Today, I turn this blog over to author Jusina Robson who join us from a quaint little place called The U.K. (You may have heard of it.  It was featured heavily in the early Bond movies.).  Enjoy Justina’s insightful Q&A, post any questions for writer-producer Carl Binder if you have ’em, then check out the video at the bottom of this entry for a peek at how the crew spent their final hours – giving each other rides in the F-302!  Over to Justina…

Delynn writes: “Upon whom did you base your characters? (Zal reminds me of someone I know!)”

JR: I didn’t consciously pick anyone as a template. Zal appeared first as a notion, along with Lila. I was thinking of the silliest, most cool situations I could think of, which made me smile, as well as made me want to write and I immediately had this vision of a Lord of the Rings style elf as a rock star and the tormented girl robot with whom he falls in love. So that was the kernel of the whole thing. When I get to the point of writing scenes in full my usual technique is just to note down what’s going on in the cinema in my head. I think Zal probably had traces of a lot of people and fictional characters in him. It’s like the old Dorothy Parker quote. When she was asked the same question by someone who suspected she was taking the mickey out of them in print, she simply said that she didn’t base her characters on anyone exactly, although they were all drawn from people she knew and collaged together, ‘…you’d never recognise a pig in a sausage.’ So I guess if you are seeing a pig (just to follow the metaphor, not to insult anyone) in this particular sausage it’s a coincidence. People are quite samey however, and we all play roles and have our different faces, based on what we see so I’m guessing in today’s massmedia culture we’re going to have even more similarities than usual to one another.

Drldeboer writes: “Question for Justina so how did tying your book to this music group come about?”

JR: One day not too long after accepting the typescript my US editor, Lou Anders, phoned me up and suggested we do a website and wouldn’t it be great to have some band play a song? Neither of us knew any bands, certainly not the kind who’d give a song away for free, but I started surfing MySpace that very minute. A short while later I found Cynic Guru doing ‘Doom’ on their demo spot and it sounded so right. I figured I didn’t have anything to lose so I wrote to Roland Hartwell, the contact, explaining our case. He was really enthusiastic and kind – I was quite blown away by the response as I felt a bit cheeky asking someone for their work for nothing. He explained that the song was a bit of a one off which he hadn’t managed to fit into their last album and that he was wondering what to do with it. Perfect! I thought. It’s clearly meant for me! Happily he agreed and his record company gave us permission. He even rerecorded the track to make it fit the book more closely. I’m still thrilled with it and being able to make a connection like that. They’re touring here in the near future so I hope I can meet them in person then. Meanwhile the NoShows site is being redone so it won’t be back up for a short while but I’ll post an alert when it is fixed.

Antisocialbutterflie writes: “Questions for Justina Robson….

1) How did you decide which supernatural elements to keep traditional and where to mix things up?

JR: I didn’t consciously think about this very much (she lied) – haha, it’s funny that I say that first because I thought about it a LOT but it felt like so much fun it didn’t seem like hard work, which is the feeling I associate with difficult decisions and ‘thinking’ as opposed to daydreaming and dillying about. I used to sit in front of OneNote, pulling in material from all over the place and making a big mess on the page. Then I’d delete what felt wrong or silly or just irrelevant. My history with faery tales, folk lore and Tolkien was pretty traditional, and as a student I’d done my time with Campbell (Joseph Campbell who wrote a great deal about the psychological impact, use and history of stories and their figures). I was also a big fan of Rob Holdstock and the greek myths (I studied classics at school). So when I came to do this I knew that I wanted to write what I felt was true to the spirit of these archetypes and fictional beings and I let my creative guide pick and choose what it wanted out of all I’d known, so that’s why there are shadow and light elves, and the shadow form is two dimensional as they are in the ancient northern myths. That’s why demons aren’t the Christian kind, but are creatures of enormous vital energy, creators and visionaries and crazy wild living hedonists. There are devils too, but these aren’t remotely the same. They’re opposed to one another in fact, so much so that any demon who is prey to a devil is immediately robbed of his form and power and reduced to becoming an imp, a creature who is only able to annoy others beset by devils. You see that at work in the second book, where Lila has a lot of old baggage to work through and picks up an imp when she goes to visit the demons.

The demons and devils were really refreshing to work on for me. I’ve been a Christian fundamentalist of a kind in my youth, and an occult student, and a devotee of all things theological and then I discarded formal approaches and religions altogether for a kind of atheism and went on a more personal kind of spiritual quest, which I am still on. But I used to have very fixed ideas and literal notions of all kinds of things and being able to finally sift through all that and find my version of what the truth is was just tremendously exciting and liberating. Of course it’s just my version and although I’m passionate about writing this stuff and feeling it’s true I know it’s only a way of seeing things. Hence the book’s title.

Faeries, demons, elves, devils…these things are human and not human at the same time in the sense that they are just names and forms given to ways of being and perceiving which all of us share though they aren’t physically obvious, they’re energy states, emotional sets, attitudes ( at least that’s my take on what’s going on with fantasy figures we create). However, I wanted them to be able to interact with the humans in a way that was natural so that’s why they all have simulated human forms that are the same scale as we are, can speak English (it’s a future language that never was actually but you know, there seemed little point in saying that!) etc.

2) I found it very interesting that you chose to make humans fairly magic deficient. I was wondering how you came to that decision?

JR: I decided that there would be hard physics for the material world here, as there is in our universe, but for the magical parts there would have to be also a hard metaphysics – basically, rules governing how magic works. The physics and the metaphysics are part of one system; one of the things discovered across the series is that this is a false dichotomy. Some character is going to have to come up with a Grand Unified Theory!

After I’d sorted out the number of places and figured how the balance would work it looked fun to say that some places were extremely magical ( Faery is the most magical ) and some places extremely material (World 7, the place of machines, is the most material). Otopia, what used to be the Earth continuum, is the second least magical place. It permits a few things to go on if magical beings come visiting, but that’s it. In Book Four this starts to change as the result of Lila’s exploits in the faery world – she allows a primal fae a year of freedom in Otopia, rather unwisely – but it’s only at the beginning stages there. I’m not entirely sure how it will pan out.

3) It seems that books in this genre tend to suffer from “Laurell K. Hamilton syndrome” where the plot becomes a vehicle for sex rather than the sex being a vehicle for the plot. How do you find a balance between the two elements?”

JR: A lot of people made comments about the sex scenes, many of them questioning their validity or the presence of such things in general, so I’ll address all of that in this reply, as well as your question. I hope you don’t mind.

I’m interested by the way in which it’s commonplace to dismiss these books by saying ‘the plot is just a vehicle for the sex’. The assumption there is the writer ought to be doing something else, like writing a murder mystery or a detective thriller, in which, say, the plot is just a vehicle for the events. Plots are just what happens, they don’t have anything to say about the story subject. If the book is all about the transformative, healthy, energising qualities of a good time with a feisty lover, then of course the plot is going to take us to circumstances where that happens. Why should a book be about anything else? Isn’t sex worth writing fiction about just all by itself? Of course it is, whether you write A Lick of Frost (a LKH novel in the long-panting Merry Gentry series of steamy frolics giving rise to the resurgence of magic which is of course a metaphor for the awakening and enlightenment of the individual) or On Chesil Beach (a novella by Ian McEwan showing how a newlywed couple, ignorant of sex and full of hangups, have a truly awful time that mars their lives forever. Here he had to write all the details he did because that’s where the events of this story happen. That is what it is about. This one is realist fiction so it isn’t metaphorical in nature).

As for some activity being a vehicle for the plot – I never could separate these things in my head. Plot is just an editorial term, a way of asking someone to give the main story points, it’s a look at the structure of a thing. Actions; you know what these are. A lot of actions make a plot. It’s like words and sentences.

However, a word about fantasy erotica if you like to call it that, or ‘elf shagging’ if you were trying to distance yourself a bit or, of course, paranormal romance to give it its ultimate euphemistic claim. One thing that strikes me about it however is that it’s a very innocent, sanitised genre, almost like Adult Fun With Dick And Jane. Everyone’s powerful, everyone’s pretty, they all have bucketloads of stamina and either they are in Lurve with each other or they hate one another with wholesome and simple fervour. Yet there seems to be a contingent of people who are happy to condemn it in Hyacinth Bucket middle-class righteous tones, as if it was the print equivalent of Man Bites Dog (a singularly repellent film I don’t recommend in which a film crew trails a serial killer and rapist as he goes about his daily business, larging it up for the camera). I suspect that, like Hyacinth, they all read it while they’re locked in the toilet with the lavender-scented fairy toilet roll dispenser they hand-knitted (else how would they know about it?). Then they can feel all lovely and scandalised, which is a feeling they seem to like a lot. (I realise I might just be writing about my own mother here – it’s a miracle I even exist – but I think not). I used to feel all snobbish about it too, though my objections were on LITERARY grounds, you understand (winks), but now I don’t care. I’ll read it in Borders without covering it up with Grazia magazine. It’s entertaining. Occasionally titillating. And in LKH’s case absolutely fascinating that you can write a sex scene that basically lasts over a hundred pages. That’s an achievement! Yeah, the story doesn’t move very fast. I’ve read about five books and I can get through more plot in one paragraph myself, but that isn’t the point of what she does.

So finally I shut up and answer your actual question and say that for me the balance is this: if the characters are baking bread or shooting each other or having sex AND WHAT THEY DO CHANGES THEM IN SOME WAY THAT’S IMPORTANT (and therefore is part of the plot) then I have to write about it. Otherwise I can just close the bedroom/oven/charnelhouse door on them and tell you, the reader, that it happened in just a few words so you can keep things tidy in your mind.

Narelle from Aus writes: “I am still seriously freaked out (excuse the extreme lack of articulation there) by the coincidence of standing behind someone with the same tattoo as that of Zal just 2 days after finishing Keeping It Real. I am wishing now I had have asked him what his inspiration was for it. So, a question to Justina, where did you get the idea for Zal’s tattoo?

JR: I needed to think of some obvious way to mark him as a demon. Wings have huge symbolic mileage and I liked that (freedom, speed, majesty, deity etc) and fire was his elemental affinity already. I just put the two together. Later I thought that I could make them literal wings that fall back into a tattoo for a more dramatic effect though they’re more of a signalling system of power than a flight aid for him. He might fly in the future but he hasn’t so far. I didn’t really think that part through at the time! Uh-oh…trouble potential there.

Your characters were so easy to visualise, were they based on people or variations of othe characters from film or literature?

JR: They draw a lot on comic book art and anime, I think. I love all those drawn styles, their inventiveness, colour and drama. It’s so powerful visually. That style of art is where religious art went, I think, after illuminated bibles. You can see, in just one image, an entire universe of possibility and adventure and energy. I feel I’m just trailing in the wake of the fantasy visual arts really. No specific characters were in my mind. I just chose what I liked best. In literature its difficult to write a lot of visuals because about a third of the readers find it hard to process that kind of thing, just as another third will get fed up with lots of intricately detailed social and relationship stuff and another third find blow by blow action deadly boring. People have preferences for how they take their stories. I love cinema and art, but I also love the way that written fiction can really make you feel like you’re there in the middle of all the emotional and/or intellectual action. You can’t get that any other way.

This isn’t necessarily a question for Justina, but a question in general, is there a reason that so many female protagonists in Sci Fi books seem to be red heads? The Garden of Iden, Cordelia’s Honour, Make Room! Make Room!, Keeping It Real; all red heads.

I hope some of that made sense. Long day.”

JR: I have no idea but I suspect it might have something to do with the myth that redheads are feistier and feistiness is frequently a necessary element in heroines who have to take on traditionally male genres.

Anne Teldy writes: “For Ms Robson: Did you have the idea for the book before you learned about the Hadron Collider and thought “Hey what a great explanation for…” or did you learn of the collider and think “what if”? Or maybe it’s just a big coincidence?”

JR: Years ago I read about the Colliders and their possibilities, I forget where, and when I started Keeping It Real I was searching around for some ‘plausible’ explanation that could have given rise to my universe and thought of a quantum event. I thought a collider was the best bet that raised the least trouble – no bombs involved so no war required with all the horrid aftermath that entails.

Charlie’s angel writes: “On Justina Robson’s website she calls the Quantum Gravity series a “shameless romp.” I’d have to agree. Lots of fun, and I enjoyed both books in the series.

What would you call this genre — cyber-fanta-punk?”

JR: Fanfiction? It’s fanfic for the genres I love so much and grew up immersed in. It’s slashfic of a kind because it involves various genres that are usually kept separate, but if I call it slashfanfic it’ll get lumped in with all those NC-17 rated elf/trek/farscape/atlantis shagging stories on the ‘net ;P Not that I know about that kind of thing you understand.

Lou Anders writes: “Hey, that’s two KEEPING IT REAL coincidences/synchronicities mentioned in just 37 posts. I wonder if that’s what happens when you mix quantum physics and magic. If it’s okay for the book’s editor to ask a question, I’d like to know if Justina herself experienced any synchronicities while writing the novel? Of course, I could just ring her up, but then only I would know the answer…”

JR: Only that between books one and two my life turned upside down (divorce, moved house), I got completely blasted to pieces and remade (bit of a nervous breakdown), met a new man who claimed to be an Aasimar (not literally, before you start dialling the funny farm), had to discover my demons and acknowledge my devils and accept that who I had tried so hard to be wasn’t who I really was and that I couldn’t fix everything and that best intentions can have really awful consequences.

Do you mean that sort of thing, Lou? J I’m guessing you probably meant something less dramatic but apart from locating Cynic Guru, that’s all.

Sylvia writes: “.Some questions for Ms Robson:

– What was the basis or “spark of creativity” for the principal characters “character?” What is/what was some of the reasons for creating each as you did?

JR: I don’t really plan them. They arrive fully formed and already talking in my head. I guess I must have some kind of ‘boys in the backroom’ like Stephen King says of his creative aspect, who make them for me. OR maybe they’re real. They’re certainly real AFTER I meet them.

– There were moments of the story giving vibrations of the US 60-70’s “Hippy” era of permissive of sex, drugs, and wild hair, etc. Is this just my own bias? Or, was there some basis for this? And, if Yes…Was this intended?

JR: There are sex, drugs and wild hair but I wasn’t referencing hippy culture. If anything I was more in tune with rave/dance culture over here in the UK at the time. But the resemblances are unavoidable.

Ladygeke writes: “I’ve loved Justina Robson for a long time – and we have something in common, since I also studied linguistics and philosophy at York University (in the late 1960s, though). The Quantum Gravity series is so cinematic, I’d like to ask her if she had any actors in mind for the lead roles. (especially Malachi, one of my favourite characters – Zal is a bit too Zaphod Beeblebrox for me). And also, does she think her books are truly international in appeal, or would she say they have definite British sensibilities?”

JR: I hope they have some international appeal! But I am British so I expect there are quite a few Brit-isms and idiosyncrasies in there too. Perhaps the entire sensibility of the thing is British, in the sense that it isn’t cutting itself out as part of the more US-style frontier mythology that American stories belong to, it’s coming from something more akin to Decaying Empire/OldWorld areas. For instance, to speak in the broadest terms, Lila is a self-doubting heroine, she isn’t a forward-looking adventurer. Self doubt comes from an awareness that you’ve made/can make some big mistakes and also from an inadequate sense of identity or a lost identity. Adventuresome go-getters discard such notions; their identity is action, they define themselves by it. That’s a very rough comparison of how I feel differences in fiction coming out of the two areas. You might well disagree.

Terry writes: “For Justina, my questions:

–Which is your favorite secondary character in this series?

JR: Oh that’s a tough one! I like Tath; he’s all bitter and twisted and compromised and edgy. On the other hand I like Malachi; powerful, romantic, slightly lost. But other characters are coming up too. A new one is a human, head of spying, Temple Greer who just came right out of the casting department swinging a big self confident swagger and talking like he was a human who is already post-human (been there, done that) and is comfortable with that. And I really must write more about Calliope Jones, the ghost hunter, who started out as a nod to Holly Black’s lead character in Tithe (a very distant nod) but who has such a weird existence it just has to be discovered.

–Why did you choose to include explicit sex scenes?Do you feel that a sexually explicit scene has to reveal something about the characters or the plot?

JR: Done that one J But I’ll add that if a reader thinks that the explicitness is gratuitous or the whole scene is gratuitous then I’ve failed to get my point across in the scene. I do worry about that. Sometimes it’s hard to know how much to say about what’s happening in an authorial way and how much to show only.

–Do you enjoy writing series like this or did you lose energy by the writing of book three?

JR: I never wrote a series before and I may not again but I love this one. I knew there’d be a problem if all the books were static so I decided from the start that they had to get their own places and their own problems and if characters have to die then they do. I hate series where the status quo rules and people go in against terrible odds but they always come out again and nothing changes.

–What do you see as the primary themes of “Keeping It Real?”

JR: It’s about how you define yourself, will you be yourself or will you conform to someone else’s expectations?

–When you first envisioned this book, what came first? The world or the characters?”

JR: The characters. Then I was stuck thinking, “but WHERE could such people possibly come from?”

Kellyk writes: “1. Are you a fan of high fantasy? If so, what were some of the less obvious classics of the genre that inspired you in writing Keeping It Real (LOTR was obvious).

JR: I was brought up on LOTR, so there’s no escaping it. It’s hard to read any high fantasy without comparing it to that and nothing has the emotional whammy of LOTR to me because I was only ten when I read it and it had such a huge impact on me. I have enjoyed some high fantasy though I don’t read a lot of it now. Most of what I read was probably back in the early 80s and I quickly slipped off into Anne McCaffrey. People tell me to try George RR Martin and I will one day soon. I have a kind of high fantasy novel bugging me in the back brain that I might write one day.

2. Did you know this was going to be series when you started writing Keeping It Real? I ask because it’s a pretty self-contained story.

JR: I knew from the start but I wanted to do it self-sufficiently in case it didn’t work out. I try to make all the books self-sufficient, but I am having trouble getting the backstory into the later books, because there’s a lot of it and it keeps on piling up. Perhaps I should do a synopsis of the others in the front, I don’t know. Dropping the entire history into a novel that has its own concerns is almost impossible without causing a juddering halt. It’s tricky.

3. Were you ever into role-playing games like WoW or D&D?”

JR: I never played them until I was in my late 20s, when finally someone explained what all that Games Workshop and D&D stuff was about and took me through a game of Twilight 2000 and after that, Call of Cthulu. I liked reading the guide books but playing the games felt too slow to me. Then as I was writing Keeping It Real I picked up WoW and got hooked on that. It felt so real! I was in heaven for a short time because I’ve always lived a lot of my life in my imagination and here I was, really in an imaginary world! Then I woke up to the horror that is being a person who wants to please everyone in a game where everyone wants something, whether its 2golds for a new hat, or help in a dungeon, or a shoulder to cry on or a newbie to exploit. Now at our house my partner and I are two old cyber-fogeys: we play an hour of Warhammer or Ninja Gaiden together after the kids have gone to bed, then we watch a TV show or read and by 11 o clock we are in a coma. I really have to start inviting people to dinner again… Computer games are like a weird cross between a book and a movie. Unsatisfying on both counts but they’re getting better. I have high hopes for their evolution.

61 thoughts on “September 20, 2008: With Special Guest Author Justina Robson

  1. Great Q&A, but what exactly were the crew doing with the 302?

    Also for Carl, Are you optimistic about SG: Universe and how was your last day on Atlantis?

  2. Thanks for the quest blog Justina Robson. Although I didn’t get to read the book yet. I do have Natural History I am reading. I will read Keeping It Real next.

  3. How many of the SG-1 cast will be in the first SGA movie? I think 3 is too much. the movie is an Atlantis movie, correct? Can we PLEASE see the Atlantis cast make it on their own first, without “help” from SG-1’s cast? And especially Tealc. He has no purpose in Atlantis. And, is an appearance by Paul Mcgillion planned?

    One other question- will the movie involve the Wraith or the new alien enemy?

  4. Joe Flanigan
    David Hewlett
    Jason Momoa
    Rachel Lutterl
    Jewel Staite
    Robert Picardo
    Amanda Tapping
    Katie Hewlett
    Chris Heydrehl
    Kavan Smith
    David Nykll
    Joe Mallozzi
    Paul Mullie
    Carl Binder
    Martin Gero
    Alan Mc
    Sharon Taylor
    Andy Mikita
    Will Warring
    Opening Credits
    Crew and Cast not mentioned
    To keep fans loyal: PRICELESS!

  5. Hey Joe ,very much enjoyed tracker. I was out of town and everything stopped at 10:00pm est for sga.

    Hey, enjoyed tracker, did anyone notice David Hewlett’s website is down? Been out of town. Joe don’t forget-PICTURES and ALOT of them PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank You Lots. Can’t wait to see MS next week. bye, sheryl

  6. The crew looks like they’re having a grand time =)
    I wanna ride in an F-302!!!

    Thanks to Justina for dropping by!!!! Guest blogs are always so insightful!!!

    @sheryl-re: DH’s website…I noticed too!!!

  7. For our Atlantis family,

    We know it takes a small city to deliver an episode every week. Every single writer, producer, actor, makeup artist, camera artist, technorati (FX, stunts, we are not worthy!), craft services, and editor has poured his or her heart and soul into 5 very special years. As you celebrate those years tonight at the wrap party, know that your Stargate/Mallozzi family wishes they could be there with you. We’d like to let everyone know how important their individual contribution was. While we may be smitten with one actor or department, the truth is everything is different when one person, any person, is absent from the mix.

    According to theater tradition, at the end of the show, the players line the stage, raise clasped hands, and take a bow for the house (audience). Tonight, do that for us, though we can’t be there physically. Line up, every last one of you, close the line into a circle, raise those clasped hands, and bow for each other. When you do…

    We will be there with you, in spirit, in the center of that circle, giving you wild applause and a standing ovation.

  8. So Stargate people can’t do anything small, can they?

    Don’t think you can fool me, Joe! I know what was happening in that vid.

    Instead of playing a boaring version of *spin-the-bottle*, the cast and crew as playing SPIN THE F-302!

    I know that game when I see it!

    Okay… I have to ask it:

    My question for Carl Binder: How are you so awesome? I totally loved Tracker! I’m such a sucker for the self-sacrifice stories. Thank you for a great epi.

    Trish 😀

  9. uh… that’s supposed to be an *are* instead of *as*…

    It should read: the cast and crew are playing SPIN THE F-302!

    Curse wordpress and it’s lack of *preview* and *edit* features!!! 👿

  10. Oh, Joe. We watched Tracker last night – you guys have turned my non-fandom flatmate into a McShep shipper! The opening scene had her laughing about how jealous Sheppard was that “his boyfriend” was preening for Keller. Then I had to explain to her what I meant when I said, “Dear god, you’ve turned into a shipper!” She is oblivious to the fandom world, and so had no idea what the word ‘shipper’ meant.

    I liked the evolution of the tracking device – that the Wraith learnt from experience and made it unremovable. Also great to see Rodney bag two Wraith! Sad he put his jacket back on when he saw Ronon, though – we were all admiring his biceps. Good to see Keller fighting back, too.

    Did feel, though, that the Runner’s traps were a little too intricate to be whipped up so fast… can you explain the reasoning?

  11. @ maggiemayday – I was so involved in my own nonsense, I missed your comment yesterday. I just wanted to give you a {{{hug}}}, and let you know that my thoughts are with you and your brother and family.

    I hope you find something each day to laugh at, or joke about, to keep you going. I had a bad spell a few years back, starting in Oct. ’00. I went through 18 months of hell, including – but not limited to – my dad in hospital for 4 months with a staph infection around his heart (he recovered), caring for my 100-year old grandmom, the affects of 9/11, an ulcer, the sudden, accidental death of a very dear friend (still not over it), death of a pet, death of my grandmother, deaths of a couple of my husband’s relatives, and the drowning death of another close friend. It was too much, and I basically imploded. For the next year and a half I went through life in a total fog…just brain dead, numb.

    Summer of 2003 things changed. I was never big on going to the movies, but there was this one that sounded kinda fun, so I decided to go. And I laughed. HARD. It was the best thing for me, and I thank Captain Jack Sparrow 😀 for helping me come back to life. How such a silly movie could have such an effect is beyond me, but for some reason, it just made me feel alive again. It also ‘taught’ me to laugh at life a bit – to see the humor in things even when they’re not going so good – which may account for some of my own snark here. 😳 So I truly understand the need for humor, for laughter…and for a little snark now and then… especially when life isn’t being too kind.



  12. Hey Joe!

    Great interview, always a delight to have special interviewees on the blog. 🙂

    How many people were present on the F-302 set? Looks like the area was pretty crammed. Also, hope the wrap party was excellent!

    Thanks as always!

    – Enzo Aquarius

  13. Ok, where are these people getting the idea that SG-1 will be in the Atlantis movie/movies, cause that would not be right.

    The F302’s with people pushing is my kind of flying (LOL).

  14. Joe, thank you so much for bringing these authors on. It’s such a great experience being able to understand their thought processes when writing the book and to get some understanding in general of how they think.

    Justina, thank you for answering our questions. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

  15. Hi, Joe —

    I enjoyed Tracker. I wanted to especially applaud the progress in Keller’s character.

    Though I think Jewel Staite is a gifted actress, I have thought all along that she was to young for the role on SGA. And Keller, as written, directed and portrayed last year, especially in the episode Missing, didn’t allay my doubts. So it was great to see Keller has developed into an asset instead of a liability on missions. JS got to play her as strong instead of a damsel in distress. Thanks to Carl Binder for addressing this in his script.

  16. Oh quit whining. Joe, I hope you were being truthful when you said that it’s very possible we’ll be seeing Carter, Daniel, and Teal’c in the Atlantis movie. I think it would be a great way to tie the timelines of the movies together and to help Stargate as a franchise begin to manifest itself. If we’re really looking to keep this thing going, then fans need to stop being so hung up on the notion of “rights” and what “desereves” to be. You want to see more of your favorite Atlantis characters? The only way it’s going to happen is if this first movie is a success. And by success, I mean financially. The bottom line is that if Atlantis does better with help from it’s big brother, then I want to see appearances from the Big 3 in the Atlantis movie. Grace Under Pressure, The Return, and Midway are three of Atlantis’ most successful and fully realized episodes. Fans loved them, ratings were high for them. Sorry if it bothers you, but it works. If Daniel’s appearance in First Contact is even half as good as David Hewlett said it is, then I have no doubt that that episode will join the others I listed as among Atlantis’ best. You want more Sheppard and Teyla? More of Mckay’s histrionics and Ronan’s rabid dog impression? So do I. And having SG-1 in the movie will help me get it. So suck it up and wave hello to three of the four characters that really gifted us all Atlantis in the first place.

  17. Question for Mr. Carl Binder:
    When writing “Tracker” (fantastic episode, by the way), how did you differentiate between all the various forest locations in the script?

  18. TRACKER was great! Love the whole ‘not really a confrontation’ confrontation with Rodney & Ronon at the end. Too bad there’s no more SGA cuz Jennifer is really getting to know her stuff out in the P.G.

    And — in case you missed my comment on GateWorld re the SGU character profiles…

    Colonel Young – just another name for John Sheppard…
    Tamara Jon – why don’t they just use Allison Porter?…
    Chloe Carpenter – basically useless eyecandy; use the other basically useless eyecandy named Larrin…
    Eli Hitchcock – poor attempt to combine Sheppard & McKay (I dread the pain in the arse he’s gonna turn out to be)…
    Lt. Nash – Lt Aiden Ford on steroids…
    “Psycho” – hmm, berserker… Milla Jovovich is too small & doesn’t do TV, Vin’s busy… maybe he can be CGI…

    Not holding out much hope. Foresee helpless women twisting ankles and getting their red-shirt marines killed; brainless jarheads giving the Marines a bad name… all overseen by some guy with a flat-top haircut trying to figure out how to be both Tough and Emotionally Involved. Deeply disappointed that there’s never any mention of a gay character in any of these things – missing a big audience there.

  19. Hey Joe,
    glad I could finally meet you tonight.
    sadly, we really couldn’t hear your speech at all, hold the mic up higher! hope your dogs weren’t too hungry.

    and yeah, drop by and get that sword!


  20. Hello Joe,

    I would say thank you for your blog, which is full of great impressions about literature and cinema.

    For a French student as I am, studying English literature and civilisation, this is a real gold mine.

    You are giving us the possibility to approach the modern authors’ world in a simple way.

    So I will just tell you
    Merci and keep on.

  21. Okay… Tracker. Rodney and Keller??? What were your writers smoking?? And let’s not forget SuperKeller who can turn from whiny scared little girl to a fighting machine, courtesy of a few sparring sesssions (from Ronon, I assume) in the course of an episode.

    Oh yeah, medical note here: Keller had to suture the kid’s leg while darts were attacking?? Ever heard of a pressure bandage in a combat situation, Dr. Keller?

    Sorry, Joe, but two downer eps for me – Whispers and Tracker. I just want the team back before you end it all. Guess it’s too late for that now all the eps have been filmed. I think you jumped the shark already.

  22. Joe…
    What can I say about Tracker… except it was a total loss. Knowing our show is about to end, I was hoping that the final season would be chock full of team episodes. Instead we’ve been inundated with Keller eps. Keller, the infected, Keller, the frightened, Keller, the girl every guy on Atlantis falls in love with (I mean, how many boyfriends does the girl need to feel fulfilled as a woman?) and now! Keller, SuperSam… erm… SuperKeller.
    Before the season ends, can we please have our team back, Joe. Tell me it can be done.
    BTW, your viewer demographic is mostly women over the age of 30 who have absolutely no interest in seeing romance between the characters. We live for the team-centric, adventure-filled stories you do so well.

  23. A crossover, as someone else mentioned, with Daniel, Sam, Teal’c, and the Atlantis cast would make for an awesome movie! All the favorite things I love about Stargate, altogether. It would make for an extremely entertaining movie.

    I’ve been rewatching season 9 of SG1 recently, and have come to miss SG1 even more. I have to admit though, it may be a little scary to see Daniel and McKay speed talking to each other, but I’m definitely excited about it.

    The episode Tracker was really great. It was fun to watch the whole Ronon/Rodney competition thing. I’m sad that this cannot be developed more in future seasons like I’d want. I convinced my parents in Ohio to watch the episode. My Dad thoroughly enjoyed it, despite not liking the sci fi genre. 😀 The episodes this season keep getting better and better! Thank you for bringing quality entertainment to us.

  24. Um… my post about Tracker got banned? I thought you Americans were all for free speech. Yes, I didn’t like the ep but it would have been nice to be allowed to explain why instead of being censored. Thank God I’m an Aussie.

  25. Okay. I apologize. My message just showed up. I’m big enough to admit I was wrong but it’s a really strange way of moderating posts. They disappear to be modded and then appear again if they’re approved? Okay, I think I’ve got it. Oh… still glad I’m an Aussie

  26. Hello Joe!

    Please pass my wholehearted thanks to the cast, crew and all the writers/producers (Including you of course! Give yourself a hug from me!) of SGA for a fantastic 5 years of adventure and rollercoasting fun. I can’t take the real rollercoasters so I’ll take SGA instead!

    This is unbearable.

    And this is ridiculous. I am a grown woman and it is only a tv show but I feel like I’m loosing a dear friend!

    I’m about to loose 50% of my tv schedule in one fell swoop! I just don’t have the energy to care for the SGU teeny boppers. I’ve raised 2 and they’ve sucked the marrow out of me!

    And we’ve just made another addition to the family: Charlie, jack russell pup of 3 months. Suzie is not happy, I can tell you. She’s not speaking to me!

    Ooooh! Those fat little paws and this fat little belly are soooo lovely!

    Have fun at the party!

    I wish the very best to all the actors in their lives and careers and I will keep a look out for their future projects. They’ve got a loyal fan for life here! And I hope all the writers are kept very busy, even if it is writing for SGU!

    Thanks Joe!

    (I will never say it enough!)

  27. Hi again Mr M!

    Thanks for all the pics and thoughts. And particular thanks for the snap of Ms Tapping…I can now inform the small people that indeed her hair is now back to Carter-blonde!

    Hope that you enjoy the Wrap Party and pass on my thanks and best to all there.


  28. Tracker was great. Go Keller! Go Keller! It was so nice to see her fight back. I knew she had it in her. I also loved how it was Rodney and Ronon this time and not the usuall characters, Rodney and Sheppard, etc. I also liked how it showed the different ways that people handle stressful situations.

    Rodney had Keller first.

  29. Hi Joe,

    I am beginning to have mixed feelings about SGU, however, I do trust what you say and am still willing to give it a chance.
    My fear is that it will be another reimagined (I really hate that word, don’t know why) Battlestar Galactica. Look what happened to that.

    I was wondering any thoughts about casting Ivan Cermak for SGU – he portrayed Major Altman and Capt. Hagman in SG-1, Prototype and Rdemption Part 1. Just a thought.

  30. Coucou!! me revoila Joseph!!! Sa va ??
    Moi oui!! J’ai encore passer un week end super!!! c’est beau l’amour ♥_♥!*..on regarder plein d’épisode de sg1!! Alalala que de souvenirs!
    Merci pour toute les photos d’acteur de ces derniér jour, c’est gentil de nous les faires partager.

    Big Bisou, contente de vous retrouver!!!
    Bonne journée

  31. Thanks Justina for the great Q&A and answering my question

    DH website back up

  32. Hey Joe when are we going to get some info on the Upcoming Stargate Movie. I’m excited to hear who’s in it and what’s it all about.

  33. Hi JM!

    Thanks, as always for keeping us abreast of the ins and outs of the SGA world.

    Just wanted to float an idea past you; in “200” one of the concepts was to replace the cast with younger, edgier versions of themselves…an idea which was pretty resoundingly rejected.

    Now, obviously the scene featuring 16/18 year olds was all done tongue in cheek but even you must admit that the fans, while over-reacting, have got reason to be concerned, even if not the red-alert flouncing we’ve been seeing?

    All the best post-SGA though, and thanks for some sterling work in both SG1 and SGA.

  34. Really enjoyed Tracker … “Scouting for Beavers.” Heee. I am so immature.

    Thanks everyone for the good thoughts and hugs. And DasnD … hugs back atcha. Jack Sparrow saved you, Burning Man saved me even before the wheels fell off. I have a lot of good people in my life I can call on. Here’s hoping everyone finds that which makes their world bright and bearable, and to friends of the heart.

    A round of hugs for everyone!

  35. First, thanks to Ms. Robson for participating. I loved her answers, and more especially her digressions. For Mr. Binder. What is your all time favorite episode to have worked on? Will you staying on in Vancouver for more work opportunities, or will you be trying you hand back Stateside? How do you maintain your sanity in the constant presence of people like Mr. Gero and Mr. Mallozzi? I wish to thank you for all your work on the show, and with Mr. M’s video tour of Bridge Studios.
    A few thoughts on Tracker. Overall I liked it. I rate it at 8.7 out of 10. Strong points; McKay being McKay. Lots of running around, shooting and fighting, and requisite wisecracking. I found Keller’s “fighting skill” plausible; all she did was back up and fend off a Wraith that was interested in feeding on her, and who was quite possible playing with his dinner. I haven’t decided if Ronon has really been interested in Keller before now, or if Rodney has triggered his competative nature. Could be interesting, especially if Sheppard has to intervene to maintain team esprit. What didn’t work? Well, me and my medical whining again. Shock once into v-fib, shock again to return normal rythm. Assuming the second shock doesn’t work, THEN do CPR. but you don’t remove the pads each time you finish a shock…. surely doing it in a medically correct manner would still have been visually as exciting as what ended up on screne?
    The other complaint was the Ronon/Kiryk fight. The sequence was great, but I find it very hard to believe that both men would have held off on delivering a lethal blow or firing a stun shot, managing to simultaniously pull their punches at the same time. Other than that though, I enjoyed the episode.
    Hope the recovery from the party are going well, and that the headache/hangover is managable. If you have pictures to share, that would be great, but I have to admit to feeling like a voyeur. The party was a family affair, and it feels just a tad wrong to want to be peeking in on your privacy. Not that I will resist looking if you are kind enough to post.

  36. “One of the reasons I love Stargate so much is that the franchise treats its female characters like human beings, for the most part, and gives them a say in things when too many other productions don’t, even in this supposedly enlightened age.”

    I saw this comment in another blog and I have to say it’s spot-on! The respect shown to the (now only 2) female characters on SGA is wonderful. I believe it’s another reason I love Stargate so much.
    I think the Ronon-Keller-McKay triangle is perfect – especially with the humor aspect: (“Wait, what do you mean intentions?”, “Wait…. No I don’t.”, “Wait, okay maybe I do have intentions”) Brilliant! Funny Ronon is always great. Thanks for so many amazing scenes in “Tracker” and “The Shrine”.

  37. Je vient de voir Tracker !!
    Super cette épisode =)
    En plus il y avait du “Mckeller” lol sacrée Rodney!!!
    Jespert que la suite de la saison 5 ou le film comportera encore de beau moment sheyla et Mckeller^^!!

    Par contre c’est marrant mes les derniers épisodes que je regarder de la S5 ce finissent présque tous a l’infirmerie lol!

    J’attend tellement du film de sga!! Mais bon je suis certaine qu’il sera bien, car si il y’a Joseph, sa ne peut être que génial^^!!

    Aller bisou, je vous adore♥

  38. I wanted to give a big thanks to Justina for her honest and thorough replies to our questions. I was worried that I might hit a nerve with that last question, and instead I got a well-thought out logical argument. I appreciate it. I am actually a fan of the “paranormal romance genre” and still buy LKH’s books the week they come out, but I always wondered how the authors feel about it.

    Tracker was awesome. I felt very vindicated in my defense of Keller. Thanks to you Joe and the other writers for making it worth the wait. And extra kudos to Jewel for doing such a wonderful job.

    Question for Carl Binder….

    A lot of your scripts seem to focus on individual character growth or one-on-one interpersonal growth. I’m speaking of scripts like Tracker, Midway, Quarantine, Letters from Pegasus, which I have to admit are some of my favorites (sorry Joe). Do you prefer writing these sorts of scripts over the action-centered team-based episodes?

  39. Hi Joe,
    Thank you for all the time you put into your blog and getting guest bloggers we fans wouldn’t ordinarily get a chance to interact with. I’m so excited that I get to ask Carl Binder a question! OMG! He is a writer for my favorite show and I get to ask him a question! OK, here goes…

    Hi Carl,
    Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I loved Tracker! OK, so these questions have probably been asked so sorry to be repetitive, I just wanted my chance. 🙂

    What lead you to write Tracker and what point/meaning were you trying to get across to the viewers?

    Can you explain Sheppard mood with McKay in the opening scene? I at first thought he was shocked/surprised McKay was going off world with Keller on his day off but it didn’t come across like that. If you can’t answer this without giving away spoilers, will this scene be explained in future episodes or should we just take it as Sheppard was just surprised McKay was going off world..on his day of?

    The last scene between Ronon and McKay was Ronon just messing around with Rodney or does he truly have an interest in Keller?

    Throughout the episodes, hints were given that Ronon and Keller spend time together off screen. Am I correct in thinking up until the time of Tracker, Ronon and Keller have spent more time together than McKay and Keller?

    Can you explain why the Wraiths in this episode were so weak? Some have said they were too easy to kill. I just assumed this group of Wraiths were young and inexperienced fighters. I have always thought the Wraiths in general do not spend a great deal of time training to fight humans because they are superior to them in strength, weapons (stunners), and they can heal themselves. So it made sense to me these younger Wraiths were not good fighters and not good at self healing.

    Some fans have said Keller fighting the Wraith was not believable. Can you please point out the fact that Keller did not kill the Wraith she was fighting, she only blocked and evaded until McKay could shoot it?

    I can truly go on forever with questions to dissect every little detail but I’m going to stop.

  40. Hey Joe!

    I found Tracker to be amazingly entertaining. Next week looks like huge!!

    Anyway last week I ate something delicious @ a local restaurant here in Aalst, Belgium:

    It was called Chocolate overdose and yes it was very yummy

    Here’s a picture of it:

    It had Bailey’s, brownies, chocolate icecream, marshmellows …

    There was also a very delicious and tender Irish steak with black peper whiskey sauce and ofcourse some good Belgian fries

    What do you think of it

  41. Alors comme sa? aujourd’hui vous avez fêter le 100iem épisode de sga??

    Des photos! Des photos! Des photos! lol XD

    Je pense que DH a un peu trop bu lol XD il le dit sur son twitter:

    “Just recovering from the Stargate Atlantis 100th episode bash. My son doesn’t seem to understand the term hangover.”

    lol XD

    Aller bonne nuit!
    A demain!

  42. Some times I wonder… You would think that such a strong fan base would be important to the TPTB, but alas, we have lost the fight and will not get out show back. Maybe we should have begun the campaign at the end of season 4, instead of waiting until after the announcement of cancellation. Oh well, live and learn!

    So Joe,
    Thanks to you, all the cast and crew for 5 great years! How was th wrap party?


  43. Evenin’, Joe

    After returning from a weekend of life-endangering adventure, I flicked open my lappy to find the following bemusing snippet of information:

    Seems you’re gonna get that Asia Trip afterall. And i’ll get to celebrate my birthday past the first drink. Everything’s hunky dory and lets hope nothing else goes into meltdown in the meanwhile. As my beloved Grandfather used to say.. ‘Tis all done with mirrors and magnets, Tinks. And don’t ever be fooled by the man behind the curtain.’

    Question(s) for Carl, whilst I remember:

    a. What initially inspired you to want to write stories? And is there a specific genre that you prefer to delve into above all others?

    b. If you were given the opportunity to travel back in time and meet one significant person, who would it be?

  44. Hi Joe,

    I am guessing the “morning after the night before” might be a little fuzzy so I will be brief.

    Did my bag of chocolate hugs arrive for the cast in time for the wrap party???

    My question for Carl Binder is, how difficult is it to work on personal writing projects when working for a franchise that requires weekly input??

    Sept 18 You said:- While firmly entrenched in pre-established Stargate mythology, Stargate Universe definitely strikes out in an exciting new direction.

    I will trust you on this.

    However, when my friends and I heard about SGU and that it was based around a ship of the Ancients and how they navigated around the universe placing Stargates on various planets, we thought it may be the beginning – that is, watching the Ancients as they encountered the Ori; discovered new panets with various civilisations and the development of the Wraith from the Iratus bug. that does not mean we wont be watching to see what happens in SGU.

  45. Thank you for the vid of the crew enjoying themselves playing with the F302, Joe. It’s good to see that they enjoy all of those gorgeous sets and props as much as the fans would!

    For Carl Binder: I rewatched a few episodes of Atlantis, including Tracker, and decided that I seem to have completely missed the point in my question to you yesterday. After looking back over some of the other episodes you’ve written, I notice that several of them are episodes in which there is strong subtext for Sheppard being very jealous of the few women in McKay’s life. I also noticed that there is a strong insinuation that John Sheppard is a repressed homosexual (or at least bi-sexual) in “Outcast” (written by Joe Flanigan and Alan McCollough). Is the subtext that John Sheppard is a repressed bi/homosexual who is pining after his best friend intentional? If so, yay! If the Brits can pull it off in Dr. Who and Torchwood, why not Stargate Atlantis. 🙂

    While I was looking back through various episodes I also noticed that you wrote “Before I Sleep” and “Echoes”. Those are two of my favorite episodes of Atlantis! Thank you! And also, thank you for leading the set tours with Joe M., it was great to see all of the sets where you guys work your magic. I’m going to do my best to get up there for the con next Spring so that I can see those sets for myself before they go away.

    Hugs and thanks to you and Joe and all of the rest of the cast and crew. I hope you guys had a blast at the party last night and aren’t too hungover today. 😉 I’m very grateful for all of the wonderful hours I’ve spent enjoying Stargate and I’m greatly looking forward to Atlantis movies and more SG-1 movies.

  46. @ Lyn – Please do not speak for the fanbase. You may be over 30, female, and wish to see no romance. Your opinion is fine, but do not insinuate that everyone is just like you.

    I am a female, under 30, who loves the little glimmers of romance in the episodes. Sci fi shows, like Star Trek TNG, Farscape, and Stargate beautifully incorporate romance, which is why I love them.

    I’ll be honest here, if there was absolutely no hint of romance then A – it would not be realistic because attraction is bound to occur, especially when you’re living on a space station of sorts. And B – I would get bored and not tune in.

    I know it sounds cliche, but I love a good story that has the hero defeat the bad guys and rescue the girl (or where the girl kicks ass and the hero shows up only to find she’s rescued herself *grin*).

    I honestly feel that the movies (SG1 and future SGA) could have a touch more romance in them. I love the sexual tension and I think it helps to make the show very entertaining. I’m not into sappy Soap Operas, as it’s common knowledge that the show creators will never give the viewers what they want. However, with shows like Star Trek, Stargate, and Farscape, the creators always manage to include some romance gems in the show to please all viewers. For example, Star Trek TNG’s movie “Insurrection”. This movie by far was the best Star Trek TNG movie, and possibly one of the best sci fi movies in my opinion because it had it all; Action, adventure, comedy, and romance!

    I will add that I have stopped watching shows that took out the romance. I stopped watching the X-Files when Muldar left and only returned for the series finale.

    So please, keep the romance, for those that love it!

  47. Sulienn, writes
    “I notice that several of them are episodes in which there is strong subtext for Sheppard being very jealous of the few women in McKay’s life. I also noticed that there is a strong insinuation that John Sheppard is a repressed homosexual (or at least bi-sexual) in “Outcast” (written by Joe Flanigan and Alan McCollough). Is the subtext that John Sheppard is a repressed bi/homosexual who is pining after his best friend intentional? If so, yay! If the Brits can pull it off in Dr. Who and Torchwood, why not Stargate Atlantis. 🙂

    Amazing what is in the eye of the beholder. I never picked up that Sheppard was jealous of the few women in Rodney’s life but rather, that after their experiences in “The Brotherhood,” that Sheppard was on guard against Rodney using a head other than the one on his shoulders to think with in the presence of a beautiful woman. Loss of a ZPM was a pretty steep price to pay for McKay’s Romantic forays. Insinuation? I must have missed that too. Ah, lovely how we all see what we see. 😉

  48. For Carl:

    Ronon was totally messing with Rodney in that last scene, wasn’t he?

    Ronon has been the most insightful and grown up of the guys on the show – I’d hate to think we’ve just seen him revert to a competative 13 year-old, “fighting” over a girl. That would be too depressing for words.

    Other than that, loved the episode. It’s the best since, well, Midway!

  49. Joe, please bring us an up beat blog today and share about the wrap party! Lots of pic’s and back stories with humorous comments, as you do so well! We need a shot in the funny bone…Please!

  50. for Susnn, re her comment on Sulienn’s observation… (wow, that was long-winded)

    Erm, there are quite a few of us out here who share Sulienn’s viewpoint (where else would all of the McShep shippers get some of their ideas?). Yeah, we can infer that John wants/loves Rodney because Sheppard sometimes “protests too much” — like “in the way that a friend loves another friend” while he has THAT look (utter devastation) on his face — and, altho he frequently ‘stole the girl’ away from Rodney, how often did you actually SEE him doing anything with those girls? And we can also infer that Rodney wants/loves John because of how jealous he seems to get as well as some of the lengths he’s gone to in order to protect or rescue Sheppard.

    So, yeah, McSheppers would really REALLY love it if our fantasy match-up came true but, face it, a gay relationship is Out of Bounds on American TV unless it’s treated in a comedic fashion or shuttered away on Premium Cable.

    Just thought it’d be good to let Sulienn know she had some back up out there…

  51. For Honshuu

    I think you agreed with my point that we all see what we see on screen. I see your reasoning re stolen girls, for example, but could counter that John didn’t do anything with all the girls because he wasn’t interested in them for himself but rather, see original point, didn’t want Rodney distracted from the job at hand. I also didn’t see anything much in the scene you cited beyond what one friend would feel if his best friend was dying. Athough one could infer that Atlantis also has lots of McShippers and John was simply clarifying the situation. 🙂 And let’s face it, both men are Big Dam- Heroes and regularly risk it all to save each other, the city, their team, random strangers, etc.

    For me, I rather like the notion that there could be such a genuine, deep friendship between two men that derives its power from somewhere other than lust. There’s not a whole lot of that type of relationship portrayed on tv these days whether same or opposite sex pairings are involved. That friendship – Kipling’s 1000th man – is what I see when I watch the Rodney & John show; it may be that I don’t catch nuances that others do because that is what I want to see.

    I do think that, whether intentional or not, the acting and writing on SGA lends itself to all kinds of ships if that is what the viewer wants to see. Teyla/John and Wier/Sheppard shippers seem to find fodder for their ship fairly regularly. Pretty savvy of the series’ writers et al to let us all keep on seeing what we want to see without explicitly privileging any particular ship on screen or off.

    Talk about long.

  52. Questions for Mr. Binder.

    First you are responsible for almost all my favorite episodes of SGA Before I sleep, Critical Mass, Echoes, The Real World, Lifeline and Ghost in the Machine, even though it was so heartbreaking. Now that I’m done sucking up.

    How do you view the John and Elizabeth relationship? Friends? Coworkers? Both? More? Was it your intention to show the connection that they both have to each other or did it just sort of write it self? I look at episode like The Real World and Ghost in the Machine and I’m left wondering if it was intentional.

    Thank you for taking your time to read/answer our questions.

  53. Just finished Going Under… it left me hanging, horrbily, and wanting more. Love it!

    Ms Robson better be working her tush off to deliver book 4, pronto!

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