A twelve year old girl is accompanying her father through the streets of London when the two suddenly find themselves in the midst of a mounting clash between rival groups of football supporters. The girl, Maya, is targeted by a bunch of hooligans but, rather than help her, dad abandons Maya to the frenzied mob. And the reader quickly learns one of two things. First, her father set her up in order to test her. And second, Maya is more than up to the task, demonstrating incredible speed and agility for a girl her age as she quickly dispatches of her attackers.
It turns out Maya is no ordinary kid. She, like her father, is a Harlequin, one of a handful of trained fighters living “off the gird”, sworn to protect Travelers. These Travelers, individuals possessed of the ability to visit other realms through a form of astral projection, may hold the key to defeating The Vast Machine (aka The Brethren), an organization that has infiltrated all levels of authority and makes use of its vast network of surveillance technology to control and pacify the population.
The story picks up years later. Maya, who has since become estranged from her father, reluctantly agrees to help protect the last remaining known Travelers, two brothers named Michael and Gabriel. But The Brethren have their sights set on the brothers as well. Maya enlists the help of some colorful allies (including a character named Hollis who really should be played by Jason Momoa in the film version). Events unfold, fast and furious, and the pacing never lags as we hopscotch between Maya, the Travelers, and forces of The Brethren, offering up an enjoyable read that is occasionally tripped up by some uneven elements. For instance, the scene in the diner in which Maya is forced to defend a hapless waitress from a trio of goons seemed surprisingly out of place in an otherwise inventive narrative. Similarly, the splicers (genetically modified predators) felt like an unnecessarily visceral addition that, in the end, detracted from the whole, lending it an almost cartoon-like quality. Another minor quibble was the fact that Lawrence, the mole within The Brethren, would use the code name “Son of Sparrow” given that his father, code-named Sparrow, was found out and killed by his employers.

The Traveler walks the fine line between complex and complicated, presenting a world that may well be our own – if we’d perhaps bothered to look a little closer or maybe asked the right questions. Much of the surveillance technology The Vast Machine makes use of is fascinating (RFID-tags, satellite surveillance, etc.) not so much because of its futuristic trappings but, rather alarmingly, because it is not too far removed from what our own governments make use of in the name of national security. In this respect, the novel offers much food for thought as the author skillfully blurs the line between what is and what well could be. It’s scary stuff that, in my opinion, delivered the book’s most interesting and challenging throughline in its exploration of things like The Panopticon. Conceived in 1785 by Jeremy Bentham, a philosopher and social theorist, The Panopticon is a prison design in which a guard can observe prisoners without being observed in turn. The prisoners never know when they are being watched and so, theoretically, are ever-vigilant, always operating under the assumption that a set of eyes could well be on them at any given moment. In Bentham’s view, this allowed the observer to exert incredible influence (mind power) over a potentially increasingly paranoid prison population. Replace the guard with a government, the prisoners with ordinary citizens, and the dynamics become unsettlingly familiar.

That said, I think the novel would have been well-served by a voice of (seeming) reason with in the ranks of The Brethren, someone who could have made a real case for the benefit of state-driven security over individual freedom rather than simply echoing the nefarious company line that people are essentially little more than sheep.

Overall, an involving and provocative first novel by mystery author John Twelve Hawks that mixes SF and Fantasy with varying degrees of success. The book’s mythology is rich and rewarding, the real world elements compelling, but the sequences involving the various other realms, while intriguing, are at times bewildering. Of course, the fact that this is the first in a trilogy may well explain why certain aspects, like the realms, feel underdeveloped. That said, it will be interesting to see how Twelve Hawks fleshes out these worlds in The Dark River, the second book of The Fourth Realm Trilogy.

 So, what did everyone else think?  Let’s get this discussion underway.  And if you have questions for author John Twelve Hawks, start posting them!

Well, Paul and I completed our first day of pitch meetings today and it’s certainly been…eventful.  I’ll fill you all in on the hilarity tomorrow as it looks like a last-minute rescheduling has freed up my afternoon for some quality update time with you, dear readers. 

35 thoughts on “October 27, 2008: The Traveler, by John Twelve Hawks

  1. Dear Joe,

    1. I was wondering if the Daganian LOST ZPM will ever surface up in the future episodes after outsiders, that is inquisition until the season finale.

    2. Will we see the Starship Pheonix in Enemy at the Gates?

    3. What will happen to the Lantian Aurora Class ships such as The Tria and that unnamed one from the episode Ghosts in the Machine.

    thanks and God bless

  2. susan the tartan turtle from cold and windy Scotland - she's hiding under the duvet. :-) says:

    Missing the furries when you are away?

    Enjoy yourselves in LA – especially the food.

  3. Hey Joe,

    I hope you’ve had a good reception in LA. If you have some time, I’d really love to read a general outline of your ideas for Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Or maybe an update on the spoiler poem?


  4. Hmm. Hilarity is usually good, but the way you use the term…not so much. Ah well, I’ll look forward to sneaking some time at work to get the full story.
    Thoughts on The Traveller. The opening chapter certainly didn’t lack for action, as we’re introduced to Maya as a child. And from the beginning of the book to its end, I enjoyed Maya’s ambigious feelings about her relationship with her father. It was also a pleasant suprise to find that the Harlequins were not some supernaturally or technologically enhanced fighters, merely superbly trained, if extremely paranoid warriors in an unequal fight.
    I was, however, put off by the Bretheren/Vast Machine conspiracy, though not enough to put the book aside. Too many conspiracy theories, too many improbable stories and claims about centuries old Secret Societies invisibly manipulating mankind has jaded me on this sort of tale. I do give full credit to the author though, for the plausibility of the threat of modern technology in undermining human privacy. It’s an issue I’ve considered, and come to terms with, years ago. I enjoy the benefits of modern society sufficiently to put up with the knowledge that any move I make may or is captured on some medium, somewhere. I found it intriguing that Maya herself initially accepted this cost/benefit equation in favor of the Vast Machine. I accept the motivation of anger and revenge for making her embrace the heritage she had rejected, though I found her attitude on defending Gabriel to be a bit unrealistic. Defend him to thwart the Tabula, yes. But given her original rejection of her ancestral duty, as it were, it is a bit jarring to see her suddenly embracing an almost caricacture-like model of what a Harlequin is.
    Still, the action moves on, and while improbable, unfolds at a respectable pace. I particularly enjoyed many of the supporting characters. Gabriel and his brother (the passages of Gabriel’s skydiving endeared the character to me instantly), the evolution of the brothers’ relationships, Vicki, Hollis, Nash, and Takawa all have a feel to them that makes it easier to empathise with their characters. For me, much more so than with Maya.
    The background on the Four Realms and how the Travellers move about them and our own world did not grab my attention as much as the characters did. The realms we see through Gabriel and Michael’s eyes didn’t feel real to me. And I find it impossible to believe that people as determined to maintain order and stability and stasis as the Tabula would not have some suspicions about beings from another dimension providing technological information for such a seemingly small cost.
    Overall, I consider this an average read. However, the author has left enough threads dangling to be dealt with in the sequels that I’ll be keeping an eye out for them. Maya herself may not hold my interest, but I do want to see what happens to the other characters, and how the Gabriel/Michael relationship plays out. Thanks for an interesting read, that did force me to reconsider some real world issues that affect us today.

  5. Hey Joe,

    Looking forward to hearing how it’s all going. Hope you are doing well.

    After three days of chronic food poisoning, or so the doc says, this post will probably be full of rambling, incoherent sentences and the occasional loss of consciousness **thud**

    An apology from the start as to how much my Father is mentioned in this post, but he is the one that passed on his knowledge to me over the last 31 years in order to interpret the Traveler book the way I have… and my Mum let him.

    This book has two levels of discussion that can take place; the actual book and the questions raised from the content. So I will now ramble on about both.

    I enjoyed the fast pace of The Traveler. There was no difficulty in picturing the people, places and events; mostly because the majority we see in reality. I didn’t have a clear picture of Maya in my head, perhaps because of her changing physical appearance throughout, but she had more of a persona to me than anything physical.

    The Traveler did such a good job at highlighting many of the aspects that have me fearful of what this world is becoming. Call me paranoid!

    The opening scene with the Arsenal and Chelsea supporters grabbed my attention and was a sad reflection of reality. I’ve never been able to understand this kind of hatred towards others over something as trivial as a football team (now I’m on someone’s hit list). But it exists, it’s a culture, and it’s a horrible reflection of parts of society.

    Thorn is like any other Father – protective. Some Father’s try to protect their children by shielding them from what is really out there, other’s try to arm their children with the tools to survive.

    Thorn knew what was out there and wanted Maya to survive. I’m still not sure if he really did want her to continue on to be a Harlequin, or if becoming a Harlequin was inevitable and just part of surviving the world she had been brought into.

    I mentioned in a previous post that I called my Dad after finishing the first in the series and asked him if he had been publishing books under the pseudonym of John Twelve Hawks – even sounds like a name he would take on. The similarities were scary. The references to all religion, the Vast Machine and control of the population with the continual reinforcement it is for our own protection and freedom.

    While my Father lives very much on The Grid (not by choice, he’s always said there’s a hilltop with his name on it), he has always made us aware of what is going on around us. Recently when sitting with him for a quick catch up we were having discussions on topics such as dogma vs mantra, true democracy vs the appearance of democracy, control of a population in the guise of protection and I realised, we don’t have normal Dad/Daughter conversations, but that is how it’s always been and I thank him.

    He recounted a recent happening that was saddening and had me yelling at him “Read the book Dad!”. He was going through security at Melbourne Airport. An elderly man in his mid-80’s was asked to take off his shoes due to the terrorist threat. It took him 10 minutes to get them off and then he could not get them back on. He could not balance himself and his hands were shaking. My Dad went to help him, the security guards were not happy, the poor man was humiliated. My Dad approached the guard and asked him straight out, “Why? Was that really necessary?”. He got the response of “It’s for the protection of everyone”. Both points of view can be seen, but was it necessary to cause pain to an aging man like that?

    There were parts of Thorn that reminded me of my own Father – minus the parenting from a distance, but he is pretty skilled with a bow and arrow! He’s well travelled, well read and never sugar coated life, but he’s given us the tools to deal with it and to always ask “Why?”, and not in the annoying kiddie, “But why?” way, but to use the Five Why’s method to get to the truth of something. I guess growing up on a diet of “Hey, did you see the latest legislation that was passed today?” or something he saw during his business travels meant we have always had an awareness of what The Traveler series discusses.

    The ability to travel into other realms piqued my meditation interest. I was taught to meditate from an early age. Somewhere around the age of 6. It was never called meditation, it was just called “Focussing on the task at hand”. My Father would get me to breathe deeply, clear my mind of everything and not focus on the outcome but know what you have to do to get there. As I got older I adapted this to refocus my mind in general. To give me a good slap in the face with some perspective when needed and restore some balance. When reading about Gabriel’s attempts to travel to the other realms it reminded me of those days and if you get frustrated, you will never get there. The exercise with the sword was a great example of clearing your mind and focussing on the task at hand.

    The Realm of the Hungry ghosts was an extreme but rather true representation of the materialistic wants that is growing.

    I live extremely on The Grid, hell my username isn’t exactly that of someone trying to live incognito- but in my defence I didn’t realise I was going to be hanging around, and you may call me a hypocrite due to my line of work. While I work in the manipulating and storing of data, sometimes I think I would rather be involved in it and understand the way it works than be completely ignorant. I can watch from the inside. And this will become even more so in coming weeks.

    Joe, I would have Michael Clarke Duncan from The Green Mile as Hollis, but hey, Jason Momoa I would have no complaints in watching.

    I read both books back to back so my thoughts are a little blurred as to what happened in the first and the second book.

    I enjoyed the first two books because of the questions it raised, but I also enjoyed the journey. Looking forward to the third.

    Now hearing about my upbringing you all think I’m a Froot Loop? That’s if you didn’t beforehand.

    Questions for John Twelve Hawks:
    Firstly, thanks for coming by!
    1. What are your thoughts on only a few people owning/controlling such a large portion of the media?
    2. Do you think the growth of the internet has helped or hindered the flow of real information?
    3. Can you meditate on a plane?
    4. What are your thoughts on the Dalai Lama’s interests in neuroscience? It’s been interesting watching the studies. The monks make me laugh when they are all wired up (try not smiling when they smile!), but to see the read-outs as they change from one form of meditation to another is brilliant.
    5. When Gabriel was in the realm where the town is continually burning and being rebuilt was this a reference to Samsara?
    6. Do you see Marketing and Advertising of major corporates just another part of the Vast Machine?

    Thank You for your time.

    Have a good night Joe.

  6. Usually refrain from extraneous tangents but in this case it is relevant. I read the last half of this book on an airplane. The whole trip I kept spotting security cameras and thinking that I was being watched. I am pretty sure I was acting suspicious, like a short red headed terrorist. If you think about all the ways that could be watching us it is daunting. I can only imagine what my TIVO and iTunes account is telling the government about me. They probably thing I’m some anti-social serial killer.

    Simply put this book freaked me the hell out. I’m going to live under a rock now.

    Ironically this very topic is currently being discussed on the webcomic xkcd. The livejournal feed linked to this disturbing article discussing a proposed e-Patriot Act where the government may take over the internet Link here. On to the book…

    I really liked this book, despite turning me into a paranoid schizophrenic. It was really well written, with the suspense paced beautifully. It became incredibly difficult for me to put down. I was particularly impressed with his handling of the multiple storylines. It is easy to get bogged down in one plot to the detriment of others, but Mr. Twelve Hawks juggled it very well.

    There were parts of the story that were a bit predictable, not necessarily in a bad way. I knew that Lawrence was going to die. It was inevitable, but I was still saddened. We all knew that Michael and Gabriel would end up on opposing sides. It did not keep me from singing “Princes of the Universe” by Queen during their final confrontation (There can be only one). I would also point out that the allusion of their names to the archangels was not lost on me. The story’s progression was easy to see. I could tell who was going to die and when, but it was so well written that I didn’t mind.

    My only complaint was small and silly. I would have preferred to keep Maya’s character a bit more mysterious. I know that there are more books and I personally would have held a little more back for later. But then again I am not a best selling author so what do I know.

    Questions for John Twelve Hawks:

    1) Your mythology regarding the Travelers and the other Realms in incredibly well thought out. You delineated the Tibetan and Native American influences very clearly. Were there any other sources that you pulled from?

    2) This is a nitpicky science question. I am familiar with certain microkelvin experiments and there outcomes so I have to ask, where did you get the idea of the super-cooled liquid helium?

    3) I am interested in why you decided to incorporate the developing love of Maya and Gabriel as well as Hollis and Vicki into the plot. What was your motivation behind adding this dimension to the plotline?

    Thank you very much for writing such a compelling story.

  7. This was a very enjoyable reading. Lots of characters, good development except we have to wait for part two and three of the triology, lots of action. Loved it.

    Very nicely written to captivate the reader’s interest – even when jumping between characters. This book would not lend well to just reading the Gab parts or Maya parts as all if it is so integrated, you do not get the full experience if you tried to ignore one.

    I did not think much about it other than it was a little distracting/awkward/a bit out of place – the sceen/scuffle at the diner. I thought it was giving a foundation to the fact that Maya did not follow her normal routine and instincts and was “swayed” by Gabe’s glib statement that nothing could happen there. Because she is having a lot of internal angst about doing the right things and her feelings for Gabe.

    A while back Anne Teldy shared her transcription of the authors’ introduction to an audio book – which, now on hindsight gives some added insight to the book and his motivation to write this.

    From Joe’s blog a week or so ago.
    This is John Twelve Hawks. I wrote The Traveler in an attempt to understand our contemporary world.
    Each day when you go to work, you are monitored by dozens, if not hundreds, of surveillance cameras that can identify you and track your movements. Your phone calls and email messages are routinely scanned. Modern technology gives almost anyone the ability to know your medical history , the names of your friends, the titles of the books you read. I’m not describing the future or some Hollywood fantasy. This. Is. Our. Life., right now.
    Writing this novel, I’ve tried to reveal a larger truth, using the power of fiction.
    In The Traveler, a small group of people risk everything for knowledge and freedom; they believe in the power of the individual and the light which is in all of us.
    I wrote The Traveler because I still believe in honor, and bravery, and love.
    I live off the Grid . Who I am and what I’ve done are not important.
    This is John Twelve Hawks. The Traveler speaks for me.
    end except.

    Reflecting on these words, they do say volumes about this book. Many aspects did appear and having the introduction adds insight to the many messages.

    Possible typo?
    Page 289
    When Michael took the B3B.
    Paragraph beginning with: Time passed. Dream time. Space time. He wasn’t sure about anything. But he stopping moving and lay on his back, exhausted and gasping for air. Maybe “stopping” was to have been “stopped?”

    Loved that a lot of the general dress code seemed to be jeans and Tshirt. My kind of place.

    Given how the story line had evolved, I was anxious during Maya’s and Gabe’s trek to find the pathfinder where Maya let him ride his cycle ahead of her. Given they also had so much to talk about – would have made sense to ride together.

    The book is sooo contemporary – given the “big brother”, RFID, so many security reasons to eavesdrop on the populace; local and global. It was very erie to think of the similarities of the book to our own society. Also, made me think of “The Matrix” where everything is tracked and visible to monitors.

    There were spiritual aspects as some appearing to be religious aspects. I don’t remember exactly where and I forgot to make notes – it even “seemed to exude reincarnation”

    I did not plan to read so much of it in one sitting, however, after I finally was able to carve enough time to get to about ½, then…I had to finish it. So many elements that just make you want to read another page to two until – oh, no more pages.

    Jokingly I have to say I did not like the last page – there has to be more – given the statement; Book 1 of the Fourth Realm. Meaning more books.

    I was surprised at the turn with Lawrence and Dr. Richardson as they both were tormented, but seemingly giving up to the resources and strength of the Tabula.

    Michael – did not expect him to become such an opportunist and ready to be selfish, greedy, and basically – sell out his brother.

    There was a kinda of statement about our governments, etc., – when people are drawn to power and the more power they attain, the more they want to the point of taking advantage of everything in a very selfish way. All I need say is look at our (US Government – the members of Congress hold themselve above the citizens. Almost as though the are of noble birth.)

    Thus, it was appalling that Nash wanted to pursue and was directing efforts to communicate with the intelligence found in the super computer. They had no idea or guarantee that the entities would not end up destroying earth or the live they had. Reading their rationale to proceed to help make contact and work out a plan to make it possible for the other side to visit “this side.” Big clue – when they say they cannot come across but want to learn how…Euuuwwww. Red flag…

    Lastly, was intrigueing to visit the website:
    Really cool stuff.

    Did you travel or live in any or all of the places described in the book? The detail was very striking.

    In New Harmony, they spoke of using puters, etc., were they not concerned about the risk? Being found by the tabula?

    The pages of the web site – who created them? Was this for the book – to accompany the book or other?

    What are the titles of Book 2 and 3?
    I found the title – The Dark River. But there did not seem to be a third one on Amazon.

    Thank you for writing a great book. I look forward to the next two. And, THANK you for entertaining our questions.

  8. Hi Joe:

    This book reminded me of “Firestarter” meets 1984, meets Lord of the Rings. I also had a bit of trouble following the plot. I like books that leave you wanting to know more. I didn’t feel that here. I’m not sure I would pick up the second book once it’s published.

    Question for John Twelve Hawks: Many first time authors take elements of their own lives to incorporate into their stories. Would you say this is true of your work?

    Patricia (AG)

  9. Something like resident evil hybrids that need life force so the hybrids chew on people trying to survive

  10. Catch up post…

    Sorry for not being here to read/comment for the past week but Tax School is really getting tediously involved. And now it looks like I’ll be finishing up the final 3 weeks at home, on my own, as my instructor has gone to Texas and doesn’t know when she’ll be back.

    So… Tokyo. I am *so* jealous. Seems like everyone I know (or know of) has been or is going to Japan but ME. Work, school… the Navy. I used to try saving up for a trip but after having to raid the savings for car repairs or hospital bills or helping put a down payment on a house with my sisters, I’ve given up. Please be sure to take pictures of the Otaku Café you visit (the one with the Maids) and if you actually get to meet Chef Morimoto, hint at what a smashing guest judge you’d make on Iron Chef – !
    If you don’t want to eat alone, Japanese restaurants are only too happy to match you with some other loners (and they WILL try to make sure you all share at least one language in common).

    Next… You’re doing a horror flick. Did you write in a part for Hewlett? He always shines in V. Natali’s stuff so I’m sure he could do well in yours.

    Umm… Kaori is usually a female’s name in Japan.

    I should give you the email addy for my friend who does tech support for Hewlett Packard and Microsoft. Maybe he could help you with the overseas internet connectivity issue.

    In Val’s blog-spot, she mentions it taking 6-8 cow hides to make a wraith costume. I was just sitting here going… “OMG, I’d take half a herd — !” Yet another reason I’ve got to find a better diet.

    In regard to the costumes of SGA: Would I ask MGM or Stargate Productions about putting out a cosplayers’ book?

    And finally (caught up on the blog now) I couldn’t finish TRAVELER. I made it through the first chapter but it just didn’t catch my interest. I may try again, later, when I’m less stressed over being out of work. Can’t promise anything. But the library did, finally, get me a copy of THE MISSING and I must say that I was suitably creeped out! And that doesn’t happen often.

    Good Luck in L.A. — ! (and I promise not to fall so far behind again.)

  11. The Traveler really makes me wonder about the “safety” of my personal life given all the tracking devices I carry around with me for convenience. It makes me want to go into hiding, almost.

    I did find parts of it predictable. For example, the greedy brother is taken by the Tabula, where he gets the recognition he wants, while the non-greedy brother is left on the outside to experience the world. The Harlequin and the Traveler having feeling for each other was obviously going to happen, even though it’s “forbidden” (what’s better than forbidden love?).

    Some of the deaths seemed needless while at the same time being obviously the direction that character was headed.

    I enjoyed the mythology and back story. I really like the development of Maya as she takes on the role of Harlequin but with her own twist.

    The Traveler left me wanting more…probably why I’m currently reading the second book.

    PS – And, bad me, I cannot get passed imaging the brothers, Michael and Gabriel, as the brothers in the TV show Heroes, Michael and Peter.

  12. Hope you get to eat in good restaurants while you are here in LA and I hope to read the reviews.
    Hope you’re having a productive and profitable trip.

  13. Hey Joe,

    are you using some kind of special software for screenwriting or you just type in MS Office? I came around some really nice program, which inclues storyboarding, notes, schedules and more. If interested, I could post the link for it.

  14. coucou Joseph =)!!
    Sa va ??
    Il a l’aire sympas ce livre ! Moi aussi j’en lis un, je dois faire sa critique avant la rentrée. Il parle de la seconde guerre mondial et des camps d’extérmination, j’adore les romans historiques!

    J’espert que vous allez passer une bonne journée!! bisou bisou =)

  15. Should that ‘quality update time’ involve a mailbag… :

    *Shamelessly reposts her older questions entry – okay, I am a bit ashamed*

    The thing took me long enough to type up… *g*

    Hope you’re good.

    Hey Joe,

    After the events of FC/TLT, a few nice questions were risen on GW concerning some technology used by the Wraith?

    SPOILERS AHEAD. (just to make sure)

    We know that the war with the Wraith ended when they developed cloning technology that gave them a very large advantage in battle. They established a large cloning facility which reproduced a few Warriors thousands of times over, pretty quickly, and thus one large batch resulting into over a hundred thousand drones in one go, if my math isn’t too much off.

    Now, the Asgard mentioned they arrived there when the war was in full swing, I think? Or anyway, they thought the outcome would be different then it was, they were betting on the Ancients to win? We know that the Asgard are a very advanced civilisation, but they have one great weakness, they rely on cloning to stretch their existence…

    We’ve also seen that cloning tech being performed on Jack in the episode Fragile Balance, they can clone a human, memories included, in not too much time. Just like Michael did with Carson.

    Also, when you take into consideration other episodes, e.g. the ‘The Siege’ ones where the Asgard beams were easily blocked, this could be because it’s an upgrade from technology they’ve seen before… The question is: what technology is still their own (or stolen from a different race), and which things about the Asgard do they know?

    If all that is true, then, had the Asgard not made their existence so dependent on cloning, so the tribe wouldn’t need to fly off into another galaxy to find a quiet spot to experiment on humans, for the purpose to stretch their own existence some more, the Wraith possibly hadn’t come across such knowledge about cloning, and therefore would have probably lost the war… And made sure the Ancients had no reason to flee the galaxy… Only to fall prey of an Ori plague, or what was that again?

    And finally… The Wraith got their hands on three ZPMs during the war, with which they managed to clone those Warriors, and build all the required Supply Ships/Hive Ships/Cruisers/Darts to transport those Warriors to battle with… Todd said the Wraith managed to corner 3 Aurora class ships, and that’s where the power came from. I seem to recall, maybe from the episode ‘Rising’ (boy, that’s sooo long ago!) that 3 Ancient ships were sent out to the Wraith to enter negotiations for peace, but they never made it back? So, Todd’s three ships, and these three ships, three and the same ones?

    So, basically what I’m asking for is:

    1. Did the Wraith get their hands on Asgard cloning technology 10,000 years ago, and so this is how they managed to turn the tide of war in their favour?
    2. Can we conclude that Michael is also over 10,000 years old?
    3. Can the Wraith so easily block our Asgard beams because they are familiar with the technology (on top of their own high intelligence)?
    4. Does Todd/Do the Wraith know that we fly with Asgard upgraded ships, and that the enemies they faced 10,000 years ago are also Asgards?
    5. The Pegasus Asgards are directly responsible for the downfall of their allies, The Ancients? Although for that tribe ‘allies’ might be a stretch.
    6. The three ships that went to negotiate for peace got cornered and de-ZPMed, delivering the power for the cloning facility.

    Phew. I hope I’ll receive some answers for my effort. It took me darn long to formulate the post, as English isn’t my mother tongue! 🙂


  16. I enjoyed The Traveller, It was different to books I normally read (which are never in this world) but it definatley gave me things to think about. I am currently awaiting my copy of the second book to come through in the post because it grabed me so much.

    I wasn’t completely into the book at first, but that doesn’t mean I don’t perservere with books. I once started one trilogy and gave up halfway through the second book before deciding completely it was boring.

    I liked the way the chapters flowed together, even though they often went from character to character, but it was good how you got to see lots of different sides.

    I also though Jason Momoa would make a good Hollis (probably because of the dreadlocks)

    Questions for John Twelve Hawks:

    When Michael and Gabriel were in the realm of the hungry ghosts, why did it take Gabriel so long to find the way out, couldn’t he have followed his brother, or did the shadow move around?

    Did you draw from your own experience of living off the Grid, e.g. Satellite phones to connect to the internet?

    Thanks for the great book, when I finished reading it i had a dream connected to it, which rarely happens with a book.

  17. Hey loving the idea for Stargate Universe, how about you cast me as an on going character 😀 love Sg1 and Atlantis keep up the good work. Look forward to the new show, would also love to have a role in it:D

    Take Care.

  18. First: Joe and Paul have a good and successful time in L.A.!

    The Traveler (this is probably my first book discussion at all and in a foreign language, so I hope it’s fairly understandable).

    Thank you Joe for suggesting this book. I have to admit I wouldn’t have chosen it by myself in a bookstore. I needed some time (pages) to get into the story. But then it became one of the books I hardly wanted to put away. And I’m not even sure why. Of course, it’s very well written with an interesting story. But I didn’t have a favourite character I cared for. Nevertheless, it was interesting to follow their different ways. And I liked that Maya wasn’t completely free from feelings in the end. It makes her more human.

    I still ask myself how could two brothers, who shared the same lives and experiences, became so different. It’s logical for the story, but I was disappointed how fast Michael believed The Brethren. I thought he would be a little bit more critical in his way of thinking and would care for his brother. It will be interesting to follow the development be-tween these two brothers in the next books. I really can’t imagine the direction. Will Michael protect his brother in the end, maybe even sacrifice himself? Or will he become a mere tool of The Brethren without scruple?

    I don’t think I fully understand the reasons why the Harlequins defend the Travelers – even till death – for such a long time in history. Probably because at this moment I can’t see how the Travelers could really defeat the Vast Machine for all humans and not only escape from it themselves.

    I can see the meaning in the (description of the) realms. Quite mystical but interesting.

    And for the main topic, the “Grid” the “Vast machine”. That’s what made this book interesting for me in the first place. I would say I have a healthy distrust in the technical possibilities of our time. And more in the people who have the power to use them/behind them. It’s really a fine line between the need of security (which I believe everyone has and wants) and the misuse of these possibilities which maybe will lead to total control of a few, the suppression of the majority and the elimination of critical people. I don’t want to live in a totally controlled environment, reduced to some kind of a doll. This one sentence from the book says it all: “Peace and prosperity were possible only if people stopped asking new questions and accepted the available answers”. Surely a comfortable way of living. But also an ignorant one. And I don’t want to believe this would be the only way in the future. There won’t be developments of any kind without new questions and answers.

    And yes, I’m definitely going to read the next book, too. I want to know how this story will continue.

    I would never have thought about Jason Momoa as Hollis – but a good choice. 😉

    Questions for John Twelve Hawks:

    1. Do you really think it’s possible for an individual to stay largely off ‘the Grid’ in today’s world?
    2. Was there a special (personal) event which leads in the end to your idea for this book?
    3. Do you already know the main story and developments for all the following books or is this a flowing process during the writing?

    Thank you for answering our questions and for writing such an interesting book.

  19. Hi again Mr M

    First off, thanks to Val for the great Q and A… I had a feeling that the BDUs were non-standard issue…Thanks for her great insight into the cosutming et al!

    Second, how about that Fuel dinner…looks great! Any luck twising Marty G’s arm re: Tokyo?

    Finally, hope the pitching goes well in LA.

    Best to all


  20. Hey Joe!

    You didn’t get sunburned did you? I warned you to bring sunscreen!

    Also, would you ever write for Sanctuary? I see Martin Wood directs it. Sorry if that’s been asked. But I think it would be great if you wrote an epi for the show.

    @Pol: I totally agree! Pyrs ARE the best! I think we are the lucky ones to have Ziggy. The way he’s sprawled out on the family room floor right now, I think he’s happy to be home. We are his FOREVER home! 😀

    @das: Seriously? Vampire moths? Wow! Maybe you’re right about the wraith! 😯 Hmmm… Just in time for Halloween, too. Spooooky!


  21. Just saw an article about Universe:
    and you are quoted as saying “In spite of what the indicators may suggest, this will definitely not be a Voyager: 90210. The assortment of characters that make up the character breakdown are certainly an atypical collection of heroes, far-removed from the skilled likes of Jack O’Neill, Samantha Carter, John Sheppard, and Rodney McKay — but there’s a damn good reason for that.”
    Hey, I LIKE Jack, Sam, John and Rodney!
    They are what made 15 seasons of Stargate so cool.

  22. The Traveler
    Let’s start by saying I will refrain from aluminum foil jokes. Promise. I destroyed my hat back in the 70’s and I’m over the Paranoia. However, I’m no friend of The Establishment, better known as The Grid and mostly referred to as the Vast Machine in this book. I laughed derisively every time I read that latter name. Why not Colossal Machine? Humunguous Machine? *snort* I’m pretty contemptuous of the 2 main opposition groups in this book as well, the Harlequins and the Brethren (I refuse to use the term Tabula), I consider them both to be extremists and have little patience for ANY black and white narrow minded our way or the highway views. I believe you can have it both ways (ie disciplined anarchy and chaotic order), and therefore my favorite group was The Third Way, New Harmony in the hills. I liked them alot, and aspire to their way of living. I also really liked Thomas Walks The Ground and the Jonesie people. Pathfinders- anyone can do that for another person. I have been and have many. I’m not sure about Travelers, too elitist to me as I believe ALL people have the potential to transcend their mortality, astral travel, whatever. I also believe ALL people have the potential to catalyze change, generate new ideas and make different things happen. It doesn’t take anyone *special* and I’m distrustful of people who think that they are better than everyone else. Travelers don’t impress me. So yeah I read the book and was pretty disappointed by the general blandness of it. You have to be an idiot not to know about The Grid and want to control your access interaction with it.
    In general- some physical action, ok. Prague, LA, New York- I know all those areas, so ok. I found it hard to make any kind of emotional attachment to Maya or the Corrigans (Maya would be proud of that). Maya’s self doubt got pretty aggrivating. Have to agree with Gabriel, riding a motorcycle is one of the greatest things EVER. I was also disappointed that the names weren’t more original ie Rachel Corrigan (Poltergeist The Legacy, MGM tv show) yeesh. Didn’t care much about Generals or Doctors, flunkies or hitmen, other Harlequins or Travelers either, all too simplistic cartoonie to me. While I was reading this book I kept thinking about the serious stereotypic errors being made regarding the US election, by trying to catalog Americans. Who the hell is Joe Six Pack or Hockey Mom, anyway? Wait, already been answered.
    One last personal impact- my mom was just admitted to hospice for terminal bone cancer when I started reading this book so Mrs Corrigan dying in a hospice took me by surprise. Later in the book Dr Richardson had a reaction that pretty much summed up my mom’s situation- cancer had spread, she had ignored all the symptoms and now it was too late.
    PS on pg 313 of the hardcover, continuity typo mistake- the name should be Gabriel not Michael.
    PPS so who are these “aliens” the Brethren are talking to? obviously there is a Book 2. I might read it because of that.

    No questions yet. Keep hiding in plain site.

  23. Saw this on Yahoo. Although I don’t watch Heroes there’s a heck of a lot in here as an Atlantis fan that I can relate to. John and Rodney…where are you? Team!

    “Heroes” was an instant hit back in the Fall of 2006, captivating fanboys as well as the general public with its “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World” catchphrase that had everyone buzzing. But then something went terribly wrong, and Season 2 pretty much tanked from the start. The storylines were fractured, the heroes we cared about weren’t together onscreen enough, and we got a whole bunch of new characters we didn’t care about. The introduction of the terrible twosome (twins Maya and Alejandro) and their endless journey to get to the United States was when “Heroes” jumped the shark – and even with Alejandro gone, we still have Maya around to remind us of a great show gone bad.


  24. This comment is long. I tried ot cut it back, but this book engaged me on a lot of levels, which means I rambled

    I always appreciate a book that can make you stop and think about today. As I was reading this, I started to become twitchy and eyed my cell phone and car with suspicion.

    Overall, I enjoyed this book. John Twelve Hawks adeptly builds his world, making it close enough to now that you start wondering, and yet slanting it far enough from now to make it not completely uncomfortable. He cagily creates three key parties, one at the center the two others orbiting that one, and then gives at least two of those parties faces in for form of sympathetic characters. His two primary antagonists have tangible goals and the third, the center, is the piece that has to learn and adjust and ultimately find its purpose. The beauty of the drifting center is that it can be drawn to one side or the other. In this case it splits into two and apart.

    So, yeah, I like the way the book is constructed (and it doesn’t strike me as a first novel). Very savvy to start with Maya. She’s the most sympathetic of the characters which seems odd for what she ends up becoming. He has to start her young and inexperienced so that we can latch on to her and ultimately believe in herand in her cause so that when she connects with Gabe, we root for both of them, not just him. Her development, the author’s knowing strategy to give her a motivation to hook up with Gabe, the building action, the increasing stakes, showing how ideals and concepts can play out on a personal level?? I love it all and I do admire the craftsmanship.

    There are weakness, of course. What are the four realms and how can the ability to travel to them possibly make a person able to drive change in our world? This needed to be laid out more. Perhaps it’s explained more as Michael and Gabe grow, but I had a hard time accepting the idea of Travelers as being so special that they are the key to protecting humanity or the keys to driving change and growth.

    I didn’t buy the betrayal of one brother by another and Michael is strictly one dimensional. It might have worked had we been in Michael’s head more before he turned. We weren’t though. Most of Michael is through external observation and as a result, his actions present him as weak and selfish. Gabe’s observations of him likely are supposed to make you feel otherwise, they didn’t work for me. I’d have liked to have some strong emotion for Michael, perhaps have liked and known Michael’s struggles more so that when he does go, it has more punch. Or perhaps we could have seen Michael as more jealous of his younger brother and then perhaps that angle would play out.

    I agree that the Brethren might have been more interesting as a threat if they were represented by a more measured voice rather than the more radical ones we see. Sometimes the more frightening are those who are the most rational. I found their piece of the story the weak link and the least believable. The conspiracies built up around them also strain credulity, but then, the whole concept does, so I’m willing to give it a pass.

    Though I find the Brethren the least interesting in this power struggle, it seems that they serve two purposes here: first they serve the idea of the struggle between order versus chaos (If not chaos, at least change) made tangible. The Brethren are of course order and the Travelers are the avatars of chaos. The concept of that struggle (not the incarnation of it) is one that is quite real as a subplot in human development and societal change and evolving social thought. We always struggle between change, disorder and order. For example, you could argue that government and its trappings are a manifestation of order, and yet we have many instances where that order is challenged. Interesting to put a face and a battle between them as the center point of a story.

    Then there are the extremes represented by the Brethren and the Harlequin. The Brethren are passionate and single-minded; zealots, if you will. So, too, are the Harlequin. They are both willing to kill and die for what they believe. However, the Harlequin have a much narrower focus on preserving life and on keeping the Travelers safe. It seems that their initial motivation may have beeen to preserve the well-being of humanity, but it no longer really is. The Brethren have gone through a change as well. Perhaps early on they were interested in the survival of humanity but it their focus has shifted to holding onto power rather than on the greater good of humanity (if it was ever really there). Preservation of life is not a priority. The sameness and yet differences intrigue me.

    By far, the Harlequin were the most interesting for me. How fascinating to see a zealot like Maya’s dad presented as someone completely unlikable. Admirable to some degree, sure, but unsympathetic. Yet we are allowed to sympathize with him to some limited degree through Maya’s eyes when she realizes the sacrifices he made. I also really liked the outside view of Maya. First the idea of the Harlequin is as a hero, then she’s seen as not meeting the heroic expectation and finally some pity for her when it’s realized how isolated and devoid of human compassion her life must be.

    As for characters, I liked the ones I was meant to like, particularly Maya and Gabe. I look forward to seeing where they end up.

    I’d like to learn more about how the Travelers were discovered and the impetus behind forming the Brethren and what were the factors that created the Harlequins. It’s okay not to have learned that here because that kind of detail would have bogged down the plot. We learn enough to get the reader buy-in, but more would be interesting in future stories.

    Questions for John Twelve Hawks will have to follow in a later post.

  25. Joe, you gnawty boy!

    We just saw some Vegas promo pics, and guess who was there? 😛

    You never told us that! 🙂

    Poor him, though.

    *Puts on the song “Conga” to celebrate, though* 😀 😀 😀


  26. Oh good, I could use some hilarity at the moment.

    I didn’t seem to find backing the car over the fridge door that my father-in-law left in the driveway all that funny.

  27. Hi Everyone, I haven’t been here much in the last 3 weeks due to exams and the a repiratory tract infection.

    I hope everyone is well and I will try to catch up on the blogs and comments soon.

    Good luck to Joe fo rhis L.A. visit.

  28. Hi Joe ! Thanks for taking time to read all our messages and questions, that’s really great to have such link!

    My question is about the devastating side-effect of the “Attero device”. So we know that, once the wormhole is opened, it takes little time to accumulate energy and then explode.
    But, in your opinion : does the gate on the other side explode too, or the wormhole just disconnects on other side when the first gate is destroyed? I mean, does the Attero effect touch only the outgoing wormholes, the gate that is dialing, or the targeted gate too? If this is the case, that would multiply the damages…

    Thanks for reading, Joe !

    mg1138 — from the old continent, where we still say “La Porte des Etoiles” ^

  29. Will you be going to one of the prison themed restaurants? That just doesn’t seem like an appetite-inducing theme. I’ve heard about prison food.

  30. My thoughts on “The Traveler”. I really did enjoy reading it. For me it was a “can put it down till I finish it” book. The characters and the setting (taking place now) works for me. I admit in the beginning it took FOREVER for the story to get some legs (explain what the Tabula was/did). And I really still have no clear picture of what a “traveler” really is/what one does (maybe I read the book too fast).

    Even with that, I really do want to read the next book. Thanks for the recommendation for it. And the rest of this months selections. Best ones yet!

  31. joe, would you please stop having your own life and please just entertain us with your bloggings? oh, and i’d like a margarita too. hurry up!


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