Next to coming across an uncashed check, encountering a long lost friend, or unearthing the magical talisman that will help ward off the evil spirit that is haunting your sister’s duplex, there is no greater thrill than the discovery of a new writer. You crack open the book, start reading and, before you know it, you’re thoroughly engrossed, lost in the narrative, progressing deeper and deeper into the story, all the while thinking “This is fantastic!” and “Please, don’t suddenly suck and end up spoiling this for me!”. So it was with John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself, Iain M. Banks’ Consider Phlebas, Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others, George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones – all tremendous titles that introduced me to writers who I now rank among my very favorites. Which brings me to Jeffrey Ford. Now, I can’t put him up there with the likes of Banks and Martin just yet because, to be fair, I’ve only read one of his books. But if The Empire of Ice Cream is anything to go by, I suspect it won’t be long before I do.

Like all anthologies, some stories worked better for me than others – yet unlike most anthologies, there wasn’t a clunker in the bunch. Even the (relatively speaking) weaker entries contained an element or two that made them enjoyable in spite of my reservations.

I loved “The Annals of Eeelin-Ok”, a magical and ultimately poignant tale that evoked memories of my childhood – specifically the childlike thought processes that had me imagining tiny unseen societies teeming, hidden, beneath the surface of our relatively mundane world. Ford demonstrates that he has not lost that sense of marvel Jonathan Carroll talks about in the introduction. He is still able to tap that rich vein of childlike wonder and, in so doing, does a masterful job reminding us of what we may have left behind.

Which is a neat segue into Jupiter’s Skull. On the surface, it’s the mysterious tale of a Shangri-la-like town that disappears from the collective memories of outsiders. And yet, as I read it, I found myself struck not so much by the bizarre development of the missing town, but by the unsettling and all-too-familiar notion of being cut off from one’s past. I thought of the many times I’ve gone back to my home town over the years and how, with each return visit, it has grown increasingly unfamiliar. The place where I grew up is long-gone because, in truth, it was far more than its mere location. It was the people, the sights, the sounds, and so many other ethereal elements that now exist only in my mind.

As I said, I liked a number of the stories in this collection, but the ones I truly loved were those that struck a more personal chord. A Night in the Tropics is a fine example. Again, we touch on the idea of reconnecting with one’s past. The writer returns to his home town where he learns of a the legend surrounding a purportedly supernatural chess set. An interesting premise that makes for an intriguing story – but it’s the personal moments (his return to the bar, the painting, his past relationship with the bartender) that really touched me. Similar stories in this same vein include The Trentino Kid, Coffins on the River, and, my favorite, Botch Town. The latter, with its small town character and quirky sense of humor, was such a pleasure to read that I took to noting the most memorable lines as I went along:

– “Occasionally John would try to be pleasant, but I think the paper canoe of a hat he wore every day had soured his disposition irreparably.”

– “Throughout all of this, and even when he lay flat, he held his drink up above his head like a man trying to keep a pistol dry while crossing a river.”

“Otherwise, he was a pretty blank person, save for his toupee, which sat on his head like a doily.”

I was delighted to hear that this story has been expanded into a novel, The Shadow Year, that was just released this March by Harper Collins/Morrow. It’s already on order.

While the aforementioned stories spoke to me on an emotional level, The Empire of Ice Cream and The Weight of Words delivered on the intellectual plane – both stand out stories brilliantly conceived and skillfully executed.

A Man of Light, The Beautiful Gelreesh and Boatman’s Holiday were also strong, highly imaginative entries. The only stories that I thought didn’t measure up to the rest were The Green Word, Summer Afternoon, and Giant Land. The first felt a little too straightforward, the latter (quite the opposite) so out there I had a difficult time connecting with it.

After finishing The Empire of Ice Cream, my initial response was not so much “I want to re-read it!” as it was “I want my friends to read it!”. And that, preople, is the mark of a great book.

Today’s blog is dedicated to soon-to-be-regular reader Katherine and birthday celebrant Airelle.

Today’s video: Gun school!!! Christina, Nicole, and Janina prepare for battle!

56 thoughts on “April 22, 2008: The Empire of Ice Cream

  1. Joe,
    Finally you posted… Glad you are okay! Great review, it made me want to read the short stories. Thanks… and thanks for the videos too!

    Night, night!


  2. Now that I only have one exam left I might pick up on of the books on the list.

    Loved the videos. Maybe you can talk about the science behind shooting (blanks?) and how that would work on a set? Is it obvious I have no idea what I’m talking about…? 🙂

  3. Chev said: “Fish of the day”.
    Thanks for the laugh. A great quote (and going back a few years now). Maybe for an internal chuckle the engraving should be “Fish of the Day”?

    Thanks for the offer too! The Sony book store is only available to the US so will have to find another way of downloading titles. There’s a DVD containing 10,000 titles you can get – surely there’s one BOTM book on that!

    Sulien, loved those words. Except it maxed out the space allocated!

    Maybe the keep it simple approach could be the way, in which I would definitely have “Just Be”.

  4. Hey Joe,

    Looks like the girls are taking that training very seriously.

    And Janina looks a little too familiar with that P90. Nice reloading!

    Have a good night.

  5. that just looks like too much fun! Gun School, sign me up!

    In any case, just watching Wormhole Extreme and apparently I’d not seen it in awhile because I spotted a familiar face inquiring of T’ealc where the donuts were… Too funny!

    Sure you didn’t want to be an actor? 🙂


  6. Thank the Furlings you’re alive.

    I had imagined all kinds of horrible things that could’ve happened to you to make you post so late, though some of which did evolve into rather comical things. I blame clowns. And oranges.

    I would tell you all about it, but unfortunately, I’ve been studying nearly-non-stop for my finals which are coming up in…oh…3 days, and I’m still not done tonight. Basically, I’ve got to take 3 math-heavy finals in the span of 4 days.

    Pray for me Joe, like only you can.

    Meanwhile…yummy; chicks with guns.

    Anyway, with the exams coming, there’s no chance that I could’ve read any of these BOTM books, but your description of this one did seem facinating (besides inspiring me to eat half a carton of coffee ice cream, right now), especially the one about “Jupiter’s Skull”. I can safely say that I know exactly what you’re talking about. Not only have I left my hometown, but I’ve even left my home continent. The city I was born in, Tianjin, China, has since changed so incredibly much that it was torture going back there 2 years ago. The old apartment I used to live in now belongs to someone else; the roads are full of dirty, polluting, and badly-driven cars instead of the hundreds of bicycles that used to blanket the asphalt; the quaint skyline now punctured by highrises and skyscrapers; the traditional free markets with their many sellers yelling out things to get your attention…all gone, making way for an underground mall; and worst of all…there was a Starbucks in the airport in Beijing. Are they EVERYWHERE?! Seriously.

    Ok, enough of that. I look forward to reading everyone’s thoughts on this facinating-sounding anthology (so I can live vicariously through them…again).

  7. Thank you, Joe, for the videos.

    By the way, I won a free book last month, Michael Chabron’s “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union,” which is a scifi murder mystery. Well…scifi in that the story takes place in an alternate Earth timeline. I recommend the novel, very interesting, nice blend of humor, conspiracy theories, and shenanigans.


  8. Thanks for the videos. Girl power haha.

    I was wondering if actors who have already got experience with the guns still go through some gun practice for specific episodes?

    Also, have you seen the movie Across the Universe?

  9. Empire of Ice Cream didn’t make my list, and I’m sorry to say I’ve given up on Timescape. I opened it up to read a little more last night, read one sentence and realized I had no desire to keep at it.

    While I find the concept extremely compelling, I find the characters less-so, which is odd, because as much as I love plotty goodness, I really love character study and development, which leads me to conclude that the reason these characters are just sucking the life out of the story for me must just be something that’s incompatible between me and the writing (despite a few extraordinarly well-turned phrases that I’ve marked and underline for…I’m not sure why.)

    Or maybe I’m just in a mood. Once I have acquired a book, I try to hang on to it for at least a year before sending it on its merry way to a used bookstore or the library or my bookshelf-of-things-I’ll-never-get-rid-of, so maybe I’ll give it another go in the fall or winter. Because it’s just one of those books I really *want* to like.

  10. It’s hard to tell from such short clips, but it looks like the ladies seem to be doing well. At least there’s no obvious flinching or discomfort handling something making loud noises. How many seconds or minutes of final footage will involve the actresses/characters actually engaged in a firefight? It constantly amazes me how much effort goes into producing such small amounts of film.
    I’m finding it interesting to see how many people rated Botch Town as a favorite out of Empire of Ice Cream. While I thought the story well written, I certainly didn’t rate it nearly so highly. And I must admit I don’t see myself rushing out to buy The Shadow Year. I think I’ll re-visit this particular tale in a few weeks and see if my opinion has changed. I do hope that you continue to nominate or choose collections of short stories, whether they are by a single author or anthologies based on themes.

  11. Love the videos Joe.
    Those girls are going to kick some ass. Are the live firing at targets there or is that all blanks as you would use on the show?

  12. Hi Joe

    If someone wanted to submit a script for SGA in the hopes of getting the chance to write a script on spec, would you prefer they create their own series or write an episode of another show? If the latter, do you have a series in mind?

  13. Cool videos. Nice to see the gals in training. Thanks for sharing them. How’d the girls feel about firing the weapons? I know Torri had mentioned her first time was intimidating.

    The book sounds great too. I’ll have to check it out after I finally finish The Keep, which I got stalled on thanks to real life distractions.

  14. OK I watched all of the vids. In my opinion Nicole and Christina look far more comfortable with the weapons than Janina, who looked a bit stiff and unbalanced.

    Nicole actually looked like a TV cop – perhaps she’s playing a doctor who’s into guns etc.

    Very interesting.

    Cheers, Chev

  15. Thx for the vids!!

    re: book, I liked the collection a lot, but just speaking about The Empire of Ice Cream novella, this story had the kind of building development I like about good fiction writing in general, not just sci fi – plenty of luscious attention to detail, good narrative flow and a smack in the face twisty ending that I associate with greats like Rod Serling. You know how I came to read it before this blog? two of the main elements is my #1 fave flavor coffee ice cream, and classical music, so of course that stuff attracted my attention. If I recall this story was an annual award winner, and deservedly so.

    Still pondering the Recipe For a Journey to Quibo, tonite I’ll be reading the other comments and see what I can see. The fact that the book has disappeared, and details about the recipe are getting hazy in the main characters mind, remind me of something I think Hemingway mused- what if art disappeared when the artist died, and thereafter only existed in the minds of the people who saw/heard/read it? My belief is that the art would become something else- art is determined by perception and everyone sees the same piece differently, it would be like the game of “Pass the Word”, where each subsequent filter would change it.

  16. Alright, ladies! Great start at Gun School!

    Now, they just have to remember where to point those things when they’re done firing. Safety first. 🙂

  17. Thanks for the heads up on The Empire of Ice Cream and the videos. I definitely want to give the book a good read.

  18. Quick thoughts on The Empire of Ice Cream (penned before reading any other comments, so, er, apologies if it’s a regurgitation of what everyone else has already said):

    (a)I love the title, suggesting as it does the transitory nature of everything, including empires. It is whimsical and fantastical, and fits this collection perfectly.

    (b) John Picacio’s cover is fantastic, in every sense of the word. Online images really do not do the book-cover justice.

    (c) The fourteen stories making up the collection are beautifully written, and very different from one another. Jonathan Carroll refers in his introduction to a buffet of stories, and I think that’s an accurate representation of this collection. There’s contemporary fantasy mixed with magic realism mixed with the more traditional middle ages type fantasy — a little bit of everything for everyone.

    My absolute favourite tale was ‘Botch Town’, a novella about a boy growing up in a small southern New Jersey town. I think the reason I enjoyed this story so much is that it offers a glimpse into childhood. Jeff’s conviction that the man in the white-finned car is after him, his certainty at the end of the story that the man is Death in disguise, the matter-of-factness the kids display when they discuss solving the case of the peeping tom, or the way they contemplate the possibility that Mary can numerically calculate where everyone in town will be at any given time given enough observational evidence. Kids seem to accept the weird and the wonderful with the same aplomb as they accept the everyday and mundane, and everything that happens is all part of some great adventure.

    ‘The Annals of Eelin-Ok’: This is the journal of a short-lived fairy spirit called a Twilmish, who takes up residence in a beautifully constructed sandcastle and, for a few (human) hours, becomes corporeal. When the rising tide destroys the castle, the Twilmish will die too. But time works differently for the Twilmish, and in a few hours, they can live a lifetime. Sweet story, and a great opener. I love the play with the passage of time — how life might be lived if we had the life-span of a mayfly.

    ‘Jupiter’s Skull’ reminded me a lot of Peter David’s description of Bete Noir in the comic book, Fallen Angel. The magical town that nobody knows about but those who live there, and that once you’ve left you can never return to. I also liked the cyclical nature of the story — with the tale first being told to, and then experienced by the narrator, with the hint that it will replay again, over and over and over. At first sympathetic to the one who was betrayed and left behind, the narrator ultimately becomes the betrayer himself. It’s cleverly done.

    ‘A Night in the Tropics’, where a painting on a bar wall hints at a darkness that is later revealed. Thieves steal from a seemingly elderly and defenseless man only to find that they picked the wrong victim.

    I really enjoyed the title story, ‘The Empire of Ice Cream’. It is second only to ‘Botch Town as my favourite, I think. I don’t really know much about music, so the references to fugues etc. kind of went over my head, but I liked the way the story mimicked the structure of the protagonist/composer’s ideas for how he wanted his piece to be structured, with the disorganization and chaos at the end fading to one long drawn-out note.

    Does the Gelreesh in ‘The Beautiful Gelreesh’ promise more than he can deliver? He promises to stop the heartache and remove the pain, and he does. Not quite by the method that everyone was imagining, but the pain is no longer a concern. Even at the end, he offers the townspeople a chance to let go of their anger and vengeance, persuading them they have killed him even as he makes his escape. I like the way the story paints what is, in essence, a cold-blooded killer as a saviour of sorts. Much as the Gelreesh is able to persuade the world to overlook his exterior ugliness, so the reader is enticed to ignore the ugliness and violence of his actions.

    I felt very sorry for Charon in ‘The Boatman’s Holiday’. Because the place of refuge exists in the River Lethe, where memories fade, the Boatman can’t remember his trip to the Island he was seeking. In a lot of ways, it seems to me that a refuge you can’t remember having visited is worse than having no refuge to visit at all, because it sucks away the hope of escape, even for a short time.

    ‘A Man of Light’: I love the idea of a man able to play with light so as to make himself appear as a disembodied head. I was less keen on the darker aspects of the tale. 🙂

    I loved the image of the King’s indoor garden in ‘The Green Word’: flowers and butterflies blooming inside a warm glass palace even as the world outside falls prey to winter. I also loved the imagery of the philosopher’s machine falling and breaking apart under the tyrant-King’s cruel hand — visual shorthand for what the King was doing to his land.

    ‘Giant Land’ felt like a wonderful stream of consciousness type tale, where the real quickly gave way to the fantastical. I loved that the heroine tricked the giants into giving her her freedom, and then, what felt like it might be a traditional Jack-and-the-Beanstalk type fairy-tale quickly morphed into something bigger and better, with the giantess opera singer, the shack on the beach, pirates and wax dolls and evil magicians.

    ‘Coffins on the River’: Heroes come in all shapes and guises. I think it’s sad that the police did not acknowledge the source of their information and give credit where it was due.

    ‘Summer Afternoon’ was probably my least favourite story in the collection — mostly because I am not entirely certain I understood the story it was trying to tell.

    ‘The Weight of Words’: Another favourite. The protagonist learns all about the mathematics of language, hidden messages, and finding ways to calculate the optimal sentence to achieve your objectives in advertising or love.

    ‘The Trentino Kid’ ends the collection on a note of sadness — made more so by the revelation that it is based on a true story. A kid really did drown whilst clamming, and his father did stop by to ask the men working the bay to remember him. In a way, that kid has been immortalized in this story, given a chance to live in the minds of everyone who reads it.

  19. Am I the first comment today? Great.

    Love the videos. Women shooting stuff is always a highlight. Who’s the guy teaching them? Is he part of the crew or is he an import especially for training?

    Also, when you get new cast in, short or long term, do they have to go through any sort of military briefing?

    I’m assuming it’s dependent on the role and what the character is doing in an episode but as some of the new women will be military, do they do some sort of crash course in all things military or is it up to the individual actor?

  20. The ladies look like they are doing quite well and will shape into soldiers in no time at all.

  21. Hi again Mr M!

    Greetings from Tipperary. I apologise that I didn’t get to read any of the BOTM, with the trip, I didn’t find time, but your enthusiasm has made me buy Empire of Ice Cream (sidenote: a great Irish Indie band of the 80’s called the Emperors of Ice Cream were HUGE here)
    Just HAD to comment on “gun school”….. We have the varying degrees of “gun control” from the short sharp burst controlled of Christina to the “rack’em and stack” of Janina…..Wow, look at that girl unclip and re-clip….Sheppard better watch out, or there’ll be a new Sheriff in town!!

    As always a pleasure to read the blog!


  22. Regrettably I have not yet finished The Empire of Ice Cream. This isn’t so much because I couldn’t have finished it in time as it is because I wanted to take a bit more time with each story. And I guess I got carried away with the notion. But after reading the excellent thoughts from Jeffrey Ford yesterday, and Joe’s today, I wish I could have read it sooner (shipping dictated that). Still, one of the great things about collections of stories is that you can give your thoughts on a few at a time.

    “The Annals of Eelin-Ok” reminded me of my many days spent on the beaches around where I grew up – making sand castles, playing in the dunes, digging holes in the hopes of finding some unknown sort of treasure. And those little sand whirlwinds always seemed magic to me. The story was very believable to me, and I was really impressed with the style of writing for Eelin-Ok, which is simpler (for want of a better word) than Ford’s other work, and perfect because of it.

    “Jupiter’s Skull” reminded me of my home town, which is interesting in light of what you brought up, Joe, in relation to this story. There is this little, almost hidden away coffee/second-hand bookshop in my home town where I used to go and sit for hours drinking coffee and talking with the owner. As the years have gone by, my town has changed and while parts of it still feel like home, others are strangers to me. And in a way, since becoming part of the fast-paced, exciting lifestyle of the city, I don’t know that I could ever go back there to live. That seems to be a big part of “Jupiter’s Skull”, the quiet (lethargic), but sometimes captivating life of the town, versus the overwhelmingly fast life of the city. Sometimes you get a taste of one and can’t really go back, no matter how good the memories.

    The wall from the Tropics in “A Night in the Tropics” was so visually real to me that it framed the rest of the story for me entirely. I kept thinking about how sometimes the things we want most are unattainable, or we realise once we have them that they aren’t what we really wanted anyway. Sometimes it is the “notion” of something that is more desirable than the obtaining of it, like the chess set. And this seems reflected in the insights Bobby gives at the end, about the man in the boat.

    “The Empire of Ice Cream” is amazing. I read this in a coffee shop one day, and I’m sure the waitress who served me gave me a strange look before she walked away, I think I was fairly wide-eyed reading it, amazed at the language and the way the story unfolds.

    The Anna/William twist was a surprise to me, and I’m interested in what influenced the narration being from William’s perspective. It seemed he ended up being something from Anna’s imagination/synaesthesia, and I was fascinated by the unusual use of perspective. It made me think about things like what is imagination and what is real? How do we know if something is imaginary or real? And what if our perception influences the reality of someone else?

    More to come in the days ahead…

    I’d also like to thank Jeffrey for the story notes at the end of each story. I often read collected works by one author, and I always appreciate the insights authors can give. Unfortunately a lot of authors don’t include notes like this, or they have them in the introduction. While that is better than none at all, I like them to be nearer the relevant story. In King’s book Everything’s Eventual, he even goes to the trouble of deciding which stories to put notes at the start of, and which to include as an afterward. But the stories I’ve read so far in The Empire of Ice Cream have all had the notes afterwards, and in a way I think that adds to the “wow” of the stories that Carroll talks about in the introduction. So thank you for including notes!

    And I also noticed the cover art is by John Picacio, who did the cover art for Lou Anders’ anthology Fast Forward 1 (a February BOTM selection). It’s wonderful!


  23. I just realised I forgot to talk about Jeffrey Ford’s “Recipe For a Journey to Quibo”. Thanks Jeffrey for sharing that with us! I have a lot I would like to say, but not enough time right now, so I’ll include it in my next post (probably for Wednesday’s blog). Although for now I will say I was hanging onto the last word and hoping there was more!

  24. Great vids Joe!! And I really must find time to read the WIP from yesterday – it’s a real honour to be able to.

    On April 22, 2008 Tera Daniels Said: Curious, you have an episode Whispers with an all female team and Teyla is not a part of the team. She would seem like a natural fit to be a part or even lead it. What was the reasoning for leaving her out?

    May I point out that Teyla is already part of a team – i.e. Team Sheppard, SGA-1 or whatever they’re called!!

    This is an all female off-world team – the inference being either an already established team or a new one – and Teyla can’t be a part of it unless she left the team she is already with. It’s like on Earth, SG-5 is a team separate to SG-1, and you can’t be a member of both teams, only one. Yes, you can assist other teams (hence Sheppard in this episode) but you can’t join the team.

    I hope that makes sense and explains why Teyla isn’t part of or leading the female team – it would mean her leaving Sheppard’s team. And I assume she isn’t there in Whispers assisting the new team because her skills aren’t called for (after all, Ronon isn’t there either. Nor is Rodney).

    Leesa Perrie

  25. Shirt’n’Tie Said:

    We have the varying degrees of “gun control” from the short sharp burst controlled of Christina to the “rack’em and stack” of Janina…..Wow, look at that girl unclip and re-clip

    I believe that’s actually Christina that was reclipping. The vids in order were Janina, Nicole, Christina.

    Correct me if I’m mistaken Joe.


    Thornyrose Said:

    It’s hard to tell from such short clips, but it looks like the ladies seem to be doing well. At least there’s no obvious flinching or discomfort handling something making loud noises.

    I actually think Janina did pull a face. I didn’t think she looked as comfortable as the other two.

    Cheers, Chev

  26. Whoa! A realistic alternative for my monthly chocolate binge and it’s called a P90.

    I so want one!


  27. Narelle from Aus Said:

    Chev said: “Fish of the day”.
    Thanks for the laugh. A great quote (and going back a few years now). Maybe for an internal chuckle the engraving should be “Fish of the Day”?

    Thanks for the offer too! The Sony book store is only available to the US so will have to find another way of downloading titles. There’s a DVD containing 10,000 titles you can get – surely there’s one BOTM book on that!

    You could guarantee you’d smile everytime you picked up the reader.

    With regard to titles the dvd sounds great. Otherwise check out the following:

    Yarra Plenty Library Overdrive. Do I remember correctly that you were from this neck of the woods?

    Otherwise try:

    Not sure if the software on your reader is compatible, but worth checking.

    Cheers, Chev

  28. Hi Joe:
    Highly recommend you track down Ford’s earlier collection, The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant. It’s out of print, but shouldn’t be too hard to find regardless. Also features another stunning Picacio cover.

  29. Ah, Gun School. One hopes they shoot with their eyes open, that always bugged me on SG-1, actors shooting with their eyes closed. Any obsessive fan with a DVD going frame by frame can see it. Buwahahaha. Safety third!

    We have a gun store in town with an indoor range; for a small fee to cover ammo and targets and safety gear rental, you can try out any of the weapons. I’m tempted, really tempted. All I’ve ever shot is crappy military training rifles and hubby’s long barrel 12 gauge pump shotgun; I can kill the heck outta milk jugs! Bruised my shoulder, but I could keep a jug spinning in the air until I ran out of shells. He won’t let me shoot his Winchester 30-30, the big meanie.

  30. Questions for Jeffrey Ford:

    (1) Having written Botch Town, what made you go back and expand the novella into The Shadow Year? Does the novel continue on after the end of the events of Botch Town, adding more to the story, or is it an expansion of the story outlined in the novella?

    (2) You mention in one of the post-story mini-discussions that you’d written a story in three days, and that it was one of the faster short stories you’d ever written. How long do your stories normally take to come out on the page? Do you have a group of people with whom you discuss your stories as they progress? Or first readers/reviewers who read the stories once the (n-th) draft is complete, who give you feedback on the story? Or do you just know when your story is done?

    (3) Of all the stories in The Empire of Ice Cream, which do you personally think is best? Why?

    (4) I noticed that a couple of the stories in this collection feature writers named Jeff as the main protagonist. Marion Bradley once used a metaphor describing the art of writing as being akin to having a draft lift up one’s skirt, exposing things that perhaps the writer might not necessarily have intended to share with the world. Have you ever felt overly exposed by any of your stories?

    Thanks again for a wonderful read.

  31. Good job with the vids, just enough to imagine, thank you! and thanks for the bd mention, I am still celebrating, dinner out tonight, nothing as exciting as Fuel, but I’ll try to make the best of it. The Empire sounds like I should have maybe read it. I will try to find it again, and get to reading the others on the list,the weather has been so good, have been working in the yard, Those botm days came upon me fast. Enjoy reading all the comments though. Have a great day! 🙂

  32. Mr. M…

    After reading Chris Heyerdahl’s interview in the latest Stargate mag (I bought it for the centerfold! *wriggles eyebrows* ), and spoilers for The Queen – not to mention the little tidbits and teasers you’ve kindly offered up – I must say I am extremely excited about S5! I will do my best to refrain from asking stupid questions that might be answered before the year’s out (unless it pertains to Todd’s well-being…seeing as how he’s walking around with a big bullseye on his sexy green behind).

    So, from now on, I’ll just be asking the really important ones, like:

    Do Wraith have fleas? It would be a bit of poetic justice if they do…


  33. Wow, those ladies are kicking ass in “Gun School”, particularly Christina – she looks a natural! 😀

  34. Sorry to have missed BOTM as I started reading Empire of Icecream but have not quite finished it. Thank you for getting me back into reading!

    Great to see the videos of the gals at gun school. Nice to see them comfortable with the weapons. Saw and fondled several sweet P90’s at a local gun show over the weekend. I need to get back in the habbit, target practice is such a kick!. 🙂

  35. Hey Joe!

    Wow! Shooting loud, scary, intimidating guns is quite impressive! Girls rule for sure. I’m too much of a chicken to even try. I hear the recoil can hurt.

    Although I had to take care of my nephew’s frog (or is it a toad??!) today. I bought some crickets and dumped them in the cage. EW! So maybe I could fire a gun after all.

    Wait. I can’t let ANYONE think I’m actually brave enough to dump crickets anywhere. Allie did it and I held the lid. Maybe Allie’d be better off with the guns? She does kick MAJOR BUTT in Halo. I wonder if there is a direct correlation between cricket-dumping bravery and the ability to use a firearm.

    Anyway…I’m really hoping I can pick up one of the BOTM books for next month. The thought of reading any book that doesn’t contain the Cat in the Hat, green eggs, My Little Ponies or Care Bears sounds HEAVENLY.

    I truly enjoyed the little bit of ‘Quibo’ that Ford shared with us!


  36. Hey Joe!

    Heh, gun school looks fun, do you get a certificate if you pass it? 😛 I heard those blanks cost quite a bit, how much do they cost each? You must go through a ton, especially with all the P-90s.

    “Empire of Ice Cream”, sounds like an intriguing novel, and I’m sure with a title like that that it would turn heads in bookstores. Thank you so much for all your book suggestions!

    Thanks as always,

    – Enzo Aquarius

  37. I am gratified to see that you count Botch Town as one of your favorites as well. Plus it is a full length book?!?!?! I must get it right away!
    Thanks Joe, your blog is a pleasure to read as always.

  38. Hi to Jeffrey Ford

    Recipe for a journey to Quibo.
    My two penneth worth of thoughts:
    His nightly walks continue and as his sleep deprivation takes him to an almost trance like state, tapping into his unconscious mind, he sees the book. It has been returned to the original place where it was found, in the vault. It’s is meant to be there safe from the prying eyes of man. He knows it’s there for a good reason but he still becomes totally obsessed with retrieving the book and finding the ingredients for the recipe. And that’s all I have.

    The gun shooting videos: Is that Christine in the bottom one? If so Major Teldy’s coming on well 🙂

  39. I just discovered your blog and being a big SGA fan, I’m already a fan of your blog :^)
    Thx for sharing the vids. I was just wondering what they’re shooting at as they are obviously aiming at something.

  40. Food question: what are California rolls? I see them on the menu of the Japanese restaurant here and I’m too shy to ask what they are…

    Other question: If I came to Vancouver would you give me a tour of the Stargate Atlantis set, for say, $50? You don’t need to provide commentary, I watch the DVD extras and know what everything is…

    cheers me dears…

  41. Awesome videos!!! I never knew you guys used real guns on the show.

    QUESTION: Has any cast or crew ever been injured while using the guns???


  42. Loving the gun clips, Joe. The more you post, the more excited I get to see this episode. At this rate, the anticipation may kill me! (I’m also glad to see your streak of daily posts was not broken.)

    While I sadly didn’t get to read “Empire”, I did just want to ask Mr. Ford a few generic questions if he didn’t mind. I’m curious as to what his writing practices are. Do you write with the story entirely created in your mind, or does it just spill across the computer screen (or notebook page) as you write? How is writing a short story different from novels? What different mindset (if applicable) do you have to have for each?


  43. Hey, Joe. Wasn’t sure if you had seen this, but ran a small article on Martin Gero’s movie here:–cking

    They give the film praise (mostly for its title, and the fact that its Canadian made) and they link to the movie’s official website and trailer. Anyway, just thought it was very cool.

  44. Will any of the main characters do some gut wrenching soul searching this season? Over either actions/consequences or the lack thereof?

  45. Bogtrotter Said:

    Food question: what are California rolls?

    Check out the article at Wikipedia. It also includes the origin.

    It looks like California rolls in the States look different to what we have in Australia. The ones I’ve had have the Nori on the outside. Anyway I like them.

    Cheers, Chev

  46. California rolls? An abomination. Inside-out sushi with no nori, often rolled in sesame seeds, with avocado. And fake crab meat most of the time. Ick. Give me 7-11 sushi, the kind with a date stamp on the plastic container and one of those plastic fish with the soy sauce.

    Gun enthusiasm and low-rent sushi snobbery from the woman who dislikes raw fish. Yeah, I’m making Joe’s watch list fer sher.

    Heck, the crickets sound tasty at this point.

  47. Hey Joe,

    Wassup man is everything ok…. you slacking pal…. not posting your blogs on time for your regulars 😛

    Quick question please, Any possible revelations on Inquisition episode….is it gonna be like spoils of war or echoes type which follows up on the mid season two parter?

    Take care Joe

  48. Empire of Ice Cream

    Kudos to Jeffrey Ford for writing a book of such imagination and written in such beautiful language. The style is so lyrical and evocative that I would have enojoyed it even if the stories themselves had been horrible, which of course they weren’t at all. Not only is Mr. Ford’s use of words incredible, but the style of each story is subtly different, and I’m in awe of that since I can’t master even one. The Annals of Eelin-Ok, the story as told by the Twilmish is sort of spare and simple, as you’d expect from a newly alive being whose story comes to us via a translation program. The Empire of Ice Cream has a sort of awkward formality to it that should perhaps have hinted something wasn’t quite right for the narrator. Botch Town ranged from the swift-moving words of chases and fear to perfect descriptions for all the senses, all believable from an American man looking back on his Earth. So yeah, I loved immersing myself in the words.

    As far as the stories, there wasn’t one I didn’t like, really. Like many others here, Botch Town was my favorite. Not so much for the horror aspects but for the characters, who were so fully drawn in so few pages. I loved Jim’s amoral, practical authority and sharp wit. His labeling the model school the Retard Factory has made me laugh for days now. Yes, some of the behavior is brutal, but it’s a very believable rendition of small-town American life back before kids started being driven around in SUVs until high school. The kids are hilariously cynical and we can see why. Good for Jim that he understands the absurdity of life already. I can so relate to speed away on a bike or wearing a horribly sweaty, smelly plastic Holloween mask. I love that Jim and Mary are the only ones the narrator trusts, even when his life is in danger and adults are all around.

    I loved Boatman’s Holiday because it made Hell real to me like Dante never did. The little details like… the damned never get to sleep, ever, but they get glimpses of their lives. And that those who keep Hell operating are just as trapped. I love that Charon found a way to write his way out of it, too.

    Also really enjoyed A Night in the Tropics, but I have a burning question: who painted the mural? I read several times to see if it was revealed, but I don’t think it was, and that seems sort of important to the logic of the story. It made me wonder if Bobby was just making up the story about the chess set, and if the gunshot the narrator heard was Bobby committing suicide or something. In either case I love that the meaning of the mural was so different from what the narrator had imagined as a boy.

    I think I’ll stop there, but thanks Joe for choosing this one, and thanks to Jeffrey Ford for writing it and sharing your time with us!

  49. Hi Joe!

    Wow, **loved** the videos! Gun chicks rock!!! 🙂 Can’t wait to see them kick some ‘tail’ in S5!


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