Well, July is behind us and, as promised, I looked over all the books I read over the past month and come up with a list of My Top 5 Favorite Reads for that period. The various Book of the Month Club selections had already been given the spotlight on this blog, so they were deemed ineligible for consideration. Instead, I picked from among the almost 20 non-BOTMC books I read in July and came up with following favorites…

When You Are Engulfed in Flames

by David Sedaris

The title refers to part of the hotel safety instructions author David Sedaris encountered during a trip to Japan. It’s just one of the countless humorous observations that pepper the author’s hilarious anecdotal reflections. From his awkward encounters with a neighborhood pariah in the French countryside to his hapless attempts at learning Japanese, Sedaris offers up a collection of tales that is both uproarious and occasionally very touching. The stand-out for me was That’s Amore which details his love/hate relationship with a colorfully crotchety neighbor named Helen.

Glasshouse

by Charles Stross

It’s the 27th century and our protagonist, Robin, has very little on his mind, the result of a mindwipe that effectively erased his traumatic memories of the recent Censorship Wars. Unfortunately, Robin’s rehabilitation is complicated by an attempt on his life. Who is trying to kill him and why? Alas, those memories he lost would have certainly helped answer those questions. Faced with the prospect of further assassination attempts, Robin volunteers for an experiment intended to recreate the dark ages of 21st century society. The next thing he knows, HE is now a SHE, a suburban housewife, and one of hundreds of subjects in an isolated three-year trial where the dangers Robin sought refuge from may well reside.

Chocky

by John Wyndham

When their adopted son Matthew forms a friendship with an imaginary companion named Chocky, his parents are understandably concerned. Even more so when Chocky’s influence begins to manifest in eleven year old Matthew’s sudden fascination with binary code and interstellar travel. Is their son suffering from an overly active imagination? Is he exhibiting signs of mental illness? Or is something decidedly otherworldly at play here? Chocky is a whimsical little story that, interestingly enough given that it was written in the 60’s, turns out to be a critique of our dependence of foreign oil. The whole is made all the more enjoyable by Wyndham’s polished Brit writing style.

Make Room! Make Room!

by Harry Harrison

Years before Charlton Heston discovered the horrifying origin of that mysterious food ration known as Soylent Green, author Harry Harrison published this book which became the basis of the aforementioned movie. The film deviates greatly from the source material which focuses on the lives of the various inhabitants of a dystopian, overcrowded New York. The murder of a gangster named Big Mike sets the stage for an investigation headed by police detective Andy Rausch. Complications arise in the form of the dead man’s mistress, a Taiwanese boy on the run, a corrupt judge, and the unrelentingly grim backdrop of future New York. A terrific noir SF thriller.

The Ophiuchi Hotline

by John Varley

In the five hundred years since an alien invasion destroyed all Earth technology in 2050, humanity has made great scientific strides thanks to a mysterious data stream from the Ophiuchius constellation. The source of the transmission is a mystery but Earth’s leaders haven’t felt necessarily inclined to find out more about their alien benefactors. Until the day they send a message demanding payment for a half centuries’ worth of information. Enter Lilo, a rebel geneticist sentenced to death who, in exchange for her life, agrees to assist the enigmatic Boss Tweed in investigating the matter. Along the way, she discovers that she is a pawn in an attempt to strike back against the alien invaders that attacked the planet hundreds of years ago.

If you’re looking to supplement your Book of the Month Club selections with some additional reading material, I highly recommend any of the above. And, if you do end up checking out any of the titles, let me know how you enjoyed them.

Also, a reminder that writer-Supervising Producer Alan McCullough has agreed to come by and submit to your grilling. If you have any questions about tonight’s episode The Daedalus Variations, past McCullough episodes, or anything Stargate-related or of a highly personal nature, make sure to post them this weekend because come Monday, it’ll be too late!

Today’s blog entry is dedicated birthday boy Jason Momoa, birthday girl Andria (my sister), and a stranded Patricia.

Inpa writes: “Will you or do you get any hints from the network about what their future plans are for the series (I.e. new series, cancellation ect) or do they just ‘wait’ until they tell you officially what the decision is. Are there any ratings for episode 2 or 3 that you know of yet either?”

Answer: No hints until they make the decision. As for the ratings, the early numbers had The Seed matching last season’s premiere with a 1.1 (not bad considering we were up against the biggest box office opening in history) and Broken Ties upticked to a 1.2 (matching last season’s higher back-half average). Yes, to date, season 5 has been outperforming season four. All very heartening but, again, I caution fans from assuming a decision on the show’s sixth season will be solely ratings-based.

A. loquita writes: “1. Why is it that both Mitchell and Carter are listed as Lt. Colonel in the credits?”

Answer: That was a mistake. They are both full-bird Colonels.

A. loquita also writes: “Daniel exists in an alternate reality where another Daniel is still alive. Why doesn’t entropic cascade failure happen?!?”

Answer: A distinction is being made here between an AU (alternate reality) Daniel, and a time-traveling Daniel from the same reality. Of course this opens up a can of worms about the rules of time travel. Some past musings on the subject here: http://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2008/04/07/april-7-2008-timescape-by-gregory-benford-whatd-you-think/

Telikeneticforceblast writes: “That should also be asked when in atlantis when “Rod” came from the alternate reality where the exotic particles got came in. Now that you mention it, I can remember quite a few instances in Stargate where entropic cascade failure doesn’t occur…”

Answer: Check out Ripple Effect for further discussion on this topic.

Linda Gagne writes: “As a writer do you put yourself into the character shoes a lot if at all? or am I just imagining it?”

Answer: When I’m writing dialogue for them? All the time.

Jenks writes: “On the subject of the back story of Col. Cam Mitchell that was written and narrated by Ben Browder, is that to be considered canon?”

Answer: I suppose you can consider it canon – until we decide otherwise.

Masterchief writes: “I thought the back half of season 5 was supposed to air next year. Am I wrong?”

Answer: All indications are that, yes, you’re wrong.

AnnaLeo writes: “Dr. Beckett has a family back home right? Wouldn’t he want to let them know that he’s not dead, even though he won’t know how long he may live?”

Answer: There a bit of dialogue I wrote for Whispers that touches on this very subject – Beckett’s improbable return from the dead and the reaction back home. Off the top of my head, I can’t recall if it survived the cut. If it didn’t, I’ll be sure to include it was part of the post-episode wrap-up.

Davidd writes: “Will you ever do an episode which features a specific Earth holiday? Like Christmas or Halloween?”

Answer: Nope.

Khalidur writes: “are you purposefully planning the season finale to also take the place for a series finale if needs be, or do you plan on making a movie/feature length episode to tie up loose ends?”

Answer: I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – the end of the series will not spell the end of Stargate Atlantis.

Michelle writes: “Joe, will you be going to Vegas along with Rob and the gang?”

Answer: Alas, I will not. We’re just going to have to trust that Rob will be able to control himself and not blow the show’s budget on all the spectacular sequences he has in mind – or on 22 black.

Tim Gaffney writes: “Does anyone know why there is no Atlantis next week(August 8th)? Is Sci-Fi trying to avoid going up against the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics, or is it something else?”

Answer: If I was to make an educated guess, that would be the reason.

DownUnder writes: “As Teyla introduced herself in season 1 as “Teyla Emmagan, daughter of Tegan” I assumed Tagan was her father’s name…. so how is Torren named after Tagan?”

Answer: Of course she could have been referring to her mother.

Ganymede writes: “ If Jason Momoa is on the Lot tomorrow [Friday] and if you read this tonight [Thurs], please, start baking! It’s his birthday! There is a select group of us that lurk around this blog who would like to see a birthday photo of him!”

Answer: Sorry. Company day off today. Jason is back home with his family.

AnneTeldy writes: “I’ve started an online petition in the form of a letter to Mr. Flanigan to see if we can get him to change his mind about a Special Features Profile…”

Answer: Good luck with that.

JimFromJersey writes: “The Atlantis teams do not have designations ie: SG-1/SG-11 etc. Why is that?”

Answer: Hate to say it, but I’ve answered this question before. The Atlantis teams are numbered. Sheppard’s team is First Atlantis Reconnaissance Team. Lorne’s team is Second Atlantis Reconnaissance Team. And so on.

SmileyFace_06 writes: “Where will Stargate’s People’s Choice Award go?”

Answer: To be fair to everyone, the award was paraded around the lot and then subsequently destroyed.

Fran writes: “When the gang films in parks, forests, and such do you have to get permission or a permit from the city and province?”

Answer: Always.

Jessica writes: “Why is McKay allowed to fall for a different woman each season.”

Answer: For a grand total of two?

TBA writes: “Any clues, or cryptic hints, to this ‘guest star that will have boards buzzing’ of #518, Identity?”

Answer: A guest star that will have boards buzzing? Beats me. Let me know though.

Trish writes: “When the vet came, though, Sebastian still could not walk or even sit up. The vet said it was time to put him down. So all four of us sat around him and told him we loved him and said good-bye.”

Answer: Hey, Trish, this is really heartbreaking. Hope you and Allie are okay and know that a lot of people are thinking of you right now.

Stan writes: “Mr. M are you telling us that 2008-2009 will be the final season of SGA?”

Answer: Nope because at this point I honestly don’t know.

Alainaross writes: “In the seed, when Carson said “I’m scheduled to leave this afternoon.” To what was he refering, returning to earth or returning to stasis, and will he be comming back in the near future?”

Answer: Beckett returned to Earth for some much-needed R&R after the events of The Seed. He’ll be making his triumphant return to the Pegasus Galaxy in Whispers.

Morjana writes: “IGN had very nice comments about The Daedalus Variations.”

Answer: I love those guys!

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freidag
freidag

Um…so Sheppard’s team is called (F)irst (A)tlantis (R)econnaissance (T)eam.

Nice.

wams352

So, First Atlantis Recon Team – you do know what that makes the acronym, right? (and for those of you who don’t – FART?). That’s such a guy humor thing. Please tell me it’s a joke.

anneteldy
anneteldy

JimFromJersey writes: “The Atlantis teams do not have designations ie: SG-1/SG-11 etc. Why is that?”

Answer: Hate to say it, but I’ve answered this question before. The Atlantis teams are numbered. Sheppard’s team is First Atlantis Reconnaissance Team. Lorne’s team is Second Atlantis Reconnaissance Team. And so on.

So Sheppard’s team is F.A.R.T.?

Anne Teldy (whose humor has been quite juvenile all day)

AnnaLeo
AnnaLeo

Thanks for answering my question! It made my day – I had some customers scream at me today for not being psychic.

crazymom
crazymom

I expect JF will see The Great Petition as a compliment and will be able to handle the pressure. I’d love to see a Flanigan/Sheppard profile, but I’ll respect his decision on that, as I’m sure the rest of his fans will.

On the couch with the wine, waiting for Atlantis to start….

Trish (aka whovian)

Hey Joe,

Thanks for the kind words. It’s very true; this is heartbreaking. I can’t believe he’s gone. It’s all so surreal.

Thanks to everyone else. It helps to know that people are thinking about us.

@Noir: I can’t tell you how perfect the rose is. Sebastian was all white with black *pharaoh* eyes. At least that’s what my mom liked to say. So it’s like a Sebastian rose. smile Thank you!

Thank The HEAVENS for Stargate Atlantis tonight. I need it now more than ever. *sigh* It will be an excellent distraction.

Trish

Rebecca H

Answer: Hate to say it, but I’ve answered this question before. The Atlantis teams are numbered. Sheppard’s team is First Atlantis Reconnaissance Team. Lorne’s team is Second Atlantis Reconnaissance Team. And so on.

Sorry to obsess along with everyone else, but given the military’s love of acronyms, you DO realize that the Fourth and Fifth Atlantis Reconnaissance Teams will also be designated FARTs, don’t you? It’s very confusing, because if they attempt to clarify things with, say, FART1, FART 4, and FART5, people are going to be asking: What happened to FARTS 2 and 3?

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

@ Anne Teldy… *blinks*

….

…..

……

lol lol lol

.:D

das

Davidd
Davidd

Hey Joe.

So Sheppard leads Atlantis’ main FART smile hahaha

I was wondering if there is any way to get a holdof one of the Atlantis symbols stuck on all the laptops on Atlantis?

Thanks Joe.

Jo
Jo

Did you watch the tv version of Chocky from the 1980’s? I have quite fond memories of that show from childhood.

Thunder
Thunder

Answer: Alas, I will not. We’re just going to have to trust that Rob will be able to control himself and not blow the show’s budget on all the spectacular sequences he has in mind – or on 22 black.

When I first read this I was speed reading and thought that you said that you hope Rob would not blow the budget on spectacular sequins. A picture came up in my mind of Shep, Rodney, Ronan, Woolsey and Michael dressed as Vegas show girls doing the can-can.

Jason
Jason

Question for Alan,

Hi Alan, I thoroughly enjoy your work on Stargate. I especially appreciate how you incorporate Major Lorne in so many of your episodes of not only Stargate Atlantis but also SG-1 where he played a prominent role in Road Not Taken. Is it a conscious effort to include Major Lorne in your episodes? Do you find the Lorne Character as interesting to write as the leads? Will we ever hear his first name spoken on the Show? I know from reading previous blog entries that he was suppose to mention that he was “Uncle Evan” in Spoils of War but that was cut during editing. Thanks for guest blogging and continued success in your career.

Cheers,
Jason

Narelle from Aus

I Have Chocky, Make Room! Make Room! and The Opuichi loaded on my Reader ready for some quality time in Thailand. Along with 163 other books. False hope I know, but I like to be prepared.

And on that note…

Time to sign off for the next few weeks.
I have been nicely farewelled with a migraine from hell that lasted for 24 hours which had me asking for someone to shoot me please and now have the brain function of a gnat (not much different to usual I hear you say). For anyone looking for a guaranteed weight loss program and a hard reset of your brain, migraines do the trick every time.

The dogs are heading off to their Gran’s for the school holidays where they will be spoilt rotten, but I know my Mum will deny it. Man we are going to miss them.

I’m hoping to be able to log on for the Cordelia’s Honor discussion. Will be in Koh Samui by then which I know will have an internet connection, but whether my brain is functioning on any greater level than “Fire bad, Tree pretty” we’ll just have to wait and see.

Trish, so sorry to hear about your kitty. Hugs to your family.

Joe, take care and I hope there aren’t 126 comments on today’s blog about fart jokes.

I’m going to miss all of you guys!

Speak to you when I get back.

AV eddy

@Trish (Whovian): My condolences to you and your family at Sebastian’s passing. sad

eddy

Shadow Step
Shadow Step

AnneTeldy writes: “I’ve started an online petition in the form of a letter to Mr. Flanigan to see if we can get him to change his mind about a Special Features Profile…”

I’m sure he’ll be happy to do it if he gets paid. So perhaps you should start an online collection instead wink

pg15

TBA writes: “Any clues, or cryptic hints, to this ‘guest star that will have boards buzzing’ of #518, Identity?”

Answer: A guest star that will have boards buzzing? Beats me. Let me know though.

But…you already do? I mean, this is what you wrote on June 4th:

Help spin Carl’s story for episode 17 (or maybe 18?). A nice callback to some SG-1 tech, the return of that guest star will have the boards abuzz, and Carl searches for an appropriately grisly punishment.

Link to Source

Narelle from Aus

That would be sorry about your dog Trish.

Patricia Lee
Patricia Lee

FART… you’ve got some sense of humor!!! Very funny INDEED!!!

See you made the top picks with yesterday’s blog… Happening, do you get some sort of prize for that distinction???

Cheers
Patricia Lee

crazymom
crazymom

Was that a real baby Rodney was holding at the end?

iamjohn
iamjohn

Why did SG1 seem to have a much easier time renewing seasons 1-5 then Atlantis did? It seems to me that there was much less worry about this kind of thing? Did showtime just more money, does scifi worry more, or what?

Squeakiep
Squeakiep

Cool episode…though it felt a bit rushed at the end. Loved the onening “one shot” to the episode. Andy has learned them well. Interesting new alien…will we be seeing more of them?? Sheppard meets Sheppard again, and this time with humor!

While I know that the show, with a 6th season, begins to have a very heavy bottom line, here’s hoping that the ratings will allow that bottom line to be tolerable to the network for yet another season!

And Anne, go for it with the petition…though I suspect it probably won’t help.:-(

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

Been a big day, will make this quick…

Liked tonight’s episode very much. Ronon – obviously – hasn’t been introduced to Playstation yet. Just a suggestion, but maybe someone should give him one for his birthday, or something. Or better yet, just install a good, old-fashioned Atari Asteroids game in the corner of the cafeteria. The boy really needs some practice… roll

This episode has raised some questions, but I will hold off until I gather all my thoughts. I have a couple for Alan, just too tired tonight.

das

Linda Gagne
Linda Gagne

Oh this blog and its commenters definately use abbreviations to much. Never once put it together and I am laughing hysterically at the what sheppard’s team stands for. Too funny.

Joseph to your comment on destroying the award, you kill me (I’ve said it many times).

To Alan: I loved DV. When writing the episode did you intend on the team bonding/developing moments I got out of it (i.e. A lot of McKay/Teyla building on previous episodes where she seems to be able to get him to calm down and focus more as well as him beginning to value her more)?

Loved the McKay dropping the baby comment. It is so like him or at least I imagine it to be from watching the show.

Also loved the McKay/Shep scene where McKay said he had to not think like himself and used Sheppards idea (I find a lot of humor in that kind of stuff).

Liked that Teyla was knowledgable in how to use the computers on the ship.

On a seperate note, your daughter is beautiful (yes, I read end credits). In S&R did she cry on cue in the birthing scene? Because that was very real sounding but it looked real too.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.

Linda Gagne
Linda Gagne

Alright, it is late and I didn’t re-read my comment. There are errors, just ignore them.

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

I see others picked up on the acronym as quickly as I did. Of course, I had to wait about five minutes before I could even click on the comments section; my vision was too blurred from all the tears from the laughter. That was just the perfect capper for the night.
Kudos to all on Daedalus Variations. The special effects were all that was promised and more. The opening teaser was another short one, but definitely grabbed my attention. The story was great, loved the character interactions (who’d have thought Ronon could be so psychologically insightful when comforting Teyla about Torrin), and then his frustration earning him a Chewie comment from John. We now have some possible foreshadowing of future villians, never mind yet another way for Mckay to blow up a solar system or two while experimenting on his latest finds. The season really does get better and better…
My condolences to Trish. I know the heartbreak of the loss of a pet. The fact that you had the chance to be with him at the end may provide a little comfort, but I know that’s not enough. Just know that others grieve for you and your loss.
As for the AU vs. Timetravel aspects of Continuum, well, I just refuse to worry about them. At least not until I’ve knocked off a bottle or two of vino. I’ve my own theories and questions on the matter, but it looks like everyone is hashing them out for me. It’s enough that I loved the movie. And I have always been fond of stories involving AU anyways, especially in Stargate.
I understand the lack of interest in doing a holiday specific episode, but have you considered doing at least a scene where a holiday is referred to? Something on the lines of Ronon or Teyla commenting on the whole idea of gift giving, or perhaps involving some odd gift they recieved? Or of comparing a specific Earth holiday they’re told about to some Pegasus analogue? I always enjoy how the Pegasus born characters percieve Earth customs and habits, and it would seem logical to have them comment on such matters now and then.
Two weeks till Ghost in the Machine? Three until The Shrine? Over a month to Whispers? Perhaps I’ll just check with the doctor now about a blood pressure med. Still, the possiblity of not having to wait until next year for the back half of Atlantis sounds promising.
Thanks for the mailbag, and I’m looking forward to Mr. McCullough’s guest appearance.