Back in January when Stargate: Universe consultant and best-selling SF author John Scalzi was in town, I took him to – where else? – Fuel where, over the course of our dinner conversation, the subject of my humble little book club came up.  I asked John if he could recommend a possible future selection. He responded without hesitation: “Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover.”

Fast-forward six months and I’m sitting in my home office, thinking about a selection for September’s book of the month club discussion, when my eyes fall on a copy of…Heroes Die, by Matthew Woodring Stover. Loved the title and the premise intrigued, so I hopped online, tracked the author down, and sent him a message telling him about the blog, John’s recommendation, and asking whether he might be interested in participating in a fan/reader Q&A. The next day, I received his response in an email titled, appropriately enough “John Scalzi is clearly a superior human being.” As it turns out, he’d be thrilled to take part. So…

September’s Book of the Month selection is:

Heroes Die, by Matthew Woodring Stover.

Heroes Die

“Renowned throughout the land of Ankhana as the Blade of Tyshalle, Caine has killed his share of monarchs and commoners, villains and heroes. He is relentless, unstoppable, simply the best there is at what he does.

At home on Earth, Caine is Hari Michaelson, a superstar whose adventures in Ankhana command an audience of billions. Yet he is shackled by a rigid caste society, bound to ignore the grim fact that he kills men on a far-off world for the entertainment of his own planet–and bound to keep his rage in check.

But now Michaelson has crossed the line. His estranged wife, Pallas Rill, has mysteriously disappeared in the slums of Ankhana. To save her, he must confront the greatest challenge of his life: a lethal game of cat and mouse with the most treacherous rulers of two worlds . . . “

Discussion begins the week of September 7th when we’ll be joined by author Matthew Woodring Stover.

I heard from actress Sharon Taylor today (Stargate: Atlantis’s Amelia Banks) who has been keeping busy since Enemy at the Gate, having recently landed a recurring guest star role on Smallville. Sharon also tells me that has been cast the evil Empress Amara in an SF web series called Riese. She’ll be in good company, working alongside a bunch of Stargate alumni including Ben “Kavanagh” Cotton and SGU’s very own Patrick Gilmore (aka Dale Volker). Production on the series kicks off in August and, if you’re interested in learning more, you can check it out here and here

Well, some progress on the script for the season finale today. On the positive side, I hit the 22 page mark and I do like what I have. On the negative side, Act I is 17 ½ pages long. I’ll look to trim where I can but, in all honesty, it’s action-filled and should move pretty damn quickly. Paul is apparently into the second act on his script. No idea how Carl and Martin are faring on theirs but, knowing them, they’re probably already finished and coming up with story ideas for season two. The show-offs. Rob, meanwhile, put out his pass on Lucid (he’s renamed it Human and the change is a point of some debate) and it’s a terrific script – engaging, poignant, and, yes, mighty surprising.  Rob will be assuming directing duties on the episode. 

Today, I leave you with another couple of SGU gate videos, these taken on the day we got our first look at new and improved practical puddle.


48 thoughts on “July 22, 2009: September’s Book of the Month Club Pick = Heroes Die, by Matthew Woodring Stover! A Sharon Taylor Update! And the SGU Practical Puddle!

  1. I like the sound of Matthew Woodring Stover already 🙂

    The puddle looks so inviting. Just want to jump in it and go for a swim… or a quick trip to another planet/galaxy.

    Mika – Not a problem re quoting. Happy to help any way I can. Interesting about the bunkers. Didn’t know we used to have them in the bush. Which area was that?
    We’ve had old bunkers along the coastline since WWII, but obviously that was for different purposes.

    A lot of introduced species haven’t survived the combination of drought and water restrictions but it sounds as though that grass has thrived. I’d heard from friends in the Kinglake area that there was a grass out of control. But from their accounts it was a long grass (which sounds more like the native). Was a name mentioned and/or origin of the species? I’d also heard that a lot of the land has been scorched to the point where nothing will grow for some time. Usually after a normal bushfire the ground becomes nutrient rich and new growth starts with just the smallest amount of rainfall (I grew up on a nature reserve so I used to walk through it a lot after fire).

    I still believe in voluntary evacuation. But that only works if you have access to the right information. It should be your right to choose.

    We had a bag packed for 3 weeks. It was always our intention that if we received news of the front heading back this way we’d leave with the dogs, a bag of essentials and we’d be happy. There weren’t too many people we spoke to who didn’t have a bag packed and an idea of what the trigger would be for them to evacuate. It was only later that it dawned on me, we only have two roads out of this town. Both easily get blocked up in the morning and afternoon. Imagine if the entire town and surrounding suburbs were trying to leave all at the same time in a panic situation. We saw in Kinglake and Marysville how many perished in their cars.

    On the weekend I’m heading to a couple of the wineries who were damaged by the fires (this picture was taken at one of them). It will be interesting to see what type of growth is occurring.

  2. Hahaha, awesome! Again the 2nd video was very show-like, complete with a dive through the event horizon; if only you had cut straight to a wormhole travel effect at the end, it would’ve been surreal.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were angling for a directing job. 😉

    Overall, I say it’s much better than the old practical puddle. The key is how the practical puddle fades to a uniform blue near the edges, while the CGI puddle doesn’t; it’s brightest in the middle, but even at the edge there is a shiny, wavy effect; this new practical has maintained that edge wavy effect. Very sweet. That said, I assume the lights shining on the gate won’t be there when the show airs? The fact that those lights illuminates the projection screen is unfortunate since it pretty ruins the effect of a wavy, fluctuating surface (as in, it reveals the surface of the smooth screen).

    No worries Joe, Martin hasn’t finished his script the last time I checked his twitter page. According to him, someone’s Dad is a dick.

  3. Videos: Too awesome for words. Thank you!

    On Friday night, I was watching Fox’s show Mental and there was a mini-Stargate reunion on there. Jamie Lee Newman (Cadman) from SGA is playing a hot neurosurgeon who is sleeping with the star psychiatrist in the show (been on 2 shows already; looks like maybe she might be a regular or semi-regular). Then you had Erick Avari (Daniel Jackson’s father-in-law) from SG-1 who played an unscrupulous doctor. Also rounding out the cast was Mike Dopud, Kiryk on SGA and Odai Ventrell & Colonel Chernovshev on SG-1. He played the distraught father of the young teen in trouble. He is quite a dramatic part and he did a great job.

  4. the evil Empress Amara

    Must be something in the name … my flatmate has a 3 year old niece called Amara, who we all believe will lead her own version of the mob in the future. We call her Don Amara, and try to avoid eye contact. She is the scariest-looking kid you’ll ever see.

  5. Heroes Die is an excellent choice for the September BotM club, and I get to save some money as I already own it. Looking forward to that discussion.
    Talking about spinning ideas for season two, and not to jinx anything, but at what point will you know for sure there IS a season two? It seems a bit of a difficult balance between wasting energy and making sure proper preplanning takes place. And if all does go well, when will your next hiatus take place? Anyways, thanks for the daily dose of information and distraction.

  6. The top part of the puddle looks flat in the first video. It all looks flat in the second where it looks like someone is purposely showing how the ripples get chopped off abruptly at the edge of the screen.

  7. September’s BOTM choice looks great. I’ll have to try and find it and add it to my summer reading list.

    I just started Elizabeth Moon’s today. Really looking forward to it. I’m intrigued by the idea of a book about a man with autism. I’ve taught 5 boys with autism in my last 7 years in the classroom.

    I really must get high speed internet. Can’t watch the videos at home just yet. I was going to watch it at the office today (my absolutely last day of work until September) but it was 3:30 and the janitor wanted me gone. So, either I get high speed or wait until September. Life is tough, eh?

  8. Hi, Joe
    The Ancient characters on the stargate are very similar to the NATO phonetic alphabet.
    Is the idea come from that?

  9. Great news about Sharon! Looking forward to seeing her and Ben Cotton in this new adventure called “Riese”. Thanks for the links. So many new shows to watch this fall!

    The puddle is mesmerizing. It should be dark in the gateroom more often. 😉

  10. This is really off topic, but I was wondering, is it just me, or does anyone else think that having two massive Jupiter impacts in less than 15 years is anything but terrifying? Hopefully being small equals hard to hit.

    Joe, is it possible for you to give us a breakdown soon of the episodes, writers and directors?

  11. first time I saw the puddle like that it took all my self-control to not jump through. I had the dorkiest grin on my face for half the day. I hope you’re enjoying the sun. see you on set in a couple weeks.

  12. Question Joe. How did you record this? I thought it was a visual effect added later, by having a green screen behind the gate. This looks so real! Or has this video been edited to include the visual effects?


  13. I love Ben!! His character was sweet in Harper’s Island. This show Riese sounds really cool too, it’s almost like a lord of the rings tv show! I can’t wait till it comes out!

    the puddle is so cool!

  14. I got to see Stargate’s booth at Comic Con tonight and I even had my picture taken infront of the gate they had there. I’ll hopefully have the pictures taken so far up on my blog in a few days.

    Hey Joe, what’s the worst thing that ever happened to you on a trip? I can tell you mine. Right now I’m 300 miles from home and my car broke down and have to miss most of Comic Con tomorrow so that I can get my car fixed and get a rental car. Lucky me. I know that kind of thing happens to a lot of people, but I just have my car worked on two weeks ago.

  15. coucou Joseph!!

    Vous allez bien!!!!

    Moi super!!! Merci pour ces super videos!!
    Vous êtes vraiment inspirer pour écrire autant de page pour le script!

    C’est drôle j’ai une conversation avec Ben coton et mon message le fait rire facebook le fait rire…j’ai juste marquer “Joseph Mallozzi Addiction” lol

    Bon, aller bonne journée! Bisou!

  16. Est-ce qu’il y a la langue francaise dans la nouvelle version de Childrens of the Gods, et est-ce qu’elle sortira en France?

  17. Hi again Mr M!

    Back at work..Hols but a memory.
    RE: Videos from yesterday…Gotta say it : “Make it spin, make it spin…it’d look cooler if it spun!”
    That is incredibly fast.

    Re: Practical puddle. WOW! It must be great satisfaction to all the guys that you can get such a cool effect practically now. (not to mention the bottom line!)

    Great book choice for September. Anything Mr Scalzi recommends I am going to read. He’s got the Oprah touch when it comes to book recommendations.

    Re: Carl haircut…. is this part of Carl’s post-hiatus warm up routine? who looks the snazziest in the Writer’s Room? that Will Waring’s voice I hear in the video? And….let me guess, the Destiny just happens to have a crate of pineapples aboard eh?

    @PG15 : I also TOTALLY missed ytimynona being anonymity backwards…D’oh! I actually thought it was a native american name…

    If you think of it Mr M, and it’s not too much trouble, my birthday is Saturday 25th July. Perchance a blog dedication? Many thanks!

    Best to all at the Comic Con….Watch as BJS and DB’s twitter numbers EXPONENTIALLY rise!

    Best to all


  18. Oops! Keep meaning to ask, I notice Slaughter House 5 in the Book Montage… Is this a re-read? or had you never gotten around to it before (like Bladerunner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep)? Just curious.



  19. Hey Joe.

    1. Now that Gateworld has shown us the exterior of the Destiny, are you allowed to post some exterior stuff of your own, and concept art? 🙂

    2. Also, how many pages do you aim to get your scripts to? I seem to remember you saying a while ago that one you wrote was at 52 pages, and that was a bit too long?

    Thanks 🙂

  20. I may cheat & read Heroes Die right now. I’m between books… which is rather unusual.

  21. Hey there Joe! Just thought I’d make your day. Was watching Whispers tonight with my 76 year old mother and she jumped three times during the episode. Impressive. I did warn her at the start that it was a scary one.

    Cheers, Chev

  22. Hey did you ever watch the Dog Whisperer? There was an episode on yesterday with a women with four French bulldogs, and of course I thought about your dogs!

  23. Hi Joe!
    Been preoccupied recently and haven’t made it into your blog…my son just joined the Army cadets…he’s only 13! So we’ve been having our own military discussions happening here!! He’s excited…me not so much!
    Anyhoo, I just wanted to pop in to say that I’m not sure what to make of the new gate. I mean, I like it but it almost looks like an over decorated cake. I think it’s the huge chevrons that are throwing me off. It kinda looks small. But I loved watching the videos of it in action. Really cool! Can’t wait to see the first ep! Well done!
    Chelle 🙂

  24. D’oh! I did own Heroes Die and I donated it to the library during one of my shelf clear-outs before a move. This is why I need an e-reader!

  25. Ugh. Heroes Die – what a depressing title. I think I’ll skip this one (for very obvious reasons 😉 ).

    So…anyhoo…I learned something yesterday.

    I learned that one should not drink Corona Extra, eat a bigass cheeseburger (with L,T,& O, catsup, relish and yellow mustard), french fries (coated in old bay seasoning and dipped in cocktail sauce), raw slabs of onion slathered in yellow mustard, and then top it all off with a glass of wine, a piece of Jewish ‘apple’ cake (made with fresh peaches instead), and home-made brownies… if one doesn’t want to have really weird dreams all night long. 😛

    See, it all started off with being invited to a family barbeque up near Atlantic City. On the way, I drove, while Mr. Das (a.k.a. David) read Elric at the End of Time to me, a hilarious glimpse of Elric in a place he should not be, where entropy is king and the universe has begun collapsing upon itself. Elric, of course, thinks he’s been transported to a realm of chaos, and comes off as a bit of a pompous ass at times…which is just beautiful. He reminds me of Elrod of Melvinbone from the Cerebus series in this…only without the Foghorn Leghorn voice. 🙂

    So, maybe I can blame the book. Or, maybe I can blame the meal, but whatever the cause, I had a series of really bizarre and vivid dreams…

    1. There were a bunch of neighborhood kids playing all up and down the street in front of our house. I recognized one – a boy who works at our local market, with curly black hair and the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen – the rest my brain just made up. I went out in the back yard to feed our feral cats, only to find a 6-foot boa curled up in the ‘cat house’ next to one of the cats. I grabbed the cat and put him in the bathroom with two of our inside cats…and I noticed another feral cat already in our spare room. Oddly enough, I didn’t dream about our current house, but the apartment we lived in right after we got married. I went back outside and grabbed the snake behind the head – it tried to bite me, but I got control. I carried it out to the boys playing in the street. I asked if they had put the snake there, and they said it belonged to one of their older brothers, but was getting too big to keep, so they let it go. I then found two park rangers who had lots of pillowcases and canvas sacks – I could even see the black writing on one of the sacks, and it looked suspiciously like my dad’s old duffle from his navy years. I asked if I could put the snake in one, and they said I could, but each sack was filled with medical supplies – lots of clear plastic tubes and packaged needles and gauze – and it was taking them forever to empty one. Meanwhile, the snake was getting heavy. Finally I put the snake in the sack, and the dream ended.

    I probably had this dream because of the comments surrounding your snake phobia, Joe. 🙂

    2. I dreamt that I was married to an old friend – a guy who played in a local band for many years. (They played great music – good, laid-back stuff like Neil Young. 🙂 I used to hang with them back in my single days, back when most summer nights I crawled into bed at 5 am. 😛 We were just friends, nothing more.)

    In the dream we were living in this fantasy house I often dream about, but doesn’t exist in real life. It has a huge, finished basement, and it was there that he told me he didn’t love me anymore because, when he married me, I was into Native American stuff and that’s what attracted him to me. Now, however, I was into weird shit like albinos and life-sucking space aliens, and he didn’t like it. I said he couldn’t expect my interests to remain the same, and he said he did expect them to remain the same, and – besides – everyone thinks his mistress is his wife anyway (his ‘mistress’ in my dream is his wife in real life…lol). I showed him that I still had a room in the house decorated with skins and woven baskets and pottery, and he smiled, and the dream ended.

    I probably had this dream because David and I ran into this old friend and his wife at the fair last week. I also think I had it because I really, REALLY want to be 19 again…

    3. My sister and I were staying in my grandmother’s house. The house (which is next to my parents’) was originally a carriage house, and the entire upstairs – walls and ceiling – is dark wainscotting. Cool house. Anyway – we were staying there, and suddenly it started to shake, and the exterior wall lifted up a few inches, and my sister’s mattress disappeared through the opening. I thought it was an earthquake, but my sister didn’t think so. I got David, and asked him to lift the exterior wall, and he did (like a garage door), exposing a small room we never knew existed. It looked something like an old miner’s shack, everything dusty and covered in cobwebs, furnished with a well-worn table and mismatched chairs, a potbelly stove, wanted posters on the wall, tin cups on the table and a barrel in the corner. We pulled the mattress out and closed the wall, and the house started to shake again. We tapped on the wall, and bricks and wood started falling outside, showering past the windows. The house started to lean. We got our parents and they saw what was happening, and said we had to get out – the house was about to collapse. We started taking things out we didn’t want destroyed. I picked through knick-knacks for my jewelry and little tchotchkes I wanted to keep. The more things I took, the less the house trembled. Then it was still, and I woke up.

    I think this was my ‘End of Time’ dream, and totally blame Elric and Moorcock for it!

    And today? Let’s just say I plan on eating nothing but yogurt and carrot sticks. 😛


  26. Hey Joe! I’ve been reading your blog for a couple days now, and all these SG:U pics are awesome! I watched every episode of SG-1 twice through, and Atlantis once. I couldn’t find your email address to ask questions to your mail bag so I guess I’ll try and ask here.

    The Ancient ship for SG:U is found by using a 9th chevron. Isn’t this getting out of control? The 8th chevron sort of made sense to visit other galaxies but having a 9th for ships, I mean where do you draw the line? Will the next series feature a 10th chevron?

    Also, I’m willing to sell my soul if you could get me in to the Stargate Worlds beta!


  27. Hi Joe,

    Hope the dogs are well

    Sorry I missed Paul Q&A – was just back from holiday and missed the deadline.

    To the author OEDIMIA – who sent me the charming comment – in the words of JS – “Funny”….

    Dont take offence at my lack of imput to your blog but as there is no new Atlantis film news – I dont have anything I want to ask.

    If you are ever comeing over here and want to know some great places to eat/visit – please email me and I will try to give you some useful info from one foodie to another.

    Keep well


  28. Wow very nice I like the new look of the Puddle

    Also did anyone see that guy near the end of the 2nd clip

    Where did he think he was going 😀 looked to me is if he was trying to escape lol

    But overall Nice 😀

  29. Cool new vd! I can’t wait for the first show. October 2nd?

    Das: Interesting dreams……. I wonder what the snake symbolizes?

    paloosa: No more bad news!

    chevron7: I hope I can still watch scary movies at 76!

    caitlyanna: I’ve been there. May your car get fixed soon and the repair bill be under fifty dollars.

    Mr. M, I’ve been looking at the dogs’ pictures on twitter. They sure are cute. I hope they are doing well?


  30. salut joe!!!!!

    I have seen, the destiny external.
    It’s very beautiful, but his design is clearly modeled of Cardassian Galor class of ST DS9 (I like this tv show).
    It’s random, or you are inspirated by star trek?

    His design is closer to the ancient ark of truth ship than aurora class ship.
    But he is older or newer than SG1 gates?

    a plus et bonne journée

  31. Hey, what is the blog consensus regarding Jalapeño Poppers? 😀

    You know, the ones filled with cream cheese and a crispy baked coating?
    I tried them for the first time yesterday and now I’m addicted.

    Really lovely practical puddles! Looks so real one might walk through and find themselves elsewhere. I wish…


  32. @ Tammy – Honestly, the snake was just a snake. Last week we were discussing snakes and snake phobias here with Joe, and then on Saturday hubby and I were on the boardwalk, and someone had a boa (about 6-foot), and I caressed it, right behind its head. Also, on CNN last week they were discussing all the thousands of pythons loose in Florida (due to people letting them loose once they get too big), and how they’re trying to get rid of them. I just think all three things came together in my dream.


  33. @ 2cats – Had poppers myself last night…forgot about that…lol. I LOVE ’em! I prefer the cheddar ones, but like both the cheddar and cream cheese. I like the whole pepper kind, though – not the chopped pepper ones. Also, I LOVE the hot ones (not always available).

    We had no salsa to dip them in, so I used cocktail sauce.

    Needless to say, I did NOT get on the scale today. 😛


  34. Nice Puddle, Am looking forward to the show. appreciate the pictures and updates on episodes. makes it seem closer yet. And thanks for the vivid pix of you and your comfort attire,,lol. The dogs will miss you when you go back to work for sure.

    Better dreams tonight @das.!

  35. Oooh, if it has Scalzi’s Seal of Approval, I’m in!

    Nice “practical puddle” videos! My littlest siblings (recently converted fans aged 10 and 12) were quite impressed with them.

    I’ve spent most of today being jealous of everyone I know of who is in San Diego right now… Anyone going to the SGU panel tomorrow? Take pictures!!!

  36. Ok, next week we are running away from home (kind of). A week at the beach. A lot of bad stuff going on. My 86 year old Aunt with the broken neck died. That was really a blessing. I’ve added Broken Neck to my list of “How I DONT want to die”.
    I’m skipping her Baptist funeral. Not feeling guilty over it either. Should be an interesting funeral though. It’s being organized by her Aspersers syndrome, atheist granddaughter. However, like a TURE atheist, she doesn’t get upset over any mention of a GOD. I don’t get why atheist are suing people over any mention of God. If they don’t believe, why do they care?
    My MIL found out she is in end stage lung cancer today. Not good.
    No Karate class tonight-no one to punch:-( . The boys are out. Bubble bath and junk food fiction for me tonight.
    On the bright side, we don’t have forrest fires here.


  37. Heroes Die sounds really good, and I’m getting stuck into The Speed of Dark at the moment as well. I think the BOTM Club is a real highlight of your blog (at least for me…).

    How are the dogs going, by the way? Haven’t heard much about them this week.


  38. – Half way through “Speed of Dark”.

    – “Heroes Die” sounds excellent and I am glad you are still doing just one book a month.

    -I just got my copy of “Chasing the Dragon” – Justina Robson’s latest in her Quantum Gravity series and can’t read it yet because I have an editing project to finish first.

    @das: you have the strangest dreams!

    Back to editing.

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