I’d like to begin today’s blog entry by once again thanking K.J. Bishop for stopping by to spend time with us. As expected, her novel, The Etched City, engendered some fairly strong and wide-ranging opinions. According to Kirsten, she was “just amazed at the detail and thoughtfulness of the responses”. So, kudos to all those who took part in the discussion, offering up some very interesting thoughts and interpretations. Besides answering our questions, Kirsten also made it a point to throw a few questions our way…

“We’re all readers here, and I’m interested in what makes us readers,”she wrote. “What do we look for in books; why do we give them hours and days of our time?”

I already dedicated a blog entry to the reasoning behind my new-found passion for books so, to avoid repeating myself suffice it to say reading is one of my few non-guilty pleasures.

“Given the length of time it takes to read a book, is there something you as a reader expect in return that you wouldn’t expect from, say, a painting?”

Ideally, I would like to have my mind opened to new ideas, fresh ways of thinking, or arguments I’ve never considered. For the time I invest in reading a novel, all I ask for in return is a character or two I can care about and a story I can invest in.

“Do you read novels for insight into the human condition, to immerse yourself in another world, to live out fantasies vicariously?”

Both. In that respect, reading is not all that different from going to see a good movie or enjoying a well-written television series.

“Could you read a book that took abstract expressionism or cubism as its inspiration?”

Hey, like I said, if the characters are interesting and the story is engaging, why not?

“Is there anything you’d like to say about your relationship with these strange long lies called novels?”

Well, this is one relationship in which I strive to maintain an adventurous and promiscuous attitude.

Next, I’d like direct everyone’s attention to the image that accompanies today’s entry. It is award-winning illustrator John Picacio’s cover for Fast Forward 2, the follow-up to Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge. FF1 was, of course, our SF Book of the Month Club selection back in February and the week of its discussion saw a visit from editor Lou Anders, our very first guests from the literary world. According to my sources (a.k.a. the search function on Amazon.com), FF2 hits the shelves on October 21, 2008. Don’t worry. I’ll remind you. In the meantime, enjoy the cover art. According to Lou: “this iteration of Fast Forward was very much influenced by the wonderful discussion with your readers, as well as by a joint sense, on both John and my part, that SF is very relevant to today’s world and has a very important job to play in it. That being said, the opening story, by Doctor Who’s Paul Cornell, about a sort of alt. history James Bond in a weird British-dominated solar system, is just pure wacky goodness and one of the most fun stories I’ve read in ages.” BTW, Lou’s latest anthology, a collection of alternate history crime fiction titled Sideways in Crime, was just released. Check it out.

John, meanwhile, had this to say about his work on FF2: “Covers like Lou’s FAST FORWARD 2 are dream assignments. What’s fun about them is the stories respond to the evolving state of science fiction and therefore, the covers should do the same. It’s an amazing collection of stories, and I’m proud to be associated with it. I studied posters about revolution and protest when I was working on this cover and that was certainly a conscious influence. There’s an awesome quote by Paul McAuley that you’ll find in Lou’s FF2 introduction, and it stuck in my head while I was creating this cover, “(Science fiction) not only shows us what could happen if things carry on the way they are, but it pushes what’s going on to the extremes of absurdity. That’s not its job: that’s its nature. And what’s happened to science fiction lately, it isn’t natural. It’s pale and lank and kind of out of focus. It needs to straighten up and fly right. It needs to reconnect with the world’s weather, and get medieval on reality’s ass.”

I think that people tend to overlook the importance of cover art. In all honesty, I probably would not have discovered the works of some of my favorite authors (Abercrombie, Lynch, Banks to name a few) if it weren’t for how damn good their books looked. It’s amazing how an eye-catching cover can tip the balance in favor of picking up a title while a garish or hideous cover can pretty much deep-six a purchase. What are your thoughts? Have you ever picked up a book based solely on the cover art? On the other hand, have you been so turned off by the look of a book that it actually dissuaded you from buying it? In my opinion, this is a seriously underappreciated but very important part of publishing. Agree? Disagree? What do you think? What does an illustrator like John Picacio think? Well, why don’t we ask him ourselves since he has graciously agreed to swing by and do his own guest Q&A on this blog.

Mosey on over here to check out some of John’s work (http://www.johnpicacio.com/index2.html), then come up with some hard-hitting questions for our very first guest-artist/illustrator/designer .

Next, I’d like to thank everyone for weighing in with their thoughts on Search and Rescue, our fifth season premiere. Fab director Andy Mikita continues his winning ways while Golden Boy Marty G. did a great job writing and producing what was, in my opinion, our best opener to date. Congrats to cast and crew on a job well done.

Finally, I’d like to wrap up today’s entry with a book recommendation. Or, more accurately, a re-recommendation. I already mentioned Glasshouse by Charles Stross last week when I finished reading it, but I wanted to make it a point to INSIST you pick it up. What’s it about? Well, Publisher’s Weekly offers the following write-up:

“The censorship wars”during which the Curious Yellow virus devastated the network of wormhole gates connecting humanity across the cosmos”are finally over at the start of Hugo-winner Stross’s brilliant new novel, set in the same far-future universe as 2005’s Accelerando. Robin is one of millions who have had a mind wipe, to forget wartime memories that are too painful”or too dangerously inconvenient for someone else. To evade the enemies who don’t think his mind wipe was enough, Robin volunteers to live in the experimental Glasshouse, a former prison for deranged war criminals that will recreate Earth’s “dark ages” (c. 1950″2040). Entering the community as a female, Robin is initially appalled by life as a suburban housewife, then he realizes the other participants are all either retired spies or soldiers. Worse yet, fragments of old memories return”extremely dangerous in the Glasshouse, where the experimenters’ intentions are as murky as Robin’s grasp of his own identity. With nods to Kafka, James Tiptree and others, Stross’s wry SF thriller satisfies on all levels, with memorable characters and enough brain-twisting extrapolation for five novels.”

 

Yep. Brain-twistingly brilliant.

Oh, and quick reminder to finish up Unwelcome Bodies. Discussion on this unsettling and no doubt controversial collection of short fiction begins Monday and author Jennifer Pelland will be dropping by to field our questions.

Today’s video: Search and Rescue.  Rehearse and shoot.

62 thoughts on “July 12, 2008: Bookly Things and Behind-the-Scenes on Search and Rescue

  1. Thanks for the link for John Picacio’s stuff, might just go check that out for the art. Awesome that he’ll be a guest!

    Have a couple of questions from Search and Rescue if you don’t mind?
    1. What the hell happened to Kanaan? Did he go with them back to Atlantis? I mean there was no mention and we didn’t see him…

    2. I’m pretty sure everyone is wondering, I thought Tughan (spelling I’m not sure about) was her fathher, not Torin (again, spelling?) Though someone brought up a good point that maybe Tughan was her mother??

  2. Awesome set clips. I thought it was particularly interesting that FF2 drew from some of the insights given on FF1 during the “JMBC” sessions in February. Very cool. Do you think you’ll add FF2 to our book club list when it’s released?

  3. Joe asked–Have you ever picked up a book based solely on the cover art? On the other hand, have you been so turned off by the look of a book that it actually dissuaded you from buying it? In my opinion, this is a seriously underappreciated but very important part of publishing. Agree? Disagree? What do you think?

    I agree,I think? I look at the cover, read the back page story or inside cover story, to give me the idea of the story, The cover, could be overdone, too much of nothing and I lose interest. So I guess its just how it strikes me. I do think most of the time its the story itself as to whether I am interested or not. The cover could catch my eye to actually go as far as picking up the book…

  4. Hi Joe…
    Watched the show for the third time now and I agree with everyone else…Where is Kanaan?? I believe he came aboard because I think Teyla would be beside herself if he got killed in the explosion of the wraith ship..she seemed okay to me. BTW, the special effects were awesome!! Great job….
    I feel bad for Sam…I thought she did a great job on Atlantis…I thought that she would’ve been treated a little better than having the rug pulled out from under her..
    ***Theresa***

  5. Sorry to be late to the party, but I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of people who loved S&R. So much to love!
    How wonderful to see Rainbow again—even for such a brief moment! Sad to see Sam go, but I like Woolsey, so I’m keeping an open mind. The Teyla/Rodney birth scene was both hysterical (“Can’t you just hold it in?!”) and touching (their faces afterward—-I couldn’t help thinking that they each had their own newborns at home by this point—at least Rachel did, not sure if David’s son was born yet.)
    JoeF did a great job as did Jason. Also, can’t forget: KAVAN!
    Great eppy! Kudos to MartinG and all the actors.

  6. Regarding book covers. Cannot agree more that book covers do need to capture the interest of potential readers. Unless you have substantial references that a book is great, etc., a “blah” book cover is going to result in a brief passing glance. I say this for fiction, non-fiction, and technical books.

    A million years ago, I would pick up science fiction just because it was sci fi – without regard to author, storyline, or to a less degree cover. And it was because the covers almost always gave the clue that it was sci fi if not by graphic the words “Science Fiction.”

    Now that time to devote to reading is less; I want – I need to be more discriminating. LOL…one reason I am very glad Joe has his book recommendations; otherwise, I might not read for personal enjoyment.

    I know I have passed on books because of covers. I do not recall specific ones – but a blah cover, nothing but words, too many words, horrible/gore depicted – I move on.

    Have you not noticed that even potential text books now have simple to exquisite cover art? I had to get a couple technical computer books and the designs are fantastic – yes, I was influenced on what I finally purchased.

  7. Gee Joe, thank you so much for the free link to City of Pearl by Karen Traviss. I have just spent all of last evening (with a breather to watch Search & Rescue) and most of today reading this ebook. Just finished it.

    It was a fabulous read and thoroughly imaginative, thought-provoking, intelligent and so enchantingly descriptive. I thought at the start I’d read a chapter, then put it down and come back later. Well, before I knew it I was at page 152 with my eyes tearing from the screen glare. I just could not put the story down. It pulls you in and holds you to the end! Wow — I’ll be looking for more to read from Karen Traviss to be sure.

    S&R was also great! A real shocker to see Ford make a brief appearance. And Teyla’s baby was born! Loved McKay with that birth scene. Good job David. Um-m it was rather obvious which was the tech baby and which was the real baby though, despite some inventive lighting & camera angles. Solid performances all round and wild CG work! Awesome!

    Well, a good episode and S5 is off to a strong start! YAY!
    I have to rest my eyes now as reading an entire ebook off a PC screen has left me with a bit of retinal burn-out. Ouch…

    Thanks again for the link — well worth it! Oh, and Amazon just delivered to me a golden bounty called SGA S4 on DVD – wha-hoo! BLOOPERS!

    Carol Z
    where ARE those eye drops anyway?

  8. Besides answering our questions, Kirsten also made it a point to throw a few questions our way…

    i take it that any of us can answer, not just you?

    “We’re all readers here, and I’m interested in what makes us readers,”she wrote. “What do we look for in books; why do we give them hours and days of our time?”

    escapism. depending on the book, knowledge.

    “Given the length of time it takes to read a book, is there something you as a reader expect in return that you wouldn’t expect from, say, a painting?”

    paintings you have to figure out for yourself. books are easier to look through for clues.

    “Do you read novels for insight into the human condition, to immerse yourself in another world, to live out fantasies vicariously?”

    the “human condition” is too deep for me. the “immerse yourself in another world” is fine with me.

    “Could you read a book that took abstract expressionism or cubism as its inspiration?”

    it would have to be a very interesting concept.

    “Is there anything you’d like to say about your relationship with these strange long lies called novels?”

    it’s a life-long love affair that has it’s ups and downs, but is ultimately satisfying.

  9. Great job on S&R everyone!!!

    I would like to know what happened to the jumper the team arrived in? I thought only someone with the gene could fly it and as far as I know Michael does not have it.

  10. Given the length of time it takes to read a book, is there something you as a reader expect in return that you wouldn’t expect from, say, a painting?”

    This question doesn’t make sense to me. The moving images I get from the written word, and the largely static images (i.e. memories) I get from a painting are entirely different things, even though they might both elicit emotion. It’s like comparing apples and oranges (to use a tired cliché).

    “Do you read novels for insight into the human condition, to immerse yourself in another world, to live out fantasies vicariously?”

    Yes.

    “Could you read a book that took abstract expressionism or cubism as its inspiration?

    Probably not. Again you’re comparing concrete image with mental image evoked by the written word. To me, they generate different kinds of thought. I might take a story from a painting, but it’s not the same kind of story I would generate in my own mind by reading the written word. Perhaps others are different, but I compartmentalize this way, and each is vivid.

    Also, I don’t particularly care for cubism, and abstract expressionism is only marginally interesting, depending on the work. That might explain my attitude.

    “Is there anything you’d like to say about your relationship with these strange long lies called novels?”

    Well, this is one relationship in which I strive to maintain an adventurous and promiscuous attitude.

    Well said and agreed.

    “And what’s happened to science fiction lately, it isn’t natural. It’s pale and lank and kind of out of focus. It needs to straighten up and fly right. It needs to reconnect with the world’s weather, and get medieval on reality’s ass.”

    Sorry, but I think this is pretentious bullshit. I look at titles, I read reviews, I pick up a book and read some of the words to see if I might like it. The cover art might attract my attention, but it never determines my choice. And I’m an artist.

  11. Special thanks to K.J. Bishop for her time and her replies! They were facinating to read!

    I watched Search and Rescue when it leaked (it’s not like I matter in the ratings) and loved it, though I had a few little niggles. Anyway, I wrote up my review quite a while ago and ended up going very long and having to use 2 posts on Gateworld:

    Part 1
    Part 2

    Thank you for the behind the scenes stuff!

    It’s been a few days since I posted a marathon review since I’ve been busy doing the marathon, and I’ve realized that my reviews have gotten ridiculously long. I’ve recently collected every one of them into one word document and it turns out that I’ve written 25,000+ words on all of this. Lost City’s review spanned 3 pages while the review for Politics was 1 line long. That’s crazy. I’m gonna try to cut down on how much I say from now on. It’ll save time for everyone. So, let’s continue…

    New Order: These were great episodes! I liked the chemistry between Daniel and Weir a lot (Daniel’s gotten a lot more snippy, but in a fun, endearing way), and I loved Weir’s…”ball-buster” attitude in regards to the system lords. She’s got the right stuff. It’s too bad that wasn’t explored that much further on Atlantis. The first part was just plain entertaining the whole way through, with many cool moments and effects. This is actually the first time I noticed that we see the back of the cargoship get torn away by the Black Hole before Sam and Teal’c are beamed away. Speaking of which, having Fifth return was brilliant, and Patrick Currie was awesomely psychotic and unpredictable. The music in those scenes were great as well; the Human Replicator theme, it seems. The best bits came at the end, with the replicator ship being destroyed by the Asgard fleet (which was just cool to watch), and Fifth holding back as he realizes the pain he’s caused Sam. That was a powerful moment.

    Part 2 was more hit-and-miss, but what it hit was wonderful and made it slightly better than Part 1 in my opinion; specifically, Jack’s return and the constant hilarity that that results in. I think I pretty much loved every line he uttered in that…Jack way, like “Teal’c…what’s with the hair?”; “Actually, you made it.” “…No.” “Yes.” “No.” Yes.” “No.” “Yes.”; “Yeeaaahh…I got nothin’”; and of course “Who’s your daddy?!” Absolutely brilliance. There’s plenty more, of course, but you get the point. Loved the replicator shoot out scenes, though they were short. The best part, besides Jack, was with Fifth. I’d actually put Sam’s “alternate world” stuff in the “miss” bin, because I really didn’t find it that interesting; at least, until Fifth finally revealed himself, after which it was all golden. He was really just a naïve kid lashing out because he was hurt, and kids can be quite cruel when they don’t really understand how much pain they’re causing when they seek revenge. The innocent smile Fifth gave after Carter tells him that he’s special…it was heartbreaking. And then at the end, when he can’t go through with his threat…it really made him a sympathetic character that I loved a lot. And yet, it’s bittersweet, because I know his fate, which now I think about it was really not a good choice. In my opinion, you should have made him an outcast instead of killing him in Gemini. Maybe kill him eventually, but I think he deserved better than being a pawn, a kid who got in too deep. Oh well.

    And at the end, O’Neill gets promoted! It was just cool hearing “Brigadier General Jack O’Neill” being said, but it pains me to know that the team has now been changed forever. Still, Jack’s dealing with his promotion was hilarious. The look he had on his face when Daniel told him that he can do whatever he wants…it was like Window of Opportunity all over again.

    Oh, and naked RepliCarter? Awesome. Awesome to the max.

    Rising: And now we switch to Atlantis! After 7 years you guys have vastly improved in making a pilot; this episode IMHO was much MUCH better than Children of the Gods in almost every respect. The details of the Stargate universe were already ironed out, leaving room for character moments and spectacular CGI shots. So yeah, these episodes were great.

    Everything in the first part before going to Athos was wonderful. From the Ancients in the teaser, to the hilarious banter between Beckett and McKay, to the “wow” moment of Daniel saying that age-old line “I think we can go there”, to the movie-esque montage through the Antarctic/BC Coast Range, to the spectacular drone battle, to the revelation that Sheppard was a natural at handling Ancient technology (another “wow” moment), to the montage of our characters saying goodbye that had me tearing up again (not bad; tearing up already with the first episode), to the monumental shots of a crowded SGC and the awesome speech Weir gave. And then the dialing of the Stargate and how strangely epic it seemed. Not since the original movie did I have the feeling that this was something HUGE that was going down. It’s strange, but when the Stargate connected and the expedition clapped, I always thought that they were just impressed with the Stargate, as it may have been the first time they’ve seen it. To that end, I always loved the shot of Jack and Daniel looking proudly at this, as if to say “wow, aren’t they easily impressed? Newbies…” It wasn’t until this time that I realized that they clapped because the opening of the Stargate means that they’ve managed to connect to Pegasus! Wow, I’m slow. Anyway, as I said, that whole sequence was epic, and so was the ensuing arrival at Atlantis. The sets were suddenly so huge compared to the SGC, and so dark and mysterious (a feeling helped out by the ethereal score provided by the wonderful Joel Goldsmith), that at once it gave the show a whole new feeling. Then we get the beautiful shots of the city under water (and the other various discoveries), and the exposition by Melia the hologram lady.

    Oh, and I loved the bonus Jack-Daniel banter in this episode. Both were at the top of their game. “Flying City…” and “Jack, it’s not too late for me to-“ “No.” “I-I-I could just grab my-“ “No.” – Hilarious lines. It was a great way to transition between the two series.

    From there, the episode “slows down”; the sense of achievement and wonder is over, and now we’re dealing with our first real problem, which kind of takes away a bit of the newness felt earlier. Going to Athos didn’t really help in this respect as they were never really an interesting group of people to me. Too generic-tribal-alien, in my mind. Suddenly it felt we were back to the Milky Way, exploring back-water planets, you know?

    Moving onto Part 2. The Wraith attack was pretty cool and quite fast paced, but that was instantly eclipsed by one of the greatest sequences in Stargate franchise history: the Rising of Atlantis. I sat in my chair in awe of what was happening before my eyes; the spectacular CGI, the fantastic scoring, it just added up to such a phenomenal scene. Instantly that sense of wonder returned. From there, the next interesting scene is the balcony debate, which clearly outlines the difference between Sheppard and Jack. Sheppard’s line “It’s the right thing to do! Why? Because it is!” Just shows how much he relies on his emotions and that his judgment wasn’t nearly as fool-proof as with Jack, who always seemed to know what he was doing, even if he was acting goofy. That’s not a bad thing of course; it makes Sheppard a flawed character, and they’re always fun to watch. In fact, this sense of relying on his emotions follows the character for much of the series.

    This seems like a good time to talk about the main characters: I’ve already talked about Sheppard, and he’s already quite fascinating. McKay’s hilariously snarky, while a few scenes showed him to be capable of being nice as well (without getting pervy). Weir was the typical leader and wide-eyed explorer in way over her head. Teyla seemed to be the typical tribe leader; strong, honorable, and confident. Ford…well, I’ve never really liked pre-enzyme Ford, and here he just seems like a generic soldier that gets made fun of a lot. So yeah, didn’t really feel it with him.

    From here, we get the rescue op, which was pretty cool for the most part. I wouldn’t say it was the most spectacular though. The things that stand out are the demise of Sumner and the introduction of the Wraith.

    Though Sumner was introduced as a hard-ass, his mannerisms throughout the episode, the little smiles at Sheppard’s attitude, and the willingness to sacrifice himself for the other prisoners, made him an honorable character. It’s because of this that I felt, for the first time, the hopelessness of the situation when he was brought before the Keeper. Finally, I was able to relate to Sumner on some level and when I do that, I realize the position he’s in, it was just scary knowing what awaited him. He was stuck deep in the enemy’s lair while surrounded by guards; and right across from him is the Athosian he saw taken away; the Keeper’s slow build-up to her eventual feeding was itself painful to stand, as he knows that he’s basically being led down the green mile, slowly. So that was a powerful sequence, seeing Sumner stand his ground even though there was no hope. And then the feeding itself…yikes. Robert Patrick (and the make-up department) did a wonderful job selling the gruesome process and the pain involved. It was frankly hard to watch.

    And then we have the Wraith. Here they seemed damned scary and foreboding. The way Andee Frizzell exaggerated the movements of her face, and the deep guttural sounds behind her ethereal voice that echoed with every word just made me uncomfortable (which is good, in this case). The music helped too. It was just great.

    The dart battle was pretty awesome, but compared to what’s coming up later, it was small fries. So overall, a pretty good start to the show. It definitely feels differently from SG1. It’s a lot more dramatic; a lot less sarcastic-humor based (except for McKay).

    Hide and Seek: A much more low-key episode than the premier to be sure, and there were cheesy-moments a-plenty (or “over-cute” and “so sweet my tooth hurts” moments; mostly involving kids), but I still loved the humor and character moments in this one, especially from Sheppard and McKay. McKay’s lines (and attitude) in particular were hilarious; specifically, the “abuse McKay with violence” scenes in the teaser and the various lines regarding his imminent (!!) death. And that moment when he shows off his flashlight to Weir, who’d rather rely on a candle. It was also nice to get some series-setup stuff elaborated upon, like with the self-destruct code, the establishment of those elevator closets, etc. The stuff with the kids was kind of a bore though, though I did like Halling’s Ancient prayer. It’s just that…well, it’s hard for me to be interested in the Athosians. They’re so generic. The ending was great, with the heroic music accompanying McKay’s rise from scardy cat to not-so-scardy cat. So yeah, good episode.

    Lockdown: A solid episode overall, though nothing spectacular. It seems I’m alone in liking the Ultra-Whacky General Jack of Season 8 onwards, because I loved his attitude here, like with shooting Daniel (loved the scene where Jack, Sam, and Teal’c were trying to incriminate each other with crooked eyes after Danny asks for the identity of his shooter). Still, his commanding presence is still very apparent as he orders for base lockdown. Speaking of which, it was cool seeing the base under lockdown, and specifically the montage after the 3 Zones thing was undertaken. The way Anubis set his plans into motion was pretty smart too; very devious. The thing that hit me the most though, is Colonel Vaselov, who I was really sorry to see go. He seemed like a good fella, and an honorable soldier, and throughout this episode he was insulted by Jack, possessed by Anubis, his immune system was killed off, and finally, he was hijacked again only to die from the cold on that planet Sam sent him to. I felt so sorry for him, and was kind of irked that no one but Daniel cared about him. That last scene, the pull-away was disturbing on so many levels as a result of all this. Just the expression on his face, that of anger and hopelessness, with him kneeling in the snow (I can just imagine him coming through the Gate, walk forward a bit and looking around, confused, and when it dawns on him that there was no DHD there, he collapses into the snow, beaten)…yeah, very very sad. Gotta say though, it seems odd that Anubis would need a body to go through the gate; we’ve seen Ascended beings go through gates all the time, so why can’t he? He can just possess some poor schmuck on some other planet once he gated away from Earth and not have to care about the SGC’s precautions. Worse still is the fact that he didn’t shoot Jack when he had the chance! He had everything under control, he had a gun, and there was Jack lying on the ground in front of him, and he must have known that it was his fault that his fleet got blown away…and he did nothing! Yeah, that was weird.

    38 Minutes: Another solid episode. The concept as fantastic, and the continued elaboration on the Pegasus galaxy and the expedition were welcomed. The tension continuously rose throughout the episode and I was on the edge of my seat for the last part. I loved the bits right before Shep got defibrillated. However, while I was floored by how fantastic the episode was when I watched it for the first time, it was because I didn’t know how they were going to get out of this. That makes repeat-viewings a problem, as I’m not a big fan of physical Shep Whump (sorry Whumpers, I just-DON’T KILL ME!!). I realized with this viewing that while the mounting tension was done MASTERFULLY, there were only a few character moments, which I suppose had to be sacrificed to move the plot forward and increase the tension. Still, in retrospect, I found Hide and Seek better (and the premier is still the best so far) just because of its many character moments. Speaking of which, there were still some. I already mentioned the Shep thing, and I want to add Weir was a little irritating during the Kavanaugh thing. While he proved to be a huge ass at the end, there was no reason for Weir to also be one at that meeting. She busted him for “caring for his own ass”. Well Dr. Weir, if he’s right, then all the Expedition’s asses will be fried. And that’s bad. Seeing Halling being so offended by Weir’s decision was also pretty cool (nothing against Weir here; it’s a prickly situation); he seemed terrified, and set up the next episode nicely. Oh, and I can’t forget McKay’s near-death ramblings in this episode. Hilarious. And Zelenka! He’s still got it. So yeah, solid episode.

    Suspicion: A slightly better episode, in that it was a good step towards balancing character, plot, and action. The mistrust between the Athosians and the expedition was palpable, and it was a great decision to exploit that for this story as we rarely see this kind of conflict on SG1. Similarily, I enjoyed the awkwardness between Teyla and the others of her people, and everyone’s awkwardness with Bates. He was such an ass…which is good, in this case. Still, despite the dark theme, there were some great humor and character moments, like with Sheppard’s joy ride around the planet, and McKay’s “that could just be a failure of imagination on your part”. Loved that. Also, the action at the end was great, though for some reason my DVD had everything a little bit washed-out; the DVDs are pretty old, so it may have just been my problem. Finally, I’m debating with myself about whether it was a good decision to relegate the blame to Teyla’s necklace. While I loved the continuity nod, I think it may have provided more drama if an actual human was indeed betraying the Expedition; or perhaps that would be too much. Who knows.

    Zero Hour: Jack, Jack, and more Jack. How can it go wrong? Well, it can’t, that’s what! I freaking loved this episode, and not only because it’s the last one where there’s wall-to-wall O’Neill antics. We had every kind of Jack here: wacky Jack for most of the episode; caring, worried Jack when he thought about SG1; brilliant Jack when he figured out Camulus’s plan; deep Jack when he was reconsidering his position as base commander, etc. etc. I loved every one of them. I also loved the way all the plots dovetailed together at the end and how we were shown once more of the Goa’uld’s deviousness (Ba’al bluffing us; Camulus tricking us, etc.); if it weren’t for the plant, we wouldn’t have been able to discover that the ZPM was tainted, for example. That plant saved Earth! This was just a stellar episode filled with so many great moments and lines; i.e. the scene where Jack mocks Ba’al to hilarious results; the scene where Reynolds tells Jack that all the SGC is behind him 100% (sent chills down my spine, that one); “Colonel! You’ve all met?” “Yes, actually, we know each other’s life stories.” “That snippiness?” “Is that a word?” etc. etc. Just wonderful character stuff. Speaking of which, the rest of the team, though only seen for a few moments, were great as well. I loved the scene where Danny and Teal’c comes to cheer up Sam (the beginning was great: “You just going to sit in here all day and uh…” “I’m not sulking!” “Working…gonna say working…” Just the way Michael Shanks delivered that line, and the fact that Teal’c couldn’t stop smiling during the scene…heh, just lovely). Oh, and that last scene with Sam, where she goes “Can I?” in that ubercute, almost child-like enthusiastic way in regards to what Danny and Teal’c wrote in their evaluation of her was just so…sweet, I guess. Haha. And of course, I gotta mention the thoroughline running through the episode, namely Jack’s letter to Hammond; that was facinating, since it was one of the only times where we get a peek into Jack’s head and at what he’s really thinking (and “shiny shoes” was hilarious); and at the end, he had nothing to worry about because, as we’ve seen throughout the last 7 years, he’s more than qualified for the job.

    And the shot of “Nevermind” backed by one of the age-old SG1 themes was perfect.

    Lastly, I gotta say how much I loved the support cast in this one. Dr. Lee (hilariously bumbling and geeky), Walter (prescient. Heh.), Siler (very professional), Reynolds (extremely loyal to O’Neill), and even the guest star, Gilmore, were all great when they played off of Jack. Gilmore especially played the naïve, yet good-hearted and carring assistant very well. So yes, I LOVED this episode.

  12. Thank you so much for an absolutely fantastic premiere, Joe. Please pass my thanks (and my family’s) to everyone involved. I would take the time to list all of my favorite parts of the episode (The Ford cameo! SO MUCH AWESOME! And so unexpected!) but that would probably take as long as the episode did. (Unless you want me. In which case, just say the word.)

    I do have to say though — I’m very torn over the naming of Teyla’s baby. While I understand that Teyla and John are meant to be great friends (which I don’t actually see on-screen, as much as I’d like to) – the fact remains that they never would have been able to rescue her in time if it hadn’t been for the work that Rodney did in the alternate time-line. I think that it’s a mark of deep in-gratitude on Teyla’s part to not take that into account in any way. (Which is besides for the fact that he delivered her child.)

    So. Yeah. Confused.

    Also: I’m getting really excited for Continuum to come out at the end of the month. I just don’t remember if the events in the movie are supposed to take place before or after the fourth season of Atlantis. Remind me, please?

  13. Okay – I’ll bite…

    “We’re all readers here, and I’m interested in what makes us readers,”she wrote. “What do we look for in books; why do we give them hours and days of our time?”

    Pictures. 😀

    “Given the length of time it takes to read a book, is there something you as a reader expect in return that you wouldn’t expect from, say, a painting?”

    A novel can take me weeks, months – even years – to finish. Reading is a burden for me. What do I expect? I expect the story to – at least – hold my attention past page 20. The only author able to consistently do this has been Agatha Christie (and to a lesser degree, C.S. Forester). I have now resorted to comic books, and am very happy with my choice.

    Compared to a painting, a painting doesn’t change/move – whereas a story does. That’s what I expect from a book – I expect it to move…and to draw me along with it. I do NOT want to think about the words…I just want them to ‘be’. If I have to start looking stuff up in the dictionary, or if I have to re-read a sentence three times to understand it, then I’m done.

    I also like total focus on the main story, without loads of little side stories. Perhaps that’s what worked in Christie’s stories – her stories flowed, and I rarely had to think about what was happening, or what was being said – all of my focus was on the crime, and the clues. She also didn’t burden her stories with details about her detectives; they were entertaining caricatures without personal drama taking attention away from the mystery at hand. Forester was the same – easy language that told an engaging story, without getting hung up on details or laden down with technicalities and pretentious words.

    “Do you read novels for insight into the human condition, to immerse yourself in another world, to live out fantasies vicariously?”

    Mainly for entertainment…that’s why I loved murder mysteries…just love a good mystery to wrap my brain around. I really don’t care about the ‘people’ – just the crime and the clues and the solutions. Facts. The puzzle is what intrigues me, but make it too complicated and it loses me. Few authors are able to find the right balance for my tastes. (The main reason I stopped reading murder mysteries is because of all the great British tv mysteries that came out during the 90s, down to today – in two hours I could get what took days or weeks before)

    “Could you read a book that took abstract expressionism or cubism as its inspiration?”

    I don’t even understand the question – so…no.

    “Is there anything you’d like to say about your relationship with these strange long lies called novels?”

    I don’t see them as lies at all – I see them as ‘confessions’. Sure, it’s fiction, but it springs from real thoughts, from worlds created in someone’s mind…an extension of the author. It’s one reason I am very shy about writing any sort of ‘story’ – because if I did, then people would know what sort of crazy crap is in my head, and I really would rather that be a secret. I see any story, whether it be a novel, or a comic book, or a screenplay, as the exposure of the writer’s mind, split open and laid bare for all to see. It’s all quite intimate really, and – on the rare occasions I’ve tried to read outside my comfort zone – I’m often left thinking, “this writer is freakin’ crazy – SCARY crazy…I hope they’re on meds.” 😛

    das

  14. Hi Joe!

    Watched S&R via Unbox. Hoping to have “real” cable in the next couple of weeks, so I can watch it a little more “live.” 🙂

    We first watched The Last Man, so we could have all of the details down – picked up the S4 DVD set today. 🙂

    There was so much good stuff in S&R. The VFX budget must’ve been blown with the wonderful space sequences – very cool and original.

    Everyone’s acting was top-notch! There were so many wonderful relationship moments (not shippy – friends and co-workers) – thanks to everyone.

    Wow, I was trying hard not to be spoiled on S5, despite the slips by other fans, and I’m so glad I didn’t know you-know-who made a brief appearance. It was a happy shock.

    The music and audio FX were great too. I could hear McKay’s fingers cracking when Teyla grabbed his hand. LOL!

    Can’t wait to watch it at least two more times this week – so much to enjoy again and again!

    —-

    I chose not to read The Etched City, but really enjoyed reading Ms Bishop’s Q&A. 🙂

    Have a lovely, lovely weekend!

    eddy

  15. Hey Joe, why doesn’t MGM set up the stuff for the media to review on their server, like how one watches movies on the Netflix site, instead of sending out a disc? They could fix it so that each accountholder would only be able to watch the ep like five times, so there would be no worry of them giving the password out or something, and they wouldn’t be able to download and redistribute it either ….

  16. Slian Martreb wrote:

    I do have to say though — I’m very torn over the naming of Teyla’s baby. While I understand that Teyla and John are meant to be great friends (which I don’t actually see on-screen, as much as I’d like to) – the fact remains that they never would have been able to rescue her in time if it hadn’t been for the work that Rodney did in the alternate time-line. I think that it’s a mark of deep in-gratitude on Teyla’s part to not take that into account in any way. (Which is besides for the fact that he delivered her child.)

    So. Yeah. Confused.

    Teyla didn’t know about Rodney changing the time line. She was Michael’s prisoner when John went missing and returned 12 days later.

    I, personally, think Teyla and John’s friendship has been well documented onscreen. He’s always the one she turns to when she’s most upset. The scene after Heightmeyer’s death and the tag scene of “Spoils of War” are two Season 4 examples.

    Slian Martreb also wrote:

    Also: I’m getting really excited for Continuum to come out at the end of the month. I just don’t remember if the events in the movie are supposed to take place before or after the fourth season of Atlantis. Remind me, please?

    The reason Carter gave for going back to Earth at the end of “Search and Rescue” (the Ba’al clone) is the set-up for Stargate: Continuum.

    Anne Teldy

  17. @Slian Marteb ~ Ahh, but Teyla may not have any idea of what the alternate McKay did to help her and the rest of them, she only knows that John could have died trying to help her. Besides, maybe she plans on making Rodney the Athosian equivilant of the baby’s godfather.

  18. A quick comment on Shore Leave and then an attempt to touch on some of the many items in today’s post. David and Kate Hewlett have put in a fine showing at the convention, maintaining a wonderfully friendly attitude towards the fans that have barraged them(politely) for hours. Kate was great as she asked the fans a couple of times if she could slip off the autograph table long enough to look in on Malcolm McDowell’s talk, or run down to the artroom. The fans were of course patient, and Ms. Hewlett hung in to make sure everyone got their autographs. Unfortunately for the con, she’ll not be attending Sunday, the good news being she’s heading out for an audition. Ms. Staite is even more incredibly beatiful in person than pictures or film give her credit for. It’s great to see that the SGA actors and actresses seem to respect both the genre they act in, and the fans who support them. Ok, so it wasn’t a quick comment…
    To answer a few questions of Ms. Bishop. What I look for in books is simply an expansion of my universe. I’ve been fortunate enough to have done some travelling, and seen some interesting places. But there is so much more out there, and books, both fiction and non fiction, help bring that universe into my home. I may not be able to taste of the pie, so to speak, but at least I can get a whiff of its fragerence. What do I expect from a book? An ability to hold my attention for the time it takes for me to finish it. When reading, I am ideally engated with visualizing what it is the author is trying to portray, even as I am moving on through the words. With a painting I am presented with the completed work. It’s not a matter of having to visualize what the artist did; its trying to decipher what message is contained in it. That is a process that May take moments, or years, but its not a task I need to do in one sitting. What do I look for in a novel? All of the above, depending on the work. As far as cover artwork goes, definitely it adds a dimension to the work. I have in the past purchased books solely because of the cover, with no interest in reading the book. I rarely do so now, because its easier to obtain the same artwork from other sources. And a good cover alone will not sell me on the story. I’ll read the blurb on the plot, and decide if its worth checking out. So the cover art is the bait, and the description is the hook. And I will not buy a book that lists only reviewer’s glowing quotes on the book, unless I have a strong recommendation from a trustworthy source. A book afraid to even hint at what it is about is one that is insulting my intellegence, such as it is. I’ll be looking over Mr. Picasio’s art, and trying to come up with some questions in the next couple of days, though I’ll still be on the road.
    Finally, a few more comments on Search and Rescue. While I think it was a very good episode, I’m not yet ready to rank it as the best of the season premieres. While it had the steady ratcheting up of tension, I didn’t find it to be at quite the level of say, No Man’s Land, or even Siege III, In compensation, I’d say that we had some very nice character moments, with Sheppard’s dream, The Teyla/Rodney birth scene, and the brutally abrupt firing of Carter as the expedition leader. And some posters yesterday pointed out the medical faults of the show, with Sheppard not getting even an IV as he waited for surgery. My problem there is less with that than the fact that Keller permitted him to go in the first place. She had both the legal and moral authority to stop him, or to call in someone who could. And it detracted from Carter’s position that she allowed someone who was in no proper physical shape to go on a mission where he very nearly became a liability himself. At the very least, I hope we see Keller call Sheppard on it one day, making it clear that she is not going to knuckle under every time he wants to go on a mission. Despite all of that though, I couldn’t but help enjoy the show and its pacing, and it will rank in the top half of all the episodes in my book. Sorry for the longwindedness, and my thanks for your work on this blog Mr. M.

  19. Hey there Joe! Long time no post for me, still faithfully reading though!

    Search and Rescue was a big success over here, everyone loved it. So much so, it sparked a geek-techy delimma, and i was wondering if you could help us out here.

    So, in the scene where the daedalus must drop and raise her shields to beam the team up (GREAT VFX by the way, cudos to mark et. all) we get to hear the daedalus raise and lower her shields, and low and behold, her shields sound like the Lantean shield on Atlantis!

    So that begs the geeky question, does the daedalus have Lantean shields now? Hybrid Asgard-Lantean shield design? Or would that be just a generic shield sound? daedalus sure took a long pounding and kept those shields up for quite a long while.

    Care to have the final say on our geeky-techno argument? 🙂

    LogicSequence

  20. So much going on in today’s entry —

    First up, I remembered what I wanted to comment on in S&R: it’s a small effects shot, but I thought it was really cool – the visual when Michael’s hyperdrive was shot out by the Daedelus just as it was entering hyperspace. The way the hyperspace window dissapated was very effective visual story telling.

    Regarding Kanaan – Sheppard does not say he’s in the dart storage, he says “the team is in storage” — but as was pointed out, Teyla is not upset in the closing scene, so it seems Kanaan isn’t dead either. Could he have taken another dart?

    Question: is there a missing scene? They find the jumper missing; McKay says he can disable the wraith cruiser’s shielding so the Daedelus can beam them out, and heads off to do just that – next thing we know, they’re on a dart.

    Watched Adrift today, listening to the audio commentary. I love a good commentary, it adds so much to the show. Does Martin Gero realize how many times he says the phrase “you know”? I counted – it was over 90 times in the 42 minute episode….

    You asked about cover art: it’s so much better today than it was when I first started reading SF in the mid-seventies. One of my most favorite works, “The Gate of Ivrel” by CJ Cherryh, had the most god-awful cover art ever – it looked like a Frezzetta painting with a 3/4ths naked female warrior. I almost didn’t read it because of that.

    I hate it when the cover art bears no relationship to the book – and I love it when I find myself looking at the cover while reading the book for reference. So yes, bad cover art is the kiss of death, and good cover art will draw the reader. A good cover art doesn’t need to be a realistic representation of the novel as with Old Man’s War – it can be abstract like Android’s Dream, and be just as effective.

    KJ Bishop asked: “What do we look for in books; why do we give them hours and days of our time?” – For me it’s more than just entertainment or escapism – it’s education, it’s intellectual growth, it’s exposure to worlds outside of my own. This applies not only to SF, but mysteries, classics, and true books. One of my personal favorites in the reality area is “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson.

    “Given the length of time it takes to read a book, is there something you as a reader expect in return that you wouldn’t expect from, say, a painting?” – no matter how amazing the painting, a good book, movie, or tv show conveys more complexity. And the sheer time is a plus – it prolongs the pleasure.

    “Could you read a book that took abstract expressionism or cubism as its inspiration?” Probaby, but it would have to be easeir to understand than a cubist painting!

    “Is there anything you’d like to say about your relationship with these strange long lies called novels?” – I don’t think the fact they’re fiction make them lies. For me, a “lle” is a deliberate attempt to mislead for nefarious puposes. That doesn’t apply.

    John Picacio said: “And what’s happened to science fiction lately, it isn’t natural. It’s pale and lank and kind of out of focus.” Oh, I totally agree. I have the ability to nominate and vote for the Hugo awards, and I haven’t in years. I haven’t been able to read many SF novels lately. Very few inspire me to even pick up the book and read the blurbs. Same with mysteries. I think the problem though lies with the fact that there are no more editors in the publishing field – the decisions on what books to publish, what author’s to hire, seem to be made by accountants. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for accountants, they do a vital job, but they’re not artists. Young writers are not being nurtered like they used to be. Books are published if they are copies of other books – for the same reason many Hollywood movies are either sequels or remakes.

    Which is why I keep thanking you for your reading reccommendations. I’ve started reading again thanks to you, and it’s been like running into an old friend you’d lost touch with. Joyful.

  21. Joe, got to see the season five opener and WOW! The Shep whumper in me was greatly impressed with search and rescue and also with the preview, **spoiler** where Sheppard is ether still in the hospital bed or in a different one when he says howdy to the new Atlantian Commander, Woolsey. This is my very favorite show!!! I especially enjoyed the first part with John and Teyla. Loved that! My question this time around is this. In one of the previews I saw a clip of Weir that I don’t remember seeing in previous episodes. Would you ever leak falsified information that somebody is not coming back when you want to hide the fact that they are? I know it sounds silly but if it had been leaked that Carson was not coming back and then he showed up it would be a total shock to the audience. Providing SCIFI didn’t show the scene for their upcoming week’s previews? Do you ever put out false information in order to keep the surprise in the episode? Oh yes and as always are we going to see a good, life changing whump for shep this year? Are he and Teyla going to become closer? **Spoiler** And what happened to Kanon at the end of Search and Rescue? I’m assuming he wasn’t blown up yet it seems he wont be around for the baby in later episodes? Thanks as always and I can’t wait for next Friday. Thanks Nicole.

  22. Cover art: I was only talking about this the other day with my Mum; I am heavily swayed by the cover art of a book. If the cover art looks professional, or stands out, I often pick up the book and read the blurb to see if it sparks any interest. And, I have to say the cover art at the top of the page does look beautiful.

    Search and Rescue: I haven’t seen it yet! (Or Season 4 for that matter.) It doesn’t air over here till the 19th of August so I’m afraid I’m going to have to skim over any parts to do with it =[

  23. With regards to what prompts me to buy a book by an author I’ve not encountered before I would have to say in the first instance TITLE! Then maybe the blurb on the back would induce me to take a look at the cover art which might then tempt me to take a stab at the first page. If the opening paragraph hooks me I’m in, if it has marginally tweaked my curiosity then I may investigate a whole page or two – no more as we’re still in purchase mode here. Faiing that I have to be honest that any of the titles you, Joe, have offered up that I have investigated have done what it says on the tin and I now don’t hesitate when you push a recommendation. Thanks to you, Joe, I have introduced my friends and reading buddies to new authors and we are all becoming far more adventurous in our reading habits. I’m now off to find a copy of “Glasshouse”

  24. Joe I LOVED Search and Rescue! It was fantastic! It felt, I dont know, bigger? Like almost movie quality, anywho I though you all kicked arse!
    And Rodney delivered the baby! Bloody fantastic, I laughed for ages.

  25. P.S When you-know-who popped in at the start I almost fell off my chair! Such a small part but one of my fav moments in SGA history.

  26. Great start to a new season!
    Just some thoughts:
    Books, well, I usually judge a book by its cover (hangs head in shame) only because it’s marketing that comes up with the cover, not the author. I’ve worked in book selling a long time and what the suits come up with for the cover tells a lot about the content of the book. Sure there are exceptions but it works out for me about 90% of the time. If you have splosions and war machines art work A then you know what you get. For a book like Old Man’s War it was different… intriguing and atypical… like the book. The latest round of romance/fantasy/scifi crossovers are equally easy to spot. A book with a truly unique cover is saying something: look! I’m not cookie cutter! My editor thought I was worth the extra effort… try me! Walk into the bookstore some time and pay attention to the colors used on the best sellers… usually they all have the same color schemes. Last month was red so this month we’ll be different and throw gold at them. Strangely they all seem to use the same marketing pool because all the books then come out with gold covers.That’s how I see it anyway. (Sorry so long… but I’m into art and marketing).

    Give me a book that is going to challenge me on every level. Surprise me, shake my core beliefs or really really ponder what the world is all about. That’s what draws me to Scifi/fantasy the themes can be illuminating.

  27. Why can’t teleporting devices be used as a weapon, say to teleport away part of a ship?

    Also, will we be seeing more of the blending of earth and ancient/wraith tech this season? It’s always interesting to see the efforts of area 51’s R&D efforts…

  28. I’d been looking forward to chatting up Search and Rescue so here goes!

    This was a very satisfying episode, from a character perspective in particular. The story and action were good, quite good, but what really grabbed me was the character focus. The interplay between Ronon and John, McKay and Lorne, McKay and Teyla. John’s dream and his drive to rescue Teyla himself, even at great danger to himself (and probably the mission too). Teyla’s certainty that when rescue came it would be John, never a question in her mind. Wow. Gave me chills. A good kind of chills, heh.

    I know there are those who have hoped for a John/Teyla romance. Obviously they have strong feelings for each other. But even if a romance never comes of it all, this episode gave a glimpse into what is a powerful relationship and bond, nonetheless.

    So…thanks! Watched the show and DVR-ed it.

    PS: Is John playing a Ninendo DS while in the infirmary? What’s he playing?

  29. Thanks KJ for doing the Q&A, very interesting I loved the book & thanks Mr M for inviting her. Questions Mr & Mrs Wayne… I’ll have to get back to both sets of them as they require a bit more time than I have now.

    Search & Rescue = Found another great season opener!
    We had a great party and glad this was equal to it. Loved it for all the character handling by the writing & actors, good job wrapping up the storylines that needed it. I was really surprised to see Ford, and feel bad Sheppard’s going to continue to beat himself up over him. I considered Ford rescued- it was his choice not to go home with them. I was a little put off when John was told McKay & Lorne were the only other 2 survivors, he only acknowledged Rodney. What about the other guys! so many deaths AGAIN. Teyla, Ronon & Rodney were terrific! and Lorne, Sam, Caldwell too. Because of consistent JF portrayal keep loving Sheppard more. Great choice for baby name looking at the history. Vega looked very capable. But… I was very put off by Keller AGAIN, this episode did not make any progress enamoring her to me. Unless that is the point. Too bad she doesn’t get eaten by the alien life form next week. I’m assuming next week is also the big fallout from Carter’s abrupt dismissal- I expect to see a whole bunch of anger & resentment from the SGA team towards Woolsey! Can’t wait!!!! Yes this was certainly equal to Adrift for a great start to a season, the VFX look like they were cranked a notch or two better, hope that trend continues. Michael is my fave bad guy, glad he got away and its interesting he now has a jumper. But me too- where’s Kanaan?

    Thanks so much for more behind scenes.
    DD

  30. PS Charles Stross ok, gotta address this now. I’ve read three of his books (but not the one you like) and am hugely unimpressed so far, so much so that I have to respectfully decline to read anything further by him… for now. Glasshouse= don’t even like the book cover. So its rather dismaying when I hear stuff like “Stross is SF’s future” -not to me he ain’t! This kind of reminds me of the hype that was stirred for William “Cyberspace” Gibson (whom I bet you know & like), never could get a taste for his stuff. Again, JMO.
    DD

  31. PPS with all due respect to the artist- FF2 cover. Nicely drawn but if it represents the collection I’m not sure I’d be interested in the contents despite liking some of the authors. The cover doesn’t sell me. I’m immediately put off by the gun/crosses suggestion of “yet another village mob” and the Planet-of-the-Apes-esque look of the main figure. Screams “watch out for falling rehash” to me.
    JMHO & best wishes.
    DD

  32. I meant to answer Kirsten’s questions about reading yesterday, but put them aside so I could have a bit of a think about it. But here goes…

    “What do we look for in books; why do we give them hours and days of our time?”

    I think the best way I could some up my general beliefs on why people read is to share a thought I had when reading a sentence from Ian McEwan’s Saturday. The protagonist thinks:

    “This notion of Daisy’s, that people can’t ‘live’ without stories, is simply not true.”

    In contradiction to that statement, he then goes and turns on the TV to wait for a news story he’s interested in. Stories take on all shapes and forms, but I do think that people can’t ‘live’ without stories. I’m sure there are people who think they can (those that sneer at fiction and turn to their newspapers or biographies), but in a way everything that doesn’t happen to us is a story for us to hear. That’s why most new journalists these days have gone to university or college to study the writing/editing/producing/filming etc of factual events. I don’t have an explanation of why stories are so important to people, but they’ve been around for pretty much as long as humans.

    More specifically though, books are a way of seeing things differently (and yes, I would argue all books offer us perspective in some shape or form). They offer insights, discussion, inspiration and the list could go on. I personally look for engaging writing and use of language when I first pick up a book. After a while I tend to focus on the characters and the plot/s surrounding them. In general I’m a fan of having the plot secondary to the characters – I like to see how the characters react to different situations.

    In relation to giving books so much time, I always had my nose in a book at school and particularly when I’d finished the work early and was reading, a lot of my classmates would ask me why I was reading instead of doing something more interesting. But reading is interesting (for some). Like school work or further study, it’s both knowledge and experience (not acted out experience maybe, but experience in understanding situations, society, people etc certainly). And, at times, it’s nice to just escape into a good book and forget about all the mundane.

    Onto the covers of books:

    “What are your thoughts? Have you ever picked up a book based solely on the cover art? On the other hand, have you been so turned off by the look of a book that it actually dissuaded you from buying it?”

    Well for me the old saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” seems to work more often as a metaphor than a literal statement. Actually, I was compelled to read the classic 1984 because of a particularly good cover design (one of my favourite books), and the same with David Eddings Belgariad fantasy series. I was also recently drawn to Lou Anders’ anthology Live Without a Net because of the cover art (funnily enough, a John Picacio piece), at first not knowing anything about it but just admiring the art. I was also more excited about Ford’s The Empire of Ice Cream when I saw the cover and knew without looking that it was John Picacio’s work.

    Similarly a bad cover will stop me buying a book. I’ll wait for a different edition if I don’t like the cover. There’s a particularly ugly cover for Frankenstein which stopped me buying the book for a year because it was the only edition I could find. I also can’t stand editions that are released at the same time as a film – the ones that have stills from the film adaptations. I like to keep my versions of a text as separate as possible, so I’ll always opt for the movie-picture-free edition, even if it costs a little more. I just think slapping a still on a book is cheap advertising and taking away from the essence of the book. Artwork doesn’t do that because it’s often more interpretive.

    Hey Joe, thanks for asking John Picacio to do a guest q&a because I have some questions for him I’d really love answered.

    1. I’ve noticed a lot of your work involves faces of people, often combined with or obscured by other elements (Fast Foward 1, Gateway, Ghosts of Columbia, The Empire of Ice Cream). I was wondering if there is a particular reason or interest you have in showing faces. What is the significance? Do you feel the face says a lot? Or is this just some giant coincidence that I’m reading way to much into?

    2. Could you please outline the basic process you take to create cover art? I would guess each artwork is different, but is there some steps you normally take before getting started on visual elements?

    3. Do you think cover art is as appreciated as it should be?

    4. What kinds of things influence or inspire your art?

    5. What do you think is the best thing about your job?

    6. A lot of your covers are quite dark, both in terms of colours and content. Is the tone derived from the book, the author, the publisher or a combination of this and more?

    7. I’ve occasionally picked up some books because of their covers, only to be disappointed by the stories within. I was wondering, how important do you think it is to have a connection between the cover art and the written story? Do you have a say in what you do and don’t work on?

    I’d also like to say thanks for coming by to Joe’s blog for a q&a. Since seeing Fast Foward 1 I’ve admired your work and I’m always on the lookout for it.

    Amy/Amz

  33. I saw search and rescue Friday night and loved it would have love to have seen the encore showing but it came on at 11pm and i was on my way to go to work. So i missed it. I miss having the encore at midnight by that time the changing of the shifts is done and i can watch it. Any way loved the opener looking forward to the rest of the season. connie

  34. Ho by the way the art on the cover of a book can get a person to pick it up to see it or not. I know thats how i have always picked my books. If I like the cover i will read the back to see if i am intrigued. Other wise i will move on if i do not like the cover. I am sure i have missed lots of good books that way as have im sure many others.

  35. Hi Joe. In the beginning of “Search and Rescue” Sheppard saw Ford in his dream telling Sheppard that he basically failed him!!! So that clearly shows that it is something that still eats at Sheppard!!!By putting that in the episode were you hinting at something that you plan to address later this season or beyond???? It would be great to see a good ending for Ford instead of leaving his character hanging!!!!!!! Thanks

  36. Due to the episode title “Vegas,” I have surmised that the season finale will be a Very Special Stargate Atlantis which deals with the heartbreaking and life-destroying consequences of a gambling addiction. Can you confirm or deny this?

  37. Thanks for the video clips from S&R Joe. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the eppy and am very much looking forward to seeing it when it hits UK shores soon. 🙂

  38. amanda looks too relaxed(just peasefully walking around) in the shot considering that dart just flew over her head and michael is attacking

  39. Joe,

    Good, early Sunday afternoon (the time I’m writing this). I was wondering about bloopers included with the DVDs. I, unfortunately, do not purchase DVDs very often, anymore. I’m a – yes, I’ll admit it – I’m a downloader! I have a subscription to the season through Amazon Unbox and download the eps as soon as they’re available. I understand that, in that way, I miss things like commentary and behind the scenes extras, which is, in itself, unfortunate.

    Is there no way to add some of these extras to a downloadable format? I know that they are not available until the season is ready for DVD release, but perhaps listed separate – or added later to the Unbox?

    As always, thanks for your time and efforts,

    Mary A. Milan
    aka moms2398

  40. I enjoyed S&R a lot, but I’m not sure it was the best premiere of the series. It wasn’t quite significant enough for me to give it that title. That said, I thought it had some very well-written character moments.

    As for the question about cover-art: The title of a book is more likely to influence my reading decision, although if I find a book with a truly disturbing cover, I occasionly try to see if there is another edition. But I don’t recall ever not bought a book simply because I did or didn’t like what was on the front of it.

    You have noted several times that Ender’s Game is one of your favorite works. What do you think of the problems they are having while trying to make a film adaptation? I’m not really surprised myself, because I’ve always felt it would an incredibly hard book to translate to the screen, given its layout. Finding just the right actor to play Ender or Peter would be an absolute nightmare.

  41. Hi again Mr M

    Greetings from a Victorious Tipperary (we won the Munster Hurling Final….Think Stanley Cup Play-Offs except on grass)

    Firstly, a BIG thank you to…..your Mom!!! Operation “Mrs M’s Friendship Cake” was a HUGE success! With second helpings alround! We will be creating another fine example for the Season 5 Premier here in August. Please pass on my thanks to your Mom. We certainly got the “meex” right!

    Can’t comment on S+R as yet to air.

    With regard to Cover Art: Totally agree with your comments. Very occasionally I will choose a book on its cover art photo and on the “back-of-book” syopsis…Must have both good before purchase. Love the FF2 Cover Art and have pre-ordered book!! Hi to Lou Anders if he’s here!

    Are you guys back at work? or is hiatus still on-going?

    Warmest regards

    Shirt’n’Tie

  42. Hey Joe,

    Loved SAR, loved it. We were sitting together and that intro transition…the cross-galaxy CG was awesome. My daughter voiced it best…”wicked.”

    Great ep, though I was a bit sad to see how quickly cut out Carter was. We’d been trying to puzzle out where Continuum fit in and her scene with Woolsey made us go, “ah ha!”.

    Is Carter’s unceremonious exit from Atlantis addressed at all by anyone on Atlantis later? Maybe a reference or two? Some sort of, “So…how’s Carter taking her new gig?” kind of thing?

    Well done to all. As a longtime SAR person (professionally), I thought the combat engineer and set stuff was really great.
    Pol

  43. Joe!!!! I haven’t posted in some time.

    Just wanted to tell you how much this Shep Whumper LOVED “Search and Rescue”. Looks like I”ll enjoy “The Seed” just as much too!

    Are you guys going back into production this week?

  44. Joe,

    I really enjoyed S & R. It was great to see Sam involved in the action. The only thing I didn’t like was the “relieved of command” scene. To be publicly relieved of command in the SGC Gateroom, just seemed wrong. Why not privately? I also wish we could have seen some aftermath for Sam. I know this will be referenced in “The Seed”, but Sam won’t be there. We won’t see her again until maybe a cameo in Ep 20.

    Anyway, it was a good Ep.

    Mike

  45. Sorry to hear about the death of Thomas M. Disch. To be honest I had not heard about him until his death.

    It appeared that he suffered from depression for many years, more so since the death of his partner in 2006.

    Depression twists your view of the world around you and makes all your little inadequacies seem humongous. It is evil to have your worst enemy living in your skull. Being bipolar I also have the ‘joy’ of mania.

    As my brother said to me “in every family is some crazy relative. It just so happens to by you”.

    S&R was pure dead brilliant – thanks to all concerned.

  46. Just want to add my two cents worth. Loved S&R. There’s very little I watch on TV anymore–can’t stand reality shows. I enjoy Munk, Psych, X-files reruns, my Cleveland Cavs games and, of course, Stargate just gets better and better. Looks like a terrific season to come. Great job everyone.

  47. Okay…so today a friend of mine who is also a huge fan of SG1 says, “I never could watch Atlantis because of those scary, ugly things and what they do – they’re vampires. Disgusting.”

    So…for SGA…I stuck my neck out…

    I went on to explain the Wraith as I see them, that I look at them as no different from a tiger or shark, acting upon instinct to feed in order to survive. I pointed out how the actions of the Alanteans are really no different than if a country invaded the USA and told us to stop eating pork, or die. What would we do? We’d fight back. The Wraith are only fighting back – fighting narrow-minded invaders who are trying to kill them. I did the whole soup to nuts thing, gradually convincing her that they are just poor, misunderstood space aliens with really great hair…

    (okay, so I fibbed a little…but not about the hair)

    And she said, “Okay, I’ll try to see them like that, and give the show another shot.”

    I then cautioned her not to start off by watching a particular episode that’s coming up in a couple of weeks, as it will probably only make her opinion of them worse. Instead, I suggested Common Ground (how you must rue that episode! ).

    She said she would.

    Yes. I defended the Wraith. Fervently. At church…AGAIN.

    I am soooo going straight to hell. 😛

    das

  48. Joe,

    Search and Rescue, in a word: WOW! One of the best Atlantis episodes EVER! The pull back from the planet to Michael’s ship was a fantastic shot. It actually made me say “Holy crap!” out loud. Rodney delivering Teyla’s baby…pure genius. Ford’s cameo…very unexpected.

    Of course I’m sad to see Amanda go, but I’m also looking forward to seeing Woolsey’s ass in the fire.

    Well done guys! Well done!

  49. drldeboer said …

    I was a little put off when John was told McKay & Lorne were the only other 2 survivors, he only acknowledged Rodney. What about the other guys! so many deaths AGAIN.

    I think you need to watch it again. 🙂

    He was told McKay was alive first, and he was very surprised to hear it — don’t you think he would have expected any survivors to have been beamed aboard at the same time he and Ronon were, and therefore had already reached the assumption that he and Ronon were the only survivors? What makes you think he wasn’t already inwardly grieving about those other losses, before we saw him talk to Keller? He didn’t ask after them because he’d already assumed he knew they were gone! It likely didn’t occur to him that there could have been other rescues made before the Daedalus arrived.

    *After* his exclamation of surpise about one of his very best friends, whom he thought was dead being alive after all, *then* he was told that Lorne was alive as well, and that no one else survived — which like I said, he doubtless already knew and had grieved over. It didn’t happen at the same time. And he didn’t exactly look *pleased* when the deaths were confirmed, either; pay more attention to his eyes. He didn’t need to give a verbal acknowledgement as well; what could he say?”Oh, that’s too bad”? It was obvious he was upset at the loss, and that he was eager to get back to work so that he didn’t lose Teyla *too*. Not to mention that bloodloss and pain killers weren’t exactly helping him be quick on the uptake or opverly-expressive. Besides, he did ask Ronon if he knew if *anyone* else was okay — twice — when they were underground. So I didn’t get the impression that he didn’t care about the other losses — far from it.

  50. Hi Joe, I’ve watched Search & Rescue 5 times now. Everytime I catch something that I didn’t see before. 10 gold stars to you and the team for an absolutely great start to Season 5. So many twists and turns to keep us on the edge of our seats. The birthing scene was too funny for words. I thought Teyla was going to punch Rodney, just to get him back on-track. The surprise appearance in the teaser, was a real eye-opener. I am looking forward to Season 5 with great anticipation.

    As for books – I can’t imagine a world without books-funny, sad, mystery, historical, sci-fi, fantasy, etc., etc., etc. I started reading when I was about 4 years old. My parents always surrounded my sisters and me with all kinds of books and weekly trips to the library. What I happen to be reading, at any given time, depends on my mood (e.g. do I want to relax or do I want to learn something). Right now I’m reading Michael J. Gelb’s “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci” (to exercise my brain) and a very old scifi book by John Boyd “The Last Starship from Earth” (for entertainment).

  51. I decided to watch some episodes from the fourth season of SGA. Have to say, I do love the show. Do you get tired of hearing that? Some great episodes and such an awesome cast. Doesn’t change my lukewarm feelings to the season 5 premiere, but then, no one likes every episode in the same way. And it just means I’ll keep on watching and anticipating the quirks and surprises I’m sure are on the way.

    After having viewed some of those episodes, I wonder if there is ever a time when you stop for a moment and go “wow, look at what I made! (or what I helped make!)” Do you get to enjoy the success on a personal level?

    I was also curious about the comments on one track that implied the sci-fi channel has some input on what you can and can’t do in an episode. In this case, it was McKay and Mrs. Miller where Gero states that the network had some concerns about the actions Sheppard takes to feed Todd the Wraith. (By the way, one of my favorite moments, the whole exchange between McKay and Sheppard and all that followed.) Does the network or does MGM ever dictate changes in scripts? Have their dictates ever harmed a script?

  52. I liked Search and Rescue! It was sad to see Sam go. I knew it was coming, but even still. For those who didn’t read spoilers, I bet they were just as surprised as Sam was. 🙂

    I loved the surprise character in the tease!

  53. First: Search and rescue = Wow, what a terrific episode. It’s definitely one of my favourite ones! It has contained everything I want to see.

    Just a thought: if Shepaprd was so badly hurt, why did Keller treat him without removing the clothes?

    And poor Sam. This was really a rude way to remove her from Atlantis.

    “Have you ever picked up a book based solely on the cover art? On the other hand, have you been so turned off by the look of a book that it actually dissuaded you from buying it?”

    Yes, a good cover art is an eye-catcher for me and makes me look for the book. But for really wanting to read it, there must be more. True, with a bad cover my feelings for a book are more skeptical. In the end it’s all about whether the contens appeal to me or not.

    “What do we look for in books; why do we give them hours and days of our time?”

    That’s a good question. And not an easy one. I spend most of my time with reading. And I read different genres. Maybe it’s about exploring. Other worlds, other lifes, other people, other stories. Diving into the story during the reading. Forgetting about the time, the everyday life, the problems. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes diversion, comfort, learning something. I’ve never thought about the reasons. It’s just something I don’t want to miss in my life.

  54. Off topic: I have a question about the opening credits. You have Joe Flanigan, Rachel and so on and then you introduce David Hewlett as Dr. Rodney McKay. I was curious why you did that. I know in SG_1 you also did that with Micheal Shanks character. Is it just how productions do that in introducing the last Charater in that way? Anyone who is a fan of the show knows David plays Dr. Mckay. Great opening to season 5. Well done!!!!

  55. portlandbound, its probably because Hewlett wanted a raise and they said “No, but you can get a special place in the credits” 😉

  56. I really am torn now. Do I go with my alligance to you as a person, tangable yet many thousands of miles away or do i chose the love of my life, long-lost character of Ford.
    Because atleast Sheppard still believes in Ford.
    You hadme shocked and then… soft as it may be, I started to get a bit depressed and sad that Ford wasn’t actually coming back. BTW the Ronon dred situation seems really fine… i only am a little annoyed with the grandmother fringe Kellar had.

    Can’t choose them all… I can’t wait for more episodes.
    Great job everyone! Bring back Ford.

  57. Hi Amz:
    LIVE WITHOUT A NET? Honored, flattered, and hope you enjoy it. That was the first professional anthology – I’ve hopefully become a much better editor since then, but I am still really proud of it. That cover, too, is a lot of how my career got kick-started. John’s done a lot of covers for me, but for a long time, I sort of “identified” with that one professionally, if that makes sense.

    Hey, drldeboer!
    The cover is not reflective of any one story. Rather, it evolves out of discussions John and I had about the value of SF. If you like the contributors, don’t let it put you off. This isn’t a pulp anthology, but a wide range of SF. There is some very fun material – like Paul Cornell’s James Bond-esque opener, and some very deep and affecting material, like Paolo Bacigalupi’s closer, which gets to the heart of why he writes what he writes. And the huge Doctorow/Rosenbaum collaboration is just mind-blowing post-singularity hard SF.

    Hey Shirt’n’Tie!
    Thanks – I hope it lives up to its art.

  58. I haven’t had access to the internet for a couple days, so I’m afraid I’m behind. I would like to say that I loved the premiere. One thing that struck me was that it seems Michael is going a little mad with power. He just seemed even more crazy than usual. Which, while terribly amusing, does worry me a little. Being that I’m still hoping he’ll eventually turn to the good side somehow. But I hold out hope. Anything’s possible. Maybe the good guys will even turn him human again and he’ll lose his memory again. Which, at this point, would be kind of hysterical.

    I agree that the cover of a book is important. But not just the art. How it’s bound can make a difference too. There are some books for kids, in particular, that have wonderful binding that I just can’t help but pick up and feel. Like the Lemony Snickett books. A good picture is important, but how it feels under my fingers is as well.

  59. Will be reading Glasshouses, sounds interesting.

    Re: the videos: I never realized how LOUD filming was with all the ambient noise and traipsing over fake rocks and whatnot. Your sound people must go home and drink every freaking night.

    Also, chicks+guns=hot damn! Very nice! Sure, I’m married but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it.

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