New York Times best-selling author Marjorie M. Liu

Marjorie M. Liu is a New York Times best-selling author, hot comic book writer, and – how awesome is this? – longtime Stargate fan (and T.J./Varro shipper if the rumors are to be believed).  Her contribution to the Masked anthology, “Call Her Savage”, is grand and thoroughly absorbing, an alternate history tale with one of the most kick-ass yet compelling of heroines.  And, today, Marjorie swings by to offer up a little insight into her terrific story…

I’m in China at the moment.  I’ve been in Beijing for about a month, and I’m heading back to the United States next week.  Thirteen hours in a plane is all it takes to cover a distance that would have been unimaginable even just a hundred years ago.  Oh, sure, people were getting around — but it was a different kind of adventure.  You had to really travel to get places.  You had to work at it, and be driven by some compelling spirit and fire — need, or just curiosity.  To explore the world required risks that most of us modern-day travelers would never contemplate.

Recently at a party the hostess asked everyone to name their favorite explorer.  I thought for a bit, and honestly couldn’t narrow it down to one name.  I mean, really.  We’re talking the countless dead and living —  Leif Ericson, Ferdinand Magellan, Neil Armstrong, Columbus — a handful of names to reflect the entire human history of men and women who were going places.  Going places when all they had were their own two feet and a sense of direction.

Badasses, every one of them.  Heck, mummies found in Xinjiang show that the Celts were in China three thousand years ago. And that’s just one burial site.  The world is probably one giant grave of human exploration.

You can’t kill the spirit of adventure.  You can’t keep a curious person down.  You really can’t.  And that’s beautiful and wonderful, and thrilling.  It also forms the root of my story, ‘Call Her Savage’.

Six centuries ago, China sent out an armada of massive ships — the largest of which was almost five times the size of the Santa Maria, the vessel used by Columbus.  Loaded down with treasure, this armada had a mission to find trading partners.  Explore, see the world, get rich.  Not a bad motivation.

There were seven expeditions.  The armada sailed to the Persian Gulf, East Africa…and there’s evidence, too, that the Chinese reached North America, almost seventy years before Columbus.  Based on the discovery of certain maps, some suggest that the Chinese discovered North America even thousands of years before that.

Who knows?  Let’s say that’s true.  Or let’s say it only happened in 1421.  The premise of my story in MASKED is that the Chinese did, in fact, make landfall.  Specifically on the west coast of North America.  And then they colonized it.

Imagining that — and the potential differences between Chinese and European colonization — fascinates me. Would the Chinese have gotten on differently with the Native Americans than the Europeans did?  Perhaps, if only because there was no divine mission on the part of the Chinese.  But, again, who knows what would have happened?

‘Call Her Savage’ takes place after the American Revolution, which assumes that the British settled the eastern seaboard right on schedule.  China rules the west, and has allied itself with the colonists.  Which means the frontier is open, known.

The American Revolution.  The American West.  This is where American heroes were born.  Men and women who became legends.  Men and women who were very human.

But in my alternate world, some of them are more than human.

Like Namid MacNamara. Born a little different from everyone else.  Using her extra power to be the very reluctant heroine of the thirteen colonies that are trying to break free of the British Empire.

She doesn’t wear a cape, but she’s got a gold star.


I’d like to thank Lou Anders for inviting me to participate in this anthology, especially with such wonderful writers involved. I loved the premise from the beginning, and knowing the company I would keep made it even sweeter.  I haven’t been writing comics for long — novels are my trade — but I have a very deep soft spot for superheroes, and when you’ve got love to spare, you better share.

A big thanks to Marjorie for taking the time.

And a big thanks to those who posted questions and comments on the collection.  I’ll be forwarding your questions this weekend to authors Marjorie M. Liu, Gail Simone, Daryl Gregory, Mark Chadbourn, Matthew Sturges, James Maxey, and Paul Cornell, as well as editor Lou Anders.  And if you’re still sitting on a few questions, there’s still time to post ’em!

Speaking of Masked, may I direct you to a few Masked-related links.

The first, is an interview with our tireless editor, Lou Anders, over at,

While the other is a fun fan-review over here:

Now, onto those super-secret production pics –

Actor Robert Picardo (a.k.a. Richard Woolsey) revs up for his morning call.

Carls wonders "What the hell is SHE doing here?"

Alaina Huffman (SGU's Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) looking surgery-sassy.

Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (SGU's Darren Becker) on infirmary duty.

Louis Ferreira (SGU's Colonel Everett Young) and series co-creator and Exec. Producer Brad Wright. It's all good. Pictured left (literally) is Set Decorator General Mark Davidson.

Finally – I received an email from a blog regular who wrote me on behalf of a friend seeking help to defray the costs of a surgical procedure for her dog, Oreo.  Being the owner of a pack of needy dogs, all of whom have required at least one surgical procedure at some point, I can empathize.  So, rather than simply forwarding the email along, I thought I’d post it here on the blog to give it a little more exposure…

I’m writing to you to ask you for some help for my dear friend Beatriz Flamenco who lives in Houston.  Her dog, Oreo (see attached photos), who is only 4 years old, needs to have orthopedic surgery on both his hind legs, which will be very expensive.  Oreo is in considerable pain and this needs to get done as soon as possible.  Beatriz does not have the money to have it done and she is desperate for financial help.  If you can contribute anything at all, it would be so appreciated.  If you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact me or Beatriz.

We have set up a Paypal account in which you can donate money as a gift.  In order to do so, go to and then to “send money”.  From there, it’s pretty self-explanatory.  Beatriz’ email is (you will need this to send through Paypal).   For those of you who would prefer to send a check or money order, her address is:
Beatriz Flamenco de Rosal
15218 Jasmine Creek Court
Houston, TX 77095-3288.
Thank you so much for your help!  If you could pass this along to your contacts, it would be so appreciated, as well!”

31 thoughts on “September 17, 2010: Author Marjorie M. Liu drops by! More super-secret production pics! Doggy S.O.S.!

  1. Hi,

    Here is my question for the mailbag.

    Will we see some of the consequences which Colonel Young will have to face for his relationship with TJ in the coming season?



  2. Hey Joe a couple of questions. Are Camile and Sharon married? and does Sharon have a last name.

  3. Hi Joe,

    Can you give us any additional hints about episode “Cloverdale” beyond David Blue’s reveal to it being set in an alternate universe?

    (Feel free to add “spoiler” in place of “alternate universe”.) 😉


  4. I had not had time to pick up Masked for various reasons, but I did want to say the premise for Marjorie Liu’s story intrigued me to want to see if I could find Masked. I’ll let you know what I think once I get it.

    Thanks for the SGU set pictures. Can’t wait….Did I say I can’t wait….Well, I CAN”T WAIT for the premiere!!!!!!!!!!!

    Have a good night!!!!!

  5. Hi Joe, thank you SO much, from me, Oreo and Beatriz! Hopefully, we can help her resolve this soon!

  6. Dear Joe,

    It’s my 30th birthday tomorrow so I was hoping you could answer my question for me!

    Have you considered directing at all ala Robert Cooper or are you strictly sticking to writing for the near future?

  7. Hey Joe, so I just found out Ben Browder’s upcoming (2011) web series, “Naught for Hire” is based off a book. Sounds interesting.

    Have you read “All for Naught” by John E. Stith?

    If you have, what do ya think of it?

    Thanks! 🙂

  8. Hi Joe,

    I finally was able to watch the last half of Season One of SGU and I have to say I was hooked!! Not that the first half was bad but the second half seemed to really click and I pretty much mainlined the show in about two days!! Suffice to say I am eagerly awaiting Season Two — thanks for all the photos! 🙂

    My question is, when you sit down to write something like Incursion, a big two-parter/cliffhanger, do you map out the full story arc/conclusion from the beginning or do you leave a lot of that to be resolved at a later date. Just curious. Thought Incursion was an frelling amazing season ender — well done, sir!!

  9. If you could repost the SOS next week, it would be appreciated. I’ll try to remember, but real life has me running in multiple directions at the same time. An ugly sight and not condusive for my memory. but I’ll do what I can to help out Oreo.
    Love the pics the last few days. Is Mr. Hewlett playing hard to photograph, or even actively avoiding your camera?
    I started with some comments on Masked before things got too hectic(trying to write long posts at work is a frustrating exercise in futility). I believe I stopped at your contribution.
    Downfall wins the best punchline award hands down. I know you commented that you in effect reverse engineered the story. the technique certainly worked. The story got off to a bit of a ragged start, with the death/murder of the putative superhero. Once the protagonist was introduced, things began to flow more smoothly. This story was a nice counterpoint. We had the supervillian captured at his crime, the escape from prison of another superhero. You offered us an interesting twist. A villian no longer interested in living a life of crime, an actual reformed character. Did Mr. Anders or someone nudge you in that direction, or did it come about during your efforts to backfill your tale? Either way, it worked. And did you mentally picture you own mother in the final scene? Perhaps you’ve shared too many pictures of her, but I saw her face in my mind as I played through the scene.
    By My Works you shall Know me suffered from being placed immediately after Downfall. The punchline was telegraphed too early in the story.A shame, as it was intriguing thinking of a person literally fighting himself.
    I love alternate history, and that made Call Her Savage one of my favorites. It was a grim world painted by the author, but I appreciated how effectively she managed to not only give us the basic background, but to move the action so far so fast. This is another story I would love to see expanded.
    tonight we Fly was a pleasant suprise. Low key, with a wistfulness that was a nice emotional change from many of the other stories. And you always have to love when a know it all finds herself flummoxed by reality. Bent needles…
    A to Z wins my funnest story award. A tricky gimmick, using the alphabet to tell the story in short segments. The more so as it was the most ambitious of the stories in terms of sheer body counts of heroes and villians. Enough action to satisfy everyone, with the heroes and villians appearing and falling almost faster than one could count. A very good entry to bring end the anthology on.
    You’ve done a great job of bringing in the authors and answering questions before I could ask them. So I’ll throw out a question or two to Mr. Anders. if it’s not too late.
    What prompted your choice of authors to solicit stories from? What restrictions or instructions were the authors given before taking on the task? And what are the chances of a sequel volume?
    thank you Mr. M. for the blog entries and author introductions. thanks to all the authors participating, and to Mr. Anders for bringing the idea to fruition.

  10. Joe those 2 links here are great. Lou Anders said some things that have me wondering. Can I ask a couple more questions of Lou and you?

    Lou Anders – you said after a particular rave review of Masked, some Hollywood producers called. What was that conversation about?

    You also said you would be interested in putting together a Masked 2. Would you call in a new group of writers and do you really think you can come close to or top the original Masked?

    Joe – Lou Anders specifically said your story was one that would make a great movie. How does that make you feel? What if Downfall was made into a movie? Would this definately persuade you to write comics full time?

    I can’t believe Lou seems so surprised your story was so good. We knew it would be. When you write for Ronon, another larger than life (superhero-like) character, you have to be good. Didn’t he see Reunion and Broken Ties?

  11. Call Her Savage was a treat, I was picturing this steam punk cool submarine and huge explosions and it was so unique, and with that heartbreaking end of having to battle your best friend to the death; epic.

    I’m putting my paw up for a TJ/Varro hook up, pleeeese! But wait, who the heck is Darren Becker? And where the heck are you guys finding all these hot actors?

  12. Taj wrote, “Hi Joe, I finally was able to watch the last half of Season One of SGU and I have to say I was hooked!!”

    Oh good, I’m not the only one who just finished the last half! Actually, I sat down to just catch up on one or two episodes and ended up watching all four. I’m rather glad I waited to watch them; now I only have a couple weeks to wait anxiously instead of months. Hurray!!!

    I had something witty and profound to say ;), but as per usual, it has vanished into the netherworld. I’ll settle for wishing everyone a ‘good night’.


  13. Oh, my…Marjorie is quite beautiful, with such lovely long hair!

    I really wish I had gotten around to reading her story. As it is, I doubt I’ll be getting back into Masked until things calm down work-wise…hopefully this fall. Right now, I’m sticking with books that have pictures. 😛

    However, I’ve enjoyed Marjorie’s work with Way on Dark Wolverine…and wonder if I could ask her a question about that? If so, here it goes (if not, I understand)…

    @ Marjorie M. Liu – First let me say that I am thoroughly enjoying Dark Wolverine (now Daken: Dark Wolverine), and I’m impressed by how well this character is being developed. I think he’s made a surprising impact on Marvel U, especially considering the ‘not-another-Wolverine!’ bellyaching he was met with in the beginning. Personally, I loved how Way introduced the slippery little bastard, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Like someone on Bendis’ forum said the other day, Daken makes it cool to be a douchebag. 😆

    Anyhoo…A few years back I had the privilege of handling a Q&A with Daniel Way for the Marvel discussion forums. Although Origins still had a ways to go, he was able to shed a little light on this newly introduced character, just enough to whet our appetites for what was to come. Now Origins has come to pass and though we do know more about Daken, he still remains quite the mystery, and I do love a good mystery!

    So, a few questions: 1. What have you been able to bring to the character, and do you have a favorite characteristic you like to exploit? 2. In your mind, does Daken have any redeeming qualities, or is he just a total sociopath? 3. I have X-23 on my pull list, looking forward to it (just waiting for the mail)! Question, though: How hard is it to write X-23, Daken, and Wolverine without having them all blur into the same character? What is the defining element in each one that makes them different from the others?

    Thanks so much for your time, and your talent!


  14. @Shiny wrote:

    …But wait, who the heck is Darren Becker?…

    Are sure you are following SGU and don’t remember our lamented cook of sorts on the Destiny. Come to think of our Destiny cook, he is like an anti-Mallozzi character. Like comparing Mr M the foodie to Becker the glorified food servitor. Becker was making milkshake like protein drinks at the start of SGU. Un-flavored protein drinks.

  15. Hey Joe, I humbly request a Q&A with Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman. I want to know what it’s like playing a character who has to cook using alien ingredients.

  16. Sept 18… the big 54 has hit. My daughter says “sorry” but I remind her it’s better than the alternative!

    Re: dog needing help… there are programs including

    Also, a femoral head removal, especially on that size dog, is VERY effective and about 1/4 the cost.

  17. .. btw, I did send the above info to the person, as well as suggest setting up payments directly TO THE VET so people can feel sure it is going where it is supposed to.

  18. Joe, you heard about that rally Jon Stewart and Colbert are doing on Oct. 30 right? they are making fun of Glenn Beck and its sure to draw a large crowd. So wont it be cool if SyFy sponsors it alittle and gets to have SGU posters in that place? or is that too crazy?

    oh btw, yesterday i wasnt kidding heres proof:

  19. Thanks Mr. M., for putting Oreo’s link on your page. I would also suggest she talk to her vet about a payment plan. All the vets I worked for WANTED to save the dog. So they would do payment plans, or even take services in trade (cleaning, gardening, etc).

  20. @Debra: Sent you an email just a while ago. Beatriz is trying to get a loan from her credit union and is also looking into Care Credit. Hopefully, one way or the other she will be gettng a loan for part of the surgery. She will be talking to the vet next week to see if they will accept direct payments for the remainder of Oreo’s surgery. Thanks again for your suggestions and concern!

    @Tammy: From Beatriz and Oreo, THANK YOU SO MUCH! Unfortunately, TAMU will not take payments and/or services, and the other specialists in her area are the same way. Believe me, I wouldn’t be asking if I thought there was another way! That said, I thank all of you who contribute, it means the world to Beatriz. I can’t wait to see Oreo running and playing again 🙂

  21. Deni: Your welcome! I’m a sucker for animal causes. Her vet must have been burned/doesn’t want to hire a collection agency if they don’t do payment plans. I hope she can get a loan.

    Busy day driving 15 year old son to all his activities today It “almost” makes me look forward to him driving. Not quite ready for him to be out there with all those crazy peoople yet.

  22. Joe – it is the 19th here in Scotland and so it is my birthday (again!). A mention on your blog would be appreciated.

    My brother bought me a tool kit with rechargeable screwdriver – tomorrow I am going to fix the wonky slats on my pine bed.


  23. I second the call for a Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman blog! 😀

    Thanks for ALL the pictures over the past couple days, Joe! Particularly the one of a certain former Czechoslovakian foil to Our Favorite Grumpy scientist! 😉

  24. I was wondering if Ms. Liu had read/run across a book called “When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433” by Louise Levathes. The premise of her newest story sounds like it could have jumped off those pages through imaginational hoops and into her plot. Absolutely fascinating period in time . . . if she hasn’t read that book, she should at least give it a skim-through because the research/history in it is solid.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.