King Leodan rules the Akaran empire, enjoying the support of his people and his seafaring allies. But appearances can be deceiving for, in truth, Leodan’s seemingly benevolent reign belies secrets that plague the once noble monarch. Bound to an agreement made by his predecessors, he must pay a yearly tribute of thousands of child slaves to the mysterious race known as the Lothan. In exchange, his empire receives the mist, a powerful drug to which he himself has fallen victim. Guilt-ridden, he seeks solace in the mist, unaware that forces conspire against him. The Mein people, exiled 22 centuries ago, have plotted revenge. Their leader, Hanish Mein, dispatches an assassin to Leodan’s court while his forces, allied with the savage race Numrek, launch an attack on the Akaran forces. The empire falls into disarray, forcing the king’s four young children to flee. With their enemies in pursuit, they must go into hiding and build new lives for themselves, biding their time, awaiting the opportunity to take back Acacia.

This book has been compared to George R. R. Martin’s Ice and Fire series and, on the surface, parallels can be drawn. But big story similarities aside (a king is killed, his children scattered to the four winds…), Acacia is very much its alone animal. Author David Anthony Durham creates a world that is as richly detailed as the characters who inhabit it. Unlike the cookie cutter kingdoms of most fantasy literature, the Akaran empire possesses the depth and nuance of a real world nation, fraught with divisiveness and bolstered by self-serving allies. In much the same way, his characters are fully realized and morally complex. In his youth, Leodan challenged his father on the empire’s controversial policies and yet, year’s later when he assumes the throne, he comes to accept those self-same policies as a necessary evil. Initially, Hanish Mein comes across as a merciless villain devoid of any ethical standard and yet, as the novel progresses, we begin to, if not to sympathize with his plight, then at least understand his motives. Even the fearsome Numrek who display horrifying cruelty in the early battles prove entertaining and humorous in their own right.

The book is stylistically lush and Durham draws on his experience as a historical novelist to craft a story that is fantastical yet wholly credible. And, as is the case in most true historical accounts, events have a way of taking the most unexpected of turns. There are unforeseen developments, surprising collusions, and even a shocking death or three. The whole builds to a thrilling final act that is, in some ways, incredibly satisfying in its willingness to tie up the major narrative threads rather than leave them dangling for the next book in the series, but is, in other ways, somewhat unsatisfying in its abrupt resolution. While I loved the fact that the seemingly weakest/flightiest member of our royal foursome is the one who crafts and implements the plan that turns the table on the Mein, I felt that Corinn’s single-handed victory diminished her siblings‘ contribution to the uprising. In fact, in the end, the hard-fought battlefield triumph over Meander really seemed beside the point.

Which brings to mind two other smaller bumps I had with the novel. The first was Aliver’s decision to accept Meander’s challenge. Honor and ego trump common sense and, in retrospect, the hitherto charismatic character of Aliver was left the poorer for it. My second bump was the introduction of the “magic element”. While the Santoth were interesting and did play a significant role in the battle, they nevertheless felt like an extraneous otherworldly addition that, unlike Hamish‘s disembodied ancestors, didn‘t greatly influence the overall story.

Despite the aforementioned bumps, I really enjoyed Acacia. It was engaging, well-written, and promises to be a wonderful addition to my ongoing fantasy series rotation alongside Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle, Scott Lych’s Locke Lamorra adventures, and, yes, George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire.

The mailbag:

INForeman writes: “1.) Have all the main cast of Atlantis committed to the SGA film at this point, or are they still in negotiations?
2.) If they have all committed to the film at this point, did their negotiations include an option on additional films should they get greenlit?
3.) If additional films materialize, would filming them be worked around the schedules of the principle actors?”

Answers: 1) I’m not involved in the deal-making process so I’m not privy to the details. However, I hope to have an update in the coming weeks. 2) Again, I’m not privy to the details but I’d think it unlikely. 3) We would, of course, try to schedule production at a time that would be most convenient for the actors.

Iamjohn writes: “Since you’ll be coming up with episodes for SGU episodes in November, will you be doing a spoiler poem Jan 1st, or will you not be able to due to the super secret nature of the whole thing.”

Answer: Nope. That was the last of the spoiler poems. You guys should bug Robert Cooper to write one for SGU’s first season.


Susan the tartan turtle writes: “Is it a rat that Lulu has sticking out of her mouth?

Are pugs and French bulldogs flatulent canines?”

Answer: Yes and yes.

Georgia writes: “Have you ever considered publishing a zagat-like guide for Vancouver?”

Answer: Not yet.

Mellow Yellow writes: “I’m happy to know you are keeping busy and I can’t wait to find out what this Super Secret Project is. This deadline of June 2009, is that a deadline you gave yourself..or do you already have a deal and that is your deadline to turn it in?”

Answer: It’s the deadline I’ve been given.

Mellow Yellow also writes: “ How are you and the other writers approaching writing for SGU, since it seems it will have more character moments/driven story. Will you guys write out what each character is like..kind of like a guide and then get your stories from there or are the characters being developed as the story ideas come out.”

Answer: It’s always a little of both.

Arctic Goddess writes: “ What are the chances, despite the premise of the new Star Gate series, of past SG characters turning up as guest stars?”

Answer: I think it’s likely to happen sooner or later.

Chokolaj writes: “Can you tell us what has been your most interesting chocolate combo experience??”

Answer: Zotter’s dark chocolate, plum, coffee, and caramelized bacon is a winner.

Randomness writes: “Doesn’t Japan have a fingerprinting/photograph policy for all foreigners entering the country now?”

Answer: Yep. Believe it or not, they actually remove your fingerprints before you enter the country, then return them to you when you’re ready to leave.

Jean writes: “So are you waiting until the end of Season 5 airs before revealing the answers to your last spoiler poem?”

Answer: No. I just have to get around to it.

Joe writes: “Can you clarify just who will be heading back in on Nov. 10th to pitch stories for Universe? Will the entire writing staff of Atlantis be back? Will there be any new writers hired?”

Answer: It remains to be seen who’ll be in the room on November 10th. As for new writers – Brad and Rob are on the look-out. In fact, I just sent an email to one potential new writer this afternoon.

Tuskin writes: “Do you know what other actors are doing Commentaries?”

Answer: I don’t.

Zona writes: “bubba really has perfected the head-tilt hasn’t he?”

Answer: He has. Talk to him, and he’ll actually tilt his head as if he’s trying to figure you out.

Bailey writes: “ Hi, in preparation for your trip to Japan, you might want to take a look at this JUMBO PARFAIT!”

Answer: Damn! If it wasn’t for the fruit, I’d get one for sure.

JJ writes: “Will some SG1 or SGA main cast guest appear on SGU pilot movie?”

Answer: Most unlikely.

Patricia Lee writes: “If I may, I would like to hazard a guess at your super secret project. Okay, deep breath, here goes…”

Answer: I’ll have to offer a polite “No comment” for the time being.

Alicia writes: “what do you care? so have someone make a new one. does hollywood say that, oh, thats hard to shoot so lets not make a harry potter movie?”

Answer: I care because everyone prefers the new conference room. Well, everyone except you.

Shirt ’n Tie writes: “Will there be bloopers reel on Season 5 DVD?”

Answer: Nope.

Linda Gagne writes: “I do find it funny that people here are still wondering who canceled SGA. That said, I do believe SCIFI would of kept a sixth season and it is my guess that is why they were thrown the bone of having the SGA movie air on SCIFI before it goes to DVD (they say it will show there first). There are two players left to blame here and those who are perceptive can figure it out.”

Answer: That’s some mighty shaky logic.

Shiningwit writes: “ On a more somber note my nephew had a grand mal tonic-clonic seizure this morning and battered his poor face off of his weight bench so now he has a black eye and bruises and absolutely no recollection of what happened…”

Answer: Hope your nephew is on the mend.

Chris U writes: “Would you have any interest in being a celeb judge on IRON CHEF AMERICA?”

Answer: Sure, but with my luck, I’ll probably end up with Battle Pomegranate.

Pat writes: “So, does this mean things went already less than “ideal” and we have to do without one of the well-liked “familiar faces” in the movie? Or is the group in which the “significant character death” occurs not congruent with the group of “familiar faces” you mentioned?”

Answer: Nope. It definitely is a familiar face.

Halo Luver writes: “1. Is there a reason for everyone speaking English and having the same accent in the Pegasus galaxy? Don’t say “translator nanites!”

2. If there isn’t a reason, how come nobody thought to have the peoples of Pegasus have different languages?”

Answer: But it is the translator nanites. And we happen to hear a particular language and accent because we are taking in the perspective of our English-speaking explorers. If we followed a French team off-world, they would encounter French-speaking aliens with funny accents.

Derek writes: “why cant it be a web cast for season six just to kind of tie up the cool stuff that the movie wouldn`t have time for ?”

Answer: It wouldn’t make financial sense to produce episodes for the web.

Tamijb writes: “Will the new alien race that was seen in Deadleaus Variations be seen in SGU?”

Answer: Unlikely.

59 thoughts on “November 3, 2008: David Anthony Durham’s Acacia

  1. Hmm, just make sure you get the right set of fingerprints returned when you leave Japan!

    And looks like an interesting read, good for the long winter I hear is ahead.

    Not that you would be privy, but is there ever going to be a follow-up to Feast for Crows? Sheesh!

  2. “Nope. That was the last of the spoiler poems. You guys should bug Robert Cooper to write one for SGU’s first season.”

    What’s the best method to bug him? Maybe we can get him to start a blog….

  3. If we followed a French team off-world, they would encounter French-speaking aliens with funny accents.

    I totally had a Monty Python flash when I read that…. “Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of silly persons! ” 😛


  4. Hi Joe,

    I finished my SG-1 marathon last week – all 10 seasons and 2 movies – and started Atlantis. But I may have been watching too much because last night I had some really strange Atlantis dreams.

    Have a great trip to Japan and hopefully all the meals are awesome. How’s the language learning going?


  5. Joe,
    Its killing me not knowing what this Super Secret Project is! And now a new piece of is a deadline not set by you. Well, I figured it out, Showtime has secretly approached you to write a new sci-fi show for them. One they want called, SGA-Relocated. 🙂

    I was doing great until I read this…”significant character death” What do you mean by familiar? Just how familiar? I think the following are familiar faces, Marie, Banks, but do you mean familiar like I can’t even think about it. Please tell me it will under no circumstances be one of the following.. John, McKay, Teyla, Ronon, Zalenka, Lorne, Carson, Keller, Todd, Caldwell, or Chuck. Of course I know you can’t answer it!

    However, if my Ronon/Keller ship continues sinking so McKeller can sail away into the sunset. I will gladly offer you McKay. (I’m really joking..kind of) 😉

  6. Come on, y’all, no one really ever dies in sci fi!
    They could always just kill the entire cast in the last episode and resurrect them for the movie.
    And call it Stargate: Ghost Hunters.
    It would be a nice tie in when they air it on SciFi prior to the DVD release.

  7. I don’t know if this is a vent or a rant, but I need to say this:

    I truly don’t care who canceled Atlantis. It’s canceled, and I really hate that fact, but it is a fact. I’m pretty sure that I don’t care what anyone at MGM, SciFi or any level of Stargate thinks of me as a fan (maybe I care a little, but maybe not, I’m not completely sure yet). I really enjoyed SG-1 and I loved SGA. Two truly entertaining series (serieses?) were made, and I’m happy about that.

    I’m hoping I’ll enjoy SGU even half as much as I enjoyed SGA, which would be a lot, and I’m looking forward to movies, both SGA and SG-1, and who knows, maybe someday SGU. I’m looking forward to having to work hard to keep track of the current projects of all my favorite people in front and behind the camera from SGA.

    I’ll buy the DVDs, I’ll give SGU a chance, and if there are people who are making plenty of money off me, cool, because I’ve been having a wonderful time the last few years watching these shows, and I really appreciate the people who had a part in making that happen.

    All done now. I feel better.

  8. @mellow yellow: I was doing great too till I also read about the “significant character death”. I however, do not believe it is one of our favorite people or main cast. Usually when they say “familiar faces” it is someone from the past that has been on the show more than once and is a significant part of the show, but then hasn’t been on for a while. Like Major Davis. I believe that is what they mean by “familar faces”.

    Joe: Can I quess who the “familiar face” is? Is it Aiden Ford? He is a familiar face and has not been on SGA in a while. When he was last seen they were not sure if he was still a live or not? Also I can’t picture any of the main characters being killed off with the movies coming up?

    My second quess is Koyla. Another familar face, but he is a bad guy so it wouldn’t be a loss if he was killed. And Sheppard supposedly killed him already.

    Am I right on either one of them? Or are you not allowed to say?

    Thank you for bringing the mailbag back. I always look forward to it. And your dogs are really cute.

  9. Fantasy novels are cookie cutter clones? NOoooowah, I’ve never thought of them that way. 😉

    Well, I haven’t had much time to post or to read your blog lately. In truth, I’m so exhausted right now and I have to finish marking my Grd. 12’s essay tests. I enjoy going through them, and thinking about how I can get my students on to the next skill level, but it is difficult when they don’t see any value in writing, or thinking. I spoke to one of my students today, who openly told me he has no interest in English and all he wants is a mark of 70 from me (the minimum for entrance into any university). What do you say to that? “That’s nice.” “Is that right?” “Ye don’t say…?” “Well, how de do dee!” or, “how ’bout an eggsh##wich with your saaaasage…? :D”

    Anyway, I thought of you when I came across this vast selection of cuisine options for the mass American voting public:

    You can have a Krispy Kreme Staaaa from the good ol’ spangled banner, wash it back with a cuppa joe from “Eat’n Park” and when yer hungry at lunch, git on over to “Chicken-Fil-A” for a “Chicken-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich” an a “scoopa Iiiiice cream” from “Ben and Jerry’s” Yuuuuum yum.


  10. Shiningwit. Hope your nephew does better. Bad enough to have a siezure, but to end up injured like that…. do me one favor though. Please tell family and friends NOT to insert anything into his mouth in the event of another incident. I’ve seen more injuries due to would-be rescuers than I have from the siezures themselves.
    Onto Acacia. I have to admit, the first few chapters didn’t impress me much. Benevolent king, dutiful children, malignant threat from the harsh frozen lands of the north..still, the writing was decent, so I kept going.
    Then the author began planting little spikes in the story to drag me in further. Treason at the highest levels, the king an addict to the same substance enslaving the populace, a centuries old agreement feeding thousands of children a year for unknown purposes…
    For some reason, I was caught off guard by the level of violence in the early goiing. The murder of the messenger, the massacre of the field troop in Mein, then the grisly fate of the remaining garrison troops..this certainly solidified the ruthlessness of the Mein, and of the Numrek.
    By the time the children had been scattered, I was fully engaged by the novel. I admit a fondness for Mena in particular. From Princess to goddess is a pretty nice promotion, though it seems to be the most implausible of the fates. Corinn’s fate was the most tragic, though I thought that it was improbable that she would have been allowed to remain virginal for fully nine years. The humanization of Hamish was done adeptly, as was the transformation of Corinn from victim to power player.
    A few things provided “what the?” moments. The first was the Acacian dedication to the fighting “forms”. I nderstand that they represent katas, but how a princess/priestess could recognise the shortcomings of learning by form, and soon defeat a trained, elite warrior escaped me. The plot twist with Aliver’s fate was a nice jolt, setting up circumstances for the latter half of the book. Given the hunter/warrior cultures of both the Talayans and the Mein, and perhaps overwhelmed by his own mythic rise, I could understand Aliver accepting the duel. Dariel’s reaction also seemed to feel right, and I can see where that it will also play a part in future volumes.
    The only real disappointment was the Santoth. While the Tunishnevre threat was built up layer by layer, and the evil nature of both the Tunishnevre and their curse made clear, the Santoth still feel…unreal. I must applaud Mr. Durham for thinking up a curse like that, by the way. It truly creeped me out once I realized its exact nature.
    With the Santoth though, I feel nothing. The nature of how their magic works, and how it’s been corrupted, is fascinating. Yet given the dangerous nature of any attempted intervention on their part, it was suprising to find them playing such a pivotal role in the battle with Meander’s troops. I’m lookng forward to seeing how the Santoth fit into the overall story arc, but I look forward more to other elements of the story.
    Still, this book had me staying up late when I needed the sleep, which hasn’t happened in a couple of months of reading. So two thumbs up here for Mr. Durham’s work, and I’ll be looking for the sequels on the next book run. Thanks Mr. M. for selecting this book for the BotM club.

  11. Hey, I never said or claimed to have perfect logic (lol), I’ll take shaky. In my defense I did say it was my opinion/guess. I am a very determined person what can I say.

    Be nice now, it is my birthday tomorrow.
    For my present, my daughter is staying home in the evening and has planned to watch a Stargate Atlantis marathon with me. Because we need a lot of time she is bringing dinner home. So, two great things, I don’t have to cook and I get to watch my favorite show with my daughter. Making me happy is not that complicated (lol).

  12. Is it correct to say that had SGU never been pitched, that we would have had a sixth season of SGA. SCiFi seems to think that SGA’s a great show, and loves producing it.

  13. Couldn’t you guys just have found a third party to cover costs for either show, so both could be produced at the same time?
    I say this because it seems to be a question of money. That’s what BW and RCC say in their interviews. “It’s expensive”

  14. @tamijb, I think they’re good guesses but I suspect if it’s meant to be “significant” and “surprising’ then it’s most likely going to be a more well known recurring character along the lines of Radek or Lorne.

    Or if they really want to stir things up then it’s got to be a regular – Jason Mamoa made vague noises about wanting to look at other roles earlier this year before the cancellation was known which is why I’m wondering if Ronon’s the one headed for the dirt nap, which makes sense if he signalled that he might not have been interested in doing the movie(s) at any event. But I’m guessing here.

    After Ronon I’d say Radek’s the most likely candidate – after Trio he became the seal pup to the writer’s killer whales, heh.

    Guess the Dead Character: It’s a barrel full of decomposing monkey good times.

  15. Joe’
    Just want to apologize for my rant yesterday. I’m trying not to loose my house, have family medical problems and am not very excited about the fact that my job kills my brain cells day by day because of it’s lack of stimulation so I’m just a little cranky. 🙂 Have a great day.

  16. Joe, I caught part of a TV show the other day – called Me or the Dog, I think – in which a dog trainer/therapist was showing a couple how to train their 5 pugs NOT to eat each other’s poop (*gag*).

    Since I didn’t see the whole show, I wondered: is this a problem common in pugs or was this just a group of dogs with issues?

  17. On tv death: I was a fan of LOST before I even knew that Stargate existed (having grown up without cable), so main-character-death is something I got very used to. The deaths of so many characters I grew close to… it changes one’s perspective on TV.

    Alas, my local second-hand bookstore didn’t have Acacia!

    I’m getting more and more excited about SGU as the weeks go on… I can’t wait for BW’s guest blog =)

  18. Shiningwit, good healing thoughts for your nephew.

    So, Joe, does your vision of Hell include all fruit desserts all the time? Does this include raspberries and strawberries? Pies, cobblers or crisps? Bananas Foster?

  19. I heard it has to do with their anti terrorism laws or something, and to catch anyone illegally entering the country.

    Just to be safe it’d be best to carry your passport/Id around just incase you randomly get stopped by any police patrolling.

    Personally I don’t agree with the law that targets just foreigners, but at the end of the day we, the general public who live outside of the country, just have to respect what they decide and hope someday they relax a little lol.

    I just feel sorry for people on long flights for the first time only to be subjected to finger prints/photographing.

    They should have a dressing room to freshen up for people, you have to look good for the pic right ? 🙂

  20. @ Perragrin – I know, I KNOW! It was just gonna be a ‘cute dogs, nice updates’ post, but then one thought gave way to another, and so on and so forth. Blah. I was also watching Turk 182 and Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon while I typed…which meant that I kept getting distracted, losing my train of thought, and taking way too long to finish it. I think I finished at about 3:30 am…lol. But we’re on vacation this week, so I didn’t have to be up early (which means I woke up before 8 am…grrrr).

    @ Pat – I couldn’t agree with you more, every single word. I want to be entertained by a show, I want to escape from the distressing things real life dumps on us, and get lost in another, hopefully more uplifting, world. Promises of a significant and/or shocking character death just makes me want to walk away now, before I get more attached. Of course, I assume it will be Todd because he’s the ‘enemy’…which just depresses me more and…ugh, this is why I hate watching tv series. Last time I was like this was over Worf’s brother, Kurn – man, I LOVED him! Every episode he was in I was a total basketcase…couldn’t enjoy the show because I *knew* he was going to die. Each time he’d survive an episode, then I’d go back and re-watch it and finally enjoy it. Yup, he was my ‘Todd’ back in 90s… 😳

    @ tamijb – You must’ve missed my reply to you a few days back (10/26) – YES! Loving Sanctuary! The tension between Helen and Druitt is exactly the sort of thing I love, and it’s nicely balanced with the other elements of story, action, suspense, etc. I also like the fact that – although some must die – the main goal is to preserve, and not destroy. I’m very happy with it so far, and hope it sticks around for a while.

    AND, I’m very tired – I actually had less than 3 hours sleep last night, woke up and went to the office to finish up some paperwork, came home and helped hubby rake leaves, trim back summer vines, clean gutters, mow the grass, and catch up with several other yard tasks…right up until dark. Afterwards, we relaxed in the back yard in front of a nice, big pit fire, sipping wine, and enjoying a surprisingly good chicken piccante we picked up at our local pizza joint. And then there was the chocolate. 😀 VERY relaxing after a hard (but rewarding) day’s work…

    …which begs the question: Joe, are you an outdoorsy lawn and garden type? Most Italians I know grow something – tomatoes, or grapes, or figs – so, just wondering if you’ve inherited that same gardening gene.


  21. I not trying to be a bitch sga movie is all the fans have left I hadnt realized you asked all the neilsen box owners or all the fans on gateworld

  22. I m not trying to be a bitch sga movie is all the fans have left I hadnt realized you asked all the neilsen box owners or all the fans on gateworld

  23. hey joe i love seeing the pictures of your dogs and i was wondering if there was a way if i can send u some pictures of my Dog Melboure my Jack Russell for your blog

  24. @The peoplemobile: I didn’t know that about Jason M. That does make since now. Then again as mentioned before even if he does die doesn’t mean he wont be back in a future, future, SGA movie. I just assumed it was someone from the past, which usually “familiar faces” mean that. Thanks for the update.

    @dasNdanger: I did miss your post about Sanctuary. I like Sanctuary for all the same reasons you do. Its something different to look forward to. You never know what to expect. There’s so many possibilities for this show. I saw Amanda Tapping on Ghost hunters live. She said that there was over 3 mill people watching the first episode of Sanctuary. I hope the series goes on forever or at least five years.

  25. “My Name Is Scott writes: “Hey! I was curious as to how the SGA movie will be named… since the SG-1 movies don’t have SG-1 in the title, will the SGA movies work the same?”

    Answer: We’ve yet to decide on a title but I’m thinking either Stargate Atlantis: Turn of Events or Stargate Atlantis: The Happening or Stargate: The Third Movie.”


  26. Hello Joe,

    How come the translator nanites don’t speak Czech? It really has to be a lot easier than most of the other languages in two galaxies together.

    If they do, how come McKay is never offended? 🙂

    P.S. Or Russian, come to think of it…

  27. I was wondering, will the pilot for SGU be shown on any non-sci-fi channels? Like for those who don’t have pay TV? I’m just curious because although I am unwilling to believe that SGU will be the hip new thing, I am willing to watch the pilot to see if it meets my expectations or, by some miraculous chance of fate, exceeds them and I actually enjoy it.

  28. Sadly I have to admit that I have not yet finished Acacia but I am enjoying it so far. I do have to agree on some of the things Thornyrose said about the violence in the beginning: the murder of the messenger, the deaths of the troops in the Mein. I wasn’t ready for that. The beginning was a bit dull for me and then the messenger was killed and I wanted to know why and I haven’t been able to put the book down. It is taking me longer to read this story, but I love how David Anthony Durham describes things. Granted I can probably do without so much descriptions but once I’m done with a chapter I’m grateful for it, which typically is the opposite depending on an author’s ability to write in full detail without going overboard with it. I have put books down because of too much detail.

    I have fallen in love with the character of Dariel while Aliver annoys me. Aliver reminds me of all the annoying Princes in other novels that just whine because they don’t get their way or they think they have to prove themselves just to be shown respect. He even reminds me of the main character in Catcher in the Rye (God I hate that book). So far, to me, it’s almost as if Aliver is trying to be someone that he’s not emotionally or physically ready to be. It’s almost as if he’s living too much in the past that he can’t see the present or the future. I did though want to cry when King Leodan died. He put his family before his station in life and that doesn’t seem to happen in a lot of books containing some form of royalty no matter the genre.

    You know, I’ve noticed that I can never seem to finish books when I have a deadline, but I do manage to finish them eventually. I did that in school too. My teachers never understood how I could love reading, and read as much as I do, and not be able to finish a book in an allotted time. And no matter how much I tell myself that I can’t afford any new books right now, I find that my pile of books to read is growing and spilling off the shelves.

    I was wondering, have you ever read any of the Dragonlance novels? My mom and brother have read almost all of them and I’ve tried twice but can’t seem to get into them. I might try again after reading Acacia. I might also try Dune. I can’t wait to finish this book.

  29. Hi Joe,

    I want to ask you a few things. First – do you use any special screenwriting software ot just type in MS Office, and what kind of genre are your pilots – drama, action, sci-fi, sitcom?

  30. I’ve just been to Gateworld and seen the rating for Outsiders. I, personally, thought this episode was great, it was an original stargate-y kind of episode.
    1). How do the ratings work?/what do they stand for?
    2). Outsiders only airs tonight (Tuesday) In England, is there any where we can see what the rating are for us?

  31. November 1st:

    “Mellow Yellow also writes: “So my man Ronon and my girl Teyla won’t be in the episode Vegas?”

    Answer: They will not.”

    November 2nd:

    “Ikiniowa writes: “Wait a minute…Teyla’s not going to be in the 100th episode?!”

    Answer: Wait a minute. She’s not? That’s news to me.”

    Any help, Joe?

  32. Joe writes: “Can you clarify just who will be heading back in on Nov. 10th to pitch stories for Universe? Will the entire writing staff of Atlantis be back? Will there be any new writers hired?”

    Answer: It remains to be seen who’ll be in the room on November 10th. As for new writers – Brad and Rob are on the look-out. In fact, I just sent an email to one potential new writer this afternoon.

    But…my inbox is devoid of Joemails. Are you sure you had the right address?

    And if bugging Rob Cooper is what it takes to get ourselves a vague spoiler poem (the best kind there is), then that’s exactly what we’ll do! It’s time to gather, once again, the elite force that once tried to rescue you, Joe, from the clutches of Baron Destructo. Except, this time, instead of using our powers for good, we shall go dark side and bug the living hell out of Rob Cooper. No one will ever see it coming!

    All we’ll need is his personal information, so as to blackmail him should he refuse to cooperate with our initial demands and empty threats. The best way to get that is, of course, through scam emails (or “scamails”). For this, we shall need someone who can’t type or spell very well, but who also has a colorful backstory involving murder, treachery, and a seriously illogical banking system.

    That shouldn’t be too hard. I’ll get started on it right away!

    Oh, and Kristin Bell for Chloe Carpenter; you know it to be just and true. I just thought of this yesterday and, having seen her character on Heroes, it’s PERFECT. I also can’t stop thinking about it so I might as well output it here.

    It’s amazing what sleep deprivation can do to your style of commenting.

    But to be serious for a moment, I’m sorry to hear about your nephew, Shiningwit; I hope he is feeling better.

  33. Coucou Joseph!!

    Waou! Merci d’avoir répondu à autant de questions!!
    Aujourd’hui c’est les éléctions américain!!
    De plus mon équipe de foot préféré joue ce soir=)
    Et il faut que je face l’éxperience N°2 pour l’élaboration de ma Sauce Patatos de chez Mcdo!! (Faite que sa marche)
    Je vais bien en profiter car demain, je reprend les cours!!!
    Aller bisou bisou! Bonne journée!

  34. Cheers for the mention Joe, I’ve directed Kyle to your blog, he is on the mend now albeit really pissed off because it is now another 12 months before he can obtain a driving license. (the weight bench now resides in the garage!)

  35. Grr, have had houseguests for the past week or so, so have not been able to finish up any of this month’s BOTM selections, despite having them ready at hand to read.

    I am currently really enjoying The Traveller — I love the way the modern surveilllance society has been worked in with the more fantastical aspects of travelling to alternate realities. Somehow, it makes seeing all those CCTV cameras out and about seem that much more sinister.

    I’m not entirely sure what to think about the idea of two groups furtively battling and killing each other through the ages, engaged in a very private war out of the public eye. Given that the Brethren seem to embrace the idea of the panopticon, and to foist it on society at large, it seems rather hypocritical for them to operate without broad public scrutiny themselves. Oh, sure they have cameras in their headquarters, keeping an eye on all the employees, but I bet vast majority of the work carried out by Boone and his cohorts is done in secret (otherwise they’d all be in gaol–killing being kind of frowned upon in most civilized societies, after all), on a need to know basis where almost nobody needs to know. Makes me wonder who the master puppeteer is — if indeed there is one. To the point that I have read (just under halfway through the novel), none of the characters seems to be The Man (or Woman. Or Person).

    Anyway, just thought I’d say I am reading this month’s books. I just won’t be able to contribute anything to the Q&A and discussion with the authors before they do their guest posts. Sorry, authors! But if it’s okay, I’ll post my reactions to the books as and when I get done reading?

  36. Bonjour Mr Malozzi

    tout d’abord merci pour tous ces postes et ces photos!!

    Ensuite concernant les films de stargate atlantis, serait’il possible que Paul McGillion, notre acteur écossais préféré et par conséquent notre docteur écossais préféré fasse partie de la distribution du casting ainsi que David Nykl et Kavan Smith?

    N’y a t’il aucune chance pour que Torri Higginson y soit?


  37. I always wondered why McKay was the only one to call it a Zed PM. All of the other civilizations they have encountered (that actually know what one is) refer to it as a Zee PM even when many times they would have learnt the name from McKay.

  38. I don’t see why people are complaining about the conference room. It’s done; it won’t change. Accept it and move on.

    So election day is upon us. Regardless of who wins, I’ll be glad all those ads will stop airing. They get annoying after a while…

  39. dasND … wanna come help do my yardwork?

    The fingerprinting at the airport will be dreary, but incredibly polite. Joe, will you tell me if the fingerprint attendants wear the ubiquitous white gloves? Or are white gloves no longer ubiquitous in Japan? Everyone in a service position wore them, taxi drivers, train station guards, the escalator greeters who bowed and kept the handgrip on the moving stairs shiny and germ-free for the customers.

    I miss Japan so much some days!

  40. I am surprised to say that I did not enjoy “Acacia.” In fact, I had such trouble with it that I couldn’t finish it. In short, the writing style does not appeal to me.

    I’ve heard the writing described as lush. I think more of the phrase “too much.” The descriptions, setting of scenes, movement between scenes, all of it was overwhelmed by the language. The “lush” and abundant language gave the book a lethargic pacing which in turn made it impossible for me to engage with the events or the character. There were character moments that wanted to pull me in (like the meeting between the messenger and the King’s man who kills her) but even those left me feeling distanced. Some of it, too, may have been too much internal going on and not enough external (from character interaction to actual action).

    I enjoy lush writing usually so I can’t say exactly what put me off. Something disconnected for me between the overt writing style and the storytelling. I think of “Etched City” with its lush (and weird) style. I enjoyed that. I’m left scratching my head because I really wanted to like this book.

    I can see the comparisons to George R.R. Martin with regard to the large scale story and multiple character POVs and world-building on a multi-nation scale. I enjoy Martin. Perhaps he tries for less and succeeded while Durham tries for more and does quite hit it (at least for me)? Still here, scratching my head. Maybe I’ll drag out Martin again and see how they compare. I’m always willing to go back and try again, so likely I’ll pick up Durham again.

    Questions for David Anthony Durham:

    Have you been surprised by the community that reads and/or creates Science Fiction/Fantasy?

    Do you feel that in order to write in a genre such as fantasy that an author should familiarize himself with other works in the field?

    I understand you are part of an MFA program in Maine. Do you enjoy teaching? Do you see a divide there between ‘literary’ and ‘pop fiction’ authors?

    Of the cons that you have attended, which ones have you enjoyed the most?

    Are there other genres that you may write in? Or is it more that your more interested in telling a story and really don’t pay attention to genre? What other stories do you have on the burner?

  41. Hey Joe!

    I voted this morning. I stood in a looooong line to do it, too. Just part of my civic duty. Should I be concerned that the machine didn’t want to read page 2 of my ballot? Yeah… Scantron machines… gotta hate ’em, gotta hate ’em. 😉

    Anyway, I think your Super-Secret Project must involve bringing back Barney the purple dinosaur. This time, though, he’s going to be in outer space. Let’s face it, the world is ready for a purple dino out in space. 😉

    Or maybe the primer I just painted Allie’s room with is getting to my noggin.

    Trish 😀

  42. In fact, I just sent an email to one potential new writer this afternoon.

    ::: Pol frantically checks her email:::

    Dang! Nope, no mail from Joe!

    Yet. 😉

  43. Hi Joe, I have 2 questions for you. Since you were kinda vague on who will make up the writing staff on SGU, can you tell us if Martin Gero and Alan McCullough will be there on the 10th or are they off to other projects?
    Did you watch the Halloween episode of Iron Chef America, Battle Offal? I thought the gooey duck and tripe dish seemed like something you might enjoy.

  44. One day I shall be the first commenter to comment. And on that day…well it will probably be just another lame comment from me. But it will be the first!

    Maximus looks so soft.

    On a daily basis dogs are not of much interest to me. But every time I see pictures of Jelly, Maximus, Bubba, and Lucy I have this undying need to pet them.

    And it’s an interesting need because while some of my blogger reads are friends and I could, say, go over and pet their animals if I found the need risen, the probability that I would ever be able to pet your babies is…well…there isn’t one really.

    Nope, not on my chart of things probable.




    I had this chocolate candy the other day at Trader Joe’s. It was dark chocolate filled with caramel with large chunks of salt on top. I don’t much like salt. But I could see how, if I were to like salt, it would compliment the flavors. It was very interesting.

  45. Hey Joe,

    Just wanted to be sure you got my email that second time I sent it. If you haven’t received it, please let me know, and I’ll just go ahead an post it on here.

    Thanks again,

  46. I voted today, weee!

    I hope your horror pic gets made in Canada; I just saw “How She Move” and the views of urban Toronto were pretty gritty. The apartment blocks reminded me of the depiction of Cabrini Green in “Candyman.”

    My fave Canadian pics are “Double Happiness” and “Suspicious River,” but the most popular Canadian pic in my part of the U.S. is that curling movie with Peter Outerbridge, “Men with Brooms.” WGN America shows it every other month.

  47. Are any of your January BOTMC picks easy reads? Something with lots of pictures and pop ups? I enjoy reading but don’t find alot of time, usually takes me 3-4 months to read a novel.

    Also how about spinning this idea for SGU;
    Having an airmen in the gateroom run through the gate and get trapped on the Destiny with the team. But they keep him in lockup unless he is needed, so he would be like a recurring character.

    You can have my ideas free of charge 😉

  48. On November 2nd, Mr. M wrote:

    The Super, Secret Project: Still super. Still secret. And incredibly daunting. Three scenes in and I’ve stalled outside the nursing home. Deadline: June of 2009 and, right now, that looms uncomfortably close.

    Nursing home? I live in a nursing home. Can I be of assistance?

    Or is your “super, secret project” actually getting me the signed script page you promised me? If that is your “super, secret project”, and since it’s doubtful I’ll be around in June 2009, I hope you can move that deadline closer. I’d really like to have that page.

    Anne Teldy

  49. In Midway why didn’t Atlantis dial Earth to warn them after they discovered that the wraith had invaded Midway?

  50. Joe writes: “Can you clarify just who will be heading back in on Nov. 10th to pitch stories for Universe? Will the entire writing staff of Atlantis be back? Will there be any new writers hired?”

    Answer: It remains to be seen who’ll be in the room on November 10th. As for new writers – Brad and Rob are on the look-out. In fact, I just sent an email to one potential new writer this afternoon.

    How can you become a new writer? Do shows still send out pitch letters for writers to come and pitch ideas to the writing staff? I received a letter and autographed script years ago when Deep Space Nine was on by Ronald D. Moore (now creater of Battlestar Galactica). However, that was four years after high school and I didn’t have the money to fly out to California. To this day I always wonder what would have happened if I went. Oh, well life moves on.

    @shiningwit: Glad to see your nephew is better.

  51. Oct 28th, Joe said “Ten minutes into the movie, Paul, alerted to the fact that the movie is guilty of some heinous plot twist, turned to me and said: “The twist better not be…” and accurately predicted the upcoming twist.

    I hate it when I can predict an upcoming plot twist OR how a stunt/special effect is filmed. It generally means I am bored or that the movie/tv show has not engaged my brain sufficiently.

    Happy to say, this has not happened with SG-1 or SGA (or the movies – so far!!) 🙂

    Joe, in early September, I sent some chocolate to the cast, can you confirm that it was received at SGHQ?? I need to know so that I can throw out the postal receipt.

    I didnt make it to Armegeddon to see David, Kavan or Gary Jones due to illness – looks like I missed out on the fun. 🙁

  52. @ Anne Teldy – Joe is more like Wraith than you know (just not as hot*). Ya know, making promises, then going back on his word. In fact, he’s probably more tricksy than Wraith, ’cause I’m pretty sure if Todd had made that promise, you’d have that page already, AND he would have hand-delivered it. 😉

    Is everything okay? If you’re able, drop me an e-mail…I don’t want to bug you if you’re not feeling well…so whatever you’re up to doing. *hugs*

    @ maggiemayday – Sure! I love doing yardwork! Very rewarding and therapeutic. I’m so-so with actual ‘gardening’, but only because my yard, with lots of trees (evergreens, hollies, and dogwoods) and very acidic soil, makes it hard to grow things like flowering plants, and veggies. I do have an container herb garden, a strawberry container ‘patch’, and a grape vine (not an arbor…but a vine that I have encouraged to grow along my fence), and I have grown tomatoes in containers, as well. With all my trees, and roots, containers are just the way to go for me.

    I also made a Japanese tea garden (kinda) – I was very pleased with the way it turned out. I still have things to do in it, but I have the main features (water basin, with bamboo spout and traditionally placed stones (hot water, kneeling, and lantern stones), and a couple lanterns. It’s a work in progress, and I’ll probably tinker in it for years before I get it just the way I want it.

    Side note… and I’m not sure if I ever shared this here, but my very first car was a Dodge Dart (granddad’s hand-me-down), much like this one (same color, I just can’t remember if it was a ’64, or ’66):

    Not quite a Wraith dart, but still…

    I’m rambling again, aren’t I?? 😛


    *Joe, you might not be ‘Wraith hot’, but you’re still cute as a button…kinda like Lulu, only without the pointy ears and a chewy in your mouth. 😉

  53. Alas. Once again I only managed to read one BotM selection. “The Traveler” won out because it was the smaller of the two books and I knew I would be able to finish it. A poor reason for book selection, but there it is. I did buy Acacia. I do intend to read it. But I just had to read the next two books in Justina Robson’s Quantum Gravity series first — I’ve got a thing for Elves; and although the first book didn’t end well for my favorite character, I’m hooked and it’s all your fault, Joe.

    @das: Hey, we should trade some soil! I have alkaline, clay soil.

    @maggiemayday: I’d come with das to help with your yard work, but I’ve still got a few bushes to trim and leaves to rake. When I was in Japan in April I was photographed but not fingerprinted and, as usual, the whole process went very smoothly and quickly. The nice security people were not wearing gloves. However, the takushi duraiba all wore white gloves. And there were seat covers and little doilies on the headrests of all the taxis. Gotta love it!

  54. I really liked this book a lot and I think a lot of it has to do with David Anthony Durham’s worldbuilding ability. Acacia was as real to me as any historical setting and that’s what swept me into the story. I thought that the book started strong by establishing the empire and the different characters, then gained momentum once the Mein made their move and forced the king’s children to escape. But once they were separated, I found myself more interested in some stories than others. I didn’t really care for Aliver and found his adventures the least interesting, but loved reading about Corinn, Mena, and, most of all, Spratling! The chapters dedicated to poor Rialus living with the Numrek were great as well and they actually made me feel sorry for the little weasel.

    A great opening book to a series I’ll definitely be following. Now, some questions for the author:

    1. All of the characters in your novel were well developed and unique. Did you have a favorite? Is there some of you in any character in particular?

    2. The Numrek were a shocking race. They were almost alien-like. What inspired you in creating them?

    3. When you write, do you work off a plan or do you “make it up as you go along”. If you make it up, were you as shocked as we were by what happened to Aliver?

    4. What made you decide to try your hand at fantasy after achieving so much success writing historical novels.

    5. And as a follow up to #4 – Do you read fantasy and, if you do, do you have any favorite authors?

  55. Acacia rocked! The battle scenes were some of the best I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot). There were so many unexpected twists and turns that I was always on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next.

    I actually liked the Santoth and thought they were set up nicely. I expect them to play a bigger part in the next book.


    – According to Acacian tradition, would Dariel be the next in line to succeed Aliver? If that’s the case, will Corinn’s position of power cause problems?

    – Was it your intention to keep Hanish’s death open for interpretation? Should we assume he’s dead?

    – How did Mena master her sword skills so quickly? Was she just a very quick learner?

    – I was unclear on who manufactured the mist. Was it the Lothan? In that case, Sir Dagon and his seafarers were just middlemen?

    – Did you find it tough to come up with villains as good as Hanish and Meander for your second book?

  56. @ Sparrow_hawk- Ya know, I used to collect soil and sand. I probably even have some from your area (it was a science project started in grade school, suggested by a teacher to keep us ‘busy’ on family trips, and it continued through my 20s). The finest soil I collected was in Oklahoma – it looked exactly like fine, powdered cocoa. Just beautiful. In Mexico, I found purple soil, and just about every other color you can think of throughout the country, and into others. I have green and black sands from Hawaii, pink sand from Bermuda, and yellow, orange and red clay soils from around the country. Amazing how beautiful something as simple as ‘dirt’ can be.

    I just wish I could find the time to dust off the old collection and find an attractive way to display it – but, alas…I have ‘hobby ADD’, too many interests to focus properly on just one. My husband often laments, ‘you used to do stained glass, but you don’t anymore!’, and I just reply, ‘Stained glass? THAT was so 1999!’ This year it’s bonsai, Wraith, comics, samurai movies and my lifelong quest to own a 1952 Vincent Black Shadow…



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