Author Paul Cornell

In the recently released Masked anthology of all-original superhero fiction, ace editor Lou Anders assembles talent from the worlds of comics, television, and prose fiction.  In the case of author Paul Cornell, we have a veteran of all three in addition to accomplishments in the fields of non-fiction, audio-plays, and determined blogging (  All three episodes he scripted for Dr. Who (Father’s Day, Human Nature, and The Family of Blood) received Hugo Award nominations as did his novelette ‘One of Our Bastards is Missing’  and his work on Captain Britain and MI13 for Marvel Comics (with artwork by Leonard Kirk).  Some of his other comic book work includes Wisdom (with artist Trevor Hairsine who also illustrated the cover for Masked), Dark X-Men, and Black Widow: Deadly Origin.  He has a horror pilot, Pulse, set to go to series and, as of issue #890, Paul is taking over the writing reins on Action Comics.

His contribution to the Masked anthology, “Secret Identity”, is a terrific tale about an atypical caped crusader – The Manchester Guardian – protector of the Canal Street gay quarter.  Although others have tackled the premise of gay superheroes, I’ve yet to read one that delivers the depth of humanity and good-natured fun of of this protagonist.  I wasn’t surprised to learn that Paul ranks “Secret Identity” his personal favorite of all his own short stories.  Yes, it’s that good.

I asked Paul to offer up his thoughts on “Secret Identity”, perhaps share a little insight into its genesis, and he responded with the following for this special blog entry:

Lou Anders asked me to take part in the Masked anthology, because we go back a long way, and he’s hoping I’ll forget he owes me money.  I’ve always been fascinated by the Shazam type of superhero who turns into a completely different person when he’s a hero. Given that this was to be an SF anthology, I felt that could easily open up questions of identity, nature vs. nurture, etc..  Given that superheroes often represent a community, and that those questions are written large in the gay community… well, here we’re at the point where one can say ‘it wrote itself’.  I showed it to some of my gay friends, particularly the ones who’ve frequented Canal Street, a line of bars and clubs in Manchester that prides itself on being the city’s gay quarter, and made changes accordingly.  The Manchester Guardian’s name is a bit of a pun, because that’s also the full name of one of the UK’s leading broadsheet newspapers.  I’m very proud of this short story, to the point of thinking of it as the best I’ve written.  The shape of it pleases me.  And I think I’m in some brilliant company.  Introducing comics writers to prose and prose writers to superheroes seems to me to be an exciting thing to do, particularly since there  seems to be so much crossover these days.  Myself, I write comics, prose and television, notably Action Comics for DC, a BBC3 pilot(we’re waiting to see if it goes to series) and a novel out from Tor next year.  It’s great to see more and more writers becoming ‘amphibians’ like that.

Thanks for letting me go on and on, Joe, and for SG:U (my favourite show!) and for a blog that brings media and prose fans together.

And a Stargate: Universe fan to boot!  How cool is that?

Speaking of Stargate: Universe – as promised, I continue to offer cryptic clues to the show’s second season using pics from a few first season episodes…

And, also as promised, a couple more behind the scenes pics from Atlantis starting with – Aint they the cutest?  Nicole de Boer and Paul McGillion…

Aint they the cutest?  Nicole de Boer and Paul McGillion.

The Mad Professor. David Nykl as Radek Zelenka.


Ponytail writes: “Think there is something in that book for me, who has never read a comic book in my life?”

Answer: Absolutely.  If you like good, character-driven stories, you’ll enjoyed Masked.

link022 writes: “1 Is destiny looks like the ships before oris and ancients part”

Answer: That’s a safe assumption.

“2 Shall have we the opportunity to see one of them”

Answer: Hmmmm.  I’m going to go with “no comment”.

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

Answer: Possible but unlikely.  It’s more a power issue than specific strategy.

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

Answer: No plans to touch on the fourth alliance in either movie.

Lana writes: “Hey sorry if you already said this, but when are the answers to our questions for Erika being posted?”

Answer: Great question.  Ask here:

BMc writes: “Who is Alex?”

Answer: Assistant Director Alex Pappas, Master of the Blade…

ytimynona writes: “Hey Joe, when does the hiatus end?”

Answer: Production resumes next week.

SG7 writes: “Just curious if you’ve ever written a bucket list?”

Answer: No.  Why?  What’ve you heard?!  WHAT’VE YOU HEARD?!!!

german_2 writes: “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.”

Answer: To be honest, next to questions about the Ancient timeline, I find technical queries the least interesting to field.  And when these technical questions arrive in a bunch, my eyes glaze over and I tend to move on – especially when there are eighteen of them.  If I have to field tech questions, it’s far easier for me to do them in smaller batches.  In this case, I’ve picked and chosen from among your questions…

“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?”

Answer: No, it doesn’t.

“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?”

Answer: Presumably they possessed a power source capable of getting them aboard.

“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?”

Answer: Given his experience and knowledge, he probably will join Stargate Command – but we have no plans to follow his story in Revolution or SGU.

“What dishes makes Destiny’s chief cook?”

Answer: Protein powder porridge at first.  Eventually, the cooks will incorporate off-world produce as well as produce from the ship’s hydroponics lab into the menu.  Lots of ratatouille and caponata.

Arctic Goddess writes: “You have bars on your windows? Don’t you live in a safe area, or is that normal for Vancouver?”

Answer: I put bars on the windows out of concern for the dogs after this incident:

Adaminator1 writes: “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!”

Answer: Not sure.  This is a question for VFX Supervisor Mark Savela.  I’ll ask him when I’m back in the office – and happen to remember.

“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?”

Answer: I write.  Nine times out of ten, pushing myself does the trick.  When it doesn’t, I just set my script aside and take a break.

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

Answer: Read a lot.  Write a lot.  Rewrite a lot.  Learn to accept constructive criticism.

E writes: “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?”

Answer: No.  The pregnancy storyline was originally planned for a minor character in the episode Faith.  When Alaina became pregnant, we excised the storyline from the episode and gave T.J.’s pregnancy a more significant arc through the back half of season one.

Gabriele writes: “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?”

Answer: No plans to revisit Kinsey in Revolution.

Major D. Davis writes: “1. When do you resume filming of season 2?”

Answer: Next week.

“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?”

Answer: No idea.

“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?”

Answer: Both.  A VFX shot can be anything from a pure CG shot of a shuttle in flight to a shot of someone being zatted.

Simon writes: “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?”

Answer: Both General Ryan and General Jumper were a pleasure to work with.  And they were much better actors than we expected!

“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”?”

Answer: I don’t think so.

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

Answer: It’s possible.  I’ll have to ask him.

“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?”

Answer: It’s not written in stone but, from my experience, it usually comes down to 4-6 scenes an act.

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

Answer: The magic 8 Ball says “Signs point to yes.”.

susan the tartan turtle writes: “Is Akemi a ‘foodie’?”

Answer: Not yet.  I’m working on her.

Juergen writes: “1. Have you ever watched any fan movie about stargate? I know, you aren’t allowed to copy the stories ;) , but have you ever seen one? And if so…which one? What’s your opinon about such projects?”

Answer: Alas, no, haven’t seen any fan movies.

“2. Do you have any plans to appear yourself as a cameo in SGU? Or have you been in there before and we only didn’t see you? :P

Answer: No plans to make a cameo.  I’m holding out for a much meatier guest role.

“3. Asuming, SG-1 movie will be green-lighted in winter 2010/2011. How long from that moment on would it be, until the movie get’s finished?”

Answer: That’s a pretty big assumption.  Three weeks of prep.  Three weeks to shoot.  About five months of post.  However much time the studio will need to put together a push for the release.  A while.

silver_comet writes: “There was an article in our local newspaper about the characteristics of pets. According to them pugs are anxious to please their owner.  Are you under the impression this is true?”

Answer: Quite the opposite, actually.  Pugs are anxious for their owners to please them.

dasNdanger writes: “How does Akemi pronounce her name? Like A-chem-ee or Ac-eh-me?”

Answer: The former.

40 thoughts on “August 3, 2010: Author Paul Cornell drops by! Another SGU season 2 tease! A couple of more SGA behind the scenes pics! Mailbag!

  1. @Sparrow_hawk A Nightwish fan! I thought I was the only one that liked them.


  2. 1/The origin of the evolution of goauld is another mystery,
    Have they really discovered on their own initiative how to travel by the gate (It is very difficult to compose an address in the good order knowing that it has 7 symbols, without counting the fact that some would correspond to no planet)?

    2/Nox was left of quoted in SG1 contrary to asgards,
    Will reinstate them you one day in one of your movies or in SGU?

    3/We see in one of the episodes of SG1 that some asgards stayed under their original shape (cf 5X22)
    is it possible that like the asgards of pégase, several factions not agreeing with the program of cloning exile themselves ?

  3. SGA pics, aahhh – the good ol’ days, thanks Joe. So how long do I, we have to wait for the movie????

  4. Elminster Me Three! I first came across them on YouTube in a Farscape vid (Dark Chest of Wonders). Loved the song and have purchased several of their albums, including that one. They’re fantastic.

  5. @cat4444 For me it was my daughter blasting ‘End of All Hope’ and ‘Kinslayer’. I’ve now got most of their songs. Not really many bad ones in the bunch.


  6. Elminster I agree. I don’t think they really know what a bad song is. They certainly don’t seem able to produce a bad one very well.

  7. Arctic Goddess said: “Sad news, Joe. Bernard Callebaut, my very favorite chocolatier, has had to go into receivership.”


    Oh, no! That’s sad. I really like his chocolates. Thanks for posting this info.

  8. Whatever happened to the funny dressed guy
    with the pineapple who was answering the

    Will he be making some sort of a return to
    your blog?

    Did he run out of questions to answer?
    Did he run out of produce to procure for the

  9. Okay, now I’m really intrigued. Thanks to Mr. Cornell for dropping by and whetting my appetite. I’ve already placed my order.

  10. Another great posting. mailbag was especially enjoyable, though I am supressing the urge to create a list of technical questions just to get the glazed eye look from you.
    Noticed that we have a coronal mass ejection aimed at the old homestead. By chance will/did vancouver get a light show from the Aurora Borealis? Any other readers get to see them? Just my luck the show occurs less than two weeks before I venture far enough north to see them for myself. Sort of one of those bucket list things I’d like to check off.
    Enjoy the remaining days before production resumes, and make sure the camera batteries are fully charged. You’ve made us addicts of both videos and still shots, so you owe us….not. Luckily you haven’t figured out a way to charge us for our daily fixes, which is duly appreciated.

  11. Paul Cornell?! Writer of my favorite Dr. Who episode, Father’s Day, guesting on my favorite blog! Talk about divine convergence.

    If you’re reading this, Paul, thanks for coming by. Your visit didn’t convince me to pick up Masked – I already picked it up last week – but it was very much appreciated.

  12. JOE- if you’re in search of additional sources of Gay Comics, then check out – IF you haven’t already:

    I’m not a comic person myself – so I haven’t thoroughly checked any of this myself – however, Doug Giffin is an old “Fan Club” friend from way back.. We lost touch with each other before he started this venture, but he was always rather passionate about his Fandom and Journalism, so I’m sure it’ll be an interesting read on some level!

  13. Don’t worry Joe I haven’t heard anything going through the mill! It is just a question I like to ask because of the interesting responses of items that people give as being on their lists! I also find that in writing a “Bucket List” it is a great way for me to prioritize and understand what I feel is important to me in my life. And also just things that I think that I would really like to be able to say I’ve done in my life. For example one item on my list was to spend some time in the Rockies with my father. Was able to stroke that one off the list three weeks ago! Another was to meet Alaina Huffman. Stroked that one off my list almost three weeks ago also!

    I got the S1.5 DVD’s yesterday and noticed a few things that kinda bugged me about the box that it came with (to hold both halves of the series).

    The main thing I was curious about was, Is there any particular reason why only three of the main cast are pictured on the front of the box? As opposed to all of the main cast being shown like we would see in those promo shots?

    For those that haven’t seen the series, potential new SGU viewers may have recognized some of the other cast (in a full main cast shot) from other shows that they have been in. For example Ming Na in ER.

    And also I am told by sources that there is more than one S1 Box design. Is this correct? And if so I would be curious to know what they all look like. This is the one that I got: (front)

  14. @elminster: Ack! You actually visited my blog page… and saw that there is nothing there (except my dog). But, yes, I do like Nightwish. I had my doubts when my son started taking about “symphonic metal” but I really like it.

    @cat4444: “Dark Chest of Wonders” is one of my favorites, too.

    @Thornyrose: I was lucky enough to see the Aurora Borealis when I was in Banff a couple of years ago.

    @Joe: Nice note from Paul Cornell. Now I’m even more intrigued. I’ll be picking up a copy of Masked as soon as I get home.

  15. There is not much on my bucket list, since the topic was brought up. I’d like to swim with dolphins that are not in captivity. I’d like to go back to Vancouver and stay longer than I did in 2001. I’d like to go to Australia and New Zealand and the Galapagos Islands. The travel part is not that important to me, but it would be bonus points. So that does that mean I’m not overly ambitious, or I’m content with my life? The one thing I hope happens before I die is to be able to have a conversation with my Patrick. Even if for 24 hours, I could sit down and I could ask him questions and have him tell me what he thinks and feels and what I’ve done that has annoyed the crap out of him and what I’ve done that he has appreciated the most. Well, I’d almost be willing to sell my soul for that kind of moment. I never give up hope that it will someday happen.

  16. Awesome Season 2 clue.

    I like what you did there with the pug question. Wordsmithing.

    The Master of the Blade has The Look – that serious, thoughtful frown that’s not really a frown – just a Pappas who won’t listen to guff. My son just started mimicking The Look he’s seen on his Pappu.

  17. I’m 2/3 through the SGU 1.5 dvd and wanted to thank you for doing a commentary!

    My current question is: Is there any progress in convincing Carl Binder to not tuck in his shirt? Whatever happened with his claim of dual citizenship?

  18. @link022

    Personally I see the Nox not being revisited purely out of respect, SG1 made a grave error of judgement when dealing with them. Nox respectfully asked them to leave.

    @For example Ming Na in ER.

    MingNas on the front of the SGU 1.0 boxset, so logic would dictate that any new viewer would go for the first boxset, watch and aquire 1.5. I would agree with you if say she was left out of a potential full season boxset.


    That’s Col Young(Louis Ferriera), he totally needs a pineapple in Season 2 lol

  19. Reading about your experience writing prose, I am reminded of something I read recently. Craig Ferguson refers to writing as The Real Punk Rock, in that you have complete control over the creative process and you answer to no one but your own conscience. Would you agree?

    Also, I know you are a lover of Anime – I just attended Otakon with a friend (first time – strange experience). I was wondering, have you ever attended a similar Con – and if so, if you are willing to fess up – have you ever engaged in cosplay? I am just trying to picture you with blue hair. 🙂

  20. Coucou Joseph!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Enfin, j’ai 20 ans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! =) ça passe vite, dire que j’ai commencé à venir sur votre blog alors que j’avais 16 ans et demi =)…je vais faire une super fête avec ma famille.

    Merci pour ces photos d’atlantis, hier j’ai été heureuse de reçevoir par la poste la boite compléte des cartes stargate :)!!!

    Je pourrai avoir une petite dédicace sur votre blog today?

    je vous adore!!!

  21. Thanks very much AvidReader, KellyK, Ganymede and Sparrowhawk. I’m glad I managed to intrigue you! Joe’s contribution to the anthology, ‘Downfall’ is rather wonderful too.

  22. We know that the ancients put in by drones possess beams of plasma as weapon.
    will they put in evidence in your next movie of stargate atlantis

  23. It’s time for me to finally emerge from lurking and say hello. Hi. I’ve been following your blog for a good few months now and have just managed to work up the courage to post something.

    First off, I really enjoy everything about your blog, from spoilers to food pics (which make me very hungry by the way) to cute pics of your dogs.

    Second, very big kudos for your contributions to the Stargate franchise.

    I have a question about Rush, and was just wondering from seeing a Kino extra on the DVD, what would Rush’s favourite meal be? Haggis? Stovies? Clootie Dumpling? (I’m Scottish just like Robert Carlyle and I’m slightly curious.)

    If you can’t answer, I would think he’s a good ol’ Mince and Tatties man.

    Keep up the good work with the scripts and this blog.

    P.S- I bought Masked over Amazon so I could join in the discussion. When is that by the way?

  24. I don’t need any convincing either. I put Masked on my purchase list as soon as I found out Paul would have a story in the collection. But I still appreciated his insight into Secret Identity. I think it’s great he got input from his gay friends and I’m curious to what they felt needed tweaking from the first draft. A question for the book of the month club I suppose.

  25. WOW. Then space was a VFX heavy episode. I mean… I got through to the scene where young was on board the ship(past the interrogation scene) and I already counted like 45 VFX shots. And if you said 1 VFX shot per page average is a lot, Space must have cost a TON!

  26. I’ve read your story and loved it. Now I will go back and read more of “Masked”. Thank you, for the kick!
    I’ve enjoyed “Dr. Who” but I don’t have any questions for Mr. Paul Cornell yet. Just a comment about how great “Dr. Who” is and that I loved his episodes!!! My son is a big “Dr. Who” fan, so he might have some questions.
    I’ll read Mr. Cornell’s story from “Masked” next.

    PBMom: I hope one day you get your wish! Any news on the education front?

    We are in the triple digit temps now. It is sad that I’m looking forward to the forecast of 92F next week. I dread getting my utility bill.

    Oh yes, where is the adorable dog picture?

  27. Hey Joe, question for you. I know you like your anime, and I was just wondering what you thought about Dragonball/Dragonball Z. Do you like that show? I had a friend who loved it and got me into it when I was younger and found the stories entertaining and the action scenes stellar.

    Just curious what you thought, I liked the show.


  28. Yo, it’s White Shirt n’ Khakis guy! Wasn’t he in that Gap commercial where they do the jitterbug?

    I’ve been wondering what happened to White Shirt n’ Khakis and his crazy self.

    Thanks for the Paul Cornell post, very interesting to see that he dips his toes in so many writing projects. I’ll check out his TV project, Pulse.

  29. Read “Downfall” this weekend. C’est bien fait, ça! (It’s well done.) 🙂 Also, found it interesting how some of the story’s details mirrored your own life. Saving other comments till September. 😉

    Boy, do Atlantis pictures make me smile, especially ones with Paul McGillion in them. Better yet, it’s one of Carson getting some cuddle time with Alison Porter. That brightened my afternoon. 😀

    Sending squishy hugs & pets to Jelly grrrl.

  30. P.S. Deir-dre… *looking around* Are you herding kitties or paperwork at the office?

    I’m really a dog person, but saw a picture of a gorgeous cat yesterday. An old friend showed off pics of her sweet, lovey kitty. The breed is called a snowshoe and it looks something like this.

  31. Joe,

    When writing or breaking an episodes, are their any restrictions placed upon the writers by the actors? For example, Edward James Olmos told the producers on Galactica that the moment they wrote in a rubber faced alien, he was packing his bags and leaving the show. Is there ever a thought on the writer’s part that “so&so” will never go for that?

    The way a character develop is obviously a joint effort between the actors who portray them, and the writers who write their dialogue and actions. Do the actors ever object to what is written on the page and is any effort made on part of the writers to service the aspects of a character their actor loves? What kind of feed back from the actors do writers embrace?

  32. Hey Joe…..

    Theres been some debate on the forum about how much SGU season 1.5 DVD sales affect the fate of the movies. Personally, how much do you think the sales will affect the movies?

  33. Will we ever find out what Odyssey’s secret mission was that was referenced in EATG? And if yes, would/could you divulge which arm of the franchise the reveal will occur in?

  34. @Sparrow_hawk I’m sorry, wasn’t I supposed to take a peek there? 🙂


  35. Okay, I’ve got a bunch of questions for Paul Cornell but will be patient and await the official book discussion in September.


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