Random set pic
Random set pic

Hey, remember when I said I was actually looking forward to this rewrite?  Well, I honestly don’t know what the hell I was thinking.  I guess I figured that, given the notes, it wouldn’t be all that big a pass.  But it turns out I was wrong.  Yep, it never fails.  Those tiny little changes you assume will be sleight and may take all of an afternoon to complete actually turn out to be fairly significant changes that trigger repercussions running throughout the rest of the script.  Anyway, I was actually making progress this morning, coasting along rather nicely, until I hit a snag and became bogged down in the new and improved wunder-science.  I started my research, got bogged down in that as well, and ultimately decided to call it a day.  On my way out, I conveyed my frustrations to my writing partner Paul who, working on his own rewrite, had to deal with frustrations of his own today in the form of the incessant BEEP-BEEP-BEEP of the construction equipment across the street.  He sympathized and expressed surprise at the requested change.  For his part, he preferred the old (in his opinion, much cooler and wondrous) science and strongly urged me to pitch Rob on keeping the original.  Something I’ll definitely do.  Tomorrow.

Tonight, I’d like to announce October’s Book of the Month Club Selection…

Open Your Eyes, by Paul Jessup

Open Your Eyes

From Publisher’s Weekly: “…pregnant space voyager Ekhi is rescued from her ailing vessel by the crew of a scavenger ship. Their captain, mysterious, doll-like cyborg Itsasu, mourns her husband’s death, and has been yearning to bring him back to life with the Ortzadar engine her ship is secretly carrying. She reluctantly allows Ekhi to join her crew, but keeps her under strict supervision. The other crew members struggle with various personal issues brought sharply into perspective by a sudden alien invasion and the discovery that the ship’s AI is playing a deadly game of its own.”

Intriguing.  And clocking in at a svelte 152 pages, this novella should appeal to all those insisting they don’t have time to read.  Discussion begins the week of October 12th.  You have a little less than two months.  Go!

A gentle reminder to those with a little more time on their hands that we begin discussion on September’s Book of the Month Club Pick, Heroes Die, the week of September 7th when we’ll be joined by author Matthew Woodring Stover.  A very interesting book that promises an equally interesting discussion.

Every once in a while, the gang over at SFSignal.com do one of their “Mind Melds”  where they go out to luminaries in the creative field (and sometimes me) and ask them a scifi or genre-specific question like “Given the choice, which body part would you make bionic and why?” or “What’s your space pirate name?” (Captain Nebula Jack Silverbells, duh.).  Recently, they asked: “Which films do you think are good examples of Intelligent SciFi?”.  Head on over and check out my atypical list: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2009/08/mind-meld-the-most-intelligent-films-of-science-fiction/.  Then stick around and see what everyone else has to say.

50 thoughts on “August 26, 2009: Hey, who wants to rewrite the season finale for me? October’s Book of the Month Club Pick! What’s your space pirate name? And other important questions from the gang at SFSignal.

  1. Thanks for the behind the scenes “Water” set pic.

    Well after reading the leaked pages of sabotage I got kinda nervous again. Still the article was unbiased and did not quote any source info. But still, I hope what I read doesn’t turn out in the final version. I really am ready to see this ep and for it to be over. I hate to not know what really happens. Still, in all my doubt, I trust you guys to handle it modestly, maturely, and professionally. 🙂

    Oh and loved the random set pic, please do more!!!

  2. Oh whoops, forgot my sig. 🙁 😉

    sorry so much,
    Major D. Davis

    Now for the real sig,

    Thanks(and sorry) so much,
    Major D. Davis

  3. Hey Joe,

    Just looking at the picture of Maximus and was wondering whether your dogs sneeze when on their backs? For some reason both of ours do. Other dog owners?

    Am reading the Dresden Files after I saw a few people recommend it here. A fun and easy read.

  4. @JoeYou should update your bio on SciFi signal. Obviously, it should say “Joseph Mallozzi is a foodie, dog lover, avid reader, and a purveyor of snark, tidbits, photographs, and spambait on his blog. Oh, and he writes for that Stargate show. Maybe you’ve heard of it?” Actually, I’m not quite sure what it should say, but it should reflect your sense of humor and such. Like Scalzi’z does in this post.
    As for rewriting your script, I’d be delighted to do so! For free. In fact, I might even pay you. 😉 On a more serious note thousgh, if you haven’t sent that one out to Scalzi yet, now might be a good time. He’s got the science under control, methinks.

    On a completely unrelated note: am I the only one who thought Wrath of Khan was not a good movie? It might have something to do with me not liking Shatner, but it just didn’t work for me.

  5. Epic fail on the html front
    Whoopsadaisy forgot to stop the boldage
    Clearly I ought not type when I am sleepy
    And spelling goes out the door after midnight

  6. Hey Joe,

    Loved the picture. This one is “real” looking as compared to the sets under construction and those finished but not yet peopled areas.

    The script notes…changes…ripples that won’t end. All in all it will be wonderful as always…we will see the story for what it is meant to be *magic*. I am sorry your day ended on such a note, but I know you have five cute little faces at home that will quickly erase all those added worry lines.

    “What is you space pirate name?” Captain Nebula Jack Silverballs. That is what I thought I read. It’s only 10:00pm so I can’t blame the hour on my misreading your typing. Silverbells. lol sorry I can’t stop laughing…must go


  7. Well, not that you are speaking to me anymore….Heroes Die..THE WEEK OF September 7th. Is it September 7th? or a floating date somewhere out there to be chosen at random by the author or you. Not that I need every minute to finish the book, I just want to know, purdy please…New at this and don’t know your lingo yet, sorry 🙁

  8. Hey Joe,

    I just watched the SGU panel at Comic-Con 2009 on youtube and I noticed something…both Brad Wright and Alaina Huffman refer to her character, Tamara Johansen, as “TJ”. Is this something we can expect other characters to call Tamara, or is she just referred to as “TJ” around the set?

    Also, I’ll be heading to FanExpo in downtown Toronto on Saturday. There’s going to be a lot of famous people there from Star Trek, Terminator and Battlestar, but I’m going exclusively to get Beau Bridges’ autograph on the cover of Continuum and/or Ark of Truth and/or my complete SG-1 boxset, but that’s a lot to lug around all day. Have any messages for me to deliver? Perhaps about the next SG-1 movie? I’m reaching. I apologize.



  9. Hi Joe:

    I’ll be happy to rewrite for you. Fly me out to Vancouver and put me up in a ritzy hotel, and I’ll be glad to drop by.

    Lets see….hows this…” It was a dark and stormy night…meanwhile, back at the ranch…I am Ishmael.”


  10. Mmm, I definitely agree with Dark City! It wasn’t at all what I expected (I actually thought–from when I saw the movie posters at a younger age–that it was an action/horror. I surprised and pleased to see it was sci-fi.) and it was very good. Also, a lovely performance by Kiefer Sutherland.

    Ugh, why does everyone list Contact? I’ve sat through some terrible and terribly cheesy films for actors I like, but this one just bored me to bits. I fell asleep the first 2 times. I finally made it through and still wasn’t impressed. I noticed someone listed 2046. I found it very visually appealing and an intriguing concept, but something in its execution escaped me, I guess.

    I guess my list of “smart” sci-fi would include:

    Dark City

    (Explained above.)


    (So similar to The Matrix in style and even some plot elements, yet 1000x better. I don’t even like Christian Bale. But the plot was spectacular–an updated 1984 mixed with Farenheit 451–and the execution was very clean and visually appealing.)


    (Yes, IMDB does list this as sci-fi! Even though it’s by no means a movie I love, it was the first thing that came to mind concerning this topic. It’s the strangest movie ever, but brilliant, creepy, and definitely smart.)

    Minority Report

    (I think I included this in my list of top 20. I love everything about this movie. Tom Cruise is surprisingly good and the story keeps you engaged. The whole concept of the precogs and they way they use them is again, a bit of a 1984 reinvention, but with “good intentions” placed behind it. It is a Philip K Dick story, so it makes sense.)

    The Abyss

    (Love the movie. Someday I will get to the book, but I enjoy watching this movie each time. It’s sci-fi, but it deals with humanity’s flaws. Perfect.)

    I haven’t seen the latest additions like Time Traveler’s Wife or Moon, Gamer is coming out, and I’ve been told I must see A Clockwork orange. So the list might alter. But those are definitely some top smart sci-fi movies.

    Good book choice! Hopefully I’ll be able to pick this one up and fit it in between my heavy textbook reading.

  11. Thanks for the plug! We’re always happy to have you play along!

    FYI: I’ve included your October Book of the Month Club Selection in the latest tidbits post. For what it’s worth, I read Open Your Eyes and enjoyed it.

  12. Jurassic Park taught me everything I know about DNA (which admittedly, isn’t much). I felt smart after watching it when I was 8.

    I didn’t see Soylent Green mentioned either.

    The only thing I remember about 2001 was a long stretch of time when the character was trying to get back into the main ship and all you could hear was his breathing and ambient background noise for like 10 minutes. So I fell asleep. And then someone started talking or an alarm went off or something and it scared the crap out of me.

  13. Whoops! Between that and making my roommate rewrite a good 9 pages of his thesis, I’m really making life hard for writers today…

  14. I was also intrigued by the excerpt from Publisher’s Weekly you quoted for Open Your Eyes. The novella sounds highly original in concept – and where some aspects sound familiar, the way in which they’re combined seems inconceivable. But that, of course, is where a good writer comes in, and makes it all come together. I think this short book will make for compelling reading. Thanks for looking into things and coming up with this selection.

    As you suggested, after checking out your “intelligent sci-fi films” list, I read through the other contributors’ lists, and was relieved to find that a notable author in the genre thinks Futurama needs to be made into a movie. – Okay, so I’m lying about that, but it was interesting as to how people’s criteria vary. – The DVD cover-art for one of your choices seemed to be a rather broad pun, but then maybe it was done by someone who doesn’t speak idiomatic English. And of course the cover art is irrelevant anyway. (Unless. . . no, never mind.) Your descriptions were quite good on their own, fanservice gfx aside, and I thought that you, Lou Anders, and someone else with whom I’m unfamiliar did the best write-ups for the choices made. Really. (If I thought otherwise, I wouldn’t have commented on that.)

    I patted myself on the back for having four choices in common with you, Lou, and Mr. Forgotten Name. But I have a lot of catching up to do, especially if Futurama is made into a movie. A triology would be nice.

    Also, I was disappointed that they didn’t have a really great quiz that would give me my own space-pirate name from 100 or so different profiles. So if I really want one, I’ll have to actually think. Oh, the horror of it all.

    – Hey, major sympathies but good luck with your rewrite, if you find out you have to bite the bullet. We can send chocolate if Rob Cooper puts you in solitary confinement until you’re done.

  15. Coucou Joseph! ça va?

    Je ne croyai pas que c’étais aussi difficile d’écrire, l’imagination ne fait pas tout, il y’a pleins d’autres choses à prendre en compte. Mais bon plus on c’est donner du mal plus on est content du résultat!

    Merci pour cette photo!

    A bientôt!

  16. Gilder: Thank you the kind words. We all have to deal with this kind of stuff. Sucks though.

    Fargate One: One thing I forgot to mention is, don’t have ANY regrets. Your dad only has so much time, so do everything you can now. If there is anything you want to say to him, or do for him, go for it. I don’t know how much he can understand but regrets will wear on you later. Prayers are with you and your family.

    Mr. M, thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll look it up.


  17. Home at last. 22 hours and 1200 miles, so I’m ready to volunteer to do the rewrite. Should be quite the challenge with no idea of the characters, previous story lines, and only a minimal idea of the setting. But you don’t want continuity do you? Anyways. off to bed, where I can hopefully channel my space pirate name while I hibernate the day away.

  18. Thanks for the link, Captain Nebula Jack Silverbells. I agree with you on Ghost in the Shell and it’s sequel, as well as Donnie Darko, but the others I still have to check out.

    I am really impressed to see that two of the other creatives mentioned Primer, which I picked up at random one day and have since watched a fair few times. It’s probably one of my all time favourites. Also nice to see a Jean-Luc Goddard film make it in there, his work is amazing (although my particular favourite is Week End, which is closer to avant garde…you could maybe argue speculative fiction for that one though).

    Good to see Lou Anders’ thoughts on film as well, and I agree that there is a lot of smart SF films out there that people may not think of as SF to start off with. It’s very easy to assume that SF has to be some sort of tech-based, futuristic, action adventure, but I like SF that isn’t always like that.

    The characters are the thing for me, and how they deal with the situations explored. So that could be action, but it could also be relationships that are further complicated by technology. A recent example that springs to mind in the independent web series Condition:Human, which explores how human-like robots could affect relationships in the near future.

    I’m interested to hear other thoughts on smart SF and whether people think there is lots or little out there.


  19. @Maggiemayday :- all the luck in the world getting transport for your friend, she deserves a lot of luck and prayers.

  20. Hi Joe, nice pic, whatever it is! Woke up to Elway having a violent seizure (good thing he sleeps right next to me), so we’re in for a long day because he usually has cluster seizures. I always try to manage him at home, and for the most part, I do, but there are days I start to freak out and take him to the vet where I feel he’ll be safer should things escalate. It’s Ron’s (Mr. Deni) birthday today, so the dinner I’d planned is on hold till this thing is over (usually 24-48 hours from the first seizure). Anyway, send good energy over our way, wouldja?
    🙂 D

  21. Your random set pic begs the question–Do they have rogue Asgards in Stargate: Universe, too?

  22. I know that Stargate Universe “Powers That Be” have pledged to have aliens that don’t automatically speak/understand English, but I am wondering if y’all are also throwing out that other oddity: the ability to fly, operate, and/or understand alien technology within moments.

    I am talking about Vala flying the Prometheus all by her lonesome, Sheppard easily flying a Wraith dart, let alone McKay effortlessly figuring out Michael’s and any other stranger’s random laptop lying around.

    I just wish it appeared harder for folks to figure things out.

    Didn’t one of the executive producers of Stargate say at ComicCon that on SG1 and Atlantis, too many folks were experts/genius-types, and that Universe was going to focus on people less heroic in nature?

    My non-Stargate example: I guess I will never stop cringing when thinking that the aliens were foiled by a computer virus in the movie, Independence Day.

    I guess, bottom line: what are your thoughts on ““”lampshade hanging”“.

  23. @shiningwit Thanks on Fishy’s behalf. I think she’s taking Amtrak to Reno and we can fetch her into Black Rock City.

    My pirate name is Bad Maggie. Space pirate name would then be Warp Factor Five Bad Maggie. That’s from an old cartoon, Penthouse I think, where a pirate captain was ordering his first mate to set sail at warp factor five. Obviously before NG.

    Rambling story: We were in Japan and dad taped The Abyss for us and popped it in the mail. He didn’t watch it, just set the VCR for two hours and let it go. When we watched it, the movie cut off just as they were descending into the abyss toward the light. We had no way to get another copy of the movie until we found it on laserdisc and bought it full price just to see how it ended. When the folks came to visit, we showed dad the movie. On his tape. “What happened to the end?” he asked. Oh, that. We were polite and showed him the ending. (I liked it better without the sappy ending.)

  24. Wow…looking at those examples of intelligent sci fi, I’ve come to realize that I do not like intelligent sci fi! Though I like both Blade Runner and Dark City very much…I prefer movies like the last Star Trek film, or Galaxy Quest, or the original Star Wars trilogy. I find movies that make me think also make me very depressed, so I stick with the light, dumbed down fare…I guess it suits my mentality better. 😛


  25. Oh, and I adore Mystery Science Theater 3000…which is both hilarious, AND intelligent! 😀


  26. This may have been brought up earlier,but just missed it, I sometimes take the Joe Flanigan approach to reading the blog like he reads a script (as stated in the commentary in season 5 : ) ) Anyway I see that Jaime Ray Newman – Lt Laura Cadman has a recurring role on Eurkea, pretty cool. Not all Laura Cadman, she does real well with the new role.

    I was watching an episode of The Sentinel yesterday and notice “Kim” from Eureka, (don’t know the actress’s name) but how I recgonized her was by her delivery. I knew the face (tho it was much younger) it took me a while to place her.

    SO I have a question, does the actor/actress define the character or does the delivery define the character? Does that question even make sense?? Y’know what I mean?

  27. I do have the time this week, so I’ll rewrite the script for you. I need to see some other scripts to get a feel for the show. I won’t bring up gremlins unless they’re already there. I can conform.

    I promise to turn scenes that threaten to be about verbal exposition or convincing into an argument, brawl, or stand-off that gets the point across.

  28. Is that a playboy bunny on the back of that guy’s Tyvek suit?

    Is that a Pegasus Asgard battle suit?

  29. You meant to write Captain Nebula Jack Silverballs.
    I KNOW you meant to, you just chickened out.

    Oh, and Jurassic Park? Great movie. I am convinced there is an island out there full of T. rexes and other Cretaceous Period beasties. There HAS to be, you can’t fake something that scary. 😛

  30. @ Narelle from Aus – my 5 month old puppy has yet to sneeze, so I’ll have to get back to ya. But I am waiting for her first. Dogs are so cute when they sneeze. Humans, on the other hand, are obnoxious!

  31. Oh, and hey Joe, I’m off tomorrow, so if I can help you with your rewrite, just email me that script. I’m a decent writer. I’ll tidy it right up for you and could probably have it back to you by Sunday. Is Sunday okay? Just let me know…

  32. Hard to narrow this down for me (not exactly sure of definitions here) but the intelligent Scifi films I tend to revisit again and again are Blade Runner, Dark City, Matrix, Children of Men, Soylent Green, Silent Running, Brazil, Planet of the Apes, Alphaville, Village of the Damned (with George Sanders), Dr. Strangelove (if this even qualifies). I have recently seen and liked both Moon and District 9. Moon reminded me of so many classic Scifi films and District 9 has some really fresh ideas and great characters.

  33. Juste un petit passage avant d’aller au lit. Demain encore une journée banale. Je suis impatiente de renprendre l’école au moin je ne resterai pas léthargique devant un ordinateur et j’aurai plus de choses à vous racontez!

    A demain Joseph!
    Bisou Bisou!

  34. Joe, I’m worried you’re headed for an Awesome-ness breakdown.

    You know how, if you stare at the color red for too long, you won’t be able to tell mauve from burnt sienna? After an awesomeness breakdown, you wouldn’t know which is cooler for a scene – explosions or bigger explosions.

    Awesome-ness breakdowns can follow extreme binges of awesomeness –

    -multiple meal courses with foie gras themes
    -pondering the greatest movies of all-time
    -re-writing season finales
    -and being around David Blue.

    Treatment involves mac and cheese dinners and watching Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.

    If we have to do an intervention, I swear we’re bringing pot luck and a VHS player. Don’t let it come to that. And stay away from David Blue.

  35. @sheryl, I live near Crystal River, n of Tampa,hoping all the hurricanes stay away.
    Joe love the random set pic, looks like snow,ice?brrrr. thanks & Will attempt to get the Oct book in my travels. Impressive review on the sf signal, but yes they should update your resume.
    How is Brie doing? frisky as ever? Do you ever get the need for pepto bismol after eating the foods you consume? Maybe not, as young as you are, the stomach is still aOK. Maybe just a small glass of wine to soothe the palate.

  36. @ytimynoma. Loved Wrath of Khan. few mild quibbles, and the literary references were a bit too obvious, but overall the best of the Trek films. Especially after the disappointment that was the original movie.

    @Michael Burnstein. So, what trick do you use, or do you use Block’s method yourself?

    as for my space captain name, I can henceforth be addressed as Andromeda de la Rose, Ruler of the Rimworlds and Thorn of the Imperial Fleet. Or just Arrtif for short.

  37. I found it nice in that smart Sci-Fi movie list that someone picked Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan. Since it deals so well with how someone who has never dealt with loss was forced to do so, among other interesting themes. So suppose I think that intelligent movies don’t necessarily have to be depressing or overly complicated, but could really address issues in society or speak to the human condition. Since truly only intelligent writing can pull that off well.

    Since I was raised on Star Trek TNG and DS9 I’d have to include a Star Trek movie if I were to write a list. I’d choose Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country. After all it’s about the dynamic nature of the life, which is something that we all must accept. It’s also about friendship, but all of Star Trek has that component. And the need for diplomacy. And so on…

    Non Sequitur: It may have been said already, but Joe you should find a way to judge Iron Chef America. I was watching it and was thinking Joe Mallozzi would totally be great at this food judging thing.


  38. Intelligent Science Fiction is in my opinion the greatest form of sci-fi.

    I absolutely love Contact and Gattaca. In fact, Gattaca may be my all time favorite film. Were there other films made better or even with a better story?… yes, but for some reason Gattaca has always stuck with me.

    I also saw now mention of “Forbidden Planet”… what do you think of this classic? I find it under-rated.

  39. Guess what I’M eating, Joe???!

    MINT chocolate chip ice cream!!!! Want a taste?? 😈

    Heh. Thought not.



  40. @Airelle, i was just at ceder key. That is close, right? Trish lives in tampa Deni in g-ville. Welcome to the Fl. club, i know where crystal river is. …Sheryl

  41. Michael Vick played tonight. Fans embraced him. Now people are calling those who oppose him ‘racists’, even contrasting his situation to when slaves were chased down by hound dogs, and no one was condemned for that, yet he was condemned for killing dogs. Yes, what happened to slaves was horrid. My g-g-g-grandma was a slave, so my sympathies run deep here, but …guh…this isn’t the 19th century!! (or, is it??) Move on, people, and stick with the real issues!


  42. @ytimynona

    The DVD sales figure from the link you provide is only an estimate according to the fine print. Guess it’s better than nothing.

  43. @Thornyrose I’ve never actually used Block’s advice about throwing in a man with a gun (and actually, I think he got the advice from someone else). But I have used the larger form of the advice, which is this: if a story you’re writing seems to have stalled out and you can’t get it moving, throw in something new and unexpected that everyone has to react to. You’ll probably figure out how to make it all fit later on.

    Block actually did this in one of his Burglar novels, and he discusses what he did in his book Writing the Novel. The plot had fizzled out, so he threw in a guy with a gun. As he says, he had no idea how the guy would tie into the rest of the book, but he figured that it would all be made clear to him eventually.

  44. I love SF movies and yet, I haven’t seen a single film that you list. That means I either have five interesting films to rent from Netflix or I can believe that surely if they had been worth watching, I’d have seen them already. After all, you didn’t pick “Armageddon,” a personal favorite. If “Armageddon” didn’t deserve a mention (what with its perfectly realistic science and a completely rational and believable story), then surely your reasoning abilities (or taste) are in doubt.

    Did you ever see “Wall-E?” I loved it for its opening scenes, before EVA arrives.

    What are the five most intelligent SF novels you’ve read? And how do you define intelligent?

  45. Checked out the sci-fi movie link you posted. Perfectly agree with what’s mentioned about Donnie Darko being a sci-fi thriller despite contrasting views of many movie buffs. Good post, sir.

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