
I went into the trailer skeptical, but by the end I was grinning from ear to ear. And I’ll be there on opening day to see what happens, just like I’ve been doing for the last four decades.
Station Identification Redux
Hello, anyone who might happen to chance by here. I’ve maintained this site for a LONG time but I’ve only updated sporadically the last couple of years, usually posting about movies or TV shows that I’ve really enjoyed. My day-to-day online posting has mostly been on various social media sites, where I variously talk about politics or post pictures of my cats or share random nostalgia or post about movies or TV shows that I’ve really enjoyed. Sometimes I even talk about writing and my own work. And for a long time that’s worked well enough.
But when a moronic billionaire buys one of the most prominent social media sites and promptly turns it into a cesspool, that seems increasingly less attractive. So while I’ve set up shop at Mastodon, regularly post to Tumblr, and have been active on the Hive Social app (as @chrisroberson), I want to make more regular use of this site. John Scalzi has issued a clarion call that we should all just start blogging again, to create what he calls the “artisan web,” and I for one intend to do my part.
I desperately miss the old days when everyone blogged on their own sites and we used RSS feeds to keep track of the latest updates, and though the demise of Google Reader made that harder to do, I’ve been using Feedly in the years since to keep up with everyone still posting on their own sites. So here’s my message in a bottle. I’ll start posting here more regularly about my own work. I’ll talk more frequently about the books and comics and movies that I’m enjoying. And maybe I’ll even share photos of my cats here, if the mood strikes.
My name is Chris Roberson, and I write comics, and sometimes books and short stories, and sometimes animated TV and video games.
The Power of the Doctor
I think that Chris Chibnall’s run as showrunner on Doctor Who has had its ups and downs, but overall I’ve really enjoyed Jodie Whittaker’s stint as the 13th Doctor. (I’ve particularly liked the way that Chibnall and the writers frequently used real historical figures who many viewers might not have previously been familiar with, such as Noor Inayat Khan, Ada Lovelace, and Mary Seacole.) And while I’ll be sorry to see the 13th Doctor go, she went out with a bang in one of the best regeneration episodes to date.
As someone who has been following the Doctor’s adventures since I stumbled upon the first installment of “Robot” on my local PBS station in the mid-80s, who watched the 1996 TV movie live in broadcast, and who been in the front row since the character was reintroduced back in 2005 (and consumed mountains of novels, comics, and audio adventures along the way), “The Power of the Doctor” felt like a love letter both to the franchise and to all of the longtime fans. The twist at the end had been spoiled for me on social media before the episode had even aired in the States, but I was completely unprepared for all of the cameos along the way. And while I was momentarily worried that bringing back so many characters might devolved into a fan service checklist, it was genuinely moving seeing some of those interactions, and the way that the Companions plot wrapped up in the end completely justified it all for me. (Though I’m still having trouble coming to terms with the fact that Ace and Graham are now essentially the same age…)
I’m looking forward to the new episodes next year, but in the meantime I think that I’m overdue for a rewatch of the modern series to date, some of which I haven’t seen since they originally aired.
The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun
I finally had a chance to watch The French Dispatch over the weekend (or to be more precise, The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun, to use the full title), and of all of the Wes Anderson movies that Wes Anderson has ever Wes Andersoned, that was the most Wes Andersony. And I absolutely loved it.
Anderson has been responsible for several of my all time favorite movies, and while The Life Aquatic and The Fantastic Mr. Fox probably still occupy the top spots, The French Dispatch has secured a slot somewhere very near the top of the list. It is a joyful celebration of the written word and French films and The New Yorker and the act of storytelling and the creation of art itself, and I look forward to watching it again very soon. And like all of his best movies it left me in a mood to go work on one of my own stories, the creative sparks firing off behind my eyeballs.
As is always the case with Wes Anderson movies, The French Dispatch has a fantastic soundtrack, but in addition to two accompanying album releases, one for the soundtrack and one for the original score, there is another album released in connection with the movie. Jarvis Cocker, of Pulp fame, recorded an entire album of French pop song covers in character as the fictional pop star Tip-Top who is mentioned in the film’s dialogue. I’ve only sampled the first few tracks so far, but the mere notion of an entire album of French pop songs by a fictional character from a Wes Anderson movie is probably enough to let you know if it might be for you. (And it is definitely for me…)
I feel like an apostate who has just experienced a religious revival, like my faith had lapsed for years and years and was suddenly reignited.
I have read and reread Frank Herbert’s Dune many times over the years (though I haven’t revisited any of the sequels in quite some time), most recently about a decade ago. I was in the theater on opening day for David Lynch’s adaptation in 1984, and still have the one page “Glossary” that was handed out to moviegoers at the door. I watched the Sci Fi channel miniseries, and liked them well enough. But I haven’t thought about Dune much in recent years, and even after seeing the trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation last year I didn’t really get my hopes up, despite having loved Arrival and Blade Runner 2049. Then I watched the movie on Friday.
I’ve spent the two days since then listening to Hans Zimmer’s three soundtrack albums (The Dune Sketchbook, featuring long moody pieces of atmospheric music from the film, is probably my favorite of the three), getting my hands on a copy of the book to replace the many copies I have sold or traded in over the years, and clearing room in my To Read pile to dive into a lengthy reading project. I don’t know if I’ll make it all the way to Chapterhouse: Dune for the first time since the 80s, but I’m going to give it my best shot.
I absolutely loved Villeneuve’s adaptation. The casting was perfect. The music and sound design was sublime. The cinematography and visual effects, the production design and wardrobe, the all of it and everything, just fantastic. And I’m overjoyed to see that it is connecting with viewers, both longtime fans of the books and general audiences who are experiencing Herbert’s world for the first time. I’m glad that a sequel seems likely, and delighted to learn that a prequel series focusing on the Bene Gesserit is in the works for HBO Max, with Diane Ademu-John attached as writer and showrunner and Villeneuve onboard to direct the pilot.
I know a lot of my friends have already watched the movie multiple times over the weekend, but I’m waiting to watch it again next week, when I introduce it to my kid who will be watching it with fresh eyes. I’m curious to see what he makes of it, and will be ready and waiting to answer any questions he has about the world of Dune.
The Golden Age of Comics is Twelve.
I’ve been reorganizing books shelves and back issues boxes the last few weekends, restocking the spinner rack in my office with my favorite comics from middle school, and I keep thinking about the truism that I’ve come across many times over the years: “The golden age of comics is twelve.” Because, for me at least, it really seems to hold true. The comics that I first read between the summer of 1982 when I turned twelve and the summer of 1983 when I turned thirteen were foundational in the development of my tastes and interests, and I can draw a direct line between them and the kinds of stories that I am writing now. But as true as the sentiment is, I got to wondering where it originated.
I’d always known that the phrase was a play on an older aphorism about “the golden age of science fiction,” but wasn’t sure just who had originally said it, and where. This morning I took to Google to see if I could find the answer, and ended up falling down a deep, deep hole.
The short version is that the quote is popularly attributed to a fan in the 1960s, Peter Graham, possibly in the pages of the fanzine “VOID,” but the long version turns out to be a bit less clear. The website Quote Investigator has done some fairly exhaustive digging, and while they haven’t yet found a definitive source, the notes of their investigation make for interesting reading with appearances by many of the biggest names in SF/F in the mid- to late-20th Century.