When editor Lou Anders first approached me about the possibility of contributing a short story to his upcoming superhero-themed anthology, I was admittedly leery.  Having spent my entire career scripting for television, the prospect of producing my first work of short fiction was – well – daunting.  I considered Lou’s offer, went back and forth countless times, and ultimately agreed to participate.  Sort of.  I told Lou that I would be happy to write a short story for the collection – however if, for any reason, it failed to meet his expectations, we would both write it off as a terrific learning experience and I would just go ahead and serialize the story on my blog.

I had a story in mind.  Actually, two stories.  No, actually, one scene and an arena involving a former supervillain gone straight who must, as a condition of his early parole, assist the FBI in solving superhero-related crime.  I took a few days to think about it and, eventually, it took form.  I had what I thought was a great opening, an engaging protagonist, and a fun little ending.  Now, all I had to do was write the damn thing.

Easier said than done.  On average, it takes me about a month to write a script, from pitch to finished draft.  This short story took me about ten times as long as I wrote and endlessly rewrote what I had (and at approximately forty pages, I had a lot!).  Yes, only ten months to write a short story.  I say “only” because, if Lou hadn’t needed it for publication purposes, I’d no doubt still be rewriting it.  And, please understand, it didn’t take that long because I consider it a masterpiece that needed perfecting.  It took that long because writing prose fiction is damn hard, at times – dare I say it – even more agonizing than scriptwriting.  Yet, unlike writing for film and television, you’re more or less going it alone.  Aside from your trusty editor who is there to backstop you, offer words of encouragement, deliver constructive criticism, and inevitably talk you off that ledge, you’re flying solo.  Once the story has been completed – or the deadline looms and you have to stop obsessing over it and just deliver the damn thing – it’s all on you.  There’s no blaming the actor for not holding the prop high enough or the director for failing to get the shot of the platypus’s feet or the steadycam operator for having hiccups on the day or the Director of Photography for forgetting to take his sunglasses off while on set and lighting the scene as bright as the Rockefeller Center Christmas display.  If the story crashes and burns, you’re the only one who’s going down with it.

Fortunately, when Lou eventually got back to me, he was very positive about “Downfall”, and I was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief.  And have continued to do so as the reviews for the anthology have slowly started  to come out.  A few have even had nice things to say about my contribution.  One of the most interesting things about the Masked reviews I’ve read to date is the different stories that have been highlighted as favorites in the various write-ups.

It’s a fairly diverse collection from some very impressive talent – and, over the next few weeks, I’d like to introduce you to some of the great company I keep in the anthology.  Yes, Masked is our September book of the month club selection but, in the lead up to the discussion, I’d like to whet your appetite with a peek at its fabulous stories and their amazing authors.  So, in the very near future, you can look forward to visits from the likes of Marjorie M. Liu (Dark Wolverine, Black Widow, the Dirk & Steele Series, Hunter Kiss series), Paul Cornell (Dr. Who, Dr. Britain and MI13, Dark X-Men), Daryl Gregory (Pandemonium, The Devil’s Alphabet, Dracula: The Company of Monsters), Matthew Sturges (Jack of Fables, House of Mystery, Midwinter), and Mark Chadbourn (The Age of Misrule series, The Dark Age series, BBC’s Doctors) for starters.  And I’ll also see if I can convince our esteemed editor, Lou Anders, to drop by for a pre-BOTMC chat.

Oh, speaking of Masked reviews, here’s another one from Tor.com: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2010/08/review-masked

In his article, Jason Henninger writes: “Many of the stories in Masked remind me of Astro City, a series that investigates the daily lives of superheroes. Astro City takes archetypal heroes and shows how being super-powered affects them personally, or looks at how living among the super-powered changes the lives of bystanders. If Masked can be said to have a central concern, it would be “What does it mean to be a superhero or villain?” The characters’ powers are integral to the stories but displaying this or that neato power isn’t the main thrust.”

And that’s why I highly recommend this collection, not only to comic book fans and fans of superheroes in general, but to discerning readers who enjoy engaging, character-driven stories.

Hey, speaking of our Book of the Month Club and fellow Masked contributor Daryl Gregory – you all have two weeks to finish off The Devil’s Alphabet because discussion begins the week of August 16th with author Daryl Gregory.

In addition to the aforementioned, I’ve got some goodies in the works.  With the premiere of Stargate: Universe’s second season less than a couple of months away, I thought I’d start offering up some subtle little teasers for year two.  Specifically, every so often, I’m going to post a pic from the show’s first season that, while seemingly random or incomprehensible at first glance, will actually prove to be a hint of things to come.  Sort of like this –

And I’ll continue to post pics from the sets and behind-the-scenes of both Stargate: Universe and Stargate: Atlantis.  Like, say, this one –

Jason and Alex. They could never do this on the old Dick Van Dyke Show.

And, of course, this blog will continue to offer an eclectic mix of coverage spanning everything from adorable dogs –

– to disastrous attempts at chile relleno –

They're under there somewhere.

So welcome, one and all – from regulars to first-timers to those who, for form’s sake, publicly insist they don’t read this blog but secretly do anyway.  Welcome!

52 thoughts on “August 2, 2010: Masked musings! Upcoming guests! A Stargate: Universe season 2 tease of things to come! Stargate: Atlantis behind the scenes! And sundry others!

  1. Joseph said, “So welcome, one and all – from regulars to first-timers to those who, for form’s sake, publicly insist they don’t read this blog but privately do. Welcome!”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~

    Okay, who was it? ….. spill the beans…..!

  2. Why Dick Van Dyke?

    I hope you got your sister a nice and thoughtful present. It isn’t every day a girl is 21.

    🙂

  3. hmmm did you redecorate a little? I see a grey background.. noice!!!

    Jason’s legs go on for miles don’t they?

    Yeah, spill! \Who makes this blog their guilty pleasure?

    ehheheeh

  4. 1 Is destiny looks like the ships before oris and ancients part

    2 Shall have we the opportunity to see one of them

    3 Is it possible the database of atlantis Could contain the solution of return to earth for the destiny (we have translated everything yet)?

    4 Will you do a movie a movie about the fourth alliance?

  5. You want disastrous chiles rellenos (not “rellanos”, Joe…)? The shithole Mexican restaurant we went to on Davis Island (Tampa) yesterday had you beat no matter what. The ground beef inside the chiles was raw, disgusting. We sent three plates back (my son was smart enough to order the steak), got more crap back. All this in very hot weather, sweating buckets and waiting on a breeze. After two hours or so, we hadn’t eaten, we were totally pissed off and then handed a bill for $61. I kid you not. 🙂

  6. Hey sorry if you already said this, but when are the answers to our questions for Erika being posted? 🙂 Thanks!

  7. “Escyos writes: “Is the Destiny Expedition going to find some supplies of alien coffee, and then become addicted to said alien coffee?”

    Answer: Have you hacked into our Season 2 Stories database?”

    Thats crazy…just ignore the microphone sticking out of that plant in the corner…..

  8. Thanks for the tidbits about writing. Never thought of it that way. When TV or movies go wrong, many are to blame. With books none. It can be more stressful but also more rewarding in the end if works. 🙂

    Thanks for posting tidbits of SGU and SGA. Let’s hope MGM gets the freaking movie made so we can see more behind the scenes shots.

    Thanks so much,
    Major D. Davis

  9. Wow. I got gas just looking at those chile rellenos!

    oh. wait. mebbe i got gas ’cause i just ATE chili rellenos. 😕

    ‘scuse me. 😛

    das

  10. Okay, okay. I’m not a comic book or superhero fan, but you’ve convinced me. I’ll pick up a copy of Masked. And thanks for giving us a peek at the inner workings of your foray into the world of short story writing.

    Unfortunately, my own editorial and nerd duties prevent me from participating in this month’s BotM discussion. I edit for a group that writes Dungeons and Dragon tournament games. And now I’m off to GenCon: The Best Four Days in Gaming ™ in scenic Indianapolis to help run a Dungeons and Dragons tournament! Yeah, I’m a closet gamer. But now I’ve come out – right here on your blog!

  11. I am about to finish up “The Devil’s Alphabet” by Daryl Gregory. Then I will be reading his story “Message from the Bubblegum Factory” in Masked. Oh, wait, you wrote a story in that book too? Well, I guess I’ll read your little story “Downfall” while I’m at it…since you have mentioned it once or twice now. 😀 Think there is something in that book for me, who has never read a comic book in my life?

  12. You continue to seek that ultimate post, the perfect 10 of blog entries. This one would have done it, but for the lack of a mailbag.
    You have every right to be proud of your labor pains. as you and your fellow authors produced a noteworthy volume. But do you have any idea how aggrevating it is to read you talk about it and have to remain silent, for fear of spoiling the BotM discussion in September?
    Looks like i will miss out on the August discussion, as I will be heading into Ontario for a week of internet-less vacation. At least I’ll have time to catch up on some dvds and books. Still, I look forward to reading this month’s entry.
    Thanks as always for a great post and the SGA pictures. a good ending to a good day.

  13. that chile relleno is terrible to see… looks like someone puked onto the plate and they had nachos….

    what are your thoughts on walnut sauce?

  14. Hey Joe, when does the hiatus end? I’ve a letter I have long owed to Ming-Na. 😀

    Who is secretly reading this blog? Now you’ve piqued our curiosity! 😉

    I concur re: short story versus script writing. MY two favorite forms of writing are TV-length screenplays and narrative snark.

  15. ….if I EVER… utter… type… think….the word MOVE again, I hope someone will bitch-slap me for my own good…..

    K

  16. Hi Joe!

    Another great restaurant that I ate at called J’s. Not sure if I wrote about it previously. And this place was recommended to me by none other than Brian J. Smith! Had what was called a Charred Caeser Salad! Was a really good salad. Not too much dressing and just the right amount of crutons! Even had an interesting look to the presentation of it and it had lots of fresh grated parmesan as you will be able to see in the picture. Not the dried stuff that you would get out of a shaker!

    http://twitpic.com/2aeu7u

    Just got the S1.5 DVD set for SGU and am quite annoyed. I read on the back of the lovely box that you get to put together (that holds both first and second half of the season) and it reads “Starring Robert Carlyle, Ming Na, Lou Diamond Phillips and returning Stargate Favorites.”

    To which I did a double take going huh? Wait, what??? Where is Alaina Huffman, David Blue, Brian Jacob Smith and Louis Ferreira listed on there? And if my memory serves me correct, all of those characters were main characters that were in all the episodes. And I don’t recall Lou Diamond Phillips being in all the episodes. Had me scratching my head

    So my question is why only three characters are mentioned on the box? And was there a reson for choosing the particular three that were chosen to be the ones listed on the box?

    Another question. Just curious if you’ve ever written a bucket list? (reference to the movie “The Bucket List” with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) And if so what would be one item on yours (that is if you ever wrote one and don’t mind sharing something from it)?

    One on mine would be to get to see the set of one of the Stargate series. In this case it would probably be SGU unless one of the movies gets the “Green Light”. I guess you could say I got close a few weeks ago by standing in front of the sign at the studio when I was in Van for GateCon and had some time to tour the city.

    http://twitpic.com/25q4a9

    Cheerz,
    Heather

  17. Assisting the FBI doesn’t sound like an easy plot to write. It sounds like there would be a lot of research involved. Do FBI agents clock in in the mornings? Does the FBI pay superheroes who assist them or just guilt them with patriotic rhetoric?

    Never mind, who needs research? Give the readers what they expect. Realism is just too wordy and the FBI will never admit to knowing superheroes, anyway.

  18. Hi, Jo!
    A few days ago in your blog are submitted questions from Russian Stargate community. Perhaps it is not correct to bother you with this, but our fans are very much looking forward to your comments. If possible, could you answer at least some, if questions are not only contain incorrect.
    I express my total gratitude to you from all fans of the Russian Stargate community and publish the questions anew, with your permission.

    Qs:
    1. When Destiny jumped out of FTL (Faith), was it happened because of gravitational influence of the star? Or the ship was gently pulled out of FTL by mysterious creatures, of which we know nothing? If the reason was the gravity why then ship computers were silent, like nothing happen?

    2. In an episode Earth, during a conversation with Camilla Strom said that if the experiment succeed, then they can rebuild one of the spaceship to connect to Destiny and send out the correct command. Does this mean that we have the technology that helps get energy directly from the sun? And if that so, why we don’t use it?

    3. Ancient communication stones. Does the terminal have the opportunity not only exchange the bodies, but also to transmit data, for example, text information, drawings, reports?

    4. How did the Ancients themselves plan to get on the Destiny? Is there a specially equipped place, which could, if found, to use the earthlings?

    5. It’s well known, that Stargate on Destiny is prototype, the earliest version. If present Stargate of Milky Way Galaxy and Pegasus Galaxy is latest version, is there any chance that somewhere in Milky Way Galaxy and Pegasus Galaxy remained Stargate similar to Destiny’s Stargate? For example, the Ancients just forgot to replace it by the full Stargate replacement in both galaxies?

    6. It’s also well known, that before Destiny are flying seed-ships. Let us suppose they all are break down, can’t fly and install the Stargate. So it comes a moment when Destiny finds itself in such a part of space, where there is no Stargate. What happens next? The ship will just hover in space, waiting for information of seed-ships, incapable to lay a course on? Or goes on without Stargate? Or comes back?

    7. Have you ever think, what gonna happen if to cross FTL-engine and hyperengine? For example go into hyperspace and then start an FTL? Is it possible? And which consequences can cause such a symbiosis?

    8. What happened with a young clone of O’Neill? Will he be mentioned in Revolution or in other franchise series, because he has almost all O’Neill memories. Will he generally join SGC?

    9. By the first meeting with Blue aliens they started fire at once. I think it’s an unjustified action. Would it not be reasonable to get into contact with Destiny’s crew first? To get permission to land on Destiny for exchange of any resources. This attempt would cost nothing. And in case of refuse they could revert to the first variant and continue fire.

    10. Will we know where third shuttle is and what happened to it?

    11. What dishes makes Destiny’s chief cook?

    12. The Ancients create all things in a big way, as for example jumper which can be submarine also. So is it possible to use spacesuit as a diving suit too?

    13. Do scriptwriters know how the Ancients created ZPV? Will the fans ever find it out?

    14. Is Destiny super weapon?

    15. Where and how the Ancients create ZPM?

    16. Which political and economic systems existed in Ancient’s society?

    17. Will we see Super Stargate anymore?

    18. Are there any plans to show us all the power of Destiny?

    Questions to Robert Carlyle:
    1. Where is it possible to get information about your work? Do you have a site or a web page?
    2. I follow with an interest your character, Dr. Rush. Please, tell what is the most important trait of him? What do you like and what reject flatly?
    3. What do you think – the professional actor is that, who is fully immersed in the role, growing in it and after all gets out hardly. Or in contrary, when the actor enters into one’s role at once, plays, and leaves easily?
    4. Have you ever failed a casting for a role you wanted?
    5. Do you like work more with people you know already or with new partners?

  19. We’ve got a chance of northern lights in Vancouver this week, with best odds on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. NOAA has more info & updates if you decide to go gazing, although I admit I’m pretty sure they deliberately try to make their notifications totally incomprehensible.

  20. @Sparrow_hawk: When & where are your sessions? At least two Chimaeracon planners and fine gamers are headed to GenCon.

  21. Oh and just saw the front of the box and only three of the main cast are shown in the picture there. Was there any reasoning for the selection of the ones used on the cover? I would have thought that there would have been a full cast shot on the front cover depicting all of the main cast

  22. Hey Joe

    I thought I’d leave you a note letting you know how much I enjoyed the Richmond Night Market while I was down in Vancouver over the weekend. Especially since I wouldn’t have even known about it had it not been for your blog entry! The takoyaki were excellent (though I agree with your assessment that one vendor was superior to the other) and though I didn’t really get to try more than a couple items, I was extremely satisfied with what I did!

    Thanks!

    Saryn

  23. ….supprimer mes commentaire précedent, je connait quelques problémes avec mon ordinateur =S.

    Donc je vais très bien, today, une journée à la plage s’annonce, je vais me goinfrer de glaces.

    Merci pour ces photos =), sga me manque!!

    Gros bisou bisou!!
    vivement demain 😉
    kissss

  24. Hi Joe,

    Will you be in Montreal with Elize for the french premiere of Universe (season1) that will be held downtown ?

  25. Hey Joe, I’ve been a regular lurker on your blog and figured I’d post a question that I’m interested in 🙂

    1.What 3D Program are the Visual Effects created in? I just wanted to know, because i’m learning Lightwave3D which is a pretty cool 3D app!

    2.I’m currently writing a book called Project Scythe, its in its first draft stage at the moment and im about halfway through writing a basic mass-description-free draft which is around 45,000 words so far, and was wondering: What do you do to cure Writers Block? I’m stuck at a point in my story where the characters time travel back to a significant point in recent history, and I’m completely lost as to how to describe it. I’ve got the general story arc planned out for the first book and a general synopsis of the second, but I’m lost as to how to continue from where I am now.

    3.Also, would you have any tips for a new writer? Just like, things to watch out for?

    I’m loving the SGA photos! It just really shows how much fun everyone had working to make a fantastic show! And, I haven’t seen Masked anywhere here, I live in NZ so we are generally behind everything, i mean we just aired the mid-season finale of SGU! I’ll be sure to pick Masked up sometime, I’ll keep an eye out for it 😉

  26. Hi Mr M!

    As I mentioned, I am about half way through Masked..and loving it.

    I am compiling an indepth review for each story, but suffice it to say, the tag line for my review will be:

    Masked : The Pringles of Sci-Fi…once you start, you can’t stop!

    Best to all,

    S’n’T

  27. I don’t comment every day, but I do read the blog, and I tell everyone about it. You do a great job, Joe. Thanks for everything that you do.

  28. a lot of foods look like puke, just like a lot of liquids and juices look like pee. I don’t see anything wrong looking with the chilli rellenos, but that may be because I think it looks a bit like how we make spaghetti sauce at home. Oh well. We all eat puke at some stage.

    My sister bought two cartons of sorbet. Lemon and some sort of berry. They weren’t very nice. Kind of bitter and left a funny taste in the mouth. Better than the custart apple the other sister brought home the other day. That had crusty mould growing around the seeds. Tasted bad, even though the outside skin looked good. You never know with food.

    My brother and younger sister are into a new anime. Don’t know whether you’ve seen it or not. (Started out as a manga as most animes usually are.) Wacky and amusing. A school girl band. A crazy teacher. Can’t miss it.
    K’on.

  29. Huge congratulations on “Downfall”. I’ve never written anything in script form so I can make no comparison but yes, writing out something in prose form is frellin’ HARD some days because, as you’ve said, it’s all you, win or lose. Having a trusted reader who will take the trip with you as you write, who’ll tell you what works and what is stinking up the room, is not only invaluable on its face but the cheerleading doesn’t hurt when you’re struggling and have erased the same page 12 times.

    Sneak peak alert!! I’m so tempted to fly into a ton of guessing on that pic but the first thing that popped into my head was – how Young and Rush get back?

  30. And just one more nitpick about the box Joe. Was there a reason or just an oversight that we don’t see a recognizable picture of Lt. Scott? Though correct me if I’m wrong and just missed something. 🙂

  31. @Gilder: We are in the Hyatt Regency Ballrooms A&B running an D&D event called “Up a Rope” with first round sessions on Thursday 5 p.m and 9 p.m. and Friday at 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. It’s an elimination tournament and the second round for those who advance is Saturday at 1 p.m. and the final round is at 7 p.m. I’ll be working all or most of them, tho with my jaw being all achy, I may have to limit myself to one session per day.

    Cute dog picture, Joe! Chile Rellenos? I always get the cheesy ones. Those look a bit over-meated.

  32. Oooh, what is that pic of Universe about? We need context Mr Mallozzi! Are they running to/from something, going for a drive around the block? I like that actually, a nice Sunday drive.

  33. Thanks for the welcome. 🙂

    Oohh, a tease picture. It’s the little ship that took off after kidnapping Chloe. And that’s related to what we saw happening in the Comic Con trailer. Do I get a gold star now? 😛

    If you had given the pregnancy storyline to some other female character instead of TJ – as it was originally planned – would’ve the outcome still been the same? To be fair, S2 hasn’t aired yet, but interviews have given a pretty fair idea of what’s going to happen.

  34. Hi Mr. Mallozzi,

    you said that we have not heard everything from Goa’uld-possessed Kinsey. Are we going to hear something in the movie “Stargate: Revolution” or generally speaking in the future of “Stargate” or there are no plans yet? Thanks.

    Gabriele

  35. ouple questions.

    1. When do you resume filming of season 2?

    2. Do you think reuniting the cast of SG-1 and SGA a problem for the movies, or do you think it won’t be a problem?

    3. I remember you talking about VFX shots in SGU. What counts as a VFX shot. When theres VFX in a live action shot, or just pure VFX shots? How many VFX shots are usually in an episode of SGU? When I listened to the commentary for faith I watched for VFX shots and counted 30, but I didn’t know if I was counting them correctly.

    Thanks so much,
    Major D. Davis

  36. Hi, Joe! Some questions below if you can answer them:

    1) Was at my Dad’s tonight (UK time) and we were both watching the SG-1 episode you wrote called ”Prodigy” how was it writting a scene for General Ryan?

    2) On the subject if ”Prodigy”, are the glowing creatures we encouter in that episode the same creatures that appear in SGA’s ”The Defiant One”?

    3) Any chance of getting Robert Carlyle to do a Q&A?

    4) I’m writing a fic based on SG, but I am unsure what the usual number of pages/scenes go into an episode. I know you said a while ago it usually comes down to five scenes per act, but what I was unclear on was, is that a story factor?

    5) Will we be seeing an AU storyline in SGU sometime?

  37. @ Sparrowhawk – I swear, you MUST be Wonder Woman! You go on trips, you work, you read, you’re a gamer, you watch tv, you spend time on blogs and forums…

    …and you don’t seem frazzled at all! I also assume you eat, do laundry, clean the house, bathe, and do all the other normal day-to-day things.

    I have trouble doing half of that without short-circuiting by 4 pm! I am always amazed at what people can accomplish while I’m still eating breakfast. 😛

    Oh! GUESS WHAT!!! My black swallowtail emerged yesterday!! I came home from work, and there it was sunning its wings, and the chrysalis empty. It flew off soon after, so I was fortunate to see it (and take a couple pictures) before it went on its way. I have several caterpillars in various stages of development still nibbling on the parsley, and two caterpillars who disappeared last week, so I guess they’re in the chrysalis stage somewhere, I just can’t see them in all the greenery. It’s all so very cool!

    das

  38. I wouldn’t think that Joe would reveal the identity of the secret reader – then they wouldn’t be secret anymore!! Great post, Joe – you pretty much covered all the usual bases in one entry.

    I’m not a writer but I’m guessing that writing the scripts for an existing show like Stargate would be easier (and thus faster) than a completely original work since you’re already working within an established “universe” (pardon the expression) and the context of characters’ dialogue and action is already established. Do you find this is the case?

    I’m quite curious about “Downfall”, I’ll to see if I can find it.

  39. This blog has secret readers? Say it ain’t so! But is it still a secret since everyone knows the secret reader exists?

    Happy Birthday to your sis! Hope you were nice to her and got her a wonderful, lovely present besides the glory note on Happy Birthday.

    Read that a solar tsunami is headed for Canada tonight! Wanted to give you a heads-up so you can be prepared. We all know how prepared you usually are in such emergencies.

    So was that your disastrous attempt at the chili rellenos, or did you actually pay money at a dining establishment for that?

  40. I am just getting into Stargate Atlantis on DVD and am up to the end of season 2.

    I would love to see the doctor:

    1) re-engineer the retro virus and infect an entire hive ship

    2) the re-engineered virus should effectively turn all Wraith on hive ship human.

    3) The unturned wraith then hhunt them down and any wraith who feeds off of the newly turned (human) wraith should then become infected by the virus as well.

    4) In essence they all start feeding on each other in massive frenzies (a civil war of a different sort).

    5) After many years of this only one wraith turned human can be left standing.

    —ted leski

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