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As an avid comic book reader, I’d heard a lot about Neil Gaiman over the years. His Sandman series is considered a masterpiece of the genre and yet, despite the high praise it has received, it’s a title I never got around to reading. To be honest, the same applies to Gaiman’s work in general. While I’ve long recognized his popularity and place as one of the forerunners of contemporary fantasy, I’ve just never gotten around to checking out his stuff. I’ve wanted to. Honest. I’ve had Smoke and Mirrors, Neverwhere, Fragile Things, Coraline, and Good Omens (which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett) sitting on my bookshelf for some time now – along with about 350+ other titles I’ve really been meaning to get around to. The problem is, of course, that I buy them faster than I can read them. And I can only get through two or three books a week. All this to say my introduction to Gaiman’s work has been long overdue.

Well, given how much I enjoyed this collection of short stories, I guarantee it won’t be long before I’ve worked my way through the entire Gaiman library. What’s that? You know someone who’s collected all of the birthday cards he’s sent out over the years? Heck, I’ll read those too. Like any anthology, some of the entries didn’t work for me but, unlike most anthologies, those that did really, really, REALLY did.

From its very first sentence, I knew I was going to love “Chivalry”: “Mrs. Whitaker found the Holy Grail; it was under a fur coat.” And that opener pretty much sets the tone for a brilliant story detailing one elderly woman’s unlikely brush with Arthurian lore. What I found particularly enjoyable about this tale was Mrs. Whitaker’s ability to remain thoroughly unflappable throughout – even when Galaad comes trotting up her walk on horseback to inquire after the grail. In fact, the only suggestion that she is at all put out comes at story’s end in her rationale for not picking up that lamp. Like I said – brilliant.

Even though I’m an admitted heathen who doesn’t read much poetry, I did enjoy a number of the offerings in Smoke and Mirrors. Loved the notion of Santa doing penance in “Nicholas Was…”.

“Troll Bridge” initially feels like a modern reworking of a classic fairy tale but, in its dark turn, blossoms into a sad allegory of youth’s evanescence. Of course, I could be completely wrong. I saw the protagonist’s eventual surrender to the troll as a poignant reflection on life’s inevitable conclusion. Gaiman may have simply written the story because he likes trolls.

“Don’t Ask Jack“ accomplishes a lot in its three short pages, suggesting dark forces at play as it evokes memories of childhood toys long-forgotten and their enigmatic influences on innocent minds.

Clearly, one of the reasons I enjoyed Smoke and Mirrors so much was because I was able to connect with many of the stories on a personal level – some element or experience or subtle turn of phrase that had me thinking “Holy shit! That’s EXACTLY what it was like!”. And there was no more obvious an example for me than “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories”. I’ve been there! The limo ride to the fancy hotel. The meetings with individuals who absolutely loved your script and only “had a few notes”. The desire to please the note-givers only to learn that a putsch had taken place overnight and a new line-up of very different note-givers had taken their place. The despair and sadness that sets in after less than a week in the city. The genuine delight at making the acquaintance of someone atypically sincere and down-to-earth. And the relieved drive back to the airport during which the limo driver regales you with stories about that studio executive who kept him waiting outside her hotel for over two hours only to come rushing into the vehicle with mere minutes to make her flight and order him to speed to the airport and ignore all traffic lights or risk losing his job. Ah, Hollywood.

In “Changes”, Gaiman offers up a thoughtful treatise on the possible evolution of gender in a world in which advancements in technology drive social enlightenment, “Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar” is a terrific tip of the hat to H.P. Lovecraft, and “Looking for the Girl” possessed the understated eeriness of the classic Twilight Zone I watched growing up.

Finally, “Murder Mysteries” is a deceptively complex story that will stay with you.

There were other selections I really enjoyed (“The Sweeper of Dreams” with its gorgeous imagery, “Snow, Glass, Apples”, its retelling of the Snow White tale trumping Maguire’s Mirror Mirror), and some that didn’t resonate with me (“Only the End of the World Again”, “We Can Get Them for You Wholesale”, “One Life Furnished in Early Moorcock”, “Foreign Parts”, “Tastings”), but, on the whole, most of this anthology hits the mark. And as an added treat, Gaiman includes a brief paragraph on each entry in the book’s introduction (as well as a bonus short story).

Innovative story-telling. A first-rate collection. Highly recommended.

Happy belated birthday to JoJoB.

Playing catch-up with the mailbag –

Saphire writes: “I liked Midway. But when they went to Earth, where was Landry? Shouldn’t he have been there?”

Answer: Landry was in the bathroom at the time. I’m happy to report he woke up in his stall several hours later, none the worse for wear.

Rononfan writes: “It looked like Jason Momoa got smacked in the eye in that last scene of Midway on the jumper(and earlier scenes with the fight between Ronon and Teal’c). Was that a real black eye or just makeup?”

Answer: That was make-up. However, for a real-life goose egg, carefully check out Sheppard’s noggin in the infirmary scene with Keller from This Mortal Coil. Apparently, Joe turned the wrong way during the shooting of the sparring scene with Jason and really took one off the melon.

PG15 writes: Re: Miday “The Wraith leader in this episode; shouldn’t he be dead?”

Answer: Different wraith. Remind me to tell you guys about today’s wraith casting session.

Mark B. writes: “ Oh, there was one question I’ve been meaning to ask; any chance we’ll be seeing more of the nurse from ‘Sunday’ etc in season Five? Will she get a name?”

Answer: I believe she was given a name in Tabula Rasa. Marie.

Charles Schneider writes: “Now that picture-to-blog posting has become a daily ritual for a long time, how do you keep it new and fresh. Do you take pictures and then decide what to talk about, or vice versa?”

Answer: I’ll be amassing a wealth of on-set and behind-the-scenes photos that I’ll be carefully doling out. Some great pics from Search and Rescue that will have to wait until after The Last Man airs. As for the subject matter – it depends. If I have some terrific shots, those may dictate the blog entry. Other times, it’s usually dictated by whatever I’d like to get off my chest.

Ashley writes: “ I’m curious, do you have an anthropologist, historian or other social scientist on staff in a consulting position for costuming queries, help with set design or even basic script writing? Or is the staff’s approach less emphasized on accuracy and more so on “just Wikipedia it!”

Answer: As much as we’d love to have an on-set anthropologist, the writers must actually research topics like handheld flares, pitch, and the difference between mist and fog themselves.

Cleito writes: “How much time do you (and the other production people) assume is passing between not-a-multipart episodes?”

Answer: It depends. Sometimes several months, other times mere hours.

Wolfenm writes: “Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool? I like Reynolds, but I’m not sure how I feel about it …”

Answer: I’m all for it. His smart-ass character was the best thing about the last Blade.

79 thoughts on “February 25, 2008: Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors

  1. hey joe!!!

    dont forget to tell us about today’s wraith casting session…. there’s your reminder 🙂

  2. Hi Joe,

    Just wondering how many episodes Paul will be writing this season? It seems like his writing contribution has decreased some though I am sure he is busy with production matters or running the Oakland A’s and I continue to swear that he is a dead ringer for their General Manager Billy Beane.

  3. hahaha about Landry being in the bathroom. My sister and I thought it a bit odd that Walter would open the gate without the order from Landry. But I’m assuming Landry couldn’t wait any longer to use the bathroom, so he told Walter to open it when Midway dialed in, even if he wasn’t there. I’m right, aren’t I? 🙂

  4. Okay, for what it’s worth, my review of Smoke and Mirrors:

    There’s a fine line between today’s science fiction and some fantasy, and sometimes even the horror genre, and Neil Gaiman certainly treads it. I don’t usually read fantasy stories, and horror only a little more often, but I enjoyed Smoke and Mirrors overall. I skimmed the stories told in free verse (the format is too distracting), so I don’t have much of an opinion about them. There were no stories in the book that I absolutely hated, and a few I liked a lot.

    The story I liked best was “Murder Mysteries”, for its creative imagining of God and Heaven, the creation of the universe, and most of all for its take on the fall of Lucifer. In the story, God is a sort of an angel without wings, the one who comes up with the ideas, but it’s the lower angels who actually do all the work of creation. Lucifer, curious and independent, becomes the template for human beings. The whole story can be summed up in the words of the old street bum (who I believe is Lucifer): “I never fell. I don’t care what they say. I’m still doing my job as I see it.” If I can draw any conclusion at all from the story, it’s that free will cannot exist without the presence of injustice, and that’s Lucifer’s purpose.

    Another story that made a big impression was “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories”, although there was almost nothing of fantasy in that one, unless you count the lip-print marks on the carp’s back which might or might not have been left there by June Lincoln’s kiss. I liked it because of the humorous take on Hollywood, and because I revere the starstruck memories of old men like Pious Dundas. It was a nice meditation on obsession.

    The third story I liked best was “Snow, Glass, Apples” because it turns the Snow White story on its head, and completely explodes the Disneyfication of fairy tales. In fact, fairy tales were the original horror stories, and it’s only in the age of movies that they’ve become the innocuous childrens’ tales they are today.

    My fourth choice is “The Price”, which was heartbreaking and scary. A good illustration of true heroism.

    Gaiman has the Lovecraftian touch (as demonstrated in “Chivalry”, “Troll Bridge”, “Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar”, and “Only the End of the World Again”. These are usually the kind of stories I don’t bother with, but Gaiman makes them fresh and contemporary.

    I found a couple of stories incomprehensible: “One Life Furnished in Early Moorcock” and “Changes”, and the others were okay, but just.

  5. You know you have a great job when it includes phrases such as: “today’s wraith casting session”.

    Hey, part of my (expired) teaching certificate is anthropology. I’m seriously over-educated for a semi-retired homemaker. Sadly, my friend and her Hot Anthropologist Boyfriend moves across country. He was one interesting dude.

  6. Moved. Not moves. I done kin spell gud and knoze meh grammers, but I kain’t use the tipe-em-mawriter kee-bored fer nuttin’. Dang shame that.

  7. I’m an anthropologist and I’ll work for free hahahaha

    This may be stupid to admit, but I am seriously dreading the last episode…outta fresh Stargate for god knows how long….thankfully the movies and BSG will be coming out!!!

  8. “Remind me to tell you guys about today’s wraith casting session.”

    You asked us to remind you, so I’m reminding you!

    Was it a good day, a bad day, or just one of those days you don’t know whether to laugh or cry eg another “Leader of the Oreo’s”

  9. Ooh! I actually read that book once … Well, I remember loving that first line, but I can’t remember anything beyond that. Hmm. My brain = Swiss cheese.

    And Landry was in the loo, huh? I always find it weird when people ask those kinds of questions. Nobody works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There will be times when they’re not around. And apparently, some of those times they’ll be on the loo.

  10. Hi Joe, I’ve been watching old episodes of SG-1 recently and I noticed that there was quite a variety of writers and directors as opposed to the staff the series had in later years and what you currently have on Atlantis. What brought about this change? I’m assuming it’s probably easier for continuity and long arcs to have the same familiar people on hand, but I am kind of curious as to some of the differences in production.

    Thanks!

  11. Answer: As much as we’d love to have an on-set anthropologist, the writers must actually research topics like handheld flares, pitch, and the difference between mist and fog themselves.

    You know, I’m working on a BS in Anthropology. I’ll graduate next December and will be available for Season 6. Just throwing that out there.

    LOL! 😀

  12. This is only the second month I’ve participated in the book club reviews, and I have to say I’ve enjoyed all the entries so far. Gaiman’s book is no different. The first plus was that the book was available in paperback. I can afford the hardbacks, but space is becoming a major issue. The second plus was the bonus story contained in the introduction. The author very nicely played on the whole range of emotions, from humor, to revulsion, back to wistfullness. I’m vary glad I didnt skip the intro.
    Chivalry was hands down my favorite. Mrs. Whitaker is the perfect protagonist. Always in control, firmly grounded in her own code of ethics. And such lovely torturing of Galaad..
    Nicholas was made me burst out laughing, a supershort story with a great payoff. Santa as a chinese water torture job?
    I was suprised at my reaction to The Price. I’m not a cat lover. And there were a lot of unexplained issues to this tale, which should have made it a turn off. But Gaiman again managed to evoke an emotional reaction to the suffering of the Black Cat that caught me off guard.
    The Goldfish Bowl and Other stories was a bit painful, but not in a bad way. To watch how a perfectly good story was mutilated , with the author’s reluctant aid, hurt. It was Pious Dundas though, who caught my interest. I’ve met a number of people like Pious. The lost-in-the-woodwork day to day pluggers, who have watched history unfold, or who played small parts in the stories of the ‘great’. I find these people far more interesting than most so called celebreties.
    Changes had a much harder sci fi feel to it, and was very effective at predicting unintended consequences of technological advances.
    We Can get them for you wholesale was another favorite of mine. A small man, with a smaller imagination, who unwittinly unleashes devastation on a scale kings and potentates never dreamed of. The banality of mediocrity trumping that of evil.
    Foreign parts left my skin crawling. Though Simon was not a likable character, the creepiness factor as his “disease” advanced was almost painful.
    Babycakes was another super short that had a great punchline. The fact the unnamed narrarator stops where he does leaves room for our own imagination to decide where the story would have gone if it had been longer.
    Murder Mysteries was yet another strong entry, with an intriguing take on certain theological matters. Very well handled.
    Snow, Glass, Apples was an interesting choice for the final story, the anthology starting off with a story with a legendary twist, then mirroring that with this fairy tale told from an unusual point of view. I’ll never be able to see or read this fairy tale again without harking back to this. All in all, thre wasnt a bad story in the lot, and I’m extremely pleased at the payoff for the time invested in it. I’ve already read some of Gaiman’s other works, and with this entry I’ll be sure to put any of his new stuff on the “must have’ list.
    One SGA question that may be answered by Friday night, but I havent the patience to wait. Will Kindred II resolve the issue of the missing Athosians, or is this a story arc tht will extend into season five? Looking forward to the next mailbag, whether or not this particular question gets addressed.

  13. I’ll definitely look forward to the production, etc. pics. I’m also a huge fan of your food pictures too.

    I sympathize with your absence of Gaiman growing up. My roomate has his collected graphic novel works sitting on one of our shelves and I still haven’t gotten around to checking them out.

    I did just read Stardust to see if it was truly better than the book. True to form it was. It’s so complicated translating writing into on screen dialogue that’s easily digestible for a huge audience.

    I didn’t get around to reading Gaiman’s book for our discussion today, so I’ll sit quietly in the corner and listen.

  14. Answer: I’m all for it. His smart-ass character was the best thing about the last Blade (Ryan Reynolds)

    Too bloody right…

    “F**k me…. F**k me sideways”..LOL

    Loved his smart arsed comments even though some friends of mine thought it spoilt the movie. Hey… it’s entertainment. It entertained me.

    Dang your review of Smoke and Mirrors has me wanting to read it.. now if only I could get a copy!

    When do we have to have “Children of the Night” read by??

  15. Hey Joe,

    I was curious to know if you had any ratings info for “The Kindred pt 1”? I hope after SCI FI ruining the surprise ending will at least compensate some decent ratings for this episode. Looking forward to Part 2! 🙂

    Best,

    Squall78

  16. Hey Joe,

    I’m curious if ‘The Kindred Part 1’ got a good rating. do you have any word on that episode? thanks. oh and you’re right about the nurse, Keller calls her ‘Marie’ in Tabula Rasa. looking forward to those pics from Search & Rescue

    Masterchief

  17. I know I’m coming late to this conversation, but I’m running behind on watching the episodes. It’s about the Keller/Ronon/Rodney thing. There is a very easy explanation for some fans reacting as they did. You are expecting them to react to this as they would a real life situation, which it isn’t. This is TV, with all the shorthands inherent in it.

    As a writer, especially one who has to deal with such a limited time format as TV, you use shorthand to create situations. If a door closes with two people smiling at each other in a certain way, they’ve had sex. If you show shoes next to the bed, it means the same thing. If you show someone holding the door or pulling a chair out for someone, he’s a nice guy. If you show a man or woman in glasses, they are the brains. If you show someone smoking a cigarette (nowadays) then depending on how they hold it, they are either the villain or a bundle of nerves. If a couple kiss or nearly kiss, they are now in a TV relationship. This shorthand has been used for a very long time, and as a writer, you count on it.
    Unfortunately, sometimes it comes back to bite you in the butt and the viewers are confused. That’s all this is. It isn’t some nonsense about “Victorian attitudes.” This is TV, not life, and a kiss or a near kiss doesn’t mean flirting or fooling around like it can in real life. It means relationship.

  18. Hi Joe!

    I don’t know if someone had asked this question before, but i was wondering if there will be a scene between Sam and Rodney just before Carter leaves Atlantis??

    I just wanted to let you know that i really enjoy their chitchat in Reunion when Rodney went to see her in her quarters! 😀

  19. Well, I really enjoyed Kindred. Except for the ending that is. My reaction to the “TBC” was a hearty “NOOOOOOOOOO! Get back here you rat!! How could you end there?!” Of course, I know exactly how you could end it there. Grrrr.

    Anyway, now I could read your post from Saturday, so:

    Todd and Sheppard strike a deal

    Originally, there were three scenes, but I ended up marrying the last two in editing. Todd’s “There can be only one.” – Hello to you Highlander fans. The wraith are big fans.

    And what a tie it is! Connor Trinnear playing a sort-of Wraith and Connor MacLeod (of the Clan MacLeod), the Highlander, AND the return of Carson Beckett, everyone’s favourite SGA Scot! Everybody’s coming up Scottish!

    Sheppard grabs a seat on his bed and grabs the book sitting on his night table: War and Peace. He eases back and flips to the page bookmarked – somewhere around chapter three – and resumes reading.

    Guess he’s not joining your book club any time soon.

    I notice you didn’t answer my probing and well thought out questions about Midway, though. I’m guessing you just needed more time to frame some equally well thought out answers and will respond tomorrow. 😉

  20. I’ve been meaning to read Gaiman for a few years. (Incidentally, is it pronounced “Guy-man” or “Gay-man”? I suppose that sounds silly when I spell it out that way, but I’m really wondering.) I’ve got Good Omens and American Gods on my bookshelf at the moment. Have you read Coraline? That’s the only one of his books I’ve read, and it’s actually a kids/YA book. Still, uber-creepy. There’s a guy who turns into rats. Not a rat. Rats. And a creepy lady with buttons for eyes. Probably not all that disturbing compared to his adult fiction, but for a kids’ book, it seemed pretty creepy to me.

  21. Don’t forget to tell us about yesterdays Wraith casting session preferably with pictures!

    consider yourself well reminded 🙂

  22. Ok, my first take on “Smoke and Mirrors”. I started smiling while I was reading the introduction because I knew I’d like what would follow. And “The Wedding Present” set the tone for me I suppose. I really liked that story-within-the-introduction, it echoed of Dorian Gray type (magic? supernatural) objects.

    “Chivalry” was one of the more upbeat, quirky stories in it that stood out for me. And yes, it was that first sentence that did it. Sometimes a sentence will stick with you as something which says it all. I really liked how Mrs Whitaker was very calm about Galaad. And, at least this is what I got from it, it seemed liked she almost looked forward to his visits because he could keep her company. It was as if she had her own little world (her house, the visits to the Oxfam shop, her garden), but she didn’t mind Galaad being in that world, so long as he helped her weed and had tea with her.

    I liked “The Price” because it subverted the superstition of bad luck following black cats crossing your path. In this case the black cat crossed paths with the narrator and family, and protected them. Gaiman’s description of the Devil was very creepy in this story, I think that can be hard to pull off, especially with so many different representations of him/it. I also liked that the reason the cat chose them was never really explored, and how Gaiman tells of where it went afterwards in the introduction.

    Joe, your take on “Troll Bridge” is one I had after reading it. But I also thought it was interesting that the original Troll may have gone on to lead a different life, as if the narrator had to do time as a troll, just as the original Troll did. Perhaps as a way of making people appreciate their lives? I also thought there was suggestions of experiences as a commodity, with the narrator suggesting the Troll wait until he’s experienced more.

    “Don’t Ask Jack” was very dark and creepy, and used three pages incredibly well (I don’t think I’ve ever read a three-pager that will stick with me like “Don’t Ask Jack”).

    “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories” was possibly my favourite story in the collection. At one stage, years ago, when I was a bit more naive about an acting career, I thought Hollywood would be the most amazing place to work. That kind of changed when I realised a lot of the stuff I’d like to work on it less glamourous than Hollywood. And I’ve heard writers, directors and producers tell stories of their dealings there, so I could sympathise with the narrator.

    I liked the way stories about his hotel continued to change. And how everyone would as if he had the room where John Belushi died. It was like they thought anyone who went to Hollywood was only their to hear about fallen stars while they themselves tried to get somewhere in the film industry. But aside from that, the story was really about Pious, all the rest really just set the scene for me. Pious was someone who wasn’t trying to be anything else, and did his job well without trying to please anyone but himself it seemed.

    It’s funny, the store where I bought “Smoke and Mirrors” stuck a price sticker to it which classified it as “science fiction”, although I knew it to be fantasy. Perhaps the one story someone read out of it was “Changes”, which really was a scifi. And I enjoyed it a lot. I liked the way Gaiman would write asides about how the events would be told in a movie, it was very different, but it didn’t really break my focus at all. In a way it added to the world he created, as if everyone thought of the events as history, but saw them as film, or how the film would be if it was made. As if fact and fiction were so easily interwoven (and I guess some would argue biopics do that now anyway). The idea that it would become the new thing to change gender, that there would be a huge black market for it, didn’t seem that strange to me either. It seems like people will do anything for kicks these days. But I liked that Rajit aged despite being the one to invent the drugs. And how he was possibly the only one.

    “One Life, Furnished in Early Moorcock” reminded me of our discussion last week on dreams. It interested me that Richard may or may not have dreamed his meeting with Elric while unconscious. It suggested that sometimes dreams can be so vivid that they seem real, and who’s to say they aren’t real? How can we ever know if Richard did meet Elric while unconscious? The interludes with quotes from Michael Moorcock added a lot of humour to the story as well, but it was Richard’s belief and imagination which made this story so engaging for me.

    On dreams, again (it almost sounds like I have a serious fascination with the subject, but it’s just the stories, I swear!), “The Sweeper of Dreams” used two pages as well as “Don’t Ask Jack” used three. And the idea that those people you see (whom many assume are crazy) may just be living in fragmented dreams was definite food for thought. What would happen if you didn’t know that the dream about being chased by vampires at your old high school was just a dream?

    “Murder Mysteries” was another favourite for me. Ironically, the city of angels was more real to me than the one in which the narrator lived, up until the end anyway. Rebecca, interesting that you thought the man telling the angel story was Lucifer, I think it was Raguel though, because the man telling the story refers to Lucifer by name, but talks as Raguel. But perhaps he was both? Who’s to say two angels couldn’t be represented in by one persona?

    And, of course, “Snow, Glass, Apples” was great. I do have a fascination with age-old stories, particularly “fairy tales” because they go through phases. In this case, I believe the original story was creepy, then retold as sweet, then told here by Gaiman as creepy, in a sense I didn’t expect. Everything about “Snow White” was disturbing – her description, the hint of incest, her unrelenting life (if you could call it that), and how she kills the queen at the end. It created an atmosphere that some of the old fairy tales have (the old variations on Little Red Riding-Hood spring to mind).

    I have lots to say about the poetry, but I think I might get to that tomorrow. We have a week, after all.

  23. Move Good Omens up to the top of your “to read” pile. Seriously. You won’t regret it. You’ve tried and discovered you like Terry Pratchett. You’ve now done likewise with Gaiman. Their irreverant take on The Omen is still one of my favourite books of all time and one I can – and do – read over and over.

    P.S. Any chance I could get a blog dedication for my sister..? She’s in hospital right now and not feeling too great. Internetz fame could be just the thing to cheer her up! 🙂

  24. “There can be only one.” HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I completely LOVED that line!!!
    My my my!!
    Midway AND Kindred both ROCKED!!!!
    Loved them both!
    Ronon bugged me a little, but I thoroughly enjoyed Midway. Indeed, I did!
    As for The Kindred! So much in one episode! Completely lost it at the end, even though I knew it was coming!
    But OMG! He was on for a flash then finish! AAARGH!!!! Tear out hair as I wait for a week for part 2!!

    Have not been on, so I need to catch up on your past week updates.
    I have stopped smoking for 10 days so far and hoping that’s me stopped for good!!
    Also, stupidly knocked myself out cold yesterday, so today I have a bad migraine. ( I am so accident prone, you have no idea!)
    Why am I saying this?
    Because I am gonna read your blog and watch SGA and cheer myself up!

    Looking forward to the next episode!!!
    Fraggle

  25. Salut Joseph =) Je suis heureuse aujourd’hui! pourquoi? je ne sais pas encors? lol

    Vous pouriez méttre d’autre photos de vous sur votre blog? car ma gallery est a 69 photos et j’ai la grande embition d’arriver a 100 =D bientot je vais avoir plus de photo de vous que de stargate dans mon ordinateur lol!

    Oui! se livre a l’aire trés bien!! c’est incroyable a qu’elle point vous aimez lire! Qui vous a passer cette passion de la lecture?

    Bon voila…a oui c’est vrai…je sais je me répéte..mais n’oublier pas le Frenchi! lol ..on peut deja plus regarder stargate a la TV sa serais la moindre des choses d’avoir un représentant dans la citée, en plus tout le monde aiment les francais! (…enfin présque XD)

    Bon aller Bisou, je vous adore fort!!!♥♥

  26. I’m a huge fan of Neil Gaiman’s works, including his incredible Sandman graphic novel series, which deserves every scrap of praise it gets, as fas as I’m concerned. I started off reading the collected TPBs of the Gaiman/McKean Sandman series back in 2000, and only later discovered Gaiman’s novels.

    What I like most about Neil Gaiman’s stories is thta he has a knack of writing stories that seem simple and straightforward, but are also somehow strongly reminiscent of dreams. There’s the ordinary world in which a cat turns up on the doorstep morning after morning, each day looking a little worse for wear after a night spent fighting. And then there’s the Gaiman world, where the cat’s adversary turns out not to be just the other tom-cats down the road.

    My favourites from this collection include the aforementioned cat story, because it turns so delightfully dark at the end, the poem ‘Desert Wind’, which is lyrical and gorgeous, and paints the most incredible pictures in my head, and ‘Snow, Glass, Apples’, a retelling of Snow White that is both so chilling and so perfect I can’t help wondering why it hasn’t been done before.

    I also loved the wedding tale in the introduction, with the perfect marriage happenign in the outside world, and all the bad stuff happening in an envelope hidden away under the bed or in a drawer. The end of that tale made me squint a bit, though, because I thought the implication of burning the envelope was that the wife would forget the good marriage she’d had, forget the love she’d shared with her husband, and remember only the sucky life they’d had while together in the envelope. It seemed an extreme reaction to grief, to give up what little happiness and love she’d known just so she could hurt less…

    I wasn’t quite as fond of the Lovecraft-inspired tales with the werewolf — I found them bleak and depressing. And there was one poem about London, which, quite frankly, I didn’t understand at all. It went *whooosh*, straight over my head. And that was with it in its native freeform, so I’d have hated to have read it when it was reworked to be in normal narrative format. Heh.

    All in all, I loved this series. I really like Gaiman’s style of writing, and I lok forward to reading a great many more of his books in the future. He just has to write them first… 🙂

  27. Joe wrote: Answer: That was make-up. However, for a real-life goose egg, carefully check out Sheppard’s noggin in the infirmary scene with Keller from This Mortal Coil. Apparently, Joe turned the wrong way during the shooting of the sparring scene with Jason and really took one off the melon.

    But there wasn’t ever anything more serious happening during all sesaons shooting, or? I hope this will stay so!

    Wraith casting. Interesting. Have they actually their own agency or where do you find them? (Just kidding)

    I really like Todd. He is an interesting character. And Michael too, in another way (really, really bad – Vengeance). It’s nice to see character-Wraith instead of the “we will feed on you”-dummies. I’d be glad to see more from them.

  28. Now that you’ve dipped your toes into the Gaiman pond… run, do not walk! to your bookshelf and grab Good Omens. You will wonder what took you so long to get around to it. Warning: do not eat or drink as you read. You will either choke from trying to laugh with food in your mouth or spit what you are drinking all over the book. Seriously. It is one of the books I keep because I can happily reread it at any given time and still thoroughly enjoy.

    I haven’t picked up Smoke and Mirrors yet but will add it to my list of must-get books (along with Rob Thurman’s Nightlife, which was highly recc’d by some fellow fen).

  29. As much as we’d love to have an on-set anthropologist, the writers must actually research topics like handheld flares, pitch, and the difference between mist and fog themselves.
    I’m surprised you’ve not been able to tap the fan talent pool for any help here – I know I’d certainly jump at the chance to advise any of the shows I really enjoy about philosophy, especially medical/bioethics. (And, by the way, the discussion of the trolley problem from last year? Fabulous teaching clip!)

    Also, re: Gaiman. I don’t remember if Babycakes is in Smoke & Mirrors (the problem with having all his books, you forget what’s where), but you should definitely find and read it. Also, he’ll be placing American Gods online free later this month, for any and all to read. The details are over at his blog – http://journal.neilgaiman.com/ ….you did know he blogs, right? 😉

  30. So, let me guess… Sheppard’s messing with the timeline in ‘The Last Man’ will cause the messed-up timeline from ‘Continuum’ and ‘Continuum’ will cause Carter to leave Atlantis, or vice-versa?

  31. Just saw that Colin Cunningham is in Continuum. Woo hoo! Is his appearance in the film integral to the plot? Any surprises for his character?

    Cheers, Chev

  32. Ugh, Neil Gaiman is so overrated IMO, I’ve read American gods, Stardust, Coraline, and even attempted Good Omens, all in an attempt to understand the buzz. Needless to say I hated all four.

    Maybe you’ll have better luck though.

    Joe, do you ever read any non sci-fi bestsellers, a la Kite Runner, Lovely Bones, The alchemist, etc?

  33. Hi Joe,

    On your Feb. 23 blog entry you said that you wrote the scene where Rodney give the present to Teyla as a little something to make up for the fact that he wasn’t there when Teyla announced she was pregnant (that was a sweet scene, thanks!). But were you surprised with the disappointment that the fans expressed that Rodney wasn’t there for the annoucement? Because I for one was really looking forward to his reaction and was disappointed when it wasn’t shown on screen.

    Thanks,
    Elisa

  34. Okay, I’ll be getting Smoke & Mirrors. I have read 3-4 Neil Gaiman books this past year. If I remember correctly, I got to Neil Gaiman via John Scalzi who I was introduced to from your blog. I would suggest Good Omens and Anazi Boys for quirky stories with a twist.

    Thanks a lot for starting this book club. I’ve been reading A LOT of new SF authors this year – thanks to you. I especially enjoyed Lou Anders’ guest blog last week. I got his anthology and really appreciated his insights into some of the stories.

  35. Hey Joe – Really glad to hear that there is a new Gaiman fan in the universe. While I won’t be so bold as to suggest which of his books you should find time to read next, I will be bold enough to say that after you’ve read a few you should find and buy the audio versions. The way Neil reads his own work is amazing. Its continuously inventive and strangely soothing to listen too.
    It took a good deal of nagging to get my non-reader husband to try out any of Gaiman’s works, but once he listened to them, he was hooked. Great for driving too.
    Maybe once you’ve read the Sandman series, those of us that love the pop culture asides in SGA could hope to see Sheppard giving up ‘War and Peace’ for one of Gaiman’s comics?

  36. I’m quite the Gaiman fan. I got hooked after reading Good Omens, then I read American Gods, and it just snowballed.

    Omens is still a particular favorite and I have to admit to buying multiple copies. I tend to lend it out, and
    A. Never see it again
    B. Miss it while it’s gone, or
    C. Use it as a handy excuse to get a new one for the next individual who hasn’t had any humor in their life.

    Do you ever do that? Buy multiple copies of a favorite book…

  37. Joe,

    I’d like to thank the writers, actors and crew of SGA for sustaining us through this writers’ strike. When all we had was reality tv, you gave us the SGA gang and then some.

    Thanks.

  38. Joe,

    Interesting point in yesterday’s Intro to Deaf Culture lecture. Instructor pointed out that people posting video logs (vlogs) do not provide closed captions. Also mentioned that one of the deaf associations is now working with YouTube (I think) on such captioning.

    Of course, there’s only so much one can say about a puppy playing in the snow…*grin*

    Gilder

  39. Hey Joe!

    After reading about the historian inquiry, I have a semi-related question. With four seasons of developed character (And 10 for Carter), how do you keep track of developments with the characters, as well as details like ‘Atlantis has ___ labs’, etc? Do you write all of these facts down?

    I have always been curious about this, as there are so many facts in Stargate continuity.

    Thanks as always!

    – Enzo Aquarius

    PS – “The Kindred”, part 1 was amazing! It had the perfect mix of everything. 🙂

  40. I enjoyed The Kindred, Pt.1. I think the cut scene where Jason says Todd must want a parlay would have been great. Especially with Sheppard explaining the reference, since we all know Ronon would NEVER use the word Parlay in any other circumstance. But I’m glad to hear it will be on the Season 4 DVD. I also would have liked to have seen the “mint filling” bit. Maybe another time? Looking forward to Part 2.

  41. Hi Joe,

    How’s your episode coming together? Any little spoilers to wet our appetite with? Once you finish with this episode, are you planning on writing another?

    Thanks,
    Elisa

  42. I’ve been mulling over books and people who can’t afford them and like maggiemayday (I think it was her) I’m going to have a look through my books over the next month or so and offer some of them free to a good home. Depends on how heavy a book is as to where I can afford to post it, but I’m hoping that most will be offered worldwide.

    In the meantime, if you want to help a few charities (one of which is a book related charity) for free check out this site:

    http://www.thehungersite.com/

    All you do it click on the big button once daily. There are tabs at the top, click on each charity and then click on their big buttons too. One is for world hunger (reduction of), one is for breast cancer (free mammograms), one for child health, one for literacy, one for rainforests and one for animal shelters.

    A worthy site that only costs a couple of minutes of your time to click the buttons…

    I also go and click over here, which is an environment/rainforest site:

    http://www.ecologyfund.com/

    Leesa Perrie

  43. 1)Between all that transpires at the end of this season and the beginning of next, will the quest for total obliteration of Michael and his army become a top priority for Atlantis in season five?

    2)After the discovery of her people, will Teyla’s vengeful heart become an issue of insubordination or destructive behavior next year?

  44. Hey Leesa, glad to know I’m having an influence! Although sadly, no one has asked for the books I posted. If no one nibbles, I’ll start prepping them for bookcrossings. Come on, I know someone must want to read Heart Shaped Box!

    And I do the click for mammograms daily, as a survivor, I know what saved my life …a mammogram. Hey, two cancers in one year, both stage one, and no chemo for either. Let’s give modern medicine and screenings a big hand!

  45. Here are some of my fav stories from this months book club selection.

    “The Price”: I auto approve any story that starts with “Tramps and vagabonds”. I enjoyed the visuals of this story, I enjoyed the concept that Neil was trying to paint. I myself have 3 cats and hope that as much as I look after them that they would save me if something like a fire were to start.

    “Toll Bridge”: As I read through the stories I kept finding “favs” reading this one so early on in the book was my first favourite. I have vague memories of when I was younger hearing the original version of this story for the first time. I even found my self expecting a little troll under each bridge I passed. I thought Neil captured the essence of the story with his won little take. I like that the protagonist goes through his life and it isn’t at all the life he expected. I think we have all had a moment like he does as me makes his way to the bridge for the last time, and makes that choice to live as the troll and not escape as the other did, I believed that he felt he deserved that fate.

    “Gold fish pone and other stories”: I loved this story!! Is Hollywood really like that?? I enjoyed the perspective of America from and English perspective, the hot weather, driving on the wrong side of the road and the language differences. I loved the interaction between the older man who’s been at the hotel forever and a day and the main character. It was just an enjoyable story.

    “We Can Get Them For You Wholesale”: I also thought this story was unique and inventive. It goes to the extreme of how people react at getting a good deal how it is such a part of our psyche. But like with most things if it sounds to good to be true it usually is!!

    “Murder Mysteries”: Your right about this story sticking with you. I’m SO NOT religious but was deeply moved by this story. I think it’s my favourite out of the whole book.

    I really loved this book and will probably go back and read some of stories again and again. There were some that I didn’t like most of the poetry wasn’t my thing except for “Nicholas was…” “Vampire Sestina”.

    Well huge entry sorry for taking up so much space.

    Penny

  46. Regarding “Smoke and Mirrors”, while I enjoyed a few of the stories, overall it wasn’t an anthology I was really able to get into. ‘Snow, Glass, Apples’ was my favorite by far, mixing the Snow White fable in with Vampire myth.

    I’ve only read two of Gaiman’s other works (that weren’t comics), American Gods and Neverwhere. Both were pretty good, though I found Neverwhere to be much more imaginative and fun, though a tad predictable at times.

    Have you ever any books by Christopher Moore? I’m a big fan of his, particularly his novels A Dirty Job, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff (Christ’s Childhood Pal), Practical Demonkeeping and The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror. His books tend more towards fantasy than Sci-Fi, but his dialogue and humor are often brilliant.

  47. Hey Jo’,

    Your answers in “today’s mailbag” are very funny !^^

    Questions about Michael :

    When he said : “I had help” , is the help Carson Beckett ?

    And when Teyla, talk to him, he says something like he is hurted by Teyla’s talking. I think it’s your “wish” to keep a really human part part in Michael and don’t make a monster who wants to conquest the galaxy. I’m not sure…in first hand I think he’s still a humaun with really “human thinks and things” and in second hand I think he really is like Todd a “double-face” person…what do you think about his and their personnality ?

  48. Michael Hervey Wrote:
    “That’s all this is. It isn’t some nonsense about “Victorian attitudes.” This is TV, not life, and a kiss or a near kiss doesn’t mean flirting or fooling around like it can in real life. It means relationship.”

    OK so say I agree with that to some extent. It still doesn’t give folks the right to call Keller a SLUT!

    That is what I and some others were annoyed about; it was not the fact that some where saying Keller was hitting on him, it was the use of terms like SLUT to define her behaviour.

    That is not on!

    [/end rant]

  49. PMSL *wipes eyes*
    *watches and types*
    I’m going to call everyone “child” from now on, *tests it out* yup, the sense of divine superiority is quite intoxicating LOL
    And I definitely want some of what Teyla’s smokin’. radical trip dude!Hey how come she wasn’t levitating when she meditated?

    Gee, Hoff looks like the warehouse district of my old home town!

    Hey! these plain chocolate digestives taste like rum truffles!

    D’OH! Adverts 🙁

    An excellent first parter Kudos and thanks, you certainly crammed a lot in it was kinda like christmas and birthday all in one 😀
    Can it be next tuesday now?

  50. Bonne nuit =Þ Je vais au lit, donc je vous dit a demain!Passez une éxélente journée! je vous adore fort fort fort!!! Gros Bisou Bisou. ♥♥♥

    ®♫©♫

  51. Hey Joe,

    I did not get a chance to catch the Kindered last night due to work commitments but your biggest fan my 11 year old son did. He asked me to point out that he guessed that Teyla’s baby was a wraith baby a few months ago. I asked that question of you then on your blog but no reply. So since I did not see the episode was he right?

    Thanks.

  52. I just saw Adrift again – the withdrawl symptoms were getting a bit too strong, and my girlfriend “borrowed” all my DVDs. Ignoring the confusion as to where most of those Puddlejumpers were parked (did McKay install a TARDIS using his supersmarts in Tao?), I started to wonder: how many actual Puddlejumpers do you (the production team) have?

    Do you have just the one that you move around to where you need it, or do you have one that you use for outdoor location shoots and one for indoor/green screen stuff? I remember some mention on forums at some point about there being two different console setups – do they represent different physical Jumpers, or was one base version redressed for variety?

    How do you move the Jumpers around, too? Are there some poor, unsuspecting motorists in Canada who are cruising along minding their own business only to have an alien space ship drive past on the back of a flatbed truck?

  53. Hi Joe,

    You said, ‘As much as we’d love to have an on-set anthropologist, the writers must actually research topics…themselves.’

    That answers a long standing question of mine. Must say, your writers mostly do a good job but, every once and a while it shows. (Something I’ve been wanting to get off my chest to someone for awhile now here.) For instance one infamous (in my mind) SG-1 episode that had me yelling at the electronic image of an actor pretend-scientist, ‘You CAN’T CARBON DATE A ROCK!”

    But heck, the SG franchize is
    certainly not the only or the worst offenders. My husband has gotten to the point he can almost see these outbursts coming.

    On topic of the day: Yes, your review of Smoke and Mirrors will have me seeking out an addition to my bookshelf also.

  54. By the way, the answer you gave for midway kinda made me laugh.

    What if Landry was in the middle of doing his buiseness in the bathroom, and suddenly the wraith attack and he is knocked out mid process.

    Could be messy.
    lol

  55. major woohooo for ‘The Kindred’ which just aired on Skyone.. loved it!!

    Oh and take this as a chocolate covered reminder to tell us about the Wraith Casting Session!!!

  56. I have a question about the casting of Dylan Neal as Dave Sheppard in “Outcast.” Don’t get me wrong, Neal was great in the episode, but he and Joe Flanigan look nothing alike! Did you cast him because of his acting skills, or was his hiring a subtle reference to how different he and John are from each other, both in appearance and attitude?

  57. Question! I feel I can say this and not give anything away since FOX official released this clip as a promo… when the Odyssey enters the supergate, we see the same wormhole visual effect that is used from travel between Milky Way gates (blue).

    Is this just a placeholder? One would imagine that if the wormhole effect is a certain way in one regular gate network, another way in a more recent one (green rather than blue), it would stand to reason that something as radically different as a SUPERgate would have a radically different wormhole effect.

    If it isn’t any different in the finished product, is there an in-canon speculative reason as to why the wormhole effect would remain the same? Thanks a bunch!! Don’t worry about disappointed, I’ll buy it either way. 😀

  58. *waves*

    Short and sweet from me as my cat has headbutted my laptop lid and now i’ll holding it together with one hand!! But before my internet PC dies completely, saw this, and i’m freaking out, on the edge of my seat!

    TV Guide’s ’21 Shows You’ve Gotta See’. To quote, ” Those screams you hear are Sheppard fans going bonkers over the “what just happened?!” final shot as Stargate’s fourth year wraps up.”

    *iz very scared and excited in a good way* Is this why we’ve not heard much about Shep in S5?? Oh Mr M, was it 3 tissues we might need? I think after this, I may need more!! 😮

    SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEe

    *hugs*

  59. Oh crap, meant to say any chance of dedicating your blog tomorrow to Lucy? Linz’s dog is getting the old snippedy doodah Poor thing. 🙁

    Will let you know about indred, when i’m not typing with one finger!

    SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! Sorry still excited 😛

  60. Ha! I have this horrid addiction to buying books even if I don’t have time to read them. 😀 I think I have about 25 plus books that I acquired while I was pregnant (for some reason, my focus was shot during that time and I couldn’t focus on reading :P) that I need to get around to reading. *sheepish grin*

    But I actually just reread Neverwhere in January. I’d read it ages ago and I’ve ultimately decided that it’s my favorite of his books. Anansi Boys is next.

  61. Hey Joe,
    Thanks for the shout out. Haven’t been on much, real life getting in the way (especially a sick 5 yr old). Hope to find some time to post in the near future and looking forward to the last 2 episodes.

    Jo

  62. Oh Meg, I understand the addiction, the compulsion to own books. And just by coincidence, Anansi Boys is one of my freebie books I’m giving away. Good read.

  63. Remind me to tell you guys about today’s wraith casting session.

    *plops down on the ground and looks cutely up* Tell us a story?

  64. Okay I’m in bed it’s 1am and the earth has just moved!! We’ve just had an earth quake. It’s very unusual for the UK.

    Pauline

  65. Joe,
    As a poorly served Brit who has to rely on Sky for SGA episodes – hail Tuesdays!! I find it excrutiating reading the blog & any comments regarding eps I have yet to see.
    That said, can I say a HUGE thank you to all who work in front and behind the camera for giving us an entertaining believable thought provoking show which is just brilliant.
    Good luck for Season 5, now that I have found this blog I will have something to read whilst we endure the hiatus before S5 is televised here in UK.
    Take care & Be happy (failing that Joe:…..crap!!)

    Izzy xx < for the dogs Joe, for the dogs.

  66. Golly Pauline, just an earthquake? How disappointing huh? Scary of you’re not used to them.

    Had a 6 just over in Nevada last week, destroyed all the historic buildings downtown in Wells. Very small town, 700~1500, and almost every building had damage. I hear the brothel stood up just fine. My friends felt the shaking here in Utah; I didn’t, but then I’m immune from all those years in Japan. Those shakers were big enough to set off the neighborhood evacuation alarms. They were in Japanese, I had only the slightest idea of what I was being instructed to do. Go to the local school I suppose. I just rode it out in my old Japanese house, wooden, held together with bamboo nails in the oldest rooms. Just swayed and creaked and rattled the shoji a lot. Never fell off the stones holding the foundation posts, luckily enough. The house may have been unheated, uninsulated and with low enough doorways to crack MyLarry across the forehead, but I loved that little place!

  67. The Travelers are a mysterious race. From the subtle hints you and the writing staff have dropped about their society, politics and culture they seem to be an interesting race. Will they be appearing in Season 5?

  68. Hey Joe! I don’t know if you’ve answered this already, if you have you can ignore me. Now that Jewel is a regular, are we going to get more Ronon/Keller interaction, or was ‘Quarantine’ a one time deal?

  69. Hi Joe,
    I’m looking forward to the last two eps of the season–and not looking forward to the wait till Season 5!

    Quick question re: “Midway.” We saw a drone (?) feed off someone in this ep. Has this been shown before? What makes the drones different from the guys with the white dreads?

    Thanks for you time, and welcome to the Neil Gaiman fan club! (Met him at Necon a few years back and it was quite funny because he’s this completely normal guy who dresses in all black and wears sunglasses, and the whole time he’s talking about his kids and his minivan, there’s this…fan, followed him around the entire conference, always about 10 feet behind him, dressed exactly the same, but he never said a word. Never approached Neil, never interacted with any of the people hanging around the writer. I imagine that’s got to be a little freaky. Anyway. I recommend “MirrorMask” if you ever have time to watch a dvd.)

  70. I am completely late on this, I haven’t read your blog in awhile due to the fact I’m actually supposed to work at work, and that lookin at the pictures of your pugs makes me really want a dog.

    That being said, Neil Gaiman is one of my top obsessions (others including photography & SGA, of course). Well, not him, but his writings. I was able to meet him and have Smoke & Mirrors signed. I think my favorite of the whole book is the bonus story in the introduction.

    Seriously, if you have time, Fragile Things is another fantastic collection to read, and Good Omens is a must. I just reread it for the 10th time last weekend. Good Omens is actually a book that has torn apart a friends, and has caused me (while slightly intoxicated) to yell at people and say mean things to a person when they say, “I don’t get it, and I’m 40 pages in.”

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