Lately, I’ve been so busy on the Stargate front that I’ve had little time for reading, much less commeningt on what I’ve been reading. So, today, with the first drafts of my last scripts behind me, I’d like to make mention of a few of the books I read and enjoyed back in July.

Girl in the Glass

The Girl in the Glass, by Jeffrey Ford

Any time I read a book by Ford, it’s pretty much a guarantee that it will be making an appearance in these monthly round-ups. And The Girl in the Glass is no exception. It makes one wish the author would tackle the long form more often. I know, I know. There are so many hours in a day and I love Ford’s short fiction, but one of the things that makes this novel so engrossing and altogether delightful is the characters. And it’s because Ford has the time to develop them, allowing us to really get to know them over the course of the story, that he succeeds so admirably on this count.

Like another of his forays into the long form, The Shadow Year, the story is less fantastical than his short stories, more grounded though possessed of just a hint of the supernatural. In The Shadow Year, the story is told from the point of view of a young boy growing up in a small town, touching on home life, friendships, and memories of summer as he strives to uncover a mystery that has gripped his tiny community. In The Girl in the Glass, it’s another young boy, Diego, who is our guide through a totally different sort of mystery near the end of The Great Depression. In contrast to the innocence of our young protagonist in The Shadow Year, Diego is surprisingly worldly for his age. And with good reason. He is part of a trio of grifters who stage phony séances, scamming high society rubes looking to commune with the beyond. Their little con is mighty sweet and they have a good thing going, until one of their sham spiritual connections becomes all too real. Suddenly, Diego and co. find themselves having to hustle their way through a winding plot involving kidnapping, murder, intrigue, and a deep, dark, ugly secret.

Ford people’s his novel with some truly wonderful characters and the story itself is tight, clever, and compulsively readable. Honestly. Once you start this book, you’ll be hard-pressed to put it down.

Audrey's Door

Audrey’s Door, by Sarah Langan

Former guest author to this blog Sarah Langan was kind enough to send me an advanced copy of her latest book, Audrey’s Door, a chilling tale of a young female architect who gets more than she bargained for when she moves into The Breviary, a turn-of-the-century New York apartment building.

A loner distanced from her ailing mother, battling with OCD, struggling with the demands of a high-stress job, her recent relationship a shambles, Audrey thinks her luck has finally turned when she finds a listing for an apartment in Manhattan . The rent is a steal. Her elderly neighbors are quiet and keep to themselves. It all seems too good to be true. And, as it turns out, it is because Audrey learns her apartment has a bit of a history, a history involving its last tenants, a mother and her children who perished in a horrific murder-suicide. Despite this, Audrey elects to move in. But she soon discovers that the grisly goings-on at 14B are the least of her problems, that there are darker forces at work in the building, ancient entities who have designs on this world and require her particular skills to bring their plans to fruition.

At times reminiscent of The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby, Audrey’s Door is a good old-fashioned haunted house story set in an urban setting. Tense, at times deeply unsettling, it’s the perfect read for those horror aficionados looking for something new. And scary.

Ascent

Ascent: A Novel, by Jed Mercurio

Author Jed Mercurio’s Royal Air Force background serves him well in this fascinating account of fictitious Russian cosmonaut Yefgenii Yeremin, charting his hard knock upbringing as an orphan in post-WWII Stalingrad, through his service as a MiG pilot secretly flying under the North Korean flag during the Korean War, to his eventual selection for the Russian space program.

The novel grabs you from the get-go as we are introduced to the young Yefgenni, struggling for survival following the deaths of his parents, enduring almost constant physical abuse at the hands of a group of bullies he shares residence with at a local orphanage. Faced with a bleak future, the brilliant Yefgenni acts. In a move bred of desperation, he deals with his greatest oppressor and, in so doing, secures himself a scholarship to Russia’s air academy. From there, well, not even the sky’s the limit.

Mercurio’s writing style is precise, offering a stripped down narrative that breezes along but doesn’t skimp on the necessary details. In fact, the descriptions of aerial combat are thorough, and thoroughly credible, specific yet never overly complex. It all proves as fascinating as it is spirited, especially given the stakes. Since their presence must not be revealed, the Russian pilots are under orders strict not to be captured, meaning they either down the enemy, retreat, or go down in a fiery crash. Some do. One doesn’t and pays the price.

In the end, Yefgenni sacrifices all to reach the stars and this ultimate achievement of his lifelong dream proves both stirring, sad, and, strangely enough, poignant and inspiring in the heart of tragedy.

A terrific book.

55 thoughts on “August 16, 2009: My Belated July Picks

  1. Hi Joe, I’m getting “Ascent” tomorrow, sounds like something I’d really enjoy. Thanks!

  2. Riley, that was very well said yesterday, thank you!

    We all have different wants and needs as an audience. People are certainly free to wait and see, and to not take it seriously, but others are just as free to speak up / do something about it. Just as Joe is free to ignore or take to heart what he sees fit — he can easily block posts if he doesn’t want us to say anything & ask us to refrain from commenting.

    But perhaps Joe is like most creators I know, myself included: we look for feedback. Feedback does us more good if it comes *before* the work is completed. It’s why thousands of artists and writers post Works-In-Progress on devianART — to get an outside opinion on how it’s going. Strangers are often better in friends in this regard. Creators who ask for feedback will at least examine the arguements made by the audience — it doesnt mean they have to *take* the advice, but we appreciate the opportunity to fix things we may otherwise have missed, if we end up agreeing with the audience. For myself, I would rather my audience speak up — constructively — about the probems in a work before the work goes to print. I welcome perspectives that I might not have considered before.

    This technology of the internet offers creators an opportunity that didn’t really exist before, at least not at this level. For that matter, having the viewers weigh in on something beforehand (I am aware that it was an accident here, but there have been other isnatnces where we have purposefully been informed of things) can be likened to market research! TV is a business of selling, after all — if not enough of the aucience is satisfied enough to keep watching, sales of airtime plummet. And new shows only have a small window to hook the audience before a station yanks it, so they creators have a vested interest in making the product as satisfying to as wide of an audience as possible, which in turn means they have a vested interest in our opinions — even negative ones — and most especially our worries. If they didn’t, Joe & Brad wouldn’t have bothered apologising.

    If we’re always supposed to just wait and see, why do we have critics and reviews, which help us decide whether we will watch something or not? Well, maybe you don’t read reviews, but I do — I usually read several when I am uncertain as to whether I want to read or watch something, so reviews are vital in helping me decide how to spend my time. So are spoilers. I skipped the recent Torchwood miniseries because of spoilers, and from what quite a few friends have told me about their own reactions, I’m very glad I did. I’m going to wait with District 9 because I am very sensitive to violence, so I want to be able to fast-forward if I need to, for example — if I can bring myself to watch it at all. So no, I really would rather not just “wait and see”, thanks, especially for other topics I am especially sensitive on. If you’re not sensitive and TV is just entertainment for you, rather than a variant on a sacred art (I’m pagan, and for me, storytelling is a form of spellcasting), if stories don’t effect you so deeply, bully for you — just be happy you’re not me. 😉 As it stands at the moment, it looks like I will proabably wait until this episodes airs and I read feedback before I watch any episode of the series. Maybe Joe will have answers for my questions that will give me more relief. So I *am* making an effort, not just dismissing it entirely here. But I know myself and what I can handle — I *want* to go for the ride, but I need to have a clear idea of the ride warnings, so I don;t mistakenly ride something I shouldn’t. But if we’re just supposed to wait & see with anything that comes up, and not say anything, why does Joe ever post anything at all about the show? Why not just leave us in the dark the whole time? Wait and see indeed!

    With my writing, I am as up-front as possible in telling what concepts and themes are included, so people don’t get what might be, for them, a nasty surprise. I appreciate it greatly when others do the same. 🙂

    Further, just because something doesn’t offend you doesn’t necessarily mean those who are offended haven’t a good reason to be offended, from their position — it’s all relative, ne? I do think, from a story standpoint, that a story about someone being unable to do something suddenly being able to is interesting, but that doesn’t mean I’m unsympathetic to how such a story could offend a disabled person, and how it could possibly reinforce a negative stereotype!

  3. I’ll hafta look for The Girl In The Glass during my next bookstore trip! Sounds like just the sort of book I would like, even if the cover does look a bit like a Jodi Piccoult novel!

    Picked up Zoe’s Tale yet?

    On a completely different subject, Bubba’s Halloween costume is the best yet! I could be biased though… I’m working my way through the 7th HP book for the 9th time right now, so it’s on the brain. 😉

  4. I’m back! As for my sanity, well, I’m afraid it didn’t fare so well. But the D&D RPG event that I helped to run went pretty well, and all of the people participating in the tournament had a good time. As the editor, it is always a learning experience for me to see what plays out well in the tournament and which segments of the adventure don’t go quite so smoothly. That way I can give my authors better advice next year.

    Sorry to say that I was away from my computer the since early Wednesday a.m. and didn’t get das and For the Love of Beckett‘s messages until today. Drat! Well, I go to GenCon every year, so maybe we can get together next August! Anyone else here go to Gencon?

    Hey, Joe! Did you ever go to any D&D conventions back in your younger days?

    Ack! More books! Um, I have rather a backlog right now, what with the BotM books and the latest Justina Robson Quantum Gravity book “Chasing the Dragon” (yes, Narelle, the latest one is out!), and the Michael Moorcock Elric books, and Zenith…. Those will have to go into the “maybe later” list for now.

    @ytimynona: I loved Zoe’s Tale; it’s amazing how well he managed a teen-age girl’s view of everything.

    I’ll catch up on the rest of the stuff I missed later. After I catch up on my sleep.

  5. I’d never think to comment on Michael Vick on this blog but since you brought the subject up… the 60 minutes segment on him is still going on… and I’m incensed.

    I believe in paying your dues and getting a second chance, but all the man seems to be sorry for is what happened to him. He’s sorry he went to prison, he’s sorry for what he did to his family and his career… NOWHERE HAS HE SHOWN ANY UNDERSTANDING OR REMORSE TO WHAT HE PUT THOSE DOGS THROUGH… all he seems to be sorry for is that he didn’t stop it so he didn’t go to prison. He cried every night he says, because he was in prison, not because of what he did to the dogs… only that he wasn’t strong enough to stop it.

    Everyone who is disturbed by this guy not having any feeling for the pain the animals went through when he drowned, electrocuted them, let them tear each other apart, should write the NFL and refuse to watch the games he’s in. He should have his second chance when he understands what pain and horror he put the animals through, not when he’s crying about what he’s lost.

    I’m sending this to 60 minutes, too.

  6. Re: “If they didn’t, Joe & Brad wouldn’t have bothered apologising.” I realise that came out wrong — of course they might very well still have apologised on a personal level, there just might not have been a call for a formal press release addressing it. My apologies, Joe & Brad!

  7. John Joseph Adams has a new anthology out called By Blood We Live. It might make a good horror/fantasy selection for BOTM?

    I plan on reading this book regardless of whether or not it is made a BOTM selection, but thought some other BOTM members might be interested in hearing the book was out — especially those that enjoyed JJA’s last collection, The Living Dead.

    More info on the book can be found at the website below: http://www.johnjosephadams.com/by-blood-we-live/

    There are a fair number of previous BOTM authors listed in the Table of Contents. In fact, the ToC reads a bit like a who’s who of SF… 🙂

  8. Audrey’s Door – Now your talking Joe, now your talking! I love haunted house type books. I’m going to get this one. I loved reading The Shinning, but not so much watching the movie. Reading scary is better than watching scary.

  9. Hey Joe,

    Thanks for the shout-out. Hand still in cast, have taken to carrying a digital recorder to meet a self-imposed writing deadline. Now just have to get free long enough to type (without it taking an hour for 8 lines)!

    Looking forward to waving at you and all at the Bridge next time I’m in town again.

    Pol

  10. Also, I still have my last dog’s Halloween costume. She was a very colorful clown. She looked like your dogs too – she had that same “what the hell?” look when I put her in it. I bet Fondy is responsible for this.

    My 4+ month old Beagle Maggie is loosing teeth now. I’m finding them laying around on the carpet. I save them. Don’t know why.

    I have been researching dog food. I’m looking for the best. I have changed Maggie’s food 6 times now (very slowly so don’t cause stomach upset). They say a good dog food will lead to a healthier and longer life (maybe as much as 2-4 years longer).

    I think I have finally settled on Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul. From my research, there are ingredients to look for on the package that are not good. If it contains ANY “by-products”, throw away the bag. It is like feeding your dog bologna and hot dogs everyday. Everyone recomends you do not feed your dog, food that contains corn. This causes allergies (itching skin, ear infections, hot spots. etc). The first 4 ingrediants listed on the package should be meat items, like Chicken, Turkey, Ocean Fish or Chicken Meal.

    The names that kept coming up as the best dog food is Orijen*, Innova EVO*, Canidae, Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul, Solid Gold, Wellness, Merrick. But they can be hard to find and some of these brands* are all meat and can be too high in protien for some dogs. I found that feed stores have almost every kind of dog food made. The big pet stores don’t carry the best premium brands for some reason. Just the cheap stuff you see in all the commercials or the “better” of this cheap group. The cheap (but popular) dog food like Beneful, Iams and others, are manufactured by huge company giants that might specialize in other areas, like paper towels. They only make dog food because the market is so big. But they really do not care about the contents of the food. The dog food recall about 3 years ago was a good example of how much they cared.

    Since Maggie has been eating premium dog food, she is gorgeous. Her coat is very shiny and her coloring is rich and beautiful. She has not had any ear infections since right after I got her. Beagles are prone to that.

    I have been obsessed with this food thing. Just thought I would share what I have found.

  11. iamza: John Joseph Adams has a new anthology out called By Blood We Live. It might make a good horror/fantasy selection for BOTM?
    How about that, I suggested we read Seeds of Change. The reason I didn’t pick Blood or Living Dead is that I’m really vampired out for near future reading. And I never thought I’d say that since they are my fave. But for those who aren’t overvamped, you’ll enjoy.
    DD

  12. @Ponytail

    Don’t know how to break this to you. Here goes. I remember on a TV news segment that stated there is less than a handful of plants producing dog food & cat food in bulk (large bag). IRCC there is one plant somewhere around Toronto Canada that produce the majority of all the bagged dog food in North America. It would be a surprise if the bagged dog food you are using doesn’t came from there. That Toronto plant manufacture dog food for all brands. What they put in the bag is what their clients want.

  13. I was talking with a writer friend tonight about creation of languages during the writing of scifi/ fantasy (Elvish, Klingon, etc). That got me to wondering if Peter deLuise is responsible for creating the Unas language for the 3 episodes he wrote about them (The First Ones, Beast of Burden, Enemy Mine)? Or does the writing staff collaborate, or do you hire a linguist for things like that?

    Since the Destiny crew will be encountering new races, will we see any more first contacts with non-English speakers?
    Those were some of my favorite episodes, from an anthropology point of view…

    “Now don’t say ka until you’ve tried it!”

  14. I also loved The Girl in the Glass. IMO, this novel, along with The Shadow Year, establish Ford as an excellent writer without regard to genre.

    Before he gets the plot into high gear, Ford treats the reader to one of the funniest introductory sections I’ve ever read. Dialogue and narration both achieve just about every reaction along the humor spectrum, without failing to build the necessary foundation for understanding the main characters’ motives and actions once the plot is really cruising. I agree, the characters are delightful; and where that’s not the case, they’re engrossing antagonists. Even those on the periphery of the story become real people, appropriately for a book that’s set amid well-researched actual events.

    For me, the entire cast of characters — along with an increasingly complex and fascinating web of storylines — provided enough of a fantastical feel to stave off any disappointment that Ford didn’t take this story further into the surreal and supernatural worlds that abound in his short stories, although a strong speculative/sci-fi subplot keeps the back half of the book hopping. “Compulsively readable” — definitely, and toward the end I could barely put it down. And on top of getting a great read, I learned a lot, although the relevant episodes didn’t have a didactic feel at all. If you’re living the history vicariously, you don’t get that textbook feel of outside-looking-in.

    The author keeps various threads of irony and humor going even when that ugly secret hits you with its nastiest gut-punch, but nothing ever feels out of place. Girl in the Glass is an incredibly well-crafted book, one that raises the bar again for all types of tales of suspense. Coming from Jeffrey Ford, that’s no surprise.

  15. I’ve been doing a lot of skimming in the comment section lately… I feel I already know too much about what supposedly will or will not happen on SGU. I avoid spoilers like the plague, and I rarely read reviews of anything. I don’t even like movie trailers most of the time. You couldn’t get me near Gateworld if I were promised pretty pics of … well, anyway. Way too much speculation for my tastes. I swear, the internet has ruined TV and movies for me.

    I don’t like reviews. I prefer a fresh approach, a clean slate without expectations. Expectations are the death of fun. That, and I am pretty eclectic and do not value the opinions of the so-called experts. We all have opinions, I think some people are altogether too fond of their own views, and others are rather too well paid for spouting off at the mouth. I believe in first hand experience whenever possible. Most of my favorite movies got bad reviews initially. In fact, most of my favorite movies aren’t all that good. Never ask me to recommend a film or TV show, you may get Lust in the Dust or Phantom of the Paradise.

    Everyone knows that scene in Alien, when the surprise dinner guest makes the abrupt appearance? The film had been out for weeks, and I’d managed not to hear a thing about it. My brother and I went to the matinee, sat in the front row of the very nearly empty theater … no stage or rails, the curved screen went right to the floor. When the creature popped out, I did scream… one of the few times I had been caught totally off guard. That was a perfect movie moment for me. Had I read a review, I’d never have experienced that rush of unfiltered fear.

    Anyway, just as everyone has the right to an opinion, I have the right to ignore and avoid opinions not my own.

  16. “Oh, thank you! Gosh, I am soooo glad to hear that describing disabled people as sex starved, or physically useless beings is not offensive at all. And the idea that someone could take over someone else’s body, and use it for sex, well, gosh, that’s not really rape. Who cares that the person to whom the body belongs is nowhere around to give consent? Who needs consent anyways, rape is A-okay and totally not at all offensive, and damn those in society who disagree and speak out about it, huh? Man, they’re such losers for harshing our squee. It’s so much better if we all just keep quiet and get along, one big mostly happy family living in peace and harmony, and hiding the blood and bruises so as not to disturb anyone else.

    Yeah, there was no need for anyone to address this issue at all.”

    It’s only offensive to people that read into the smallest things. Do you know that when they said “physically useless,” it wasn’t meant to be offensive. They’re just saying how the character feels about her disability. They’re not saying – “affected since childhood, her disability has rendered her body physically useless, NOTE – every single person that is a quadriplegic, their body is physically useless.” Grow up, if you’re so sensitive to words. They never described disabled people as being “sex starved.” It’s not like Brad Wright came out and said “disabled people are sex starved.” If you’re thinking they are, then you’re delusional. You’re reading too much into stuff. So what if the show depicts a connection to rape. Rape is a real thing that happens. It’s not like they said out loud that “we support rape and this show is trying to advertise that rape is a good thing.” It’s just showing something that could happen in these science fiction circumstances. Your last sentences just seem to trail off into emotional outrage, with no sensible relation to my post. I never said rape is ok and wouldn’t be offensive to some people.

  17. Hey Joe,

    I’m getting “Heroes Die” by Stover in next week. If I can keep up with two books a month I’ll be doing fine. When I finish this one, I will look back on your well thought out summaries above.

    Thank you for your thoughts and energies you extend on our behalf.

    Cheryl

  18. I was just thinking on Saturday that you hadn’t put up any recommended reading list for a while. It was a sunny day here on Saturday and the lawn and my Reader was calling me but was looking for something new to read.
    I’ve really taken to James P Hogan. I haven’t come across a story of his yet that I haven’t enjoyed and didn’t get my brain “Hmmm?”-ing.

    I hope Jelly’s scan goes well later in the month.
    If she needs to go off the MetaCam, there is a course of injections that will assist. For my Gran’s/Mum’s dog it’s for arthritis particularly in his spine and hips. He’s up to his 4th week (and final week) in this course of injections. He’s blind and deaf so naturally he gets a bit lost at times, but a day never goes by where he doesn’t hassle Mum for a walk, so they must be working.

    sparrow_hawk – There will be a day of celebration when I can get Justina Robson’s books in e-format. She has a couple up on Amazon for the Kindle. She did mention on her blog that more might be available in e soon. Here’s hoping.

  19. Ponytail – Our dogs are on Eukanuba. If they go off Eukanuba for a while we notice a real difference in their coats and energy levels. I have to drive half hour in order to be able to get under $100 per 15kg bag but it’s worth it.

    A few years ago Jack got hit in the leg with a golf club (a complete accident I swear). I thought I’d broken his leg. Blood everywhere, Jack was screaming in pain. Got him to the vet to find he’d only dented the bone and muscle. The vet asked me what I fed him. When I told him Eukanuba he said that it had just paid for itself. The vets here seem to endorse the quality of Eukanuba.

  20. coucou!
    ça va joseph!!!

    Moi trés bien, ces livre on l’air sympas. Oh même si vous avez peu de temp, je suis sure que vous trouvez toujour un moment pour lire^^!

    Bonne journée!
    Bisou!

  21. Hi Joe

    this may be belated as you seem to have answered many questions regarding the Kino a while ago, but i have been thinking and would like to ask:

    is there any technological relationship between the Kino and Goa’uld communication spheres?

  22. Words have power, @Love. If they didn’t, the speeches of Churchill, Kennedy, Martin Luther King and others would not have inspired people the way they did. While I agree with you on one level that it is possible to read offence into anything if you try hard enough, I also do not think anyone should just throw up their hands and say, “Hell, someone’s going to take offence, we might as well not even try!” I do not agree with the notion that TV should be as offensive as possible, because, what the hey, everyone is just going to be offended anyway, and why spoil the fun of the selected few who do feel they see the vision of the show-makers.

    And I absolutely do not agree with the idea that anyone who dares criticize or speak out about something they don’t like, is just being too PC, too sensitive, or party poopers spoiling the natural harmony of being that would otherwise exist in the human race.

    We all interpret the things around us through our own personal filters and life experience. And, I’m sorry if this is too blunt, but you do not get to decide for me what I find offensive. I found that blurb bloody offensive for what I think are good reasons — the storyline came across to me as something extremely negative: a woman in absentia being raped by a crew-mate who is a leading member of the cast, and who is, at one point or another, going to have to be made a sympathetic character for the audience to care about. I’m sorry, but for me, what boils down to date-rape is not a storyline I think the writers have handled particularly well in the past — think of Lucius Lavin. I feel I have good reason to be filled with trepidation at the thought of this particular storyline on the new show. Obviously I do not know how the episode is going to play out when it finally airs, but those sides and the casting spoiler do not fill me with confidence, and I feel I ought to be allowed to say as much.

    I also object to the description of disabled people as needing to be able-bodied to enjoy sex, which is an inference that I was not alone in drawing from that spoiler casting. You’re right that the description never used the words sex-starved — that was my anger getting the better of my fingers last night, and if you care to read back, you’ll note I have already apologized to Joe and the other SGU writers for making that leap. However, given that so many other people spoke out about the spoiler and sides, I’d suggest that this is not a case of one or two people over-reacting and being over-sensitive to the wording choice, that there is something in that description that many of us found disturbing. And you know what, it’s okay for us to feel that way.

    You don’t have a problem with the spoiler casting and feel the producers need not have apologized. I disagree. I do not think disagreeing with your opinion makes me a bad fan. You may disagree. Such is life.

    And on that note, I’m out of this conversation until the episode itself airs.

  23. @drldeboer: Heh, BOTM group think?

    I didn’t even know about Seed of Change. See, now I’m going to have to buy that, too. Such hardship… *grin*

  24. @ Montrealer – Yes, you are probably correct. That is why 3 years ago, when the dog food was killing dogs, so many brands got pulled from the shelves. I will look into that. I have 2 different brands at home right now. I know for sure one of them is produced at a animal grain plant in Texas, not at a large plant in Canada. I ‘ll look at the other one. I am just suggesting you might want to read the label and decide what you want to feed your pets. I’ll keep reading up on it.

  25. Re: Michael Vick

    I’ll be up front and say I live in Philly and love the Eagles and if he plays (by the way, he may not be allowed to as late as Week 6 and Reid won’t put him in the rotation until he thinks Vick is ready and knows what he is doing) I will still watch every game, and if i could afford tickets I would be there to watch them in person.

    Regardless, the entire situation shows a problem the NFL has in general. These players go out and do horrible, horrible things and then are allowed to come back and go back to work. What will happen next year when Stallworth comes back after his suspension for pleading guilty to his DUI Manslaughter charge? He killed a man who was doing his job. Stallworth will serve his 1 year suspension and probably come back and play football with the same apology method as Vick. He is probably taking notes on the situation as we speak.

    Over the years other players have murdered, raped, shot people, drove drunk, taken and/or sold illegal substances but are allowed to come back to the NFL and play for millions and millions of dollars. It ridiculous and shouldn’t happen but it does, which is an even bigger problem than Vick alone.

    With regards to Michael Vick, I wouldn’t take his reinstatement out on the franchise alone, but the NFL, the institution that ALLOW players who commit awful crimes to come back into the spotlight under the veil of redemption. Hopefully Vick works with the local animal rights groups as he is said to be doing, but I am not holding my breath for it. And in a city with the crime rate we have I wouldn’t expect the public outcry to be as loud as it would be in other towns either. It’s disappointing but that, unfortunately is the way things are.

    On another note: I haven’t seen any PETA people around, just local groups (who are very well behaved) 🙂

  26. District 9 gets a 6.1 out of 10 for me. Most people I have asked think the movie is amazing. For me, the main course was delicious, but when it came to dessert I was left with a yucky residue on my tongue which spoiled the main course.

  27. Wow, I like the books you shared. I’ll be on the look out for them. Never read anything by any of the authors. Yummy, new books to read.

    For the BOTM club how about a book by Linwood Barclay.
    I read his ‘No Time for Goodbye’. It is a great read about a woman who’s family suddenly and mysteriously disappeared one day when she was in high school. She thought it was a just a part of her past, but the mystery is now threatening her own family. I found I couldn’t put the book down and I was glad I wasn’t home alone reading it.

    Barclay has two newer books. Fear the Worst was released just last week and Too Close to Home is now in paperback.

    I’m presently reading ‘Engaging the Enemy’ the third book in Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta War series.

    I’m waiting for the fourth book in Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Sharing Knife series to come out in paperback. Paying $25 for a couple hours of entertainment is not something my frugal mind will allow me to do. I figure buying paperback is cheaper than a movie and I can reread it for free.

    I’m looking for Heroes Die, but no luck yet.

    The books I have waiting to be read are ‘Command Decision’ and ‘Victory Conditions’ both my Elizabeth Moon (books 4 and 5 in the Vatta War series).

    And I have 3 books from my brother, ‘The Immortals’ by Tracy Hickman
    (according to the back of the book –
    It is the year 2010 and the United States is ravaged by disease and stifled by martial law. With whole cities succumbing to a lethal virus known as V-CIDS, the panicked authorities take the drastic action of herding the infected into specially designed internment camps. Into one of these prisons stumbles Michael Barris, a wealthy interactive-television mogul with a controversial past. He is searching for his sick son, spending his fortune and his future for answers. What he finds is a carefully-guarded nightmare-one that he helped create)

    and ‘The Horns of Buffalo’ by John Wilcox which is a story about the British army fighting the Zulus at Rorke’s Drift.

    And Steven Miller and Sharon Lee’s ‘Duainfey’. I started reading it last week and misplaced it. It seems to be a Regency style novel with magical ‘fey’ people. Now if I could just find the book I could get past the 3rd chapter.

    Darn, I went onto Amazon to find out the name of the Miller and Lee novel and discovered they have 2 new Liaden novels set for release in the next year. Now I can buy them in Sept and April in hardcover, or wait until Feb and next Sept to buy them in paperback. What a pain, I want to read them and hate waiting but hate spending money more, double argh!

  28. I’ve just finished Iain M. Banks’ “Inversions”. JM, didn’t you do a short review of that book some time back? I found it a fascinating story, although you’d have to have read his previous Culture books to get the full depth of understanding.

    [SPOILER]The best surprise, though, was the concubine Perrund’s story told to the little boy Lattens about a girl who hated her family and wanted to run away with a carnival, and it’s only later that you realize it’s a completely backwards retelling of her own history.

    I hope to participate in September’s BOtM “Heroes Die”, and eventually get to “Speed of Dark”, and “The Girl in the Glass”. There’s a great pile of books on my shelves, though, that still need to be read.

    As for the Sabotage controversy (didn’t know there was one), maybe it’s a good thing I haven’t bothered with the forums lately.

  29. From Yahoo! News:

    Mark Dacascos, the chairman of Kitchen Stadium on Iron Chef America since 2005 and who played Tyre in two episodes of Stargate Atlantis is among the 16 competitors on Dancing With the Stars, ABC announced Monday morning on Good Morning America. The show’s ninth season premieres Sept. 21.

    Anne Teldy

  30. Mr. Mallozzi,

    I’m going back a few days (hope that’s ok). The exchange:

    “Rrarr123 writes: “Organizations like Sea Shepherds or Green Peace are very “singular-cause oriented”; PETA goes after EVERYTHING it considers wrong.”

    Answer: Yes, and that’s the problem. Once an organization starts sending out press releases criticizing the on-air swatting of a fly, it begs not to be taken seriously.”

    So now, as is my nature, I am curious. Do you support Sea Shepherds and/or Green Peace? What about other similar groups? Perhaps I misunderstood, but I believe your answer indicated PETA was going after too much for its own good (the fly, et al). So does that mean you support other groups, because they are focusing on one major problem? That said, from my observations (feel free to prove me wrong) PETA seems to be the “least controversial” based on public consensus. Are you for the philosophies of these groups, but against the actions? Or am I misunderstanding?

    I ask this with every intent of respect — I tried to convey that through the way I asked the question, but I realize it’s possible that I sound discourteous and puerile. That is not my intent, and so if I do appear that way, I apologize.

    I am only interested in clarifying, slightly, your stance on some of the issues. Out of my own, sheer curiousity. Thank you. And best of luck with Jelly’s ultrasound!

  31. P.S.–I don’t intend to drag on the debate from the other day–I’m sure many wish to move on. I just wish to understand your position. Thanks again.

  32. “Words have power, @Love. If they didn’t, the speeches of Churchill, Kennedy, Martin Luther King and others would not have inspired people the way they did. While I agree with you on one level that it is possible to read offence into anything if you try hard enough, I also do not think anyone should just throw up their hands and say, “Hell, someone’s going to take offence, we might as well not even try!” I do not agree with the notion that TV should be as offensive as possible, because, what the hey, everyone is just going to be offended anyway, and why spoil the fun of the selected few who do feel they see the vision of the show-makers.

    And I absolutely do not agree with the idea that anyone who dares criticize or speak out about something they don’t like, is just being too PC, too sensitive, or party poopers spoiling the natural harmony of being that would otherwise exist in the human race.

    We all interpret the things around us through our own personal filters and life experience. And, I’m sorry if this is too blunt, but you do not get to decide for me what I find offensive. I found that blurb bloody offensive for what I think are good reasons — the storyline came across to me as something extremely negative: a woman in absentia being raped by a crew-mate who is a leading member of the cast, and who is, at one point or another, going to have to be made a sympathetic character for the audience to care about. I’m sorry, but for me, what boils down to date-rape is not a storyline I think the writers have handled particularly well in the past — think of Lucius Lavin. I feel I have good reason to be filled with trepidation at the thought of this particular storyline on the new show. Obviously I do not know how the episode is going to play out when it finally airs, but those sides and the casting spoiler do not fill me with confidence, and I feel I ought to be allowed to say as much.

    I also object to the description of disabled people as needing to be able-bodied to enjoy sex, which is an inference that I was not alone in drawing from that spoiler casting. You’re right that the description never used the words sex-starved — that was my anger getting the better of my fingers last night, and if you care to read back, you’ll note I have already apologized to Joe and the other SGU writers for making that leap. However, given that so many other people spoke out about the spoiler and sides, I’d suggest that this is not a case of one or two people over-reacting and being over-sensitive to the wording choice, that there is something in that description that many of us found disturbing. And you know what, it’s okay for us to feel that way.

    You don’t have a problem with the spoiler casting and feel the producers need not have apologized. I disagree. I do not think disagreeing with your opinion makes me a bad fan. You may disagree. Such is life.

    And on that note, I’m out of this conversation until the episode itself airs.”

    Yes, they may have had power as you say. But those speeches were intended to have power. This character breakdown was a quick thing made by people(s) working on the episode. The character description, I’m sure, was not meant to affect anyone on a grand level such as perhaps those speeches did. That’s the difference. I know words have power, I’m not denying they don’t. But these words used by them were completely normal to me and other people, and obviously the people making the show were fine with it and could see it wasn’t intended to be offensive. I actually do think that one should forget about trying to not offend everyone when making a show. It’s really impossible to do. Some people would be offended at the violence level of Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis. Some people would say the Ori storyline is offensive because it may relate to the Christian religion, downplaying it. Take anything, and search across the world of people, and someone will be offended.

    You’re fine to speak out on what you feel. But I just feel your perspective is leaning towards the viewpoint of extreme typicality and conservativeness. I don’t think it’s a healthy way of thinking. But that’s just my perspective. You can think, say, or do anything you want.

    I’m not trying to decide for you what you’ll find offensive. If it came off that way, I was just typing fast and not checking carefully to make sure everything is as accurately expressed as possible. Which I think a lot of us do, typing across the internet and talking to people in person.

    I guess I just disagree with your perspectives on it being offensive and to how you analyze so much into areas to find offense, in my opinion. I don’t see why they can’t have a storyline that connects to rape – if you’re looking that hard to see it as rape.

    Yes, many people were offended. But I’m not surprised living with so many closed-minded people towards things. I just think there’s a lot of, from my perspective, ignorant people that are slowing down the progression of humans. For example, stuff like this, getting offended at, from my perception, nothing that is wrong or offensive. And sure, it is ok to feel disturbed by the character sides, character breakdown, and episode; I would never say you’re not allowed to feel not disturbed.

    Yes, that’s right – I feel there are no problems with the casting description, the episode, and the character sides. I feel they did not need to apologize. And I’m saddened they did apologize. The whole thing is saddening to me. I don’t think you disagreeing with my opinion makes you a “bad fan.” In fact, I don’t at all align myself with the concept of the word – “fan.” It seems so typical and unappealing. I don’t like that word. I love Stargate, that’s all. I don’t consider myself a fan. And you obviously love/like (etc.) Stargate. For instance, the thought of you being a “bad fan” never entered my mind. I never think through those concepts of the word “fans.” Perhaps, it’s all semantics, but I just don’t ever think using the word “fan.”

  33. “I would never say you’re not allowed to feel not disturbed.”

    Take out the second to last word of that sentence, “not.” I messed up.

  34. @Love “I don’t see why they can’t have a storyline that connects to rape – if you’re looking that hard to see it as rape.”
    One doesn’t have to look hard. Unless, in one of the first episodes, everyone on board signed a release form stating the following – When/if you’re consciousness is in my body you have carte blanche do to anything you like with it. – it’s rape.

  35. Love, you have some good points, but we’re not talking about a subject matter in isolation. We’re talking about something in the context of the Stargate universe, a series of television shows in which many of us (actually, likely almost everyone who hangs out here) have a lot invested emotionally.

    You said in an earlier message, for example, something like “rape just happens” and implied that it’s a valid subject matter for a story. Yep, it does happen. It’s something very bad that happens altogether too frequently, and I can guarantee you – absolutely guarantee you – that a certain number of women hanging out here and reading these messages and watching SG1 and SGA on a regular basis have in fact at some point in their lives been raped.

    Trust me, they know very well that rape is something that happens. They also know that rape is something that can be the valid subject matter of a tv show (and regularly is on some, for example, Law and Order SVU).

    In fact, I can also accept that the scenario that appeared to be the story from the casting sheet, read in the worst case possible involving a handicapped person and another person switching bodies, could be a valid subject matter of a science fiction tv show. Even body switching and sex without consent – there are issues there that could conceivably warrant exploration in an SF context.

    It could even be a powerful story, in the hands of good writers and actors. It could, perhaps, make a good story on the modern version of The Outer Limits. I certainly believe that the people who are involved in Stargate Universe have the necessary skills to craft such a story.

    But it wouldn’t work on Stargate and in fact would alienate a huge part of the audience. Why, you may wonder, do I think that, after I’ve just said it could be a good SF story?

    Well, I for one will not watch a tv show where the lead character is a rapist. I am not interested in his thoughts, actions or anything else about him. SG1 and SGA were about heroes. These heroes may have been imperfect, but they did the best they could, often in terrible circumstances, and even sometimes made decisions they hated. Sometimes the choices they made were morally ambiguous.

    There is nothing morally ambiguous about rape. Rape is a crime. A vicious, terrible crime that does permanent harm to its victims, harm that they spend years trying to learn to deal with.

    Clearly SGU is meant to be somewhat darker than SG1 and SGA, with people who didn’t choose to be in the situation they’re in and who are somewhat overwhelmed by that situation and who are kind of screwed up.

    But again, as you say, rape is something that happens. If the lead character in the third installment of my favorite tv show turns out to be a rapist, he’s a criminal, and I am not interested in learning anything more about his thoughts or feelings or his angst at being far from home. What I would be interested in – if that in fact turned out to be the scenario – would be in Wray blowing him away as soon as she found out what was done to her body.

    What I am saying, bottom line, is the story (whatever it turns out to be) exists in a context. In the context of SF in an Outer Limits type show, without characters that we’re meant to become invested in, a story like that might actually be acceptable to me at exploring issues that might be interesting in an SF setting.

    However, in the context of the Stargate universe, I am not interested in seeing a rapist onscreen every week. Or seeing a self-destructive idiot who would allow her body to be so used. Or a bunch of lonely screwed up people who don’t seem to understand that screwing with someone’s body while their minds are elsewhere is wrong. I can handle screwed up people dealing with issues, but not with criminals who have no respect or empathy for the people they see every day.

    So you may be ok with that, but it’s not right for you to condemn those who see the situation differently from you.

    It may turn out to not be the scenario – and in fact, I am assuming that the above will turn out to not be the scenario. But if it is, the above is my bottom line problem with it.

    Mary

  36. @LoveYes, many people were offended. But I’m not surprised living with so many closed-minded people towards things. I just think there’s a lot of, from my perspective, ignorant people that are slowing down the progression of humans.

    You’re absolutely right about that, but it’s not the people who were offended who are ignorant or close-minded. It’s those who have never been affected by disability or rape believing their viewpoint, that it’s no big deal, represents everyone else’s. After all, you’re in the majority — why can’t the “other” people just suck it up, right? That’s close-minded.

    In fact, a person doesn’t have to have been through either type of experience to see how very hurtful the original material was. We should all have been offended. It’s ignoring the viewpoints of those not in power that’s holding humanity back.

    As @Mary says above, there’s no way Rush will be made to pay for what he does, so from this episode forward, we’ll all have to watch a rapist every week. And even if it’s rewritten between now and airing, someone still thought it was okay to write it once.

  37. Cool books!!!

    I just finished reading this 30 minute zombie short script, from what I know, is unproduced. And even though the intro could use a little work I saw potential. Like I read some of the other scripts and they failed to captivate me and just seemed overall blah, but I saw a lot of potential in this one, and it captivated me and I read it in almost one fell swoop, it could use a little revision but that should be a easy task. Overall I thought it was cool and I got captivated by the characters and couldn’t put it down cause I wanted to see the resolution.

    Heres the link if anyone wants to read it….. ahhm *cough das cough*

    http://www.simplyscripts.com/scripts/AZombieInside.pdf

    Thanks so much,
    Major D. Davis

  38. OH MY GOD!!

    They’re filming SGU in the Physics building at UBC RIGHT NOW!!!

    HOLY CRAP!!!

    I WISH I WAS THERE INSTEAD OF AT HOME!!! 🙁

  39. Well , I just posted on the wrong day, so here goes again, @Deni, 4 days and counting, and bye bye to all the storms, @Trish , nice to see ya again, did ya get alot of rain from Claudette?, Hi Kabra, jupiter person. Hi to you too Joe. @Michael Burstein, Congrats, I have twins too, one of each flavor- boy and girl- and they are 20 years old, About the not sleeping- this too will pass, welcome to the misbucha(?sp.)? Beautiful names and a lifetime of happiness!! Sheryl

  40. I’m a geek. I know it. And it doesn’t bother me in the least.

    Know what I did today?

    Well…I have a friend who originally is from China. After living in the States for about 15 years, she and her husband were finally able to get their two grown children over here (they around 20 years of age). They’ve only been here about a month, and finally came down today for a visit. Beautiful kids – ‘Amy’ and ‘Ian’, according to the American names they’ve chosen. They only speak a little English, but already I hooked Ian on Neil Young! I am proud of myself. 😀 It all started when their American-born brother challenged me to come up with three culturally-significant things that Canada has produced, and I said: Neil Young, Hockey, and Tuques. 🙂

    (Sorry Joe, you didn’t make the cut. Maybe next time… )

    das

  41. How about Legend, by David Gemmell, for a fantasy pick later this year? It’s a great “last stand” book, that is suprisingly character centered despite the action theme of the book.
    Meantime, thanks for yet more books to add to my already house-busting collection. Sadly, I suspect I’ll be able to pick most of them up at the close out sale of my favorite store; one less locally owned and customer responsive business, one less sci fi fan understanding owner.

  42. Ahhh.. your thoughts are so boring. I disagree with all of your points you’ve brought up. But I look forward to watching these “rapists” on TV. Hehe.

  43. I would like to agree with everything Mary and Michelle said. Even if the story changes so much from what we read on the sides and is not recognizable by the time the episode airs, just knowing that was the original intent is dismaying and supremely disturbing.

  44. Joe, tell me you did NOT dress your dogs up in costumes. I was just seeing things, right??

    I must go now and rethink my position on the geek-o-meter in relation to your position on same said meter. I’m thinking now that you’re in the lead…

    😉

    das

  45. heya Joe,

    I’m still trying to get through my SG1 novel The Cost Of Honor, before i can read anything else. But with 2 kids and the oldest being autistic (took me 9 years to spell that one right), i usually don’t get a chance to read as much as i would like. Thanks for your picks for July, maybe when I’m finished mine and read a new one that’s coming my way, i can give you some suggestions…

    Hope you have a great day/afternoon/evening/night.

  46. Stephen Hawking, a gifted scientists, who just happens to be a quadriplegic, is required to go on board the Destiny to carry out life saving work and in order to do so swaps his consciousness and takes control of the body of Lt. Jared Nash, a brilliant Junior SGC team member who just happens to be an able bodied heterosexual white man.

    Stephen has a list of things he wants to accomplish in order to make his life complete: jumping jacks, a nice glass of burgundy, being anally penetrated by another man…and so given this opportunity on temporarily borrowing Nash’s body Stephen engages in a conversation with one of the crew he has recently met and finds out that they have something in common (love of video games, jumping jacks) and sticks Nash’s tongue down Eli’s throat. After a bit of tonsil hockey Eli rejects the advances and Stephen goes ‘whateva’ and moves on to accomplish his mission. Not the saving the ship bit, I mean getting to finally be made a real man by experiencing cock.

    Coming across Rush, Stephen directs the conversation to talking about ‘firsts’ (wink,wink), and it ends on a scene with a close up of Rush’s face as he high-five’s himself, but obviously because he and Stephen had connected on a soul level with their eyes, and because Rush is sad and endearing because he lost his wife and just wants to connect with someone, you know, plus he really wants a crack with Nash’s body and the straight tease said no. Uppity straight men.

    Nash might be straight and not attracted to Rush on any level, and so no person could reasonably believe that he’d give his consent to Stephen Hawking or a co-worker to use his body for homosexual penetrative sex, but um, where was I going with this? Nash gets the added joy of essentially having his body raped by two people – that’s the magic of sci fi, right there!

    But this scenario would never happen to Nash because a) it would make it too real because the straight male viewership would be more readily repelled by the idea of their own bodies being violated by another man and this wouldn’t have that edge of titillation of having a ‘lesbian’s’ body being stripped of her clothes in front of a male gaze, b) Nash would be seen as having been devalued and you can’t have that kind of thing happening to the heroic white male lead who is the demographic you’re aiming this at.

    Of course Nash is a man not a woman and hasn’t grown up in a society where domestic violence and sexual assault are endemic against women, where there is a constant fight over the rights that women have over their own bodies: whether it’s the guy who thinks it’s okay to get a grope in, whether it’s the roofie slipped into the drink, whether it’s abortion, whether it’s how a male dominated media potrays women.

    If you look at the forums on Gateworld, your viewers, you’ll see that attitude alive and well. But it has been very enlightening having a group of mainly men telling a group of mainly women the definition of what rape is and isn’t, how there are shades of rape (tell that to the victim), how we’re over-reacting, and that rape should legitmately be served up as entertainment for a show that aims itself at a male audience. It so spices up a show!

    (And as a sidenote: the black guy is nicknamed PSYCHO?! Jesus, because making every main black male character on stargate be the tv trope Angry Black Man wasn’t subtle enough, so it had to be spelt out? Quick, get him hooked on crack and get him to hijack the Destiny so he can roll over a convenience store for money for hos.)

    The only way out of this mess is if all parties believe that the swap over of bodies is meant to be a permanent thing. If that’s the case, okay, it’s still has massive issues but at least rape isn’t one of them. Otherwise, I am so disappointed.

    I know you directly had nothing to do with this, but screw it, I’m venting.

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