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Posts Tagged ‘scifi’

While we’re on the subject…

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SUPER DIMENSIONAL FORCE MACROSS

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ANDROMEDA ASCENDANT

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STARBUG

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SERENITY

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THE BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

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SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO

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VORLON CRUISER

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MOYA

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STAR DESTROYER

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ASGARD SHIPS

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THE BEBOP

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ANCIENT AURORA CLASS BATTLESHIP

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THE ARCADIA

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THE USS SULACO

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THE MILLENNIUM FALCON

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THE DESTINY

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USS ENTERPRISE NCC-1701

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THE NOSTROMO

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KLINGON BIRD OF PREY

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ROMULAN WARBIRD

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Alas, it was a herculean task and despite my best efforts, I came up short.  In the end, I sampled only 47 of the some 60 varieties of hot chocolate offered for this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival.  Still, 47 hot chocolates in 24 days aint bad, especially considering I took those four days off to visit mom in Montreal.  This year, I doubled last year’s score.  And, next year, I vow to do even better!

So, what were the standouts?  Well, what follows is my list of the Top 5 Hot Chocolates of this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival!

When all was said and done, six hot chocolates actually made by top 5 list.  After much consideration, I decided to offer a Top 5 +1 for good luck!

Honorable mention goes to…

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A Snowball’s Chance in Hell: Single origin Mexican chocolate with Mexican chili poured over house made chocolate ice cream. Accompanied by a flourless chocolate cookie.

Available at: Chocolate Arts 1620 West 3rd Ave., Vancouver (Kitsilano).

http://www.chocolatearts.com/

#5…

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Phaun’s Fancy: Made from 64% dark chocolate with parmesan and fresh nutmeg.  Served with a side of Umami No. 5 fudge

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver

www.cocoanymph.com

#4..

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Banana Split: Made from 36% Valrhona Caramelia chocolate and topped with walnut marshmallows.  Served with banana pound cake.

Available at: Bel Cafe, 801 West Georgia Street @ Howe (at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia)

http://www.belcafe.com/

#3…

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Trio of Chocolate: The base of this hot chocolate is 66% Mokaya chocolate by Michel Cluizel. Served with a disk of 45% Kayambe milk chocolate and white chocolate ice cream.

Available at: Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe 1059 Alberni Street

http://www.thierrychocolates.com/

#2…

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Hera’s Habit: Made from 50% deep milk chocolate with malted milk balls.  Served with vanilla bean cinnamon shortbread.

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver

www.cocoanymph.co

#1…

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Paula Dean White Trash Trainwreck: A 70% dark chocolate ganache with condensed milk, salted kettle chips, and vanilla whipped cream.  Served with a 72% dark chocolate wafer.

Available at: Mink Chocolates, 863 West Hastings St., Vancouver. On the park (cross street, Hornby.)

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Congratulations to all the winners.  I’m hoping I’ll get to see you again soon.  REAL soon.

Continuing Stargate: Atlantis rewatch with…The Eye!

1Ah, now this is more like it!  Akemi was on the edge of her seat (or, actually, her side of the bed) throughout this episode.  She loved it.  Action!  Suspense!  Humor! And, best of all, those dazzling visual effects!  She was blown away by the the sequence of Atlantis shielding itself within seconds of the giant wave crashing down on the city (“Always very last minute your show!”) and also had high praise for the Teyla-Sora showdown (compliments of our former SGA stunt coordinator James Bam Bam Bamford).  She continues to enjoy McKay, greatly appreciated seeing her favorite Dr. Beckett, and is even warming up to Sheppard.  She had one big bump = McKay dressing his arm wound OVER his sleeve.

Overall: “I liked it a lot.  I’m getting used to this city.  At first I thought not as good as SGU’s ship but now pretty cool.”  And then: “I’m beginning to like SGA too!”

A couple of years ago, I offered some thoughts on this episode (and the next one) in one of my Trip Down Memory Lane entries:

June 13, 2012: Dark Matter at Comic Con! Save Lennox the dog! Days of Stargate Past, Atlantis! The Eye and The Defiant One! Vote on our favorite Stargate mid-season two-parter for a chance to win!

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Akemi and I finished watching the second half of Stargate: Universe’s first season today.  It’s been interesting to see her develop a genuine passion for the series.  “I love Stargate!”she declared this morning.  “Please call me, geeku-chan!”

Like any fan, Geeku-chan had her favorite characters, her favorite episodes.  Robert Cooper’s Time is still tops in her books.  She can’t get enough of that kino!

What follows are her thoughts on episode #11 through #20…

1 SPACE

Being a big fan of the show’s visual effects, Akemi greatly appreciated this episode, especially the sequence of the ships exchanging fire (“Poom poom poom”).  She, did, however, have some reservations about the alien who proved disappointingly weak in her opinion.  She also wasn’t a fan of Young in the alien suit – “He looked like an oompa loompa!”.

Overall though, a solid episode in her estimation.  “I feel like I’m watching a movie.”

1DIVIDED

She found certain elements of this one confusing, particularly those related to the transfer of the ship’s control.  Still, she did find it suspenseful (“Jamil almost killed Patrick!”she exclaimed at one point) and loved the space walk.  On the other hand, she found the operation sequence “scary”, the part where Rush awakens in the middle of surgery especially distressful.

1FAITH

For some reason, she found this episode difficult to understand and expressed disappointment that we never got to see “the alien who built the Tokyo towerish thing”.

She did find the burgeoning/grudging friendship between Rush and Young interesting, noting: “I find science guy and old Young very friendly now but a few episodes before they were cranky cranky.”

As for T.J.’s predicament, she was surprisingly noncommittal: “Don’t feel sad for her because it’s personal situation going on.  No comment.”

1HUMAN

“I watched twice and still don’t understand!”  Alas, yes.  She fell asleep the first time and then started from the beginning in the hopes that she wold actually understand it the second time around.  No such luck.  What was the problem?  Well, beside all the back and forth between reality and Rush’s world: “Very confusing because science guy very mumblesome.”

1LOST

An emotionally strong episode for Akemi who was on the edge of her seat throughout.  She confidently predicted our intrepid foursome would make it back to the ship at the end of last episode and, when they didn’t, she was downright shocked.  So, when the remaining trio didn’t make it back in the nick of time a second time, she was incensed.  “F**ing scientist!  Why dial?  Give last five minutes to them.  It shouldn’t happen such bad timing!”  Sadly, it did and Scott, Eli, and Chloe ended the episode off-world with seemingly no chance of rejoining Destiny.

Akemi: “I like this episode because twisted.”

Me: “You mean because there was a twist.”

Akemi: “Yeah.  Twisted.”

Her appreciation for Ronald Greer/Jamil Walker Smith continues: “I like Jamil.  I mean Jamil’s character.”, “I like Jamil’s character more because he had bad experience as a kid.”, and “I like young Jamil with yellow t-shirt and crazy hair.”

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This episode may not have been a fan favorite, but Akemi liked it just fine, especially the visual effect shots of the robot fixing the ship.  She did find it odd that T.J. (conveniently) didn’t knock when paying a call on Rush, simply opening the door to his room and catching him and Rush/Dr. Perry/Wray in an “awkward” moment.

This episode also begged the question: “When is geek guy going to get with her?  When will other guy die?”.  She’s apparently a Chloli shipper but likes Scott just the same.  “Very handsome,”she told me.  “But geek guy also very cute and unique.  In Japan, both would be equally popular.”

1PAIN

Right off the bat: “Why Young stop shaving his beard?  Depression comes from being father?”  I don’t know.  Maybe?

She thought this a good, scary episode with an ending that left her wanting more. Ultimately, a great episode “because written by Carl Binder-san.”

1SUBVERSION

At some point, she started referring to a character as Chef.  Well, I knew “scientist” referred to Rush and “geek” referred to Eli, but “Chef”?  Turns out she was referring to Lou Diamond Philips because she remembers him from his varied Food Network forays.  Some of her comments on this episode:

“I like the scene of Jamil punching his face, stupid chef.”

“Why chef flip it?  How he get brainwashed?  I guess it is what it is.”

“Nice to see Mike Dopud.”

“Mike Dopud is alien?  Looks like human though.”

As for the episode as a whole: “I like but why stop there?  I’m curious and can’t sleep.”

1INCURSION I

She was on the edge of her seat from start to finish and, when the episode ended, requested we roll right into the next.  The highlight for her?  Eli’s courageous bid to keep Chloe safe, at one point literally sweeping her off her feet. (“I love geek boy.”).  The lowlight?  She didn’t like the fact that Young didn’t vent the the gate room the second the Lucian Alliance came through.  Chef be damned!

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INCURSION II

Not quite the consistent nail-biter that was Incursion I, Incursion II delivered big time for her in its last fifteen minutes.  “Very movie-ish!”was her take on the season finale.  BUT she didn’t like the fact that there was no ending.  “Not finished?  Not happy!”  The problem?  She feared for her favorite characters.  Why?  “I’m afraid because my boyfriend has no mercy.  I like happy ending but my boyfriend not all the time.”

Hmmm.  Makes me wonder what she’ll think of the series finale.

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Seriously.  No sooner do I recover from my pulled solar plexus (see previous issues, ed.) than I am now battling a lower back “thing”. Specifically, a lower right hip ache that flares up whenever I shift my weight a certain way – or not.  I don’t remember doing anything that could have caused it – outside of those heavy deadlifts – but that’s not really the point.  The POINT is that I have never been the type of guy to suffer from back issues.  That has always been the “other guy” – you know, the little guy in the office next door who occasionally slips a disc and then either has to sleep on the coffee table or standing up.  Not me!

Today, I received a request for some Atlantis blueprints.  I explained that my collection of blueprints, part of the various art department packages from past Stargate episodes, are incomplete.  Some episodes have plenty of supporting docs, everything from schematics to colorful designs, while others only have a sketch or two.  I’ve been meaning to digitize these files for a while now (maybe a year) but just haven’t had the opportunity to get around to doing so.  I figure the next best thing is to just scan and upload the various packages for your entertainment and edification.

Would you all happen to remember a little Stargate: Atlantis fifth season episode called Remnants?

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With the recent news that Roland Emmerich would like to make a second, big screen, Stargate movie, questions surrounding the future of the franchise have again started popping up throughout fandom.

It’s been three years since Stargate: Universe was cancelled and fans want to know: What’s next?  Whither Stargate?

Well in my humble and somewhat informed opinion: Beats me.

But let’s look at the possibilities…

THE BIG SCREEN REBOOT (TWO WAYS TO DO IT)

Look at the re-imagined Star Trek.  Both movies did HUGE business.  And, like Star Trek, Stargate is an established scifi franchise that would undoubtedly wow with a big screen treatment and visual effects budget.  The potential box-office returns could be tremendous!

Or not.  If the summer of 2013 has taught us anything, it’s that Big Budget Star-driven features don’t guarantee success.  The Lone Ranger ($215 million dollar production budget), White House Down ($150 million dollar production budget), Turbo ($135 million dollar production budget), RIPD ($130 million dollar production budget), After Earth ($130 million dollar production budget), The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones ($60 million dollar production budget).  What do the aforementioned have in common?  Yep, you guessed it: Big hopes, Big budgets, and, all of them, Big box office disappointments.  Also, keep in mind that the listed amounts in parentheses are the approximate production budgets which don’t take into account the equally sizeable costs of marketing these movies.  Ouch.

So, it’s clear that “throwing money at it” won’t guarantee a movie’s success. Neither will casting hitherto bankable actors like Johnny Depp and Will Smith.  BUT Stargate is an established property with a pre-existing fan base, so it’s got that going for it. Right?  Well, okay, so did The Mortal Instruments movie but, for argument’s sake, let’s just stick to Stargate for now.  Big budgets aside, the Stargate franchise is much like Star Trek in that it has that built-in SF fan base eager for more.  So it stands to reason that it should follow the Star Trek model and find success as a big screen reboot!

Well, not so fast…

First of all, as proud as I am of everything we accomplished with the Stargate franchise, I’ll be the first to admit it doesn’t have quite the reach or support of Star Trek.  And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Sure, we produced three series, two direct-to-dvd features, and some 300+ episodes over 15 years but, while impressive a feat, it pales in comparison to Star Trek’s five series, twelve theatrical features, and some 700+ episodes over 46 years.  As a result, Star Trek’s influence reaches far beyond its fandom – which is important given that, despite its established fan base, Star Trek: Enterprise was cancelled after four seasons.  This is not to minimize the impact of fans but simply to suggest expectations should be tempered.  A robust and passionate fandom doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. Having said that, however, it’s in instances such as these, where a franchise’s reach may not be as wide-ranging as a Star Trek, that fandom is even more important in a studio’s campaign to “get the word out”.

It’s for this reason that you want to make sure you get fandom “on your side”.  And this is where reboots can get a little tricky.  On the one hand, re-imagining a property offers first-timers the opportunity to get in on the ground floor.  They’re on equal footing with longtime fans in that they don’t need to come in to a movie knowing what has come before.  It’s fresh and new to them as, ideally, it would be to longtime fans.  A new beginning of sorts.  Problems arise when you start distancing those longtime fans, the support crew that could prove an indispensable part of any pre-release online campaign, who may not take kindly to the franchise they’ve come to know and love being messed with.  And, by messed with, I mean…

Ignoring what has come before.

Yes, a fresh start is a great idea when it comes to reaching out to a potential new audience, and while some fans would undoubtedly be pleased with a complete relaunch, many others would no doubt take umbrage with a complete dismissal of established canon.  In some ways, it’s the equivalent to the Bobby Ewing in the shower scene in Dallas.  Remember?  Actor Patrick Duffy decided to leave the series and his character was killed off at the end of the show’s eighth season.   But then Duffy had a change of heart and decided he wanted to come back. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a scifi show and cloning, time travel, and ascension were not viable options.  So, to address the issue and bring back Bobby Ewing, Duffy’s character makes an inexplicable appearance in the final episode of of the show’s ninth season. His wife hears the water running, walks into the bathroom, and is shocked to see him there, showering.  When season 10 got underway, it was revealed that Bobby never died and that the show’s ninth season was just a dream. An insanely detailed dream that ran 31 episodes!  Which leads me to wonder how that ninth season performs in syndication and alternate media purchases (i.e. downloads). Anyway, my point is that a creative clean slate could hurt rather than hinder a reboot’s prospects as it slams shuts: a) the book on beloved characters and b) the door on the faces of longtime fans.

On the other hand, instead of a complete reboot, the studio could opt for a reboot that makes use of established characters – which is what Star Trek did.  We are presented with  a new version of long-established characters – Kirk, Spock, McCoy – but the potential to piss off longtime fans is minimized because the story takes place in an alternate universe.  So, quite literally, fans can have the best of both worlds. The new adventures don’t undo what has come before.  Fans will, of course, have a preference, but both versions can happily co-exist without trumping one another.

Of course, one could argue that the reason this type of reboot worked for Star Trek is that, while these classic characters have long been engrained in the SF consciousness, it’s been almost twenty years since we’ve seen them onscreen in a new adventure.  In the case of Stargate, well, it’s been about two years since we last saw Jack O’Neill grace the small screen.  Is it perhaps too soon to expect fans will embrace someone other than Richard Dean Anderson in the role?

A SMALL SCREEN EVENT (TESTING THE WATERS)

Another possibility is to produce a one-shot Stargate television event that could potentially act as a backdoor pilot for a new Stargate series.  If the ratings are great, the studio can move forward with an all new t.v. series while, if the ratings disappoint, they can cut their losses with this single production.  At first blush, this seems like a great idea.  Creatively, it would allow the franchise to head in a bold, new direction while still paying its respects to what has come before, leaving the door open for established characters to make an occasional appearance and help bridge the gap between old fans and new.  Upon closer scrutiny, however, it becomes clear that a “one and done” deal wouldn’t make much financial sense.  In order to do it properly, especially if it was going to serve as a potential backdoor pilot, $$$ would need to be spent, and broadcast license fees and alternate revenue streams may not be enough to make the venture worthwhile. Like any show, it would be a gamble, but the fact that science fiction requires more of a financial investments makes this even more risky.  At some point, the studio needs to ask itself what would be the better scenario: strike now or wait?  There’s an argument to be made for both.  The fact that the last Stargate episode aired only two years ago suggests the fans are still out there and, if a movie or series is produced sooner than later, one could count on their support – in addition to the potential support of new viewers.  Strike while the iron is hot!  Then again, the ratings for SGU’s final season could suggest viewer fatigue and maybe waiting is advisable.

A CLASSIC STARGATE MOVIE OR MINI-SERIES

As much as I would love to see a television mini-series or movie based on either of the three past Stargates (SG-1, Atlantis, or Universe), this one is the longest of long shots mainly because the sets no longer exist and rebuilding them for a one-time adventure doesn’t make a whole lot of financial sense.  At the very least, if one were going the backdoor pilot route, there is the very real prospect of recouping those upfront expenses in an ongoing series.  Back in the day, the two Stargate direct-to-video features, Ark of Truth and Continuum did VERY well.  But that was before the bottom fell out of the dvd market.  Sadly, a “classic Stargate” miniseries or movie isn’t the slam dunk it used to be.

A NEW STARGATE SERIES

Well, yes wouldn’t that be great?  A new set of characters and host of new adventures with the potential for guest spots from the likes of Rodney McKay, Daniel Jackson, and maybe even Eli Wallace.  A new Stargate-based television might be the best way to go.  After all, while the original movie was successful, it was the television franchise that proved an incredibly lucrative earner for MGM. But some of the same questions arise.  When should the studio look to put another series in development?  Sooner or later?  Has enough time passed?

LOOKING AHEAD

So, having said all that, what DOES the future hold for Stargate?  Again, I haven’t a clue and I’ve long since accepted the sheer folly of applying logic to Hollywood decision-making.  But, for what it’s worth…

My gut instinct tells me the studio would LOVE to follow the Star Trek model: take an established property, re-imagine it for the big screen, and makes hundreds of millions of dollars.  Of course, it could be argued that that is a very best case scenario.  If the studio does consider going down this route, careful consideration will present two indisputable facts: a) Stargate is not Star Trek, and b) alienating long-time fans in favor of a new audience could prove  disastrous.

As much as I would love to see that Atlantis movie or SG-1 movie or even a mini-series that incorporates elements from all three Stargate shows, this is the unlikeliest of scenarios for the simple reason that the risks far outweigh any potential rewards.

No, given the history of the franchise, it would seem a new television series would be the best way to go – a fresh take on Stargate that would bring in new viewers while rewarding the long-suffering fans.

However, I’m not the one making the call.

In the end, I think there’s only certainty: On the question of Stargate’s glorious return, it’s not a matter of IF but WHEN.

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I know a guy who knows a gal who knows someone (another guy? another gal?  a super-intelligent chimp?) who knows a gal who got me an advance copy of…

1Nebula Awards Showcase 2013 edited by Catherine Asaro

The book includes Nebula winners in the categories of Best Short Story, Best Novelette, Best Novella, Best Novel, the winner of the Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy, various nominees and other goodies.  Like any collection of this sort, there will be subjective hits, misses, and delightful surprises.

Some of the entries that stood out for me…

“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (Nebula Short Story Winner).  I gave this short story a shout-out last year (November 14, 2012: Sweet, sweet, elusive sleep! News of note!) after reading it during my annual Tokyo trip.  I described it then as “mighty brilliant” and “incredibly touching”.  Some five months later, on re-reading it, it still resonates as strongly with me – the tale of a boy struggling with his sense of identity.  Despite the story’s fantasy elements, the heart of the narrative is grounded in the strained relationship between the young protagonist and his mother, a cultural outsider who silently suffers and sacrifices for her son.  Check out my previous post for a link to the story.

“Ado” by Connie Willis (2011 Damon Knight Grand Master Award Winner).  I imagine that, in the not too distant future. there will come a time when people will look back on our politically correct society with the same amusement and bafflement we, today, reserve for quaintly antiquated notions like “duck and cover” PSA’s, blue eye shadow, and flat Earth theory.  But, before we attain enlightenment, we’ll have to hit critical mass.  And, in “Ado”, Connie Willis presents us with that point in society.  A teacher, eager to have her class study the bard, is informed that some of his work won’t be permissible for various reasons.  Othello is racist.  Romeo and Juliet promotes teen suicide. There’s all that Devil worship in Macbeth, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Winter’s Tale, and Richard III.  In the end, after exhaustive research, the teacher proceeds with her lesson and her class is finally able to read The Complete (permissible) Works of William Shakespeare – all four inoffensive lines of Hamlet.  It’s funny, pointed, and a little maddening because it’s not that ridiculous a premise.

“The Axion of Choice” by David W. Goldman (Nebula Short Story Nominee).  A story structured like one of those “create your own adventure” books that, in a humorous, winding way, questions the very notion of free will.

“Movement” by Nancy Fulda (Nebula Short Story Nominee).  The story of Hannah, a five year old girl with temporal autism, who perceives time differently.  While her parents wrestle with a decision on an experimental treatment that could “make her normal” (at the cost of her gift), Hannah eventually arrives at her own conclusion.  Having just completed some research on autism spectrum disorder, I found this story fascinating and dead-on.

Among Others (novel excerpt) by Jo Walton Nebula Novel Winner). Diary excerpts tell the tale of a fifteen year old girl who is sent away to a boarding school following the death of her twin sister.  Her mother, a powerful witch, holds her responsible for the tragedy – but young Morweena has some supernatural connections of her own.  In addition to elements of fantasy, the book is peppered with SF references as well, making for a nostalgic, magical, wholly absorbing read.  How much did I enjoy the excerpts?  Enough to pick up the novel – which I’m presently reading.

The Freedom Maze (novel excerpt) by Delia Sherman (Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Winner).  In 1960’s Lousiana, 13 year old Sophie is spending the summer with her aunt and grandmother when she happens upon a trickster spirit in the old family maze.  Sophie is eager to embark on an adventure that will whisk her away from her difficult situation – specifically, her strained relationship with her divorcing parents – so the trickster honors her request. Sophie is transported 100 years into the past, back to her own family’s plantation, where previous perceived hardships pale in comparison.  It may be a YA (Young Adult) entry, but it’s well-written and engaging.

The Man Who Bridged the Mist by Kij Johnson (Nebula Novella Winner).  Our protagonist is a bridge builder, charged with the task of connecting the towns of Nearside and Farside, long separated by a treacherous Mist river.  While he may be good at what he does, he, ironically, has always had trouble connecting with others.  Things change with this new assignment.  With it comes friendship, inner awakenings, and a chance at love.  A wonderful journey.

Thanks to the fine folks at Pyr Science Fiction & Fantasy for the sneak peek.

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This week feels like the calm before the storm.  Of course, I could be wrong and it may actually be the calm before the calm before the storm.  Or, worse, the calm before the storm that never comes.  Paul and I are closing on several writing assignments (an action feature, an SF pilot, another SF pilot), and a few projects poised to move forward (development on one, going to camera on another pilot, and a potential series pick-up on a third), but, of course, in this line of work nothing is assured.  Things certainly look promising but, in all fairness, they’ve looked promising for some time now as we’ve maintained a holding pattern in expectation of a decision, one way or the other.

I’m considering working on another spec pilot or going the kickstarter route and just shooting that horror script, but I fear that the moment I start on either, one of the aforementioned deals will close and I’ll have to switch gears.

For better or worse, things seem to be coming to a head so here’s hoping that, sometime next week, I’ll be able to make a big announcement.

In the meantime, I’ve got this blog to keep me busy – and this entry in particular.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a slew of Stargate plans – blueprints, schematics, sketches, and designs – from the last few seasons of Atlantis and both seasons of Universe.  Most of these are huge, oversized documents that need to be scanned and digitized. About a dozen, however, are part of Art Department packages for specific episodes.  Rather than offer them up in order of their air dates, I thought it would be more interesting to just pick them at random and upload them as dedicated, individual blog entries.

And so, since you asked, today’s entry offers up a host of Atlantis designs.  From the season 4 two-part opener Adrift/Lifeline:

Adrift:Lifeline coverDuring prep week, the Art Department assembles a package containing an overview of the various sets and builds for a given episode.  As changes are made, the package is tweaked and these progressive stages are reflected in the color of the ensuing drafts.  For those of you interested in learning about the various revisions and their corresponding colors, check out my explanation here: March 10, 2008: THE ULTIMATE EXTREME EXTRA SUPERFANTASTIC BEST LUCKY ULTRA NUMBER ONE FINAL FINAL DRAFT

Atlantis - Control Room

Atlantis – Control Room

While there was a four month hiatus between production of the third season finale, First Strike, and the fourth season premiere, Adrift, hardly any time had passed onscreen.  Thank goodness for our eagle-eyed Art Department who placed little continuity reminders throughout: “One monitor was askew at end of First Strike” and “First Strike continuity – windows OUT throughout/aftermath still in place”. These, of course, a reference to the blast that blew out the windows at the end of the season finale, seriously injuring Elizabeth.  A reminder also goes out to the various other departments for a Zelenka leg brace and that nasty-looking piece of glass that embeds itself in Ronon.  By the way, there’s a reference to “large piano in deep background”. Obviously, we’re not talking about an actual piano – rather, a control console that resembled one (thus the nickname).

Keller's lab

Keller’s lab/infirmary

Clearly, the meager two-bed set-up is optimistic.  Room for plenty more in the event of some unforeseen catastrophe – like an Asuran attack.

Atlantis ZPM room

Atlantis ZPM room

I love the reminder to “check ZPM functioning”.  And then, just in case someone actually did check and found it lacking in the expected energy requirements: “one section lights up”.  Oh, is that all?  Another reference to those darn “pianos” and continuity reminder as per “The Siege”.

Atlantis - balcony

Atlantis – balcony

Whenever we shot outside, on the balcony, we tended to stay on our characters and relied on lighting, the occasional breeze, and the grey practical backdrop to convey a sense of an overcast day.  In scenes where we actually wanted to see the background, we relied on our VFX team to create something convincing – in this case, a beautiful night-time twin-moon view.

Atlantis - halls & corridors

Atlantis – halls & corridors

That, of course, is the gate at bottom left.  The door to Stage 4 (via the productions offices), where the Atlantis set once stood, is corner right.

Elizabeth's office

Elizabeth’s office

The layout didn’t really change despite the changes in command although the set dec was a little different.  Whereas Elizabeth’s tastes ran to the artistic (ie. Athosian statuettes), Carter added a more personal touch in the various photos that lined the back wall. Woolsey’s office was a little more austere, but he did include a personal touch with the photo of his beloved yorkie, lost to his wife in the divorce.

Replicator core room

Replicator core room

The layout of the replicator core room looks a lot like the Atlantis gate room.  Note the tiny human figure at the bottom left, included for scale.

Replicator City - control room

Replicator City – control room

This being the replicator version of the Atlantis control room, set dec is reminded to strip away all Earth touches like computers, desks, and chairs.  Things should be just as they were the last time we were here – in the episode Progeny.

Operating room

Operating room

The doors on the right presumably lead out to the infirmary and the area is “dressed” as such – gurneys, equipment – to suggest the operating room adjoins it.  Since the doors on the left remain closed, we have no way of knowing what’s on the other side.  My guess is the home theater room.   On the bottom left is a note to Prosthetics/Make Up re: Weir’s skull/brain swell.  I remember seeing the “brain swell” demonstration and being impressed (and slightly nauseated) by the very realistic brain that expanded as air was pumped inside.  If I remember correctly, it was the work of Todd Masters and Masters VFX.

Infirmary outside operating room

Infirmary outside operating room

This is the area Ronon walks out of to visit Weir and deliver his bedside talk – one of my favorite scenes of the two-parter.

Damaged hallways

Damaged hallways

This was shot in the VFX stage, the biggest on the lot.  This is where we shot the space jump.  There’s a note: for the greenscreens and “Atlantian floor treatment, bordered by green” because the view of the devastation below is a visual effect.  Up top, construction is asked to pockmark the wall with “asteroid” (meteorite) hits.  Wonder where they got the meteorites?

Hallways - outer city

Hallways – outer city

This, the VFX stage, was so massive it actually held several sets simultaneously including, at one point or other, the village, the hive ship, and the various Earth ships.

Chair room

Chair room

And before we took over the space, it was the set of one of the Blade movies – which is why we would occasionally refer to it as The Blade set.  Love the attention to detail on the snowflake design bordering the chair.

Atlantis - halls and corridors

Atlantis – halls and corridors

There’s a note regarding “Gurney will roll into McKay’s Lab/Infirmary & Operating Room”.  This is, of course, part of the frenetic opening sequence in which a badly injured Elizabeth is wheeled through the halls and into the infirmary.  So frenzied, in fact, that we didn’t notice that part of the medical equipment being wheeled through the shot off the top wasn’t medical equipment at all but actually a camera.

Replicator City - corridors

Replicator City – corridors

Again, similarities to the real Atlantis are intentional on the part of the Asurans – but certain visual cues suggest a different location. SPFX/PROPS are reminded what they need to bring to the party for the scenes in which the replicators hit the AR fields: weapons and, of course, aluminum shavings.

Holding cell

Holding cell

An interesting set.  While there was certainly enough space between the bars to accommodate our cameras, one could argue there was also enough space for a determined prisoner to slip through.  Which is why there were always guards posted on duty.  Still, I would argue you wouldn’t need guards if that cell would have been just a little more secure.  What were the Ancients thinking?

Asuran City - ZPM room

Asuran City – ZPM room

The south wall was presumably an issue so we just got rid of it.  Bless the set’s modular design.

Puddle jumpers on Asuran rooftops

Puddle jumpers on Asuran rooftops

I always preferred the coziness of the jumpers over the roomier Universe shuttle or utilitarian SG-1 cargo ship.  As I mentioned in a previous post, “gak” refers to the exposed inner-workings/guts of some high-tech device – in this case the ARG.

Puddle Jumper Bay before take-off

Puddle Jumper Bay before take-off

It’s amazing the amount of work and detail that went into shots that would last mere seconds onscreen.  But they went such a long way toward creating this world.  None of this: “Hey, we parked the jumper up on the roof.  You’ll just have to trust us!”.

Limbo set

Limbo set

One of three different looks outside our parked jumper.

Midway Station

Midway Station

It wouldn’t be until much later, in the aptly titled Midway, that we would actually get a tour of the place.  Check out more floor plans of the station here: March 15, 2013: Things Stargate!  Note: “All objects in this area must appear to be strapped or bolted down to sell zero-gravity”.  Check out Carter’s zero-g ballet, compliments of VFX Supervisor Mark Savela and his crew, here: September 4, 2012: Days of Stargate Atlantis Past! SGA’s Fourth Season! Adrift!

Apollo Bridge

Apollo Bridge

Yes, now that you mention it, it DOES look very similar to the bridge of the Orion, the Prometheus, and the Daedalus.  Oh, and the Korolev and Sun Tzu if you must know.  But that’s because Earth built them on the same designs.  Of course you know you’re on the Apollo thanks to the “dimensional brass Apollo plaque”.

Atlantis to M35 117

Atlantis to M35 117

And, since some of you asked, the Art Department packages also contained gate addresses when appropriate.  Point of Origin: Atlantis = Subido.

Atlantis to Earth

Atlantis to Earth

Always wanted to dial Earth from Atlantis?  Well, here ya go.

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In Stargate: Universe’s second season, the crew finally discovers Destiny’s bridge.  From a creative standpoint, holding off the discovery until then allowed for some great drama: Rush’s attempts to hide it from the rest of the crew, the subsequent attempts to control the ship, etc.  Also, waiting until season two permitted us to give it a truly worthy. singular reveal rather than lumping it in with the rest of the ship.  From a production standpoint, holding it off the discovery made even more sense.  The portions of the Destiny built for season one cost several millions and we simply couldn’t afford to include a massively expense bridge as well.  And so, rather than settle for something simple, we waited a year until we had the money to do it right. And, boy, did it we ever.  It was, simply put, a thing of beauty:

Destiny Bridge and adjoining corridor

Destiny Bridge and adjoining corridor

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Under construction.  

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Early season two.  The finishing touches in place.

The bridge was located in Stage 5 on and what made it all the more impressive was the fact that it was a raised, massive second level structure.  Directly below it stood the mess and shuttle.

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David Blue (aka Eli Wallace) getting a feel for the place.

1James Robbins did a terrific job designing the bridge, and our construction department went above and beyond the call to build it. But the work didn’t stop there.  It had to be properly lit and, of course, we needed the Playback Department to work their magic.  “What’s the Playback Department?”you ask.  Well, whenever you see an onscreen image be it a holographic map or computer data or scrolling alien script, you can thank the Playback Department.  On the surface, it seems like such a small thing but, in reality, those incredible, painstakingly detailed graphics go such a long way toward setting the mood.  Some of the stuff they come up with was downright incredible.

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The Captain’s chair.

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Commander Carl Binder

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Carl makes it go

To give you an idea of the great work of our Playback Department, check out the designs for the onscreen visuals – then check out the finished product…

Bridge chair (left arm)

Bridge chair (left arm)

Bridge chair (right arm)

Bridge chair (right arm)

Bridge standard text

Bridge standard text

Ship Systems (left)

Ship Systems (left)

Ship systems (right)

Ship systems (right)

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Patrick Gilmore (aka Dale Volker) took a crash course in weapons and nav systems.

Navigation Systems (left)

Navigation Systems (left)

Navigation Systems (right)

Navigation Systems (right)

Sorry.  Couldn’t track this one down.  You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Weapons System (far right)

Weapons Systems (far right)

Weapons systems (standard)

Weapons systems (standard)

Pretty amazing, no?

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This was the question many Stargate fans were asking themselves yesterday after news broke of the astounding success of the Veronica Mars kickstarter campaign.

For those of you who haven’t heard, series creator Rob Thomas approached Warner Bros. about making a Veronica Mars movie. According to Thomas: “Their reaction was, if you can show there’s enough fan interest to warrant a movie, we’re on board.”  Well, the fans stepped up and demonstrated their interest, pledging $1 million dollars (in a record 4 hours and 24 minutes) to the project’s kickstarter campaign [http://money.cnn.com/2013/03/13/technology/veronica-mars-kickstarter/index.html].  And, last time I checked, over 47000 backers had pledged close to 3 million dollars, about a million dollars over their goal – and this is only day #2 of their month-long drive! [http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/559914737/the-veronica-mars-movie-project].

It’s awesome news for Veronica Mars fans that has also energized fandom in general.  Already, loyal viewers are asking about their own favorite shows ['Veronica Mars' Movie Funded...Could a 'Chuck' Movie be Next?! (Poll)].  Could a similar strategy work for us?  Well, I suppose it depends.

Over at Forbes.com, Paul Tassi asks: “How did a show that’s been off the air for eight years raise two million dollars in barely half a day?”, and then proceeds to break down exactly how they pulled it off [http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2013/03/14/how-exactly-did-veronica-mars-fund-a-movie-in-ten-hours/].  It offers great insight – and food for thought.

So how successful could a Stargate movie campaign prove if it attempted to follow the successful five-step strategy he outlines?  Well, according to Paul, “There are a number of factors at work here, and they’re worth exploring in order to understand if this kind of thing can or will happen again…”

1. The fanbase must be religiously devoted

Check.  There’s no doubt the Stargate fanbase is still strong and more than willing to support the franchise as evidenced by their continued involvement on fansites like Save Stargate Universe | Facebook, GateWorld | Your Complete Guide to Stargate!, and Stargate Solutions.

2. Get everyone on board ahead of time

Okay, proper planning is key but, in this case, it requires MUCH consideration.  In the case of Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell approached the studio and cast first, and THEN started their campaign. Which is, of course, what would be required here.  So, how interested would MGM be in a Stargate movie?  That’s the biggest question.  And the answer all comes down to economics.  Would it be worth their while (aka – not only financially feasible but lucrative)?  Will the potential rewards outweigh the risks?  Five years ago, the answer would have been  a resounding “Yes!” given the fact that Ark of Truth and Continuum surpassed expectations.  But, of course, that was before the bottom fell out of the DVD market.  Could alternate viewing platforms make up the shortfall?  Streaming?  Broadcasters?  Maybe the big screen treatment?

Which brings us to another question – “What does MGM have planned for Stargate? – because, let’s face it, as one of their most successful franchises, it’s not going to lie fallow for long.  Do they already have something in the works?

But, for the sake of argument, let’s say, it’s a best case scenario for fans of SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe.  The studio proves amenable to the idea.  Next up is ensuring we have a cast in place.  So, which cast? SG-1?  Atlantis?  Universe?  Or would it be a selective amalgamation of all three (which was Brad Wright’s original idea for an SGU movie)?

3. Offer rewards people want

Now this one is much easier to deliver on.  I, for one, would be more than happy to send you a signed script, arrange a set visit, or deck you out in prosthetics before blasting you out an airlock if it would ensure your support.

4. Leverage social media

Are you kidding?  Stargate fans are the kings (and queens) of social media.  We’ll get word to them and they’ll get word to EVERYONE.

And finally 5. Understand that not everyone will be able to do this

Why not?  Well, some former cast members may well be too busy to participate (Robert Carlyle now stars on Once Upon A Time while Jason Momoa has been burning up Hollywood post-SGA) while others may have simply moved on.  Still, provided we manage to cross this particular bridge as well, there’s the question of money.  To put it bluntly, we would need A LOT more money to produce a Stargate movie.  A LOT more to pay for the construction of new sets (alas, the Destiny, Atlantis, and Stargate Command are no more and would have to be rebuilt from scratch) and visual effects (I haven’t read the script, but it’s unlikely the Veronica Mars movie will feature much in the way of space battles), not to mention other related costs like cast, crew, and the onset aerobics instructor for my pug, Bubba.

So, conservatively, three out of five aint bad – unless you’re looking to make a Stargate movie in which case it aint good either.  Even if you could convince MGM to get onboard – and that’s a mighty big IF – there’s still the matter of the amount of money that would be required to produce a scifi movie.  How much?  Well, ballpark, I’d say significantly more than the 3 million dollars the Veronica Mars campaign has raised to date, but somewhat less than the $39 million dollars the Forbes article claims Serenity cost.

Certainly not impossible but, damn, them’s long odds!

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1Akemi has caught the dog fashion bug!  Over the last couple of days, she’s been hard at work, snipping, sewing, and generally cannibalizing some of her older outfits, transforming them into haute canine couture. Check out her Fall Collection so far:

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Meanwhile, a naked pudgy Bubba awaits his first outfit…

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Sadly, Akemi is running out of material as we cleared out our closet and dropped off our old clothing at one of the local donation bins last month.  It was while we were searching through the drawers last night that the idea came to me: “Hey, you know where we can find some old clothes?  The local donation bin.”  Strangely, she wasn’t thrilled with my suggestion.

Continuing our Days of Stargate Past reminiscing with…

1THE PRODIGAL (514)

One of the high points of Atlantis’s fifth season was this episode (compliments of Executive Producer Carl Binder) that saw the return of Michael, one of the show’s most colorfully nuanced villains.  The episode includes Michael and Ronon going a mano a mano in the control room followed by tower-top battle between Michael and Sheppard.  While the latter was being shot, at one point, Joe Flanigan’s stuntman lost his balance and went off the tower (fear not, he was cabled and there were some nice comfy mats to cushion his fall), which prompted actor Connor Trinneer to throw up his arms and triumphantly proclaim: “I win!”.

Teyla’s decision to – let’s not mince words here  – murder Michael engendered a fair amount of controversy.  Was she justified in her actions?  Did the fact that she was a mother protecting her child color your opinion of her actions?

Setting up the big radio-controlled car showdown.

Setting up the big radio-controlled car showdown (photo courtesy MGM Television)

Boys and their toys (photo courtesy MGM Television)

Boys and their toys (photo courtesy MGM Television)

Michael comes out on top (photo courtesy MGM Television)

Michael comes out on top (photo courtesy MGM Television)

Michael marshals the troops (photo courtesy MGM Television)

Michael marshals the troops (photo courtesy MGM Television)

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