Riverside is a slum, a rundown neighborhood of beggars and thieves, where danger looms when night falls and only the foolhardy dare to venture.  The Hill is home to the rich and powerful, its opulent residences host to the excesses of privilege.  Two seemingly antithetical districts of an unnamed city, their borders as conspicuous and clear cut as their respective inhabitants – except on occasions when a score demands settling.  That’s when the lines become blurred by subterfuge, secrecy, and the fighting skills of hired assassins.

Richard St. Vier is a sword for hire, a denizen of Riverside whose bloody business often takes him to the elegant estates of his elite benefactors and victims. Despite his notoriety as the city’s deadliest assassin, however, St. Vier adheres to a strict ethical code in his death-dealing: no women, no children and, most important of all, he doesn’t do weddings!  His companion, Alec Tremontaine, is a scholar, a brooding intellectual with an affinity for danger.  And when Alec is kidnapped, St. Vier suddenly finds himself the reluctant pawn in a revenge-driven plot hatched by the scheming Lord Horn.

Oh, and St. Vier and Alec are gay.  I include the fact as almost an aside because, once their intimacy is established in the book’s opening pages, it is casually accepted and becomes just another interesting piece of their multifaceted backstory.  Yes, it’s important to the plot given that St. Vier is forced to act in order to save his lover, but it never becomes an issue for either the author or the book’s varied characters, instead serving as a solid emotional core to a narrative and setting at times stark and coolly precise.

Swordspoint is not so much fantasy as it is alternate history.  No dwarves or elves or magic elixirs.  Instead, it’s anti-heroes, courtly intrigue, and plenty of swordplay.  Kushner does a masterful job of establishing a society in which the wealthy advance hidden agendas and answer perceived sleights through proxy duelists, combatants governed by a strict code of conduct.  The intricacies of battle decorum are as fascinating as the political machinations that drive them, and Kushner excels at weaving a complex but not overly complicated web of deceit, double-crosses, and hidden agendas.  As someone who owns a well-worn copy of Machiavelli’s The Prince, I loved these back room maneuverings – secret games made all that more interesting by its colorful assembly of players, from the brilliant Duchess Tremontaine to the nefarious Lord Ferris, characters who straddle that fine line between black and white.

Kushner’s characters are interesting because they’re flawed, and in some cases likable because – as strange as it sounds – they’re unlikable.  Lord Ferris, our villain, orchestrates a brilliantly conceived power grab that ultimately comes to naught and yet, for all his faults, I respected the character and grew to admire him.  Alec, on the other hand, was a character I initially sympathized with but eventually grew to dislike for his delight in instigating deadly confrontations only to have his partner fight his battles for him.  St. Vier, our protagonist, is the most intriguing of the lot: an assassin with a sense of honor who would seemingly risk all for her love, yet whose past hints at the death of a former lover by his own hand.  The fact that different readers have come away with very different interpretations of these characters is a testament to Kushner’s ability to craft a tale both deeply textured and vividly imagined.

If there is one fault I could find with Swordspoint, it would be its ending, a conclusion that felt a little too pat when compared to the delightfully sophisticated set-ups and pay-offs that precede it.

Overall, however, a unique and engaging novel with a witty narrative style as sparing and precise as St. Vier’s dueling style.

So, those are my preliminary thoughts.  What did everyone else think?  Start posting your comments – and questions for author Ellen Kushner!

We screened back to back director’s cuts today: episode 207 (The Greater Good) and episode 208 (Malice).  Great stuff.  This first half will see a narrative progression very similar to what we saw in the back half of season one, with various story elements building to occasionally explosive conclusions.  Plenty of secrets, surprises, and shocking revelations.

Hey, looks like Remi put that flying time to good use, finishing up his responses to your fan questions while he enroute from L.A.  Check out tomorrow’s entry for an all Remi Aubuchon entry.  And, speaking of Remi, the second episode of Persons Unknown airs tonight on NBC at 10:00 p.m.!

Mailbag:

Sean D. writes: “1. Is there a chance of getting a Q&A with Robert Carlyle?
2. Is there a chance of getting a Q&A with Lou Diamond Phillips?
3. Is there a chance of getting a Q&A with Robert Knepper?”

Answer: At least one of those is more than likely.

victor writes: “1. Will we ever see the 304′s asgard beam weapons in sgu?

2. How was it that the daedalus in no mans land was able to beam shepperd his team and micheal off the wraith transport and on the daedalus while taking fire with the shields up,and in search and rescue they had to lower the shields to beam them aboard?”

Answers: 1. Unlikely.

2. Sorry, would have to go back and take a look at the episode.

Rex Carter writes: “Just curious about that tainted zpm from Camulous wonder if the sgc got it working safely and or if it can be used for anything.”

Answer: Alas, that particular zpm is no more – along with the planet on which it was tested.

imadaman writes: “Riley may have been shot, but there’s the (lovely :3) chance that he’s still alive, right?”

Answer: Sure, there’s a chance – but tune in to fine out for certain.

Jeff writes: “I think what Mark meant in his question about finding a seeder ship, then using it to build a supergate, was doing what the Ori did. Building a supergate to travel from one galaxy to another.”

Answer: How would you build a supergate out of seed ship?

Lewis writes: “Any possibility of you & Paul writing a story arc for one of the Stargate comics?”

Answer: Unlikely.

Lewis also writes: “If MGM doesn’t let Extinction come to fruition after a few years time would it be possible to do a comic book adaptation of it? Or even published as one of the Fandemonium novels?”

Answer: That’s up to MGM.  Alas, I’m out of that particular decision-making process.

Kevin writes: “(1) I thought it was established that Naquadria was some kind of isotope of Naquadah in the sense it didn’t occur naturally. (ie. the bomb on Kelowna created more Naquadria). Are these ‘Icarus’ planets somehow naturally occuring ‘now’? Or were they the product of Anubis getting the info from Quinn and then testing it out? And only ‘now’ are people discovering his old testing grounds? (always wondered about that).”

Answer: Yes, we’ve established that Naquadria is not naturally occurring.  The assumption is that these are old testing grounds abandoned since the fall of the goa’uld.

Kevin also writes: “(2) When Kiva said ‘next time we bring our own food/water’, was that a retrospect statement? or an allusion to them having a third icarus planet?”

Answer: The former.

Kevin also writes: “(3) Where did Kiva lose the 100 people she mentioned? It kinda looked like she was one of the last to leave the base..as any good commander should be. It didn’t really look like their was any spirited defense… a la Icarus Base.”

Answer: We can assume the base was much larger and that others were trapped in remote sections of the facility when it came under attack.

paloosa writes: “I asked why, and the said that it was the publisher’s decision. They were surprised because sales had been good. Have you heard anything about this?”

Answer: News to me.

eric writes: “Anyhoo, my question is about when Eli, Chloe and Scott returned to Destiny: did you ever answer on-screen how they got back? i.e. why Destiny’s address popped up on the screen again? If not are there plans to address that in season two?”

Answer: No plans to address this.  When Destiny dropped out of FTL as a result of the sabotage, it was still within range of the planet and popped up on the remote.  Seeing this, Eli dialed and secured a connection.

Michael writes: “So what do they do with the dead bodies of the KIA’s before this episode?”

Answer: Space ’em.

Michael Jones writes: ”

1.) Is the SGC still in operation on Earth, or has the Stargate been moved to Homeworld Command in the Pentagon?

2.) I saw James being captured during the changeover, but she didn’t seem to be in the room with Young and the other military personell… was she placed with the civilians or did she somehow get away…

3.) Did you record any commentaries for the 1.5 DVD/Blu Ray set?

4.) When ratings are counted, is it only the first showing that counts, or do both showings get accounted for?”

Answers: 1) All indications suggest it has been moved.

2) James wasn’t captured.

3) I didn’t.

4) It’s the first airing that garners all the attention.

Arctic Goddess writes: “Why was there a fire truck at Bridge Studios today? I heard it was a big enough deal to stop production.”

Answer: All good.  Everything’s under control.  Move along.  Nothing to see here.

Duggy writes: “Is there going to be an Atlantis movie? None of this finances bull we’ve been hearing, just a straight up yes or no.”

Answer: Oh, I’m sorry.  I didn’t realize I was inconveniencing you by not getting you this information sooner.  I’ll have someone at the studio give you a call and fill you in personally.  Just make sure they don’t give you any of this “finances bull” about needing money to make the movie and crap like that because the truth is we do it all for the love of the art…and discerning fans such as yourself.

Randomness writes: “but question on my mind is, where did 300,000 people go when it came to Episode 19? Did they fall asleep before it aired? DVR figures for that episode would be interesting.”

Answer: True.  As for the reason for the dip – no idea, but the fact that we didn’t air the previous week could have had something to do with it.  The casual viewer may have simply assumed our season was done.

74 thoughts on “June 14, 2010: Swordspoint, by Ellen Kushner

  1. As usual, I do appreciate your Q&A’s..so many nuggets of interesting information throughout them.

    So the Icarus planets are likely former Goauld testing grounds. Interesting. I guess it opens up the question as to whether Earth or the LA have or can develop the capability to ‘create’ their own Icarus planets from former Naquadah rich worlds. That’d be an interesting storyline, how Earth is creating one-shot planets at a time to resupply Destiny.

    James was not captured….hmmmn….well if she isn’t dead I’m predicting a hero moment in the future where she saves the day and boosts her sense of self from past failures.

    In regards to “How would you build a supergate out of seed ship?”, I think what the OP was thinking was the Destiny crew could encounter a seed ship, and since that ship ‘builds’ stargates, they could somehow reprogram the ship to construct a supergate instead of a regular stargate. Just my interpretation.

    Cheers

  2. Arctic Goddess writes: “Why was there a fire truck at Bridge Studios today? I heard it was a big enough deal to stop production.”

    Answer: All good. Everything’s under control. Move along. Nothing to see here.

    Oh, Joe, you can’t fool us.

    McKay is back!!

  3. Few questions:

    How are the decisions made for commentaries? How is it decided who will be doing a commentary. Or is it just whoever wants to at the time?

    As a writer, do you find it hard to watch shows/movies without critiquing the writing?

    Are you planning on checking out another part of Japan on your next trip to see and try more restaurants?

  4. By the way, Joe, I’m sorry if this has been asked / answered before, but do you see only live ratings for SGU or do you also see C3 ratings, and if you do see C3’s (or, f’rinstance, Live+7) for SGU, how do they compare to live?

    I only ask because I know in the last few years, C3’s / Live+7 have been weighed more than they used to be (which was pretty much not at all, as I understand it).

  5. Hey Joe great news, Andy Whitfield, the titular character from Spartacus: Blood and Sand, has beaten his Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and is cancer free. Since he was diagnosed just prior to filming season 2, they decided to film a 6 episode prequel, which is wrapping up. Whitfield is expected to appear in the last couple episodes after which they will kick off filming on season 2!!! Is there anything this guy can’t defeat??

  6. Woo hoo, I’m commenting first! And I kinda got nothin’ to say.

    No wait, for Duggy: MGM’s business issues have already halted production on Guillermo Del Toro’s Hobbit and the next Bond movie. Plus the Red Dawn movie is also on hold, and so is the next SG movie.

    So Duggy, choose: you can learn more about why and how movies get made or you can stand in front of the plasma and use the Weirding Way to force a SG movie into being (difficult, but it helps if you’re a Bene Gesserit.)

    The more you learn up on the business side of entertainment the less frustration you will feel.

    http://www.hitfix.com/articles/2010-5-27-guillermo-del-toro-admits-mgm-situation-delaying-the-hobbit-start-date?m=k

    http://www.mania.com/mgms-financial-troubles_article_117876.html

    http://www.examiner.com/x-3421-LA-Movie-Examiner~y2010m6d10-Red-Dawn-is-another-casualty-due-to-MGMs-finanical-troubles

  7. Awww…see…I was thinking of picking up this book, but it would lose me at the gay character part. When I read a book with a male hero, I need him to be straight…just makes it easier for me to fall ‘in love’ with him, and it’s less of a distraction. (Hell, I still don’t understand the appeal of ‘slash’ fan fic amongst the females in any given fandom.) That said, I do like a gay male sidekick (or friend) to a straight male lead – makes for an interesting dynamic. I also like characters like Daken who are – well, what the hell is Daken? Gay? Bi? Just a manipulative little user who takes whatever he wants from whomever he wants to take it?? I tend to lean towards the latter, but whatever it is, it works for me.

    das

  8. “Arctic Goddess writes: “Why was there a fire truck at Bridge Studios today? I heard it was a big enough deal to stop production.”

    Answer: All good. Everything’s under control. Move along. Nothing to see here.”

    Did you catch the popcorn on fire again?! Never leave popcorn unattended while you run to the bathroom!!

  9. Hi Mr. M,

    Long time no comment from me, sorry! I do read and enjoy your blog every night. I wanted to post this link to a recent SGU review I read today. I really feel like this author understands SGU. Perhaps it is worth sharing with those that don’t….

    http://reflectionsonfilmandtelevision.blogspot.com/2010/06/cult-tv-flashback-sgu-stargate-universe.html

    Congrats on a great season! I was so nervous Friday night, it took me all weekend to recover. Scott and Greer in peril, OMG….

    Thank you again for the great show!

    Sherry

  10. Oops. Thought you were referring to the hostage scenario in Incursion I.

    Yep, she’s been captured – along with everyone but Eli, Chloe, Rush, and Brody. And Scott and Greer topside, about to get fried.

  11. A Das: I agree with you. The guy has to be tall dark and handsome for me. Kind of “Ba’al-like”….actually, very Ba’al- like.

    Joe:

    Arctic Goddess writes: “Why was there a fire truck at Bridge Studios today? I heard it was a big enough deal to stop production.”

    Answer: All good. Everything’s under control. Move along. Nothing to see here.

    I got the real truth. It was all Bam Bam’s fault. 🙂

    Patricia

  12. so all indications point suggest the SGC has been moved? interesting, makes me wonder where sg teams are gating out from. Atlantis perhaps????? well, heres hoping one day the movie will get made. both of them, sg-1 and sga. you can count on me to buy them.

    and yeah, i dont see how a seeder ship could build a supergate. wishful thinking really.

  13. Hey Joe, thanks for answering my question. Follow-up question about the SGC: why has it been moved out of Cheyenne Mountain…to the Pentagon? Is this supposed to be addressed in the next SG1 or SGA movie? Or does it have anything to do with Cheyenne Mountain closing down in real life?

  14. Swordspoint – Not at all what I was expecting but was pleasantly surprised.

    Finishing up a term paper tonight but will post some questions tomorrow.

    Kelly

  15. That fire truck obviously didn’t have anything to do with your ice cream making?

    Someone made a small replica of the Stargate in their backyard out of wood and other materials. It looks so real too. I think that SciFiWire might have a link to it. I’m just not that talented, nor do I have the time. I enjoy looking at other people’s projects.

    Every time you give another book recommendation, I have to go out and buy it. I have so many books at this point to read, I’ll never be done. Between you and Scalzi, I don’t know what to do. And then there’s the TV I have to watch. And the paper that I’m procrastinating on right this moment that is due on Thursday night. That thing is not going to write itself.

  16. chevron7: 2. Has the Destiny gate got an Iris or some protection? Why didn’t the ship suffer some damage from the blast through the wormhole when the planet exploded or would the blast sever the connection before any transference?

    I had wondered why the explosion didn’t follow through the wormhole to Destiny also. However, I came up with my own solution to the question, so, unless and until the folks writing SGU provide a different explanation, I’m sticking with mine.

    Here’s what has already been established:

    1. The shield on the gate at Stargate Command was placed there by the SGC. No evidence has been presented (at least that I can recall) that the Milky Way gates ever had shields. The Atlantis gate did have a shield from the start when the expedition arrived, but that shield was put in place to protect against the Wraith, who came many moons after the Alterans had left the Milky Way for Pegasus. Thus, Destiny, which predates the Milky Way gates, is unlikely to have a shield.

    2. We know from SG1 and Atlantis that a projectile or blast from a weapon fired at one end of a wormhole will pass through and come out the other end, so it stands to reason that the blast from Icarus exploding should also have been translated through the wormhole and, given its intensity, obliterated Destiny.

    3. We also know that a wormhole will remain open for a maximum of 38 minutes unless it is being “blocked” by something on one end or the other (i.e., Jack’s hand on the receiving end in Shades of Grey or Eli’s arm on the departing end in Air III). But, you say, that presents a problem with the 38 Minutes episode of Atlantis, since the gate was being blocked by the puddlejumper. Not so because what’s crossing the threshold must be organic in order to prevent the gate from shutting down; therefore, the puddlejumper would not prevent the gate from shutting down after the allotted time had elapsed.

    4. The 38 minute limit applies to the Milky Way gates, the Pegasus gates, and to Destiny’s gate.

    5. Destiny is many billions of light years from the Milky Way.

    So, here’s what I think actually happened with the blast:

    After Rush dialed the gate, they all walked through, except Young who, for obvious reasons, ran. However, when they came out the other side, they were thrown. The later they departed Icarus, the faster and harder they were ejected onto Destiny.

    The blast from Icarus exploding was right on Young’s heels when he went through the gate, but there was no sign of it when he was violently thrown through Destiny’s gate. Why?

    Because the wormhole converted the kinetic energy from the blast in order to propel the people from Icarus faster through wormhole itself in order to get them to their destination before the 38 minutes had elapsed, and, without that energy, the blast itself simply fizzled once it passed the event horizon far enough for the energy to be stripped from it and transferred.

    The people that left first needed less energy transfer than those that left later, which is why the people that left later were more violently thrown through – more energy transferred and less time available to get to their destination resulting in higher velocity through the gate upon arrival.

    Since the Alterans had no set schedule for boarding Destiny, they built a failsafe into the address code for the ninth chevron, and that failsafe is what allowed the wormhole itself to perform the transfer of energy from the explosion to the travellers.

    But, again, you say, that presents a problem because the Alterans would not have blown up a planet to get to Destiny. Again, I say, “Not so.” The energy from the blast was an added bonus for the wormhole because it enabled it to complete its “mission” of delivering the “Alterans” to Destiny. However, the original failsafe allowed for the wormhole itself to transfer its own energy from the sending end to the receiving end – should it be needed – as it collapsed in on itself from the back (sending) to the front (receiving).

    Ta Da! 😀

  17. josephmallozzi said:

    Oops. Thought you were referring to the hostage scenario in Incursion I.

    Yep, she’s been captured – along with everyone but Eli, Chloe, Rush, and Brody. And Scott and Greer topside, about to get fried.

    Joe, ever heard of spoiler space?? Thanks heaps buddy

    Oh that thank-you gift is in transit…sorry for the delay…I’m second guessing it now 😉

    Cheers, Chev

  18. @eric

    Cheyenne Mountain is not quite closed. It’s currently the alternate command site for NORAD in case primary site at Peterson AFB became compromise.

    IMO the SGC should be relocated to the farside of the moon with a fail-safe self destruct strategic nuke or Naquadria device.

  19. wow cat4444…thank-you for taking the time to answer my question…a lot of thought went into that and I appreciate it…not sure that I agree – don’t think Incursion Pt 1 journey was anywhere near 38 minutes but I do like your thinking regarding the shields and the history of the gates….

    Thanks heaps!!

    Cheers, Chev

  20. crayonbaby said:

    Someone made a small replica of the Stargate in their backyard out of wood and other materials. It looks so real too. I think that SciFiWire might have a link to it. I’m just not that talented, nor do I have the time. I enjoy looking at other people’s projects.

    I linked to it in the comments of yesterday’s post.

    Cheers, Chev

  21. Questions for Ellen Kushner:

    1. What kind of reception did Swordspoint receive when it was first published – from reviewers and fandom in general. Did their opinions differ?

    2. Why the reluctance to further the adventures of Richard and Alec in future novels?

    3. I thought the world of Swordspoint was quite unique. What others works, if any, would you say influenced you in the creation of Swordspoint?

    4. Finally – okay, maybe a weird question but I have to ask – have you ever written fan fiction?

  22. Michael writes: “So what do they do with the dead bodies of the KIA’s before this episode?”

    Answer: Space ‘em.

    I was wondering if there are any plans to include a burial at space ceremony in an upcoming episode?

  23. RE What to do about dead bodies: Gee, they make such nice compost, why space em?

    eric writes: “Anyhoo, my question is about when Eli, Chloe and Scott returned to Destiny: did you ever answer on-screen how they got back? i.e. why Destiny’s address popped up on the screen again? If not are there plans to address that in season two?”

    As I recall, the dialog from the episode was that they gated to another planet on the periphery of the galaxy that Eli thought Destiny would go by, and were waiting there when the Destiny’s address popped up on the remote. There was really no other reason why Destiny would pop out of FTL again, unless there is an ascended ancient flitting around messing with the controls.

  24. Jeff writes: “I think what Mark meant in his question about finding a seeder ship, then using it to build a supergate, was doing what the Ori did. Building a supergate to travel from one galaxy to another.”

    Answer: How would you build a supergate out of seed ship?

    Well a seeder ship wouldnt have a limited stock of premade stargates on hand, they would have to be programmed to manufacture them automatically from n’aquita ore picked up along its travels. So, you find a seeder ship, possibly one thats dead in the water due to a malfunction, maybe it hit a gamma ray burst and got shut offline or something, and reprogram it to scale up the plans for a stargate so that it makes it BIG.

    The only downside to this plan is that SGC will also need a supergate in the Milky Way Galaxy, and thats a security risk, with the chance that the Ori could use it instead.

    Note that supergates require a black hole to power them, so if you are gonna do this, I recommend the episode has Destiny finding a seeder ship dead landed on a n’aquita asteroid orbiting a black hole. The ship got knocked offline from a GRB created by the black hole eating a neutron star.

  25. chevron7: Part of the problem is that we don’t know exactly how long each of the trips through the gate took. However, given Destiny’s distance, I still say they were pushing it whatever it was.

    We also don’t know exactly how much time the Icarus people spent preparing for the arrival of the Alliance people, although I suspect it was somewhat more than what it appears to have been in the episode (condensed for time and dramatic effect).

    Further, both the Icarus planet and the Alliance planet exploded due to the attacks on their respective bases. Would they have exploded if there was no attack? No idea, although from Rush’s comment, I would say that the Alliance planet would have exploded even without the attack, unless he was lying again, but then the attack is what precipitated the dialing of the ninth chevron by the Alliance in the first place.

    Anyway, the energy from the explosion had to go somewhere, as did the blast itself. It didn’t go through the gate and, at the very least, bake the gateroom, so I still say it was transferred to the people that went through the gate and used to get them to their destination before the time limit expired. However, a portion of it may also have been used to power the gates on each end to keep the connection open long enough for the travellers to arrive at their destination.

    Even if the Alliance people took less time to travel to Destiny – which, I suppose, could be possible since the gates seem to have a penchant for shutting down after inconsistent time periods, the Alliance people were tossed through the gate in the same way the Icarus people were: Those that left earliest arrived with the least amount of force and those that left later arrived with more force. That last Alliance guy was tossed through the gate the same way Young was (although I think he landed better).

    Perhaps there’s some system in the gates themselves that tells the receiving gate how many people went through the departure gate and, therefore, when they’ve all exited the receiving gate, or the maximum time elapses, whichever comes first, it automatically disconnects

  26. Michael writes: “So what do they do with the dead bodies of the KIA’s before this episode?”

    Answer: Space ‘em.

    Ugh. Personally, if I was in the situation the people on Destiny are and I wound up dead for whatever reason, I’d prefer to have my body pegged into a sun to be incinerated. The thought of my mummified corpse floating around in space for however long as some sort of space jetsam is just ugh.

  27. Multiple comments or questions …

    1. Regarding the end of Incursion-part-2 with those 2 guys stuck outside the ship, could they have survived the radiation burst by simply walking around to the underside of the ship, the side facing away from the binary pulsar? Radiation tends to go in straight lines, and they would be in its shadow. Since the Destiny appears to be relatively narrow in its height in its front half where the 2 guys were, walking/running to the underside would have been a shorter trip than any walk along its length or width, so then they could have survived that radiation burst that way, giving them more time to then find an opening to get inside. Unless they were concerned that the Destiny would go into FTL right after the radiation burst, in which case they’d be dead anywhere outside the ship. Or concern that the Destiny’s shields would kill them when reacting to the radiation, such as by going to full strength and bisecting them, or by channeling energy from the radiation around the ship.

    2. Incursion-part-2 with the 2 guys outside the ship, were the Destiny’s shields at that time (when they’re not at FTL or are under fire etc) only covering the openings in the ship like the circle they came through, or were they covering the whole ship and hence the 2 guys were walking on it? I ask because the shields could simply be invisible as portrayed to the camera when the were right next to the surface of the ship itself.

    3. With Stargate Atlantis, why didn’t the Ancients build the city of Atlantis to be physically airtight and water tight? While I understand its using shields to protect the city against meteors or weapons or other such hazards, it seems like a huge design flaw to me that the shields are necessary to simply keep the air in or to keep water out. You’d think the Ancients could have developed strong enough physical materials that could do that alone. Heck, we humans can do that right now, with much more primitive technology. Certainly would be a lot more energy efficient too, and more resilient against problems like lack of power. For that matter, it seems that other Ancient technology like the Destiny doesn’t need shields to keep the air in (where it doesn’t have holes), so why would the newer Atlantis be so flawed?

  28. Oh crap a fire!! Was Carl-the-permanent-on-site-Producer there, being all permanently-on-site and stuff? IS HE ALRIGHT?!?! Please, PLEASE tell me that his magnificent ‘stache has remained unsinged! After all, it is the source of all of his powers!

  29. Coucou! ça va bien? Moi ouép!!!
    Alors le match d’hier ? =P L’italie n’est pas aussi en forme que cela^^!

    Merci pour ces Q & A moi j’en ai!

    1-Quel est votre épisode préférez de la saison 1?
    2-Martin Gero à écrit des épisodes pour la saison 2?
    3-Est ce que dans la saison 2 les épisodes seront moins noire et il y’ aura plus d’humour?

    Voila !=) Merci!
    Gros bisou♥

  30. 1. You wrote that all indications suggest the stargate has been moved to Homeworld Command.
    Does this mean we will not see the SGC again, if it comes to 3rd movie?

    2. What is Homworld Command? Is this a kind of bunker under pentagon? I think they wouldn’t move the Stargate to a “simple” building?!

    sorry for bad english

  31. Ah so thats what happened to the tainted zpm Rodney was probably involved testing it from remote location.

  32. Oh does Destiny have a wormhole space drive like Atlantis used in finale and if they do then they cant use it yet due to power requirements for now maybe?

    Then will or is Destiny trying to repair itself bit by bit.Meaning self repair like the Liberator on Blake’s 7 did and if Destiny is self repairing it will take a long time.

    Also if Destiny is self-repairing does it simply replace the broken part or hull section its working on at the time like the Liberator did.

  33. Did the SGC destroy the Ori Supergate or is it still there for now?
    If its still there then can they try to use it to dial Destiny maybe or would they need to get power from a bunch of black holes to even try.
    Hope the SGC is trying to find new icarus type planets or maybe transporting naquadria to a planet somewhere.
    Maybe for a christmas episode the sgc can dial destiny for 5 minutes and send destiny christmas gifts of supplies even a couple of boxes of stuff to help them out.

  34. Hi Joe another zpm question for you is there any power left in the zpm Atlantis used to flee their original planet in “Adrift” i think there was some power left in it or did they use it all up along with the new stolen from asuras zpm to land on the new planet they landed on?
    If theres any power left in the old zpm is it going to be installed maybe on the Daedalus?

    Oh and did the earth zpm that powered the drone control chair did that get destroyed with the chair in area 51 if it was installed in the base of the chair or is that zpm safe and sound back at the south pole ancient outpost.

    Also if i can ask this if its not a giveaway to the sga movie how much power is left in the 3 zpms Atlantis has now on Earth?

    You can tell I love zpms hope McKay or Carter can find out how to make their own zpms.

    Did Replicator Dr.Weir from Season 5 of sga did she leave for McKay in his computer how to make new zpms or did she not know how to?

    Thanks.

  35. Hi, Joe.

    Curious.

    MGM Stargate’s Stargate widget is announcing the SGU 2nd season premiere as Tuesday, September 28th at 9/8C.

    However, Syfy announced the second season returning in October during the promo teaser.

  36. Hello Joe.

    Just a quick thought… I saw Subversion and both parts of Incursion on IO on Demand. I was wondering how On Demand or Xbox Live viewing effect ratings since I an sure I am not the only fan who missed a few episodes and has had to catch up afterward?

    Best wishes,

    Bryan

  37. Narelle: Borders bookstore now has an ebook store! Borders is going to sell to ebook readers in the epub/pdf format. I’m hopeful that more ebook stores will not make you use their exclusive format.

    We are looking at 97F/36C on Saturday! A three shower day for sure!!!!

    Thanks for the mailbag, Mr. M.

    How is your mom doing?

    It’s hard waiting for season 2 but (as we say in the south), “ain’t got no choice.”

    We are filling in the TV nights with Dr. Who. Do you watch that show, Mr. M.? If so, Who is your favorite doctor of the new series? My favorite is Christopher Eccleston because he is just so deadpan on some of his lines. David Tennant, and Matt Smith are very good, as well. Anyone else have a favorite doctor?

  38. 😳 I meant ebooks in epub/pdf, Not ereaders. Borders has come out with their own ereader but it looks to be sold out.

  39. @Joe…

    Ohhhh.. thats what you meant by not captured. Ok, that makes sense now. Thanks!! 🙂

  40. Wait a second… you said you space the dead bodies?

    This is from the Water transcript on Gateworld…

    “WALLACE: What we need is an airlock.

    RUSH: Unfortunately, there are none in the habitable compartments of the ship.”

    How do they space the bodies then? Can we just assume they found an airlock since Water?

    Lol sorry about being the continuity geek. First with James, now with this. Hey I guess all the rewatches of SGU pay off. Like the minute you said about the spaceing the dead I remember Eli talking about airlocks in Water. Ive rewatched Water a lot though. Its one of my favs.

    Thanks so much,
    Major D. Davis

  41. Morjana, thanks for the Cinemaspy article, looks interesting, and to Kymm for the Stargate Cakes, love it!

  42. Arctic Goddess writes: “Why was there a fire truck at Bridge Studios today? I heard it was a big enough deal to stop production.”

    Answer: All good. Everything’s under control. Move along. Nothing to see here.

    Did Carl put metal in the microwave again? ;-p

  43. *two thumbs up* for Persons Unknown episode two. I loved the continuation of the creepy feeling and getting know the people better. Of course I now have more answers than questions, but that makes it a great episode!

    A general Stargate question: how well versed are you all (writers, producers, etc.) in the science behind the idea? From what I’ve read much (perhaps even most) of the science behind the stargate itself is plausible, though not yet possible. Did you have to spend a lot of time getting into physics, or was it more made up?

    On a similar note, how well developed is the Goa’uld/Jaffa language, is it actually based on ancient Egyptian?

  44. @morjana

    That made my day! Thanks! 🙂

    Joe a few questions if you don’t mind

    1. I heard on the GW forum that Robert Picardo said that if there are going to be a SG movie it will probably be a combo movie between SG-1 and SGA. Can you comment on this?

    2. Would it possible to arrange a pre order for the SG-1 and SGA movie before they even go into production? That way MGM can see fans are still interested and ready to pay money to see these movies.

    3. Any rumblings on the SG-1 movie front? Any on the SGA front?

    Thanks so much,
    Major D. Davis

  45. Swordspointappealed to my love of swash and buckle and intrigue and mysterious characters with shady pasts and above all, really excellent anti-heroes! The worlds of Riverside and The Hill are rich and beautifully established in our minds not through long descriptive exposition, but through bits of description and history woven through the story and by the actions of their denizens. The characters are a delight, made all the more interesting by the flaws that shape them. One of my favorites was Diane, the Duchess Tremontaine, shaping the politics of the realm from her boudoir and drawing room; and grooming promising young men for bright futures. I love that she is no debutante, but is still lusted after by nearly every man in the book! And I completely agree with your comments about Richard St. Vier, and I very much enjoyed his character. By the way, he is not an assassin, he is a swordsman as you should remember from the Lord Michael job. For me, the whole gay or bisexual issue was a non-issue.

    But I had a very different take on Alec, my personal favorite character. Let me offer an alternate perspective. Richard had found his place in society and was thriving. But Alec with his intellectual brilliance, idealistic nature and abrasive personality didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. We can only guess that Alec objected to being groomed for a life in the Machiavellian politics of the Hill by Duchess Tremontaine, not to mention being used by her as a spy, and ran away from that world. During his self-imposed exile, he had a short and apparently happy few years of study at University, until he and his friends challenged the status quo with their discovery. Then Alec learned an unpleasant truth – although he was pretty much untouchable because of his connections, his friends were vulnerable and could be made to suffer in his stead. He didn’t much like that, and consequently, he didn’t much like himself. So he sank into Riverside, presumably going there with the intention of ending his life by annoying a random swordsman enough to kill him. And Alec can be exceptionally annoying when he sets his mind to it. But then Richard found him and took him under his wing and into his bed and all was well for a while. I loved seeing shabby, eccentric Alec’s transformation to “acid and honey” Lord David and watching him strut his stuff in the scenes before the council as he defended Richard.

    As for Alec’s penchant for instigating duels in Riverside, at first I was a bit put off by it. But the short stories and the end of the book changed my view. Alec was seeking out the worst and most violent elements in Riverside and letting Richard have a bit of sword practice by removing them. Remember, Alec was brought up among the nobles, for whom the blood-sport of dueling was perfectly acceptable. And even though Richard did solo practice poking holes into imaginary opponents (and the walls of their rooms), but he had no one he could spar with. By ferreting out the unsavory types that needed killing, Alec was providing the challenges Richard needed to maintain his edge. But there is no denying the Alec took an abnormally keen delight in watching Richard kill.

    So Swordspoint will join the books of Alexandre Dumas and Pierre Pevel on my swashbuckling shelf. Ellen Kushner’s “mad, bad boys” have found a place in my heart and I would like to learn more about them. I have already picked up a copy of The Privilege of the Sword, which continues their stories.

    Questions for the author to come later.

  46. Hi Joe,

    All this tech talk about the Gates has me thinking – okay, so you said the SGC has been relocated from Cheyenne Mtn, and that Atlantis has (probably) been conveniently relocated from SF Bay (GW post) and you also said that the Pegasus gate on Atlantis should supercede the Earth gate (which is still being leased from Russia, right?) – so it would make sense that the SGC is currently functioning from Atlantis. Atlantis is mobile, secure, has a shield, a cloak, better technology and a working control chair – not to mention Lt. Col. Sheppard and Dr. McKay to run it. I do wonder how they are keeping Todd alive? Could be a rather macabre solution to Guantanamo a/o death row inmates – how current are we with Earth events now? Back to gates – would Destiny fit through a SuperGate? Probably unnecessary because if they had enough power they could simply send puddlejumpers through to ferry people back and forth – are there space gates on Destiny’s route?

    Okay, head spinning now.

    Smiles, Julie

  47. Re your response about taking things season by season (sorry, been working, didn’t have time before) –

    I truly and sincerely hope you’ll stick around until the end of SGU. I’ve been loving all your episodes very much. 🙂

    From the selfish stand-point, your blog is a true mecca for any Stargate fan. Q&A’s; fun bts photos, stories; production updates; little contests for fans; etc. As you remember, I won the 1.0 DVD set. And it’s the first thing I had won, EVER.

    And, well, selfish again 😛 , but it’s really awesome to have one of the – *gasps* – Stargate producers answer questions from regular fans. Btw, thanks for answering my techno-babble question. 😀 Got any TJ backstory ep coming in 2.0?

    I know there was something else I wanted to mention – I’ve been thinking for 2 days what to write… and 2 hrs typing.

    All the best.

  48. Hi Joe,
    Been a long time again, and I’m a few days late, but thanks for the Julia Benson Q&A – it’s always a pleasure to get the viewpoint of someone from, how should I say…the other side of the gate.
    Also thought I’d drop in and say great finale, you had me on the edge of my seat until the final shot! October can’t come soon enough! And your cryptic just because they’re filming doesn’t mean they’re alive just makes it worse! I bet I figured it out now though – everyone dies except Rush, who keeps seeing them in flashbacks. And sometime in season 3 we find out Rush never awoke from his hallucination, and all this time he’s been linked in with Destiny. How’s that for a reveal?
    Anyways, a quick question – is the gap between production and airing usually this large? It seems to me that in the past you were still writing the scripts for the end of a season around premiere time. Or maybe that was the year the break between seasons was very small? Or maybe I’m imagining things.

  49. Re: the gate being moved to DC

    This brought to mind the fact that Young has been reporting all this time to O’Neill and not to Landry. Is Landry no longer in charge since SGC operations are now at the Pentagon? Or was the Icarus base under O’Neill’s direct supervision from the beginning?

  50. I agree about Kivas base, as it was essentially a Pyramid, one would assume she had personel scattered around the base doing various different functions, if anything it seemed like to me anyway the only people able to get through the gate were in and around the gate room itself, meaning once the attack started, those who were some distance away from Kiva, Rush, Varro etc were out of luck.

    Kiva wouldn’t want all her guys in one place due to fear of an attack from Earth, when Earth comes aknocking, do you want all your guys in positions they can’t defend?

    It was mostly established in SG1 that the bad guys always have guys scattered everywhere doing patrols and things like that. And you could assume Kivas men were essentially living there right? Whilst the the project was ongoing to dial Destiny.

  51. Answer: Yes, we’ve established that Naquadria is not naturally occurring. The assumption is that these are old testing grounds abandoned since the fall of the goa’uld.

    But surely the Ancients knew how to make/had made/created accidentally a planet with a Naquadria core right? If they didn’t, how were they planning to dial Destiny?

  52. I just wanted to say that I loved Swordspoint – is there a sequel? Or other stories/novels set in the same “universe”? I would love to read more.

  53. @cat4444 It does seem likely part of the information a gate transmits is the number of people who went through on the departure end. In an area where a gate was frequently used, it would need to shut down as soon as possible to be ready for the next connection. It could also help explain why the explosion didn’t follow them through the gate if the gate knew to shut down after the last person came through.

    The Icarus gate was only open for about 6 minutes right before the planet exploded, and the connection between gates had to be established before travel could begin, so I’m not certain where the 38 minutes comes in to it. Logically, the gate on Destiny would only have been open for 6 minutes as well. The loss of a gate at one end or the other of a wormhole seems to shut down the wormhole. At the distance the wormhole had to cover, and the amount of energy required to power it, there was probably quite a lot of energy available to convert into kinetic energy, which would explain them being hurled through the exit gate a lot faster than they’d entered on the other side.

    Or maybe I’m missing something here. But that wouldn’t be a new thing.

  54. As promised, here are my questions for Ellen Kushner:

    1) Could you talk about the genesis of Swordspoint, specifically how the idea for the novel came to you and what inspired your unique take on the fantasy genre.

    2) Even though Swordspoint is described as fantasy, it isn’t fantasy in the conventional sense. Do you have a problem with the term being used to describe your work?

    3) When you sat down to write Swordspoint, did you do so with a definitive idea of the story in mind? How much of it had you detailed out before sitting down to write? Were you working toward a specific ending or was it more a case of being guided by your creative vision?

    4) You’ve been published in both short fiction and the longer form. Do you have a preference?

  55. Tammy – Swap your weather for ours. Brrrrrrr here. Thanks for the heads up on the Borders estore!

    I just picked up my first hard copy book in years. The BFG by Roald Dahl. It’s to read to my Nieces. They love pressing the buttons on the Reader to turn the page, but I thought it might be nice to have a book they can keep at their house. I haven’t read it since Primary School so hoping I don’t start reading and find metaphors that have me murmuring ‘Oh boy’.

  56. Questions for Ellen Kushner:

    First, I just wanted to tell you how much I loved Swordspoint and your mad, bad boys Alec and Richard.

    1. I love the world you created for the story. Did you have any particular inspiration for it and for the characters that inhabit it?

    2. The Thomas Canty covers for your books are wonderful. How did that collaboration come about?

    3. What do you read for fun? For a challenge?

  57. I liked Swordspoint but found some of the behind the scenes schemings a little too complicated at times, leading me to lose my way so that I would have to go back and re-read some sections. But the characters, especially Richard, more than made up for those distractions and I thought the action descriptions of the duels were, as you said Joe, precise. Rather than just explaining the action, the author lets us in on the strategy involved in fighting and winning.

    Anyway, a very interesting novel. I can honestly say I’ve never read anything quite like it.

    Questions for Ellen Kushner –

    – I thought Swordspoint was pretty unique in its characters, world, and even its length (it’s refreshing to read a novel that manages to tell an entertaining story in less than 500 pages!). What kind of research did you do for the novel? Did you base the un-named city on a real place, the social mores and conventions on a specific time period? And did the characters just pop into existence or was there a little bit of someone – either real or fictional – in Richard St. Vier and Alec?

    – Swordspoint was written over twenty years ago. Do you find that the response from first-time readers has changed over the years? Has the reading public become more accepting of gay characters?

    – Someone asks you to do the Swordspoint movie. Who would you cast as St. Vier? Alec? Lorn Horn? Diana?

  58. Mailbag Q’s: Is (or was) there ever anyone on set (cast or crew) who knew/know as much as the fans seem to know regarding previous episodes/technology/races etc?

    have you ever been in any episodes of any shows? do you plan/want to?

  59. Hey, Joe!

    I’ve been somewhat absent from your blog of late, because the UK wound up two full episodes behind the US, and I didn’t want to tempt myself with potential spoilers. We must’ve managed to catch up somehow though, since the finale finished about four hours ago.

    I was going to weigh in with my thoughts on Season 1, but I really don’t know where to start. Like the plot itself, there is so much, and it’s all so tangled up and interwoven that it’s hard to pull out a single topic without stumbling into others.

    The beginning was admittedly slow, but from there we had a tantric creccendo towards the finale. Everything twists and changes, and shatters whatever preconceptions try to form. The very mention of the IOA makes us hate Camile, and then you show her soft, compassionate side in Life; make her ruthless again in Justice, and Divided; helpless again in Sabotage; and then throwing in the Lucian Alliance turns her into the voice of reason and humanity again.

    Of all the characters starting out, I expected Rush to be the easiest to get a bead on: he was the bad guy. I fist-pumped when Young left him on that planet. Then he redeems himself in the face of the Blue Aliens, but undoes it all when he exacts his petty revenge against Young. Sometimes he seems like a selfless coward; other times he’s a selfless hero. Human was so incredibly moving; his actions in Sabotage were surprisingly noble; and then Subversion, not only did he risk his own life, but we saw that brash, overconfidence of his undermined by Kiva, when yet another man dies as a result of Rush’s choices.

    I don’t understand why I have so much respect for Young. I guess he’s the perfect Punisher antihero: smacking Telford in the face for screwing around with his wife, then torturing him later on; stranding Rush on that planet; being almost a ‘military dictator’; he should be a villain, like Rush. But I guess unlike Rush, you (almost) always know why Young is doing it. He may go about it in a questionable way, but he’s always honest about what he’s doing… except when he’s trying to kill someone to break the brainwashing on them. Nice recall there, by the way.

    Speaking of Telford: you turned the character that everybody loved to hate into someone so desperately likeable by the end that I actually screamed “No!” at the screen when the gun went off. It wasn’t clear if he’s definately dead or not, but I sincerely hope he isn’t: of all of the characters whose survival is in question in my mind, he’s the one I most want to survive, just to see how his redemption plays out.

    You were criticised for the young cast at the outset, but I think you’ve perhaps even underemphasised that side of things. I feel a lot of empathy for Eli and his relationship with Chloe; he seemed to stop being the go-to guy to solve every problem as well, now that Rush has his little cadre of scientists, so he seems (realistically) like he’s at a bit of a loose end. I love the interplay between Scott and Greer too, particularly with Greer almost mentoring him in that last episode: it’s almost like Chief O’Brien and Doctor Bashir from Deep Space Nine, what with the slightly naive officer and the more experienced and grizzled NCO.

    I love what you did with the Lucians, too. People have a lot of hate for the Lucians, but after Company of Thieves, I thought they had the potential to become quite a menacing enemy, and you’ve gone and proven it: complete with sexy leather. My only “regret” is that Varro isn’t the same person as Odai Ventrell, the bounty hunter. Any chance that you can explain that away (maybe an assumed name, or something like the Blood Pirate Roberts?), so that when he (presumably) becomes the Earth-sympathetic member of Alliance contingent, we get ourselves a suave new Ronan? Pretty please?

    Kudos on the cameos as well. In SG-1 and Atlantis, the character crossovers were always very important, and a central part of the story. Here, they’re really subtly done: it made sense for the SG-1 veterans to be there, doing there thing, and fit organically into the story. Even the couple of smatterings of O’Neill humour worked – I thought – really nicely into the tone of the show.

    So there you go. For what it’s worth, I really enjoyed the first 12 months-worth of SGU. Much, much more of the same, please!

  60. All this gate talk got me wondering how it was decided that specifically it would be maximum 38 minutes that a gate could be open. Was that number just fairly random or is there a specific reason that the writers picked it?

    Thanks!

  61. They moved the Stargate to the Pentagon?! What, next you’re going to tell me that they don’t even have SG teams any more!?

    By the way, what is SG-1’s makeup at this point? Is Mitchell still the team leader? Are Daniel, Teal’C, & Vala still there? Have they all been replaced with others who shall remain unnamed as they don’t have a show to follow them around?

  62. I first read this book when it was first published in 1987, then re-read it again for this discussion and found it as gripping and memorable as ever. Kushner’s dialogue sparkles. It’s sharp and witty, bolstered by a richness of language lush in romanticism. In fact for all of its violence and bloodshed, I’d consider Swordspoint not fantasy but a romance novel; a romance novel with dollops of tempered steel and duplicity.

    My questions for the author:

    You’ve described Richard as a psychopath and yet, despite this fact, you’ve imbued him with a vulnerability and charm that make him very likable. How do you reconcile your seemingly negative opinion of him with the obvious love you’ve shown in crafting what is ultimately a charming anti-hero? Did you set out to establish an apparently reprehensible character and then seek to redeem him or was the character born fleshed out and flawed from his inception? I marvel at your ability to make him so likable in spite of the darkness that resides within him.

    We’ve come a long way since Swordspoint was first published (and still have a ways to go) and I was wondering what led you to write the book? What kind of a reception were you expecting? And were you surprised or not by that reception? Do you think genre literature has come a long way since then in its depiction of homosexual or bisexual characters? Richard Morgan’s The Steel Remains comes to mind. Have you read it? If so, what did you think?

    Thanks to both Ellen and Joe for this opportunity.

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