David responded to my request for a pic by sending me this.  I'm going to guess that's him on the right.
David responded to my request for a pic by sending me this. I'm going to guess that's him on the right.


I’d heard a lot of good things about Acacia and its author, so when it came time to select a fantasy book for this month’s BOTMC, I decided to go with David Anthony Durham’s first foray into the genre.  Well, I’m pleased to report that not only was Acacia as good as “they” said, but its author was as genial and good-humored as I’d been led to believe.  So, if you see David at an upcoming con, be sure to say hi and tell him how much you enjoyed his book.  Or, better yet, head on over to his blog and drop him a note at www.davidanthonydurham.com/blog/

Over to David…    

First off, let me say how pleased I am that Joe chose to feature Acacia. It’s an honor, and I appreciate it, and I’ll do my best to write good books in the future so that he doesn’t regret having drawn attention to me. Okay, questions…

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

Not surprised, but generally pleased. In terms of fellow writers… I just got back from the World Fantasy Convention. One night there I’m hanging out in the bar with GRRM, Steven Erikson, Dave Keck, Daniel Abraham. Tad Williams breezes by (although I didn’t talk to him). The artist Todd Lockwood stops in to chat. Garth Nix is happy to report that he read and enjoyed Acacia… And the next night is the same, but with other names thrown in the mix.

I don’t mention these folks just to name drop (a little bit, though). I mention them because there’s no way that in the circles of “literary” fiction I would find myself so quickly welcomed and on a first name basis with comparably famous and respected authors. There are a lot more barriers in literary circles, a lot more emphasis on stature as a segregating force. So, I’ve found that most sci-fi and fantasy authors (not all – but I won’t name names negatively) are welcoming, unpretentious and great fun to drink with.

As for the fan community… I love it that there is a fan community! It’s a great boost each time somebody drops me a complimentary email. I respond to every one. As I do to blog or forum posts. I feel privileged to have readers, and I’ve found science fiction and fantasy readers to be every bit as intelligent as I could hope for. It is a new experience (four books into being an author) to have readers from around the world telling me they’re waiting for my next book – get to work. I love that, and I’m going to do the best I can to make it a lasting relationship.

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?

Sure, but I’d like to think that’s a natural part of the process. It would seem pretty weird to me to choose to invest so much time and energy (not to mention taking on considerable risk) in writing a fantasy if I wasn’t interested in reading fantasy too. Granted, I can think of a few prominent literary writers that may have done just that, assuming that their take on… oh, say a post-apocalyptic world is so inherently superior that they need not read other works on the subject… But that’s not cool.

Having said that, I can’t pretend that all fantasy interests me, or even that all epic fantasy interests me. I like to feel challenged by each novel I read. Or at least like they’re teaching me something. For me, that goes hand in hand with being entertained. So I begin a lot more fantasy novels than I finish. Actually, I’d say I read more sci-fi than fantasy these days. The last books I’ve read: In the Courts of the Crimson Kings by S.M. Stirling, Idlewild by Nick Sagan, Think Like a Dinosaur by James Patrick Kelly. Some of the books on deck: The Dreaming Void by Peter F Hamilton and Anathem by Neal Stephenson.

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?

I’m actually up to my ears in teaching right now. I’m on the full-time MFA faculty at Cal State Fresno and, yes, I also teach part-time for the Stonecoast low-residency program in Maine. At Cal State, the program doesn’t do “genre” at all, but Stonecoast does have a “Popular Fiction” track.

The divide… Well, let me start with the similarities. I’m happy to say that I think the pop-fic student writing is just as strong as the literary folks. I say that with an awareness that crime, fantasy, sci-fi authors may have specific attributes to their work that appeals to their specific readers – as opposed to being there to make the NY Times critics happy. So, the writing may be different, but I’m measuring success in terms of how the two groups craft work for their target audiences.

One of the differences is that the pop-fic students generally have a much clearer understanding of what their objectives are. They know what they’re writing, who they’re writing it for, and they’re working with publication explicitly in mind. The literary students don’t necessarily have those practical things in clear focus.

The divide… Yes, I do see a divide. It comes from both sides. Many of the literary students can’t help but look down on the pop-fic students. They may be vague as to why, but they seem to generally assume that the popular work is of lesser value. On the other hand, the pop-fic students feel they have (ironically in some ways) a better grip on reality. They’re also very aware of the slights coming from the other side, and they’re not above getting snarky about it.

That said, at least programs like Stonecoast let genre writers in the room. Most traditional programs still don’t.

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

I have been on an active con schedule the last 18 months or so. My favorite (which I’ve been to twice now) is World Fantasy. There are just so many writers there that I’m constantly getting whiplash as I spot them. And they’re (mostly) completely approachable. The fans are great to, and the emphasis remains on the books and artwork and on lively panel discussions and readings… and on hanging out in the bar. Perfect.

I really enjoyed Readercon in Burlington, MA. Much smaller, but really high quality and well run, with a tiring schedule of good panels. WisCon was good too. And ComicCon was great, but so massive I was always aware of missing much, much more than I ever got to see. I’m going to LosCon at the end of this month. High hopes for that one, but we’ll see. I missed WorldCon, so I can’t comment on that. Maybe next year…

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?

I am in a bit of a strange position in that my publisher has been willing to come with me as I move through genres. I began with Doubleday as a writer of historical, literary fiction (Gabriel’s Story and Walk Through Darkness). Shifting to ancient war with Pride of Carthage was a big step, and then writing a fantasy series was not what they would have expected when we began. But they seem willing to approach it the same way I am. I don’t think of myself as a genre writer particularly. I just get hooked by certain ideas and go where the inspiration leads me.

There are at least two more Acacia novels. I’ve just finished the second, The Other Lands. After that I’m not sure what happens. I do have some plans to return to large-scale historical fiction, and I could certainly see continuing in the Known World – especially if readers want me to. On a more distant burner I’d like to eventually write a YA series, something in the vein of Garth Nix, Kai Meyer and Phillip Pullman (not that they’re particularly similar writers).

KellyK writes: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?

Oh, there’s some of me in all my characters. Or, at very least, there are things that I recognize in all of them. That’s just as true of Maeander or Rialus as it is of Aliver or Corinn. None of them do things that I can’t understand at some level. If I couldn’t relate to who they are and what they do I wouldn’t write them as I do.

As for a favorite… Mena. I love it that she’s smart and sensitive, but that she also kicks ass with particular skill. And Dariel is an emotional favorite in some ways. There’s something about a child huddling in a cold, dark barn all alone that I feel at some gut level… Glad his father figure found him. I can’t entirely say that mine did.

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

I don’t have a clue.

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?

Oh, yeah… sorry about that. I don’t exactly work off a plan or make it up as I go along. Usually, I know some major plot points at the start, and I tend to know exactly where the book ends. The process of writing the book is discovering all the stuff that connects those plot points and that ultimately leads to that ending.

I think my awareness that Aliver was doomed grew on me slowly. I eventually knew it was on the cards, so I wasn’t shocked when it happened. Saddened, sure, but I knew it was coming.

It’s probably because of my historical background that I came to see his fate as tragic. So often the historical figures that have a lasting effect on the world die in the process, with their work unfinished. (Think of all the assassinations of the sixties – in both the last two centuries.) At some level my reality meter couldn’t shake the fact that our best and brightest have often died on our behalf. That’s what Aliver does.

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

Acacia just didn’t seem all that different. Pride of Carthage, for example, was about a powerful family caught up in a world in chaos, a struggle in which so much hangs in the balance, in which individual character flaws and strengths changed the lives of millions and shape world history. I loved wrestling that material into a book, and I wanted to do it again.

Three things came together to make me choose Acacia. One is that my wife’s family (four siblings) inserted themselves into my brain as the template for a fictional family. I lived with the idea of the Akaran children raised on the Isle of Acacia for several years. It was a strange alternative version of my wife’s family – they grew up in the Shetland Isles and in the Inner Hebrides.

Two, as I was raising my children I was reminded how very important fantasy had been to me as a young reader. I became a reader because of fantasy. It was fantasy that I was reading in 8th grade when I wrote in a journal that I was going to be a writer. It was a huge influence on me, and I realized I’d forgotten about that for too many years.

Three, my mother died. With that came a full-facial awareness of my own mortality. Not to sound too heavy, but when I was thinking about my fourth book I really did think that I wouldn’t want to die without having written a fantasy novel. I wouldn’t want that to not be part of my body of work. So… I wrote it. Glad to say I’m still here to write more as well!

Do you read fantasy and, if you do, do you have any favorite authors?

Sure I do. Sometimes the line between fantasy and sci-fi blurs for me (and I read a lot of sci-fi), but a hodgepodge of fantasy favorites includes: Neil Gaiman, Ursula K LeGuin, Kelly Link, George RR Martin, Kai Meyer, Garth Nix, Phillip Pullman, Dan Simmons (if The Terror can be considered fantasy, not sure)… I mention these folks because they’ve each meant something very special to me. There are plenty of other fantasy authors that I like (and am friends with), but these each did something important for me. By the way, the list would be much longer if I included sci-fi authors.

Tim2T writes: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?

I see the Acacians as having a preference for male heirs, but not as an absolute rule. If Dariel wanted to be king he could make a case for it and Corinn might have to back down. But at the close of the book Corinn is much more likely to want to grasped the reigns. Dariel is just dealing with having survived the conflict with two great losses on his mind (Aliver and Val). Also, the Acacian aristocracy is fragmented and weak, so they can’t assert much influence. When Corinn has children, of course, the preference will again go to a male child ascending.

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

I don’t think I should answer that.

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

Ah, yes… I can understand a bit of skepticism about that. My answer isn’t entirely logical, but I think Mena always had her skills within her. It was there in her DNA, and, as Melio said, he wasn’t so much teaching her as reminding her of things she already knew. There’s some sort of higher force – or familial inheritance – at work in her. When I think of her washing up on Vumu, wading in from the reefs with nothing to her name except the sword that’s wrapped itself around her arm… well, it’s sort of like the sword knows it should belong to her, even if she has no idea about that yet.

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

Yeah, it takes a while to get at those details. I think they’re in the book, but admittedly the League doesn’t make it clear. Still, I can say that yes, the League are middlemen. Even more they’re trading with other middlemen, the Lothan Aklun, who get their product from the Auldek. This stuff was kept at a distance in The War With The Mein, but it becomes the central dilemma of The Other Lands. So, more to come on that.

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

That’s kind of a scary question. Truth is, the second book doesn’t really have villains like Hanish and Maeander. It’s more like the drama is in the breakdown of the existing order and the rising of a variety of new threats. It introduces new villains, but they only start to cause the havoc that will be the big struggles of the third book.

Read1 writes:How did writing Acacia differ from the historical novels you have written? Did you find lack of pre-established frame to be challenging or liberating?

I still began it with a lot of research. It wasn’t specific research, like before, but a more general notion that I needed to know how world history worked and how cultures developed and what sort of things brought them into conflict. For a long time I was researching just as much as before, even though the information was more like forming a foundation instead of providing specifics. 

I got beyond that eventually, and the world became mine. At that point, the lack of a “frame” was challenging in liberating ways (if I can put your two options together). I did want to write about a slave trade, but without having to write about our Trans-Atlantic history. I did want to write about mass drug use, but without having to get all the specifics of China’s opium history right. And I did want to write about a world as ethnically diverse as ours, but I didn’t want to be trapped in our geographic realities. The Known World allowed me a setting to present real world issues while also having the freedom to chop and change, push continents around, mix races and cultures.

What has been the response to Acacia among critics who know you first and foremost as a historical novelist?

Um… Well, I’d say the vast majority of critical responses came from reviewers that were reading me for the first time. They all knew my history, yes, but I think for most Acacia was the first book of mine they read.

I can think of two areas where this wasn’t the case. All of the pre-publication reviewers (Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist) knew my earlier work. Clearly, those reviewers referenced how my earlier books had been received as they pondered Acacia. Good news is that that all liked the book. Three of them gave it a “starred” review, which is meant to draw particular attention to the book. They seemed to have no problem with the transition.

Also, The Washington Post review was really favorable, and it was definitely written with a perspective on my other novels. So… mostly good news. The New York Times chose not to review it, but I expected that…

Since you’re working on the follow up to Acacia, is it safe to assume that you’ve enjoyed the experience of writing for fantasy? Does this mean you’ll be focusing exclusively on the genre?

I did enjoy the experience. Very much so. It’s opened a new chapter in my career and personal life, and it’s been overwhelming a positive experience. My plans for the future include more Acacia books, but I’m also not done with historical fiction and have aspirations to write some YA stuff. I’d like to be one of those writers that manages to work in different genres but under one name.

Thornyrose writes:When first writing Acacia, did you start with an outline of what you wanted to happen (such as Aliver’s fate), or did you begin writing and allow the story to carry you on?


How did you go about developing your “laws of magic”, and why did you elect to associate the power of magic with speech? I found that one of the more intriguing aspects of the book.

My origin of magic comes right from the Judeo-Christian tradition. What did God do when he wanted to create light? He said, “Let there be light.” He said it. He spoke and things happened. I’m assuming, though, that “Let there be light” is translation of a translation of a translation, etc… that goes all the way back to whatever words he actually spoke. Those words must have had power.

It’s from that idea that magic in Acacia arose. Elenet, a human walking through a world in which the creator god still lived, listened to what he shouldn’t have, learned what he couldn’t properly control. I like that notion. In many ways, I think it’s part of the strange reality of being human. We do, in fact, possess powers now that the vast majority of humans that ever lived would think of as magical. It’s done us a lot of good, but it’s also created weapons of horrible power, left pollutants that are changing the earth, created or spread diseases, etc. And why can we do all these things? Because we can talk. The power of words.

What happens with Elenet and eventually with the Santoth is just a way of fable-lizing this. I don’t have “laws of magic”. Just the opposite. The problem with magic in Acacia is that there aren’t laws that govern it. It is an absolute thing – the language the Giver spoke to create the world. But the absolute ends there. No matter how hard humans try they can never speak that language like a god. It’s always going to be a second tongue to them. At best, the Santoth managed a workable approximation when they could study The Book of Elenet, but once that was taken from them their attempts at magic were doomed to be destructive and chaotic.

In the book, we actually don’t see much of the fighting styles and methods of the armies of Acacia or the Mein. Will the later books delve more into the military differences between the various opposing groups and nations?

Hmmm… Interesting question. Answer: kinda. I have to admit that the military side of Acacia was influenced by the fact that I’d just written a 220 thousand word novel that was all about “military differences between the various opposing groups and nations”. Such things are detailed again and again in Pride of Carthage. I think I was battle fatigued when I began Acacia, and that my interest had shifted from the battles themselves to how and why they were orchestrated and to what happens afterwards.

Thank you for agreeing to appear in Mr. Mallozzi’s blog, and I look forward to the sequels of Acacia.

That’s kind of you. I’m very pleased the Joe chose to feature my book, and thanks to all those that read along and those that had questions for me.

Back in the office today. Brad and Rob were in a meeting this morning so Paul and I ended up discussing the outline for the SGA movie. He’ll be making a few changes to the structure and then, hopefully, put it out before week‘s end. Once the meeting wrapped, we convened in the writers’ room and talked big picture notions for the series, the big bang, our expanding universe, and the interesting repercussions of FTL travel on both contact parties involved in an instantaneous means of communication. Oh, and the post-production schedule is out. It looks like February 4th will be the first day of principal photography.
Let’s check the mail…
Shawna writes: “Can’t help but notice an overabundance of testosterone in that room. Is this just because there aren’t many good female writers in sci-fi TV or what?”

Answer: Not at all. There are great female writers out there and, every season, attempts are made to bring in new talent, but writing for scifi is hard, and writing for a specific scifi show even harder. Often, it doesn’t necessarily come down to whether a writer is talented or not but whether he/she “gets” the show.

Arctic Goddess writes: “My congratulations to Brad Wright for remembering to wear his poppy on such an auspicious occasion. What was the excuse for the rest of the writers?”

Answer: Brad is wearing his jacket. Everyone else isn’t. I told Martin that he should pin his poppy directly to his forehead but for some reason he seemed reluctant. Shameful.

StellaByStargate writes: “Realizing, of course, that Brad and Carl are very busy with the new show, I was just wondering how things were coming on that 3rd SG1 script?”

Answer: It’s coming along. Carl?

Rose writes: “I’m puzzled every time it’s said (and it’s said a lot) that SGU will be more character-centered than SG-1 and Atlantis. The reason I eagerly tuned in to Atlantis every week for over four years is because of the characters. I looked forward to watching Sheppard, McKay, Ronon and Teyla, not the green screen stuff. Can you explain the difference?”

Answer: Don’t get me wrong. SG-1 and Atlantis owe much of their success to great characters like Jack O’Neill, Daniel Jackson, Amanda Tapping, Teal’c, and McKay. However, the premise of SGU is simply more intimate – a limited group of people trapped aboard a space ship hurtling through distant space – and therefore necessitates a more intimate form of storytelling.

Bailey writes: “What if you write a comedic scene and then find out that that particular actor sucks at comedy?”

Answer: Minimize his funny lines or find a different way to make him amusing.

PG-15 writes: “Doc Rush? Is he (like ytimynona said) Eli Hitchcock reimagined, or is he a new character?”

Answer: Eli is still around and Dr. Rush was a character envisioned from the get-go (although I don’t know if Rush was his original name).

For the love of Beckett writes: “ Character-driven, interpersonal relationships, but NO romance in the Universe? Not a smidge?”

Answer: Smidges are certainly possible. I didn’t mean to imply there would be no romance on SGU, only that the main focus of the interpersonal relations would be non-romantic in nature.

Bdash writes: “I really am getting tired of SG:90210 being hyped as the “bestest thing evah!” How about giving us some actual concrete reasons for wanting to watch this show?”

Answer: Here’s an idea. Why don’t you tune in and decide for yourself instead of basing your opinion on any pre-launch discussion.

Disappointed Fan writes: “ You know, I find it highly amusing that you constantly feel the need to tell us how great SGU is going to be. You feeling a little nervous about us hating it? I don’t remember this amount of encouragement being needed before Atlantis….”

Answer: I constantly feel the need to tell you how great SGU is going to be? Based on what? The occasional blog entry I’ve made about a show I happen to be working on? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here’s an idea: Don’t read my blog. As for you not remembering this amount of encouragement being needed before Atlantis aired…You’re either kidding or may have been on another planet in the lead-up to the Atlantis premiere because there WAS plenty of talk about the new series.

MasterChief writes: “As for Atlantis you recently said there’d be a significant death of a familiar character in the remaining episodes of season 5. Were you referring to Michael in The Prodigal?”

Answer: I was.

Scary writes: “I was wondering when it coming to writing these first few Scripts, do you find it harder, easier or it doesn’t matter, that you don’t have a sense of who the actors are and how they will interpret these characters?”

Answer: As a creator establishing a new show, I think it’s important that the characters form in your head and are realized at the script stage before going out to actors. Then, once the actors take on the characters and make them their own, the scriptwriting process becomes much easier.

Matt S. writes: “ 1) Do you find that, despite the show being different in scope and approach, the lessons learned from the two previous series runs allow you to be a better writer? (as opposed to the early years of SG1 without those lessons to serve you) and 2) Do you think it is a struggle to maintain the connection for this series (not a spinoff like SGA) to the spirit of the first two while also making it distinctly unique?”

Answers: 1) I think that writing and production are a continuous learning process and, yes, there are elements in SG-1 and SGA I wouldn’t want to repeat in SGU. On the other hand, there were many elements from both o SGU’s predecessors that I would love to see recaptured in the new spin-off. 2) I wondered how Brad and Robert would pull it off when they first pitched the new series, but once I read the storylines and the first script, those initial concerns were laid to rest. Yes, it definitely possesses the spirit of both SG-1 and SGA, but also stands alone as a unique entity.

Susan the Tartan Turtle writes: “ Tokyo – have you planned any excursions to fill up the time between meals?”

Answer: I’m putting together a list. 




80 thoughts on “November 12, 2008: David Anthony Durham Answers Your Questions + Spinning Stargate: Universe Day Two

  1. Great responses from Mr Durham. I don’t read Horror but Necroscope has piqued my interest.

    Soooo… nothing happened on Day 2 of spinning Stargate Universe?

  2. if I remember correctly you also said a significant character was gonna die in the movie? are we looking at an SG1 character or an Atlantis character (is sg1 even gonna be in the atlantis movie?) and is there gonna be some plotline to make it all undone at the end (time travel, cloning, whatever) or will that character stay dead?

  3. Joe wrote: “If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here’s an idea: Don’t read my blog.”

    Joe! You’ve never said that before! Are we starting to get on your nerves? Are you getting a little sick of all the moaning?

    Out of respect for you, I will personally try to keep the crying to myself, or at least down to a minimum. But, once I start crying, it’s hard to stop. (Must be a female thing.)

  4. Joe,
    I just rewatched Prodigal today and I would like to say I thought it was an excellent episode.
    But while I was watching I remembered a question I keep meaning to ask. So here goes…..
    When one of the residents of Atlantis uses their little earbuds to call another person in Atlantis can’t everyone hear them and the subsequent conversation to follow?
    If the answer is obvious well all I can say is DUH lol.

  5. Joe, you said: Don’t get me wrong. SG-1 and Atlantis owe much of their success to great characters like Jack O’Neill, Daniel Jackson, Amanda Tapping, Teal’c, and McKay…

    Now, it’s probably just my oversensitive nature, but since the original question didn’t mention any Stargate characters, I’m curious why you felt the need to mention all of them (and Amanda Tapping, not fictional!) and only one Atlantis character, McKay, in your response. Don’t you believe that the other Atlantis characters contributed to the success of the show? Perhaps I’m being picky but I love almost all of the characters you’ve developed on Atlantis and it just rubbed me the wrong way. Sorry if that wasn’t your intent.

    Oh, and great Q&A with David Anthony Durham.

  6. JM: Stargate: Universe is a series that draws on established mythology yet blazes a bold, new path for the franchise.

    SFM: Looking good so far!! 🙂

    JM: It’s definitely more character-centered and intimate in its exploration of the interpersonal dynamics that will drive a lot of the shipboard developments

    SFM: Hmm ….. um…. okay, I guess, but I really liked the ‘off world-y bits’ in SG-1 and SGA, but ……

    JM: (and, no, I’m not talking about romance).

    SFM: thank you, ThAnK yOu, THANK YOU!!!!! that thought REALLY had me worried!!!

    BTW, if anyone is looking for a REALLY stunningly, GREAT movie to go see – “Children of the Silk Road” is an ABSOLUTE must and well worth the money for a ticket – and popcorn!!

  7. “Don’t get me wrong. SG-1 and Atlantis owe much of their success to great characters like Jack O’Neill, Daniel Jackson, Amanda Tapping, Teal’c, and McKay.”

    🙂 I think you meant to say Sam Carter instead of Amanda Tapping. Although having seen Amanda at a convention, I would have to say she is great too.

    Right now, I am not very interested in SGU. The characters on the audition call sheet seemed very two-dimensional, which makes me worry that the show is going to be more character-based. If the show were more action/plot based, it could help cover for the weaknesses of the characters. A character-driven show has to have interesting, realistic, three-dimensional characters in order to be successful in my opinion.

    However, I am willing to give the show a shot and I really do hope my worries are for naught. A lot can happen between the planning stages and final production. Just please, please, please try to create interesting female characters that don’t end up pushed into the background. I saw it happen with Carter, then Elizabeth, and finally with Teyla and it just made me very sad. I liked the guys on SG-1 and SGA, but for me there really needed to be a better balance towards the end.

  8. One thing that seems to run true with the authors you pick is a healthy sense of humor. I absolutely loved Mr. Durham’s picture. For that alone I’ll be looking for all of his books that I can find. I am also very grateful for the detailed answers he gave to all the questions. It was fun getting an “inside look” into how the world of Acacia came together. And to see his view on both fandom and the genre(s).
    All is good for Friday night. I’m attending Symposium, and feared that the hotel I’d ended up in would not be carrying Sci-Fi network. I’d already made arrangements to get a room at another hotel a few miles away thad did carry it. Happily, I can save some money and enjoy the show in the comfort of a room with one of those adjustable firmness mattresses(if I can figure out how to get it to stay on some number other than 1 or 100). But I seem to be looking more decrepit than I feel. The room is handicap accessible, which means I can sit down when I shower, but as for a nice long soak, that’s only going to happen if I sneak into the closed up pool outside. And no room service! The suffering one does for one’s job…
    I saw the “issue” of female writers addressed. With the core group of writers currently working on SGU, have any measures been taken to bring in some new writers to the series? If so, do they come in as “one shot” writers, with the Execs looking at that trial to decide to bring them on board full time? Are there any folks from other parts of the crew who might be eyeing taking a shot at writing? I’m thinking specifically of directors, though I know you’ve said in the past that your directors aren’t usually writers, while some of the writers have taken a shot at directing.
    Anyways, glad to see you gainfully employed and being productive before heading off to wow us with your Oriental adventures. May they all be of the kind you CAN write about here…thanks for making the day just a wee bit brighter.

  9. Okay I see where this is going, you can stop hinting, put me down for #7 and #8 of SGU.

    But I warn you Postman Palick and Bobblock the space ship builder will be putting in an appearance.

    And I can see a feckin’ huge space battle between the goodies and the baddies in #8.

    Yeah…yeah I know so original isn’t it?

    I see the basic concept as West Side story meets Resident Evil in space, so expect plenty of dancing Zombie in zero gravity action not sure it hasn’t been done before though!

    Let me run this by you, a ships cat called, wait for it…… Asimov.

    Glad to hear things are going at a pace for SGU.

    Pauline….with tongue very much in cheek.

  10. Hey Mr. M.,

    As a side note, I can’t wait to see Stargate:Universe. But I wanted to talk about is that what I’ve always liked more about SG-1 than Atlantis was that SG-1 was earth based and closer to home. That’s why I also loved the episodes of Atlantis with Jeannie and just in general when they are on earth (Outcast pops into my mind), it somehow makes the whole concept of stargate at bit more realistic. I hope you know I mean when I say that I’m positive about Stargate:Universe, but also worried that there may be even less contact with earth. Do you know if earth plays a role Stargate:Universe, besides that that’s where our main characters (I assume) are from?

    Thanks! Have a great evening 🙂

  11. Okay, you pretty much answered my question about female writers by answering another question.

    Tell me, though, why is sci-fi such a hard genre to write for? I’m not coming at this question challenging your assessment, but with curiosity about the specifics. Is it the science plus fantasy nature that makes science fiction harder? Or is it something else?

    I’m interested in this because science fiction is most probably likely…definitely my favorite genre of television and would most likely be the one I’d want to ultimately write for.

    Yep, Amanda Tapping is a great character.

  12. freidag:

    Not Joe, but assuming fan. 🙂

    I assume that he didn’t really have time to list all the characters. And McKay was on SG-1 as well so he counts as both Atlantis and SG1, I think.

    But anyway, I’m sure he didn’t intend on leaving any characters out but to make sure and get them all, well, here ya go:

    Like O’Neill, Daniel Jackson, Sam Carter, Teal’c, McKay, Shepperd, Teyla, Ronon, Elizabeth, Woolsey, General Hammond, Lorne, Ford, Zelenka, and, well, you get the idea. That would have been a mighty hefty paragraph for all of the great characters that have been on both shows.

    Perhaps you want he should have put “to name a few” there at the end? That woulda been mighty civil, I guess. *shrug*

    Okay…babble done.

    p.p.s.: Still think Amanda Tapping is the greatest character ever. Genius to whoever created her.

  13. Pauline: I think a ship’s cat would be awesome, by the way.

    Like in the old days a ship would have a cat to eat the pests? That would be awesome. Asimov? Are you insane? Douglas would be so much less cliché.

  14. “If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here’s an idea: Don’t read my blog. ”

    OH SNAP.

    Honestly Joe, I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that you’re treating these disrespectful people with more restraint than in the days past. I remember the good ole’ days when a pwning of a sorry excuse for a human being (or the idiocy of the whole fandom in general) would bring a vast smile to my face; then again, I suppose this makes you the bigger man in all of this, and that’s good.

    But really, I would’ve went to town. I never realized how much more freedom my internet life would gain once I no longer actively participated in any forums with heavy moderation. This is the life.

    You checking that Tokyo list twice? Figuring out which excursions are naughty, which are nice? Hehehe.

    Thanks for answering my question, Joe. It’s great to hear that there will be (apparently) secondary characters. I was worried that it would just be the main cast of 6 stuck on the ship with no one else to interact with besides aliens of the week.

    Here’s a question: since you guys were discussing cosmology today, I wonder who amongst you is the best at science? Is there anyone among the group that has a science background of some sort?

    Because, and maybe this is just the ignorance in me talking, but here at UBC, the art people don’t tend to know their neutrons from their neutrinos, if you know what I mean.

  15. SFM: I just watched the trailer for Children of the Silk Road. I don’t think the trailer does it justice. I’m not quite sure if I’d like it judging from the trailer. But if it comes up I’ll give it more of a chance than I would have.

  16. Hi Joe, it’s the poster formally known as smiley_face06. I’ll probably inadvertently use it in the future, out of habit.

    Thanks for the mailbag. Now I’m looking forward to SGU even more. 🙂

  17. Answer: Not at all. There are great female writers out there and, every season, attempts are made to bring in new talent, but writing for scifi is hard, and writing for a specific scifi show even harder. Often, it doesn’t necessarily come down to whether a writer is talented or not but whether he/she “gets” the show.

    Well, I suppose that makes sense. In that case, I have a couple follow-up questions. I hope you’ll indulge me.

    1) Every season? So how does that work? Do you guys put out the notice to agents saying that you’re looking for pitches for freelance eps? Does this usually always happen at the beginning of the season (that is, when you guys start prepping the season)?

    2) How would a writer show that they “get” the show when it’s just starting out and no episodes have been aired yet? Doesn’t that make it harder to find the right writers? For that matter, how does a writer in that situation pitch an idea when they don’t know anything about (let alone have a feel for) the world or the characters yet?

    (Okay, that’s sort of more than two questions, but I rounded.)

  18. Howdy Joe,

    I’m late adding some questions for Brian Lumley (shakes fist at work). Is it okay if we ask questions within the series, or do we have to stick to the first novel? Just in case, I’ll list some questions you can delete if you want to remain with the first book. *hugs Joe*


    Hello, Mr. Lumley. I’ve enjoyed the entire Necroscope series for years and I’m thrilled you’ll be answering questions at Joe’s awesome blog. We love Joe. Joe is like …. incredible chocolate. 😀

    1. If there really was a necroscope, do you believe the teeming dead would embrace someone being able to speak with them? Why or why not?

    2. I once heard there were discussions about making your Necroscope novels into movies. Would you want to see the books made into films? If so, do you imagine it along the lines of the “Hellboy” or “300” variety (live action), or perhaps an animated/computer graphics film?

    3. I’ve often felt sorry for Harry because of his gift. He had trouble relating to “normal” people, but was at ease with the dead. Do you see Harry’s gift in a similar way?

    4. As the novels progress, we’re given a lot of detailed descriptions of the Wamphyri – their reasons for being, conflicts, passions, etc. You describe their world in such detail, I could almost SEE it through your eyes (Starside/Sunside, for example). Where do you draw on that kind of detail? You remind me of Tolkien!

    5. At the time I first read your books, only one other writer of vampire fiction had grabbed my imagination with them – Anne Rice. You, however, gave them another spin that was unforgettable. Was it difficult to carve a niche in vampire fiction? Do you still enjoy writing them, or do you prefer to move into other areas of the genre?

    Thank you for all the nights I spent unable to put down your books. You’re a master of the art!

    Trish in Texas

  19. Huge thanks to DAD for the visit =)

    I’m glad to hear Eli is still around… he is my favorite character so far (based upon the Gateworld character breakdown… which is missing a few characters, I guess!) and I would hate to have him all “doctorified.”

  20. Question about Continuum. I’m aware from the commentary that Ark of Truth was shot on film instead of HD, but was Continuum also shot on film? (I honestly can’t tell… I’m rubbish)

    Also, do you know if the Atlantis movie will also be shot on film? Would that be a first for Atlantis?

  21. A huge thanks to Mr. Durham for his answers. I asked more questions that I remembered.

    To Joe, I do appreciate the opportunity to ask some of the authors the questions. Thanks.

    I remember all of the hubbub when Atlantis was ramping up. It was easy to hide in SG-1, though, since it was still ongoing. There’s not much to hide in now with SGA near death. Are you finding the reaction to SGU to be more negative than it was to the start of Atlantis? Or about what you would expect?

    It’s neither here nor there, but when I read your blog on Tuesday, I was angry at the talk about SGU. Note that I recognize the irrationality of that. I thought about that for a bit and decided, I’ll do as I’ve been doing, checking in, seeing what’s up, but not reading the parts of the posts that I’m not interested in. It’s the “put your hands over your ears and sing to block out the unwanted sounds” method of blog reading. Heck, I’ve been lightly skimming or outright avoiding your descriptions of food for months (though there was something morbidly fascinating about the weird food of the day videos). I guess I can avoid the SGU parts of the posts.

    Though, I have to ask, do you think one of the appeals of the Stargate universe is the inclusion of a familiar Earth? Do you worry that the kind of disconnect being discussed may push away a portion of your audience.

  22. Joe,
    Don’t know why it popped into my head, but quick question about SGU. I’m assuming the answer is yes, but you know what they say about that. Anyway, just wondering if SGU is set in the present.

  23. Since it seems like the characters in SGU will be much more isolated than those in SG-1 or even Atlantis, do you think the show will be more “serialized” than the others?

  24. “Answer: As a creator establishing a new show, I think it’s important that the characters form in your head and are realized at the script stage before going out to actors. Then, once the actors take on the characters and make them their own, the scriptwriting process becomes much easier.”

    Are you able to interact with the actors at all, see how they act and talk, what they’re mannerisms are, etc?

  25. Funny how TPTB want a “younger” audience these days. Do they realize that none of the SG1 or SGA characters would qualify for Stargate Universe – they would all be too OLD? There is something to be said for a bit of “experience” and it is called INTERESTING CHARACTERS.

    A cast full of early 20-somethings couldn’t possibly work in anything other than a silly soap. SciFi needs a degree of high tech and cerebral thinking and spoiled rich chicks, college kids, and noob soldiers don’t cut it. The premise for SU is interesting but the characters are so poor, it isn’t worth the effort to even check it out. It sounds more like Skiffy’s yucky Trash Gordon and Painful-to-Watch Jane than Stargate.

  26. I hope it’s not too late to post questions for Brian Lumley.

    Mr. Lumley,

    One of the things that struck me about Necroscope was the care with which you fashioned the characters, particularly the villains. Like Joe, I found the character of Max Batu especially interesting because, even though he was a villain, he seemed to be a lonely, lost soul. Was it your intention to have the audience feel some sympathy for him?

    What kind of research did you do into vampire lore to create your own unique version of the wamphyri? Historical and cultural as well?

    Finally, in the event you hadn’t followed a path to literary success, where do you think you would have ended up? Was there a back-up profession you were considering?

  27. Hi there Mr. Mallozzi.

    I’ve been a long time reader of your blog, and have always meant to post a comment, and I’ve decided that today I would finally do it.

    I’d like to start off by saying I love your work and all the other members of the production team’s work on the Stargate franchise. Without it, I feel my life would be a much more boring place. So thank-you. Now onto my question.

    I hear it being thrown around a lot about how SGU is going to be much more character driven than its predecessors, but I’ve never really understood what exactly is meant by that. I understand that it will focus more closely on the relationships between the characters but that is fairly broad, given that many Atlantis episodes have focused on a great deal of character relationships (at least IMO). Does this mean that SGU will be more akin to the show Firefly, where the episodes focused on the crew and their emotional, physical and spiritual journey, as opposed to the mythology of the ‘Verse? I have a feeling this will be very confusing (I’m a bit confused writing this, but that ain’t saying much) and I hope you can shed a bit more light on this.

    I’d like to thank-you again for all the great work done on Stargate. I haven’t been into it for too long (Probably since the middle of Season 3 of SGA) but from the moment I saw it, I loved it. I look forward to SGU in the future and will definately tune in to watch the adventures of a new team as they take on not a galaxy, but an entire unvierse! Good luck to you and the team!

  28. “I didn’t mean to imply there would be no romance on SGU, only that the main focus of the interpersonal relations would be non-romantic in nature.”

    Okay – now I AM interested. Of course, it does depend on whether or not I can connect with the characters (and if any are ‘flowing-locked’…paleness optional 😉 ), but I do like character studies. For instance, I love Age of Sail movies where men lived in such close quarters, in the middle of the sea…months, even years, from home. No phones, no radios – no contact with the outside world. If something happened – if the ship was damaged in any way – they had to repair it right then and there, or die. Relying on one another for survival, they just had to do their best whenever confronted with a bad situation, whether it be dealing with sickness, injury, enemy attack, the elements…or even weevilly biscuits.

    Thing is, sci fi rarely captures the same feel of AoS books and movies, mainly because they do have technology, and that tech sometimes makes things a bit too…convenient. Even most Star Trek stories fell short…though some did almost hit the mark.

    And there is one thing that has always made such a story GREAT for me. One person aboard…one of the ‘good guys’…who’s not so good – the mad captain, the abusive crewmate…that sort of thing. Movies like Damned the Defiant! and the original Hornblower miniseries are examples of what I mean.

    So, Joe – is there ANY chance that this crew will be sequestered with a tyrant of some sort…perhaps someone who gradually turns into one due to the situation?? THAT would be excellent. Or, is there any chance that this show may have a more traditional ‘age of sail’ feel to it as far as situations confronted, and the handling of those situations?

    Going back to Damned the Defiant! – what made that scenario so good is that it wasn’t the captain who was abusive, but his lieutenant. Since it was the captain’s son on the receiving end of the lieutenant’s wrath, the captain’s hands were tied…anything he did to protect his son would be seen as favoritism, and weakness. So he was forced to watch his son’s suffering, knowing he had the power to stop it, but knowing that stopping it would have called into question his judgment as captain. It’s always been a favorite movie of mine just because of that sort of dynamic.

    The little I know about the crew list tells me that it’s unlikely such a character will be present in this show – but if there’s room for one, I just might be sold.

    @ Narelle from Aus – Yeah, Mr. Das and I got hooked on Life last season, and have been trying to follow it this season, but they (NBC) juggled it around and we couldn’t remember what night it was on. Thank god for our DVR, because it recorded it no matter where it went. So we just snuggled all evening with the kitties on the couch, and caught up with 3 episodes – we just couldn’t stop watching them, they were that good (I don’t like romance, but the ‘earthquake kiss’ was priceless!). Two more to go – last week’s, and tonight’s. We’ll probably catch up this weekend sometime. Of course, I still haven’t had time to watch The Prodigal, but lovely Prince Nuada has put me in a very good mood, so I think I’m okay to watch it now.

    “If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here’s an idea: Don’t read my blog.”

    Oh, if only it was that easy… 😛


  29. Gatelady said: There is something to be said for a bit of “experience” and it is called INTERESTING CHARACTERS.

    A cast full of early 20-somethings couldn’t possibly work in anything other than a silly soap.

    Um, okay, as a “20-something” here, I have to take a little offense at that. What you basically just said is that characters (and by extension, people) who are young (and what’s your cut-off there? Mid-thirties?) are inherently uninteresting. Yeah, I’m gonna have to call BS on that one. What makes people (characters) interesting is not simply the sum of their experiences (and BTW, 20-somethings can still have a fair amount of interesting experiences under their belt). It’s more who they are and how they react to the people and situations around them. And especially in a show that emphasizes character interaction, it seems to me that a character’s personality is more important than how many dogfights they’ve been in or how many degrees they’ve earned.

  30. Question for Brian Lumley –

    – Of all the books you have published to date, is there one you are most proud of? Which one and why? I’ve often been surprised by how authors have answered similar questions. Their favorite is often not the obvious choice nor necesarily their most popular title.

    – What was it about the works of HP Lovecraft that inspired you to start writing in the first place? Is it safe to assume he was your greatest literary influence? And were there any non-literary influences that led you to become a writer?

    – Finally, a non-literary question. I see by your website that you do a fair amount of travelling. Is there a country or city you’re particularly fond of?

    Thanks in advance for answering my questions.

    M. Spivey

  31. Hiya Joe.
    I have a question that I hope is not going to tiss you off if its already been asked and answered at some time already…but how do you find names for the characters?
    Do you find that sometimes the actor doesn’t look the part of the character name you have chosen?
    Thank you Joe. Much appreciated! 🙂

  32. This may seem like a bit of an odd question, but it’s something that just sort of popped into my head while I was driving and I couldn’t find an answer…

    As a producer of a show, I’m guessing you’re given a budget. Who gives you the bugdet? I’m guessing it’s the studio… but is Scifi involved at all in those decisions? Or do they simply purchase rights?


    What does that budget cover? For instance, are you given a set amount of money and then YOU deal with contract negotiations WITHIN that buget? Or does the studio handle contracts? Is there anything that you don’t deal with that gets passed onto the studio/network?

    Also, if you can give this sort of information, what would a typical budget be for an episode of Atlantis?

  33. I’m a notoriously fast reader.

    And a fan of both bad good guys and good bad guys.


  34. And a fan of both bad good guys and good bad guys

    Joe, so then do you prefer to be at the right place at the wrong time or the wrong place at the right time?

    PS: Please consider getting a Reader for your trip. You’ll save at least 20kgs in luggage.

  35. I’ve always found it weird how people can hate something(Universe) before it’s even out, yet alone before any concrete information is widely released, like say episode synopsis etc
    I suppose everything, good or bad has a limited group of people that DON’T represent the fanbase as a whole that hate something, even if it is the greatest thing ever, infact I suppose this is their reason for living.
    Wouldn’t you agree?

  36. Need some clarity Joe… You mentioned Feb 4 as the currently scheduled date for principal shooting… IS this for the SGA movie? I ask cause both JASON and JOE are booked to do a convention in the UK in late Feb and I’ve been toying with the idea of going. Actually, I have several friends who have *already* bought tickets and are flying in from other countries just to see “them”! And I *know* that Main Unit filming for any movie lasts a lot more than a couple of weeks! Would be a shame if they had to cancel their appearances at the LAST minute!

    And, on the subject of good SciFi writers being hard to find… Suggest someone ‘hire’ someone to start reading some of the better fanfic out there! There are **LOTS** of great writers [a strong percentage of female ones] that KNOW SciFi, KNOW the show, **AND** very likely have a few science degrees under their belts too!! Oh, and BTW, are also skilled at writing damn good NON-shipper character pieces!! The only reason they *don’t* have Agents is because it’s pretty much near impossible to and more trouble than it’s worth. Not to mention, they probably reach a bigger audience on the fanfic webs… And have day jobs… progeny to feed…

  37. *waves*

    Mr M answers: “Don’t get me wrong. SG-1 and Atlantis owe much of their success to great characters like Jack O’Neill, Daniel Jackson, Amanda Tapping, Teal’c, and McKay.”

    Aaaand once more Sheppard gets left of the list. 😛 I know you must have simply forgotten to put him in there. 😉 It’s not hard ya know. 😉 S.H.E.P.P.A.R.D!! I hear the desensitization helps the brain cope with aversions of certain things, and if you say the thing that ticks you off, you feel much better. So, say it with me Joe, SHEPPARD is a good charcter… Sheppard is a good character… or maybe I should try subliminal messages? Hmmmm.

    Actually i’d love to hear what your definition is of a ‘good character’.

  38. When asked to name some characters that have driven the Stargate series, I notice again that you omitted Sheppard. Please, please give Joe F some credit for the fantastic job he’s done with the character.

  39. Can we assume that you and Paul will continue with the franchise and be “staff writers” for SGU? Or are you just helping out with story spinning right now?? And in regards to my question yesterday, did I miss the posts that answered the qestions about the poem? If so, I’ll backtrack for answers!

  40. Hi Mr M!

    Greetings from a wet windy and wild Tipperary!

    Just a note to say that I loved “Inquisition”. I know a lot of fans don’t like “clip shows” but to be honest, I love the sneak back peeks at the story lines. Hat off to Alex Levine for stitching it together! It was also great to see Tobias Slezak again….Last time I saw him he flirting with Vala at that Highschool reunion….Boy he gets around!!
    And finally, what a great piece for Mr Picardo!! I felt there was a touch of “M*A*S*H” and the real-politik about his handling of the trial…And also was that a nod to Boston Legal with regard to the cigars and whiskey at the end..with an obscure Stargate nod (ie James Spader)? Maybe I’m watching too much tv…

    And very finally….where does Woolsey shop? I just LOVED that suit at the end!! I did some sartorial shopping in Vancouver in April and I suspect it may have been sourced in tailor’s near Gastown?

    Best to all


  41. on November 12 Narelle from Aus wrote

    Hey! What happened to the numbers the comments?

    Yea. Mr M what happen to the numbers before the comments? It make it much easier to find and reference posts. Did you change something or WordPress “upgraded” it for you.

  42. Oh, gees, what a creepy, creepy picture to not have had enough coffee for!

    (I’m talking the guy on camera left!)

    I’m looking forward to reading Acacia.

    But this reading stack of mine is getting higher & higher!!!!

  43. Speaking of female writers I seem to remember waaaaay back when I was a mere tacker and there was a little space opera show on TV called… let me see…. Star…something…Track…Trek thats it and one of its principle writers happened to be a certain DC Fontana that D for Dorothy! The 1960’s were a helluva decade for women in TV!
    Sorry I can only come up with the one at the moment I’m not at the top of my game currently so please excuse.

  44. LOL! Which one is not like the other….I found this a bit funny…perhaps you’ll explain…

    “Don’t get me wrong. SG-1 and Atlantis owe much of their success to great characters like Jack O’Neill, Daniel Jackson, Amanda Tapping, Teal’c, and McKay.”

    All of those are SG characters except AT. Now, does that mean that Sam is so close to AT now that they are almost interchangeable or could you not think of Carter’s name…or….I can’t think of any good Freudian reason…but I’m sure there is one?

    Thanks for blogging!


  45. Hi Joe,

    I rented Martin Gero’s moive YPF yesterday from Amazon.
    I was more than a little apprehensive on renting his movie, especially with a title like that, but I decided to because it was Martin Gero…so I did and WOW…I thoroughly enjoyed his movie! Please convey my Bravo and Well Done to him for me! I’ll be recommending the movie to friends!

  46. I am sorry, I didn’t comment yesterday cause, well, the thought of SGU is depressing. I still don’t understand why SGA is not highly regarded by Brad and Rob to want to keep it going for the FANS who actually like it. Sorry, still venting (I do have a one track mind).

    On a happy note, I can’t wait for tomorrow’s show. I am sure you won’t disappoint. Oddly, with SGA being so good, I have been in a sense wishing life to go by faster to get to the next episode with my birthday that just passed, that is not really a good thing if I think about it.

  47. “And a fan of both bad good guys and good bad guys.”

    What the hell is that supposed to mean?

    Do you mean ‘bad good guy’ like antihero types? Or do you mean good guy turned bad? Or are you talking about the wolf in sheep’s clothing sort?

    I like the antihero types (obviously, since I’m a fan of Wolverine, Mad Max, and No-Name Clint movies), and the latter – the guy who is counted as one of the ‘heroes’, but is really something else. For that to work for me, however…he can’t be showing his dark side to his enemies only (as the SGA team does) – but he has to take it out on his ‘friends’ (like the crazed sea captain).

    It’s like one of my favorite moments in Ultimate X-Men. The characters are written a bit different, and Wolverine – in the beginning – is nothing short of evil. There is this moment when Scott is hanging off a cliff, and he needs Wolverine to save him. But Wolverine is only interested in one thing – getting [back] into Jean’s pants, and isn’t really all that pleased that she’s taken up with Scott. So, he does what he does best…he grabs Scott’s hands, then…lets him drop. Oh, and then he goes back to Xavier and says that Scott was ‘unfortunately lost’ on the mission. THAT shit I love. So, if I was to compare it to The Prodigal, it would be as if Teyla pushed Shep off the ledge, and saved Michael instead.

    That’s the sort of stuff I mean. Take a ‘good’ character, and show their darkest side – NOT as it relates to the enemy, but as it relates to their ‘friends’. If such a character was included in SGU – the teammate who is always stabbing his fellows in the back, who always has his own agenda, who just can’t be trusted, but at the same time, can’t be disposed of – well…that could draw me in. It’s the sort of dynamic I enjoy…just as I love it when an ‘enemy’ proves to be your most trusted friend.


  48. I kinda feel bad that people are already counting out SGU as being a good show. I mean, yeah, I’m sad to see Atlantis go as well, but people can at least give this show a chance. It might not be as bad as they are assuming it is.
    As for the complaints about it being SG:90210-
    That’s just ridiculous for some people to say. Half of the time there are people complaining about how this character or that character was not in an episode of Atlantis. If it really bothers you that SGU is going to be character driven you should stop watching about half of Atlantis because that’s essentially what it is. Most shows, believe it or not, revovle around what the characters are doing.
    Just give it a chance, people. Watching the first episode or two will not lock you in to having to watch the rest of the series.

    Okay, now I’m done with my little rant. You can remove the soapbox now.

  49. so only one of the SGA characters is great?
    That makes me sad that you don’t think so.
    I love them.

  50. I just wanted to say Joe I am grateful that all the wonderful SG writers|producers etc. are back to write SGU, I want my SGU to be a little like before, carry over some of the sameness, it’s like coming home. I look forward to it. Good luck to you all.

    Can I ask, will Peter DeLuise be contributing to the new SGU? I think he added a nice “flare” shall we say to Stargate SG-1. I am sorry if I missed something about him before or that he was in sessions with you all now. I try to keep up reading your blog daily Joe, and I might miss some information now and again.

  51. Hi Joe,

    Just wondered if Brad Wright has gotten round to reading Questions yet? (On Oct.6th blog) I posted several questions, mostly Astronomy related, (N3109 is 4 and a half million LY away, is that Ida?)
    I also have several short stories I’d like to pitch, one called ‘Inquisition’, very different from yours, it actually begins a bit like ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’, then goes off into an Intergalactic War between two clusters of Galaxies.
    Anyway, good post, I’ll have to find Acacia and read it, sounds great.

    I also followed ‘It’s good to be King’ storylining on SG1 Season 8 DVD and finished the last act, course I was watching the ep as I was writing, that’s not cheating is it? Oh, dear!
    Keep up the good work!


  52. PS…

    For the record…I only like antiheroes when they are NOT killing Wraith… 😉


  53. coucou Joseph!!

    Alors bonne journée? Moi oui journée banal mais trés sympatique!! Toujour aussi contente de lire votre blog a mon retour des cours!!
    Merci d’avoir répondu a autant de questions=)!
    Voici les miennes!

    1) Allons nous revoir des personnes connues de sg1 dans sgu? car normalement le début de l’histoire devrai commencer à Cheyenne Mountain non?
    2)Dans sga le film, dans l’histoire il y’aura des moments d’émotion, on en apprendra plus sur certaine personne? ou cela sera simplement une histoire avec de l’action une pointe d’humour et des méchants à tué?

    Voila Joseph!!! Bisou Bisou!! A bientot!

  54. Answer: Don’t get me wrong. SG-1 and Atlantis owe much of their success to great characters like Jack O’Neill, Daniel Jackson, Amanda Tapping, Teal’c, and McKay. However, the premise of SGU is simply more intimate – a limited group of people trapped aboard a space ship hurtling through distant space – and therefore necessitates a more intimate form of storytelling.

    Slip of the tongue there? You know there are a lot of other great characters on Atlantis..but by accident or not–it is pretty reflective of who gets the meatiness storylines, especially of season 5.

  55. I can’t wait for SGU. I have an open mind, and while I truly believe that a couple of people need their heads read (the PTB’s that pulled the plug on Atlantis) I am willing to give the new series a try.

    Hey Joe, CNN says the upper right hand side of the USA is (was?) one big raincloud. Seeing as clouds don’t stop at international borders did you also get rained out?

    If you did, we feel empathy. Cape Town is wet, cold and windy and this is meant to be our summer. I’m beginning to think that Al Gore might be on to something.

    If it is global warning, don’t bother visiting the Maldives – they’ll be the first to go. 🙁

  56. Joe,

    I’m sorry my question has caused you more trouble. I took your answer at face value – if you were to list all the memorable characters on SG-1 and Atlantis, you’d still be typing. And who can argue that Rodney McKay is not one of the most memorable characters created for any medium? Certainly not me. If I had to choose one character from Atlantis as my favorite, Rodney would win hands down.



  57. Question for Mr. Mallozzi,

    I’ve often found the more “character driven” smaller scope plots to be far more interesting then the “save the base!” or “sun’s going nova!” stories. The latter tend to push credibility for a hour long series and often repeat the same plots, sometimes even the same lines. Do you believe that SGU will have more or less of these?

  58. @ deeinsouthafrica – No, Joe isn’t right – he’s left. ;)I’m right, though…and so is JimFromJersey, and maybe a few others. We are quite damp here today in the northeast…or ‘upper right hand side’. I LOVE this kind of weather! Makes me happy!

    “Cape Town is wet, cold and windy…”

    Woo! Rugby weather! 😀


  59. Having listened to all the people rant about SGU, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for putting up with petulant fans like us and continuing to blog about it. I morn the passing of Atlantis, but not everyone is up in arms about SGU. At the very least, people should be happy that we’re actually getting something new from the franchise. The powers that be could have just as easily left us with nothing but reruns.

  60. I join all of the other Sheppard fans to wave the flag and say Sheppard is a great character and contributed to the success of Atlantis. A mark of a great character is that people care what happens to him/her. They want to know more, and we do.

    Cheers, Chev

  61. So, only Jack O’Neill, Daniel Jackson, Amanda Tapping (Freudian slip?), Teal’c and McKay are “great characters”? Certainly, not for all of us! I have often felt that your allegiance to the SGA characters was limited to McKay, and more recently, Keller. Sadly, I no longer find McKay all that appealing, and as far as Keller goes, well …. I certainly hope that I am mistaken, but I fear that the emphasis on McKay and Keller (as well as McKeller) this final season may not bode well (at least for me) for any upcoming movie, but especially if you truly believe that McKay is the only “great” SGA character.

  62. “Woo! Rugby weather!

    Mhmm.. tis that time of year again 😉

    Which reminds me, I got through my email poke today for the Wales v Canada match that’s coming up. Unfortunately, i’m gonna have to pass and park my backside with the All Blacks game.. naturally on the premise that, no matter which side wins, i’m gonna be feeling all black, blue, green and red and a little mangled.

    I love my Welsh relatives, but it’s sometimes hard (not to mention downright suicidal) publically wearing an All Blacks t-shirt whilst visiting the Valleys.

    Here’s to hoping that the Aussies trounce the English on Saturday though.. 😀

  63. Under Life imitating Art:

    “The three planets were captured by telescope using a sophisticated image processing technique called angular differential imaging (ADI),in which the planets’ heat from their formation provided a glow that was picked up on an infrared wavelength.

    The star, known as HR8799 is located in the constellation Pegasus and its mass is about 1.5 times that of our sun. It is about 60-million years old, much younger than ours and is located about 130 light years away from our solar system.”


    I saw the word Pegasus and just couldn’t resist!

  64. Okay – can I just vent a little? No, not about killing Wraith, or screwing up Todd, or hypocritical Lanteans. This is work-related. I am a non-confrontational sort in real life (stop laughing) – don’t raise my voice as a rule…avoid all arguments (believe it or not)…rarely curse (I must have very crass fingers because I only seem to use profanity when I type). I’m fairly tolerant, preferring a rational discussion over yelling and screaming and pissyass attitudes…basically, I like being ‘nice’.

    Until today. With the economy as it’s been, and local construction grinding to a halt, we’ve had to lay off a couple employees. Now – when you get laid off, you know there’s a period of time before the unemployment checks kick in. This isn’t my fault – this is just how the system works. Well, these guys are on partial unemployment because we do have work, just not enough for a 40-hour week. So they will work a few hours here or there which we pay them for, then report any wages to the unemployment office – and so on and so forth.

    Naturally, they were concerned over the delay before receiving their first unemployment check (about 2 weeks). Both made an excellent wage, and have toys – like boats and stuff – and neither have kids. Even though they aren’t going to starve, we still advanced them money against future work, just to hold them over until their unemployment kicks in. Money I will have to show, they have to claim, and then all the taxes and stuff have to be taken out of – they KNOW this stuff! We just don’t give out ‘free money’. So, when I try to square things up with the one fella, I get…

    “What?! That was an… ‘advancement’??! I thought you were just helping me out because the unemployment hadn’t kicked in!! JESUSCHRISTGODDAMMIT!! This SUCKS!!! I see what you’re doing!! If you wanna be that way!!! FINE!”


    He just kept ranting and raving…not letting me ask questions I needed to ask to keep my records straight, like ‘did you have any hours for this week, and if so, where is your time card and service slips?’ Each time I started asking something, he’d cut me off with his ‘this isn’t fair’ attitude, and…so…needless to say, my ‘mommy voice’ kicked in. It’s not a yelling voice – it’s just a really deep and powerful voice…like…the Keeper from The Rising. Okay…maybe it’s not my ‘mommy voice’, maybe it’s more like my ‘Demon From Hell’ voice…but, whatever. I think he got the message. I really didn’t need his crap at the end of the day.

    To make things even better – this guy ASKED to be laid off so he could go striper fishing for a few weeks… 🙄

    Thanks for letting me vent a little. Next time – full layoff, not partial…and enjoy your permanent fishing trip. Grrrr.


  65. Hi Joe.

    Ok, lets take this in another direction, namely the gutter. Wraith sex. and children i suppose.
    Das posted a little passage from the S4 companion book that said yes, it was discussed in the writers room. So, going to tell us what you all came up with? Cause i’ve read many theories posted by people and it would be nice to know what you all decided, even if there was never any intention of going into it on the show.
    So tell us, the differences between creating faced and masked males, raising offspring and such. If no one way was settled upon then let us know the weird and wacky ways that some people suggested. and don’t skimp on the disgusting details.

  66. Joe, for the record, not all of us took your little list of characters to mean that those were the only ones you thought valuable.

    Seriously, people, he was giving examples, that’s why he said, “great characters like“. You expect him to list every single one?

  67. @ Perragrin – Just watched the Wales/SA match (recorded)…so close, and yet… 🙁 But Woo! for the Springboks! 😀

    I love the All Blacks… exceptwhentheychokeintheworldcup. They were the first team I fell in love with (translation: hot guys!). After I recuperated from the shock that not all rugby players looked like freshly-shorn escaped convicts, I came to realize how magnificent they were at playing the game… exceptwhentheychokeintheworldcup. 😛

    @ Joe – Wraith sex education – that should be the main plot of the movie. Todd, trying to explain to McKay how Wraith reproduce.

    McKay: “Wait. What?! You have… two?? You’ve got to be kidding me! That is so unfair! And, no, no, no…don’t tell me…they’re both green, aren’t they?”

    Todd: “Naturally.” 😀

    Personally, I think the male Wraith are too fussy, and too practical, to bother with sex…at least, for reproduction. I’m thinking in vitro all the way – quick, efficient…a lot less messy.

    However, for recreational purposes…on a ship full of smokin’ hot males…


    Okay. Now I’m hearing banjo music in my head. 😛


  68. ive been wondering are we ever gonna see the furling i think i can speak for all stargate fan in the fact that the thing every last fan wants to see in upcoming sg1-atlantis movies or universe is to see the furling
    and i was wondering if were ever gonna see the furling

  69. das – LOL. I can just imagine Todd explaining it all, making badly-drawn diagrams on a white board.

    And now you guys have got me all curious, too. Of course, I’ve been curious about wraith reproduction and child-rearing for a while now. My main question, though, is this: are wraith and humans genetically compatible? (Probably not, but I’m just wondering if it’s possible to get a wraith-human hybrid the old-fashioned way. Provided the wraith could resist feeding on the human, of course. … And now I’m getting Twilight flashbacks. “What are you more hungry for, my body or my life force?” “It’s a tie.” *cue violins*)

  70. One of the Wraiths’ most intriguing talents was making people see things that weren’t actually there. In the premiere, we saw black, wispy clouds that were perfectly creepy and also a really lovely plot device. The Wraith were later explained as having telepathic abilities, something that was used quite a lot with the Teyla/Wraith DNA storyline. But we never got back to those black clouds, which is kind of a shame. (“Lost” hasn’t actually explained their black cloudy thing, either, but whatever.)

    My hope for SGU would be that cool features/abilities of the races the new team meet are pursued throughout the series. I can see where some ideas prove cumbersome once the series gets its legs under itself (for example, the Wraith beaming technology, which threw cold water on a lot of otherwise tense/how-are-they-going-to-get-out-of-this moments towards the end of SG-1). I suppose spinning SGU with so much experience behind you and others can recognize and avoid things that would make resolving dire situations too simple.

    That is all. I’m eager to see the new show. There’s so little watchable sci-fi on TV these days.

  71. Oh…my…GUH! Okay – I’ve never been into vampires (except Bela Lugosi stuff…and anything with Abbott and Costello). I’ve never really considered the Wraith to be ‘vampires’, but more like giant ticks, or something. I think the only modern vampire movies I’ve seen are Blade Trinity, and Van Helsing (stop laughing!) Maybe another one…and, OH! As a kid, I did LOVE Dark Shadows, but that was pure camp, so not sure it counts.

    And I am NOT into romance…at. all.

    However…I just saw the actor (the boy! I am getting so old!) who will play the lead in Twilight…and…oh, my…

    Ya know – if you can get some pretty fellas like that, WITH ACCENTS, in SGU, I don’t care how old they are – I’ll watch!! (But make sure they’re ‘legal’, just so us cougars don’t get arrested for perving over kids. 😉 )


  72. Hey Joe,

    Just back from a crazy day 1 at the Screenwriter’s Expo. Madness! But a great madness.

    Tomorrow looks to be a busier and crazier day. Looking forward to the ‘writing for sci-fi’ seminar. Got any tips to share that I might not get there?

    Really looking forward to SGU…want to see it, can’t wait to spec it, excited about the limitless possibilities. Woohoo!

    Pol (okay, I’ll admit, I’m on a bit of a synergistic glom-a-bunch-of-writers-in-a-room high)

  73. Please (I beg you) don’t let SGU episodes turn into “slaughter-of-the-week” episodes. There were a lot of those in SGA season 4 and it killed off my favorite character… well, a few of them.

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