So what scares you?
I asked this question about a year ago after reading two Dan Simmons books: The Song of Kali, and The Terror. One is grounded in the real world and deals with a menace firmly rooted in the every day. The other is more fantastical, focusing on a villain supernatural in nature. Although my wife is more apt to be creeped out by the latter, I’ve always found the former far more frightening. To me, the more outlandish or removed from this reality the threat, the easier it is to dismiss it as mere fanciful entertainment when you set that book aside or turn off that dvd player. But the more grounded in reality the threat, the harder it is to dismiss that nagging undercurrent of dread when you reach that last page or the credits start to roll. There’s something about the possible that adds to the sense of unease. Is your creepy neighbor an alien from another planet come to feast on human life forms? Of course not. Is your creepy neighbor a serial killer who picks up transients, slaughter them in his basement, and buries the bodies in his backyard? Probably not. But then again, you never know…
When it comes to the visuals of horror, I tend to think along the same lines. Even the best of monster movies with their big budget computer generated images and geysers of blood fall far shorter on the terror scale than the chilling subtlety of a victim’s horrified reaction. Yes, I’ve seen the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and, while one can argue their entertainment value, it’s tough to argue their shock value. These movies, with their over-unearthly antagonist exacting gruesome acts of terror feel closer to cartoons than entries in the horror genre. On the other hand, take a movie like Takashi Miike’s Audition. It tells a fairly simple tale, progressing at a leisurely pace until its third act when the audience is sucker-punched by one of the most horrifying sequences ever committed to film. What makes this shocking sequence so terrifying is the set-up, a narrative slow burn that lulls the audience into a false sense of comfort before springing it’s nasty turn. It’s like having someone sing you a lullaby and then, just as you’re about to doze off, step in an slap you awake. Repeatedly.
The “unseen” is far more frightening than the “revealed” because Hollywood’s best visceral creations have got nothing on what the imagination can conjure up. And, when it comes to the revealed (because, let’s face it, there’s nothing more dissatisfying than being teased and not rewarded by even the briefest of glimpses behind the dark curtain) the familiar is scarier than the unfamiliar. But I’d argue that what is far more horrifying than either is the…not-quite familiar…
Which brings us to Whispers…
Today’s blog entry is dedicated to birthday girl Erika.
IamJohn writes: “Was economics part of the decision not to have Sam on for the next season, or was it purely because of her new show?”
Answer: We had every intention of bringing Amanda back for the show’s fifth season but, with Sanctuary going, she couldn’t commit to both and ultimately decided to work on the latter. So, no, economics were not part of the decision.
Cat4444 writes: “Which resurrects my question to you of March 12, 2008, regarding the paradox that was created when Sheppard returned to Atlantis 12 days after he disappeared, despite having been sent 48,000 years into the future.
Did he return to the Atlantis he left?”
Answer: I (and I’m sure I speak for the rest of the writers) would like to think of it as a closed loop in which past and future are part of the same continuum. However, given the theories we discussed and the undeniable presence of paradoxes in each circumstance, it would seem that Stargate’s treatment of time travel would fall within the multiverse school of thought.
Kdvb1 writes: “Why is it more expensive the longer a show runs? I thought the initial set up of a show would be the most expensive. And, then once you had your main sets built, actors hired, etc(I know there’s a lot in that etc)and got the show running smoothly, the costs would start to go down.”
Answer: Except salaries. And then there’s the drastic fall of the American dollar.
C. writes: “Regarding the time travel theories, Theory 1 reminds me a lot of The Time Traveler’s Wife.”
Answer: Yes, one could make that assumption based on the fact that there really is no grounding point in time for the time-hopping. Events seem to play out as they would have because we are viewing them as a large tableau comprised of past, present, and future, rather than setting off from a point in the present to glimpse an unknown future or shape an established past. One could also argue that The Time Traveler’s Wife adheres to Theory #2, the Inifinite Loop theory, in that there is no impetus for the time-jumping (which always creates a paradox – ie. If we travel to the past to change a problem and succeed in changing the problem then there would be no problem in the present and we would have no need to travel back to the past).
C. also writes: “Oh, and as a Jayhawk (well, technically former as of May 2007) can I just say ROCK CHALK JAYHAWKS!”
Answer: In my multiverse reality, Memphis won.
Tiger’s Eye writes: “The impression I got from the book and the afterword (IIRC re. the afterword) was that altering the past didn’t create a separate and distinct timeline, but created a blank slate in place of everything that happened after JFK died.”
Answer: Possibly, but the fact that the timeline is clearly changed and yet we are offered a glimpse at how the grim future plays out suggests two different timelines.
Chevron7 writes: “I’ve just finished Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Have you read that?”
Answer: I have and, while I did like it, I found it far too reminiscent of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower which are two of my favorite works of dystopian fiction.
Chev writes: “Suggestion – add the titles for the current BOTM to the sidebar.”
Answer: I tried but, for some reason, my neat, single line entries become a jumbled paragraph when published.
Blin writes: “Will there be a Woolsey-centric episode?”
Ytimyona writes: “In fact, any time you are moving, (like in a car, bus, train, walking, airplane, etc…) you are technically traveling through time (albeit in infinitesimally small, unnoticeable amounts) because time passes more slowly for you when you are in motion. This becomes much more noticeable when you get closer to the speed of light…”
Answer: Which is what happened to the crew of the Aurora! Joe Haldeman offers up a wonderful treatment of this idea in The Forever War.
RisenValkyrie writes: “If Marty does succeed in putting an Irish person put on the Atlantis team, can you promise me you will do everything in your power to not let him make it as painful to watch as ‘Heroes’ was when they had so-called “Irish” characters in it?”
Answer: Fear not. Martin has already created the character – a frolicsome leprechaun named Paddy O’Shamrock.
Jon K. writes: “ Additionally, in creating an alternate universe Benford took away the need to send the smaller less informative messages.”
Answer: True. Although, at the time they were sending the messages back, they had no way of knowing they would be creating a separate timeline.
Teknikal writes: “at the end on the Continum screening did you get to nab some of the fans that were lucky enough to see it?? what did they think??”
Answer: I don’t know. Any thoughts from the lucky fans?
Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “Off to Don Francesco’s tonight, my last night here.”
Answer: Did you try the lamb popsicles at Vij’s? By the way, it was a pleasure meeting you. Safe journey back and hopefully our paths will cross again in the not too distant future.
McWraith writes: “Are you a fan of the Shaun and Hot Fuzz movies?”
Answer: I enjoyed Shaun of the Dead up until its sudden serious turn late in the movie.
Thornyrose writes: “Still trying to work out the f/x for Whispers?”
Answer: Yep. We’re looking at creative alternatives to smoking up an entire stage.
Shawna writes: “Just because God (someone who can see the whole of time) knows what choices we’re going to make, that doesn’t mean we don’t have the free will to make them.”
Answer: Yes, there is the notion that if you can see “out of time”, the two can co-exist. But what happens if you use your knowledge of the future to change it? Or are we saying that being “out of time” puts you in the position of observer which necessarily precludes your ability to change events?
Anna writes: “How many dogs do you have and what are their names? And are they siblings? Did you adopt them from a shelter?”
Answer: Jelly, fawn pug, is the 9 year old bossy one. Maximus, black pug, is the 8 year old easy-going one. Bubba, fawn pug, is the 6 year old attention-seeker. Lulu, black French bulldog, is the 9 month old troublemaker. None are related. And they weren’t adopted.
Jean writes: “Just wondering what prompted you taking C restaurant off your recommended list?”
Answer: Two of my last three visits proved unremarkable. The third was downright disappointing.
Kieran writes: “Is there I can sent you a private comment?”
Watcher652 writes: “Do you eat the type of food found in such restaurants like seitan?”
Answer: Never tried it.
Dreams-of-Skies writes: “I know I have been absent from bugging you for a while now – “
Answer: Yeah. What gives?!
Dreams-of-Skies also writes: “What would YOU have recommended?”
Answer: The deep-fried crispy duck. I’m going to put it on the menu for the chocolate party.
Chev writes: “How did Teal’c know which direction/path to travel to Celestus? Did he know beforehand or was “you know who” guiding him?”
Answer: That’s a great question for writer/director/producer Robert Cooper when he does his Ark of Truth guest blog here.
Babancat writes: “So, mention of pink pages made me wonder, do you have an all time favourite episode that you have written of SG1 and/or SGA or is your most recent creative masterpiece always your favourite?”
Answer: Speaking of multiverses – I love Ripple Effect
Teyla Roxs writes: “Is there any titbits you can divulge about Teyla?”
Answer: That would be highly inappropriate.
Narelle from Aus writes: “It may have been answered before, but what was involved in getting Dan Castellaneta on the show?”
Answer: Besides providing the voice of Homer, Dan Castellaneta is a pretty accomplished actor. When we were casting Citizen Joe, we watched his reel and thought he’d be perfect. We made the offer, he accepted, came over and did the show, and struck up a friendship with Richard Dean Anderson. Some time later, Dan co-wrote an episode of The Simpsons with plenty of shout-outs to Stargate – and a special guest star appearance for Rick.
Keller’s Patient writes: “What’s Jason on about a Ronon/Keller/Mckay scramble? Is this just an episode or a season long plotline, Joe??”