Sunday, January 29, 2006

Hit and run

Hello, friends. Sorry I haven’t been around, it’s all been me moving house, me preparing a board presentation, me playing football, me not having broadband all week. Sadly, I’ve been sleeping when I should have been writing so I’m a week behind schedule, but never mind. Back to normal as of tomorrow.

Though I still won’t have broadband. I’m tapping this out at my folks’ place after Sunday dinner. And it’ll be short because I’m leaving soon.

And, I can only get four TV channels in my new house. It’s like living in 1994. Except I’m fatter. And balder. And my life is a crushing disappointment. Damn, I miss digital television.

Well, just thought I’d say hi. I’ve had a ton of hits this week, and nothing new for people to see, so here’s the new thing. I’ll do another one next weekend.

Sorry to love you and leave you, but that’s the way it has to be just now. Laters.

Category: Meatspace

Monday, January 23, 2006

Blimey, that's exciting

Four men, one with a sawn-off shotgun, have raided a supermarket and held 13 staff members hostage.

The balaclava-clad men were waiting at the Co-op store in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, and took their first victim hostage at about 0500 GMT.

They hid inside as other staff members - nine women and three men - arrived, and held them at gunpoint too.

They stole cash from a safe after forcing a woman to unlock it and then fled on two motorbikes towards Banbury.

The staff called police at about 0650 GMT.

One victim, in his 40s, suffered a minor head injury and was taken to the Horton General Hospital in Banbury for treatment.

Police want to speak to anyone who may have seen the men before the raid, or seen the bikes been driven away at speed.


That sort of thing just doesn't happen here. It's going to be talked about for years.

Category: Newsround

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sheer drivel

        • Fun Joel’s scribosphere meme continues its infiltration of the world wide web. Now scaling its tenth tier of referrals, it’s doing the rounds of the city chicks who love shoes. In a mathematically perfect blogosphere, 59,049 people would have been tagged by now.

        • Fellow Chippy-area blogger and am-dram alumnus Foot-eater constructs a new blogabulary. Who is this anonymous evil man?

        • "Naked man died in field of horses," and other weird headlines, courtesy of James.

        • Speculation continues regarding this year’s shitty Macworld keynote. Was Jobs suffering under a seasonal chill, or were super-cool secret products shelved at the eleventh hour?

        • Stephen Gallagher’s Eleventh Hour (oh yes I did), starring Transmet loving Patrick Stewart premiers tomorrow night. Hope Stephen’s not too nervous!

        • Pathfinder 4 is the dog’s bollocks! Betas of MacJournal 4 make me happy, and what is the deal with Quicksilver’s new Constellation plug-in? Radial menus - genius! Celtx + Firefoxy=no more enormous headache in my eye.

        • Clueless first time screenwriter? Stuck on your outline? Try this handy how-to from Machinima.

        • Smokers - go out and try to play football for an hour. If you think you’re going to die after ten minutes, it’s time to give up. I’ve had a week off the fags, and I’m now 600% fitter.

        • I’m moving house in three days, and instead of packing, I’m procrastinating wildly. I’ll have no internet access for two weeks! My god, I’ll probably finish three scripts.

Category: Voidhowl

Monday, January 16, 2006

Christ almighty! It's the goddamned Initiative!

Outlining goes well. One idea springs organically from the last. Right at the moment you think you’re happy with the way things are going, you realise: crap, it’s Season fucking Four of Buffy.

Luckily, Paul Guyot says not to worry about it.

Category: Writing

Saturday, January 14, 2006

New screenwriting application on the horizon

Mariner Software publish MacJournal, my favourite app ever. They will soon be releasing version one of a new screenwriting package called Montage, and are on the lookout for beta testers. If any of my Mac using brethren would like to volunteer, send an email to lryan at marinersoftware dot com, with the words Montage beta tester in the subject line.

Might be worth a look.

Category: Writing

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Round and round the garden

So now it’s my turn, tagged by Danny and Diane, to complete Fun Joel's "get-to-know-the-scribosphere" questionnaire*.

ONE (1) earliest film-related memory:
Me and my dad got on a bus to Banbury with a couple of my cousins and uncles, to see a Superman 1&2 double bill. I think a great time was had by all, but it was so long ago, I really don’t remember too well. It might not even be my own memory. Most of my life is a haze, so I may have borrowed it from someone else.

TWO (2) favorite lines from movies:

One from TV, one from fillum. One is very long, the other, titchy.

From The Big Lebowski:



QUINTANA
You got a date Wednesday, baby.



From The Sopranos Pine Barrens episode:


TONY
(through some static)
It's a bad connection so I'm gonna talk fast! The guy you're lookin' for is an ex-commando! He killed sixteen Chechan rebels single-handed!

PAULIE
Get the fuck outta here.

TONY
Yeah. Nice, huh? He was with the interior ministry. Guy's like a Russian green beret. He can not come back and tell this story. You understand?

PAULIE
I hear you.

TONY
I'm fuckin' serious, Paulie!

PAULIE
Ton'? Ton', you there?

TONY
Cocksucker! Call me back!

EXT. WOODS - DAY

Paulie clicks off, looks at Christopher.

PAULIE
You're not gonna believe this.
(off Christopher's look)
He killed sixteen Czechoslovakians. Guy was an interior decorator.

CHRISTOPHER
(amazed)
His house looked like shit.


THREE (3) jobs you'd do if you could not work in the "biz":
• Pilot
• Fireman
• Ghostbuster

FOUR (4) jobs you actually have held outside the industry:
• Account executive for telecoms co-operative
• Box office monkey at West End theatre
• Barman

THREE (3) book authors I like:
Not fair, the shortlist for this included THIRTY (30) writers. So, not my favourites, just random scribes I like:
• Tom Stoppard
• David Almond
• Grant Morrison


TWO (2) movies you'd like to remake or properties you'd like to adapt:
I would love to adapt The Brentford Triangle, just so that I could put on screen the spectacle of an invading fleet of spaceships bought low by a floating camel.

Remake - probably the Matrix sequels. Sad. So, so sad.

ONE (1) screenwriter you think is underrated:
David Peoples. To those of you who know him only as the man responsible for Soldier, Leviathan, and Fatal Sky, this may seem an odd choice. But as the writer of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, and Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys, he seems sadly destined to win Oscars® for other people. And if you don't give a shit about any of that and think there could be no better legacy for a man than Ladyhawke and Salute of the Jugger, then you're my kind of people.

THREE (3) people I'm tagging to answer this meme next:

Moses
Matt
Xander

And I'll chuck in the Alligator variation:

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE OF DIALOGUE YOU HAVE EVER WRITTEN?

"It's come to something when I can't even look out of the window without someone trying to give me a stiffy."

*And, for a peek into our collective mindscape, here’s the hall of fame of participants in this meme, and here the hall of shame of party-poopers who just won't join in.

Category: Computing and Web

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Oi, CSI - shut it!

The ever trusty barometer of office gossip tells me that the BBC have a hit on their hands with Life on Mars, and who am I to argue with the way the wind blows? I thought last night’s pilot was smashing telly, dishing out the mockery and homage in equal measure, in order to serve up a damn fine, classic cop show, climaxing in a perfectly placed slow-mo dual leap across a desk piled high with the finest biscuits your super-sized seventies’ money could buy. Shameless, and brill.

John Simm, as good as he’s ever been as the incredibly earnest DCI Sam Tyler, is cast back in time, and demoted to boot: from DCI in 2006, to DI in ‘73. There’s very able support from Philip Glenister as Sam’s new Gov, the gloriously pre-reformed, hands-on DCI Gene Hunt; and Liz White, as psych graduate WPC Annie Cartright. Every tacky ‘70’s trapping you can think of was present and correct, from the unremarked sexism and racism, to Open University, vinyl LPs, brown wallpaper, handled pint-pots, shouty coppers, and God knows what else. It was all very impressive.

Especially since I don’t know anyone who was expecting this to be good. Yes, Kudos have great form, and we all enjoy Spooks and Hustle, but a 21st century copper sent back to 1973? Please. I can see the comic misunderstandings already. Honestly now, who didn’t think this was going to be shit?

Thank Christ we can all still be surprised by our entertainment now and then.

Preview for episode two is here.

Category: Movies and TV

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Train hard, fight easy

Holy rush-goalie, Batman. I’m back, bruised, and altogether bronchitic. Must. Stop. Smoking. I so did not shower myself in glory by crawling off the pitch after half an hour. Next week - forty minutes. My car’s battery died while I was playing, so I had to walk home to fetch the jump-leads that turned out to have been in the boot all along. Seriously, exercise does rot your brain.

Going for the posting hat-trick today. I thought I’d get my whole week’s blogging done in one day, a’ight?

Following a spate of posts on pro-scribe blogs telling all of us aspirants to get our acts together, I’ve spent much of the week (when not looking for places to live or deleting compromising blog entries (or did I? Or did I?)), thinking about my work/life/writing/blogging balance. Alex Epstein, Paul Guyot (twice), and Billy Mernit all told us to write, write, write. Their combined message was: enough of the amateur industry punditry, draft counting, progress bars, competition preparation, cyber-Starbucking and the all-around hobbyist attitude - sit your arse down and write. Write as if your only end is to create worlds, build characters, elicit tears and laughs and shivers. Forget about writing to impress, or to get an agent, or sell your spec. Just write, write, write.

I needed to hear it. The sad truth is, despite my original aims, I’ve spent too much time lately using the scribosphere as a displacement, rather than motivational, tool. Posts, not scripts, have been my focus, because now that I’ve picked up some readers I feel an obligation to create material for them. And I want to keep doing that, but reading Guyot on discipline and excuses gave me some food for thought.

There’s going to be a lot less blogging until I’m happier with the balance. I’m not going to run the risk of being seen as a contemptible dilettante, all talk and no walk. I have regular readers, whose work I admire and whose patronage keeps me on the right track, and I don’t want to disgrace myself in their eyes. I may have produced a lot more in the last six months than in the previous six years, but it’s still next to nothing. Working on the assumption (subject to change), that working for two hours a day I should get through an outline, rough draft, two rewrites and a final polish in ten to twelve weeks, I should therefore complete AT LEAST four one hour scripts this year. Two pilots, two specs. Three months for each, working for two hours a day.

So far I’ve done a week of this, getting up at six a.m, and, fuck me, that’s hard. But necessary, and it has the unforeseen bonus of allowing me go to work, knowing I’ve already done the only thing with my day that matters. That makes eight hours of desk-jockeying go a lot easier.

Getting enthusiastic about a week of writing here, and a week there, hasn’t been cutting it. It’s not a hobby, to be turned to in my free time, it’s what I want my life to be. No-one’s going to take me seriously if I don’t take the work seriously.

I have three hurdles to leap:

        • I like comfort and the easy life too much. I am a lazy cunt, and discipline sounds too much like a hardship, cutting into the time I like to spend eating, sleeping, watching TV, wanking, and feeling both smug and sorry for myself at the same time.

        • I'm impatient. I can outline and outline and outliine, but until I have a script, there's really nothing to show for all the work and no way to feel that I'm actually getting anywhere. Having waited so long to get started, I can't wait to finish. True, with little knowledge and no experience, I ought not be surprised that I can't knock out an hour-long script in a week. Ten to twelve weeks seems like ages, but really, one must take one’s time.

        • I find it hard to accept that not only will my first drafts be shit, my first scripts will be, too, regardless of the number of drafts they go through. Sure, they’ll be the best I’m capable of, but most likely by no objective standards good. I just need to enjoy writing them; remember what they big boys say - the object is not to sell them, but to get better.

See you in the credits.

Category: Writing

Hassle free house hunting

Before I came back to live with my parents, I spent three years in Manchester, a year in Oxford and another three years living in London. I’ve been living here, in my “comfort zone” for three and a half years. My younger brother moved out last spring. My younger sister is getting married and moving to the U.S.A next month. I woke up on Tuesday and thought to myself: “I really must get out of here, before I end up like Robert Crumb’s brother.” Off I went to the estate agents, got some rental details, took a look at a place on Wednesday, signed the application on Thursday, got accepted on Friday, and will move in on the 20th. The only thing is, I have no furniture. If anyone would like to donate a sofa, or dinner table, get in touch.

The things I do to avoid writing.

Now I’m going out to play football. This is not like me at all.

Category: Meatspace

Caught in the act

Except for the odd moment of madness, I really don’t write much about friends, family, or work. They are, after all, not part of the bigger picture where this blog is concerned. Nevertheless, I have managed to keep it secret since last June - only the most daring and intrepid of web-spelunkers have managed to find my hidden lair.

This week, though, I was exposed! Not that it wasn’t bound to happen - there’s a pretty massive clue in my e-mail address, for one thing. My best friend spent a good part of Wednesday ransacking my entries, while I spent most of the same day, panicked, madly trying to think if there was anything I’d written in the last demi-annee I ought to delete before he found it.

It’s rather a strange thing, having someone you know read your online thoughts. I suppose I must come across a little bit differently than I do in real life, but I guess that’s inevitable. I was mostly worried that Dave would think me some kind of weirdo freak, for putting my thoughts, doubts and insecurities up on the web for the world to see (well, the thirty or so folk a day who come this way), but I needn’t have worried. No, because he has quite comprehensively outgeeked me by building a web-page to display his Space Marines.

David, I salute you, sir.

Category: Meta

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

We all deserve to die

Ray Winstone? As Sweeney Todd? FUCKIN’ A!

That is all. Good night. Sleep well. Mu-ha-ha.

Category: Movies and TV

Monday, January 02, 2006

Books of '05

Back when I was a wee shaver, I could barely believe it when people told me they didn’t have time to read. Arrant nonsense! What I didn’t appreciate at the time was that I was still in school and living with my parents, and therefore my day was effectively done by four and didn’t involve any time consuming chores like cooking and cleaning.

Ten years on and some of my friends have managed to maintain this lifestyle and I am appropriately jealous. I, on the other hand, now know exactly how the “time” to which people referred seems to be in much shorter reserve than when I was nineteen.

Since then, my own reading has declined from something like 100+ books a year to about 30.

Of course, much depends on what I mean by “books.” For the purposes of tracking my intellectual decline, I refer to those physical objects comprising various numbers of printed leaves, stitched or perfect bound only. Electronic and stapled materials are prohibited from this survey. Screenplays published by Faber, fine; posted by Drew, verboten. One collected Vimanarama, fine, three issues of We3, nu-uh. Why? Because I said so, bitches.

Consumed by me in 2005 were:

The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
Devil in a Blue Dress - Walter Mosley
A Red Death - Walter Mosley
White Butterfly - Walter Mosley
Samaritan - Richard Price
Darkness, Take My Hand - Dennis Lehane
Hell to Pay - George Pelecanos
Hard Revolution - George Pelecanos
Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
The System of the World - Neal Stephenson
Anansi Boys: Neil Gaiman
Wolves of the Calla - Stephen King
Song of Susanna - Stephen King
The Dark Tower - Stephen King
The Alchemist - Iain M Banks
Olympos - Dan Simmons
River of Gods - Ian MacDonald
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - JK Rowling
Across the Nightingale Floor - Lian Hearn
Grass for His Pillow - Lian Hearn
Brilliance of the Moon - Lian Hearn
Thud - Terry Pratchett

The West Wing: Seasons Three and Four - Aaron Sorkin
The Sopranos: Selected Scripts from Seasons One-Three - David Chase et al.
Babylon Five Scripts: Volume One - J M Straczynski

Inferno - Michael Carey
Lucifer: Devil in the Gateway - Michael Carey
Lucifer: Children and Monsters - Michael Carey
Lucifer: A Dalliance with the Damned - Michael Carey
Lucifer: The Divine Comedy - Michael Carey
Lucifer: Inferno - Michael Carey
Lucifer: Mansions of the Silence - Michael Carey
Powers: Forever - Brian Michael Bendis
Daredevil: Golden Age - Brian Michael Bendis
Swamp Thing: The Curse - Alan Moore
Batman: Dark Victory - Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
A History of Violence: John Wagner
Vimanarama - Grant Morrison
Charley’s War: 1 August 1916-17 October 1916 - Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun

I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey into the Mind of Philip K Dick - Emmanuel Carrere


I’ve already posted my thoughts on River of Gods, Anansi Boys (twice), I Am Alive and You Are Dead, and Babylon 5, so here are some reflections on a few of the others.

Two mammoth series wrapped up this year, with the publications of The Dark Tower (okay, actually 2004, but read in ‘05) and The System of the World. Stephenson has received a lot of flack for the untrammeled verbiage of his Baroque Sequence, but I savoured every word of it. The members of the Shaftoe family are fashioned with such unforgettable panache and elan, their (mis)adventures make for enthralling reading. Bouquets, then, for Stephenson, but brickbats for King, who appeared to show a sneering contempt of readers who just wouldn’t do what he told them. Roland’s eventual fate in King’s post-script cheapens the entire saga. In other news, The Greatest Epic Teenaged Wizarding Fantasy Ever lumbered interminably on - I skipped through Potter VI just so that I’d know what people were talking about for the week or so following its release. And I’m pleased to announce that Terry Pratchett takes readers on their thirtieth full-grown Discworld outing with a reliably thoughtful, humorous, and moral novel. No surprises here, just the relaxed storytelling of a master craftsman.

Olympus was a book I was really looking foward to, but left feeling sadly disappointed by. It didn’t seem to build on many of the themes introduced in the mighty Ilium and left far too many loose ends. A terrible shame.

Cloud Atlas was absurdly overhyped. It took me months to slog through and the storytelling was basically a cheap con. It stands next to Atomised as the most mystifyingly highly regarded book of recent years. Oh, and Twelve. And Vernon God Little (which Hey, Nostradamus pisses all over).


I love, love the work Pelcanos has done on The Wire, but thought Hell to Pay was too self-conscious to be successful. Hard Revolution, on the other hand, was a fantastic evocation of time, and place, and a brilliant moral study.

Discovery of the year has been Lian Hearn’s Otori Trilogy. I’ve had the first book of this sequence on my bookcase for years, and something about the look of it just kept putting me off. This winter I finally read it, and its two sequels, in under a week. It’s a brilliant look at an alternative 16th Century Japan, written for teens but dealing with some prety weighty issues - revenge, loyalty, gender, sexuality, identity. And it’s just beautifully written.

Lots of Lucifer up there. Carey has done a superlative job of carrying on where Gaiman left off, while at the same time making the character and cosmology of Samael, the Light Bringer, First of the Fallen, etc, etc, entirely his own. My comics consumption has fallen dramatically over the past few years. Many of my favourite series reached their conclusions some time ago, and very little has arisen to take their place. Also, storylines have become such sprawling affairs, often requiring seventy or so issues to play out, that it just doesn’t seem worth following anything month in and month out. Arcs are collected into trades so reliably, and usually for less than the total cost of the individual issues, that it makes sense to wait for a more handsome, permanent, ad-free edition. Unless, of course, you’re talking about something like Strangehaven or - remember this? - Berlin. What the hell are you playing at, Lutes? Three and a half years. THREE. AND A HALF. BLOODY YEARS.

And Charley’s War. Oh, Charley, m'boy; I wish I could be made to forget having read you, so that I could go back and start and be amazed all over again. You know, t used to take Joe Colquhoun five days to draw three pages, and is it any surprise? I mean look at this (and click it for the full experience):


That’s just one panel. They’re all like that! And it may have been twenty-five years ago, but Pat Mills has never been better; not on Slaine, not on Marshall Law, not on Accident Man or Brats Bizarre. Every three page tale is a masterpiece, and ought to be required reading at all levels of education. At the rate Titan are publishing Mills and Colquohouns’ magnum opus, it’ll be 2014 before the final volume is collected, which is actually kind of fitting, if you think about it.

And that’s it. I’ve prepared myself a big fat reading list for 2006, made up of books that’ve been on my shelves for upwards of fifteen years, and never been read. I anticipate moving house in the next month or so, and, following this, being broke. No profligate book buying for me this year, I will instead be working through my own neglected library, from The Cartoon History of the Universe (vols 1-3), to The Art of Memory, via The Dark is Rising and The Cold Six Thousand. If, of course, I can find time for any of them.

Category: Books and Comics

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Reading Babylon 5

I realise it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and sometimes it even feels a little bit stewed to me, but, man, I used to love Babylon 5. Not in a Xander Harris, commemorative plates way, but I did buy the entire run on VHS, and then again on DVD. I’ve got novels, comics and episode guides lying about - it’s a show that really brings out my inner geek. Now I’ve taken what is possibly the final step over the precipice and started buying the scripts. All of Joe Straczynski’s scripts are being released in 14 volumes, with a special 15th volume available as a gift to those who buy the whole set.

Now, Straczynski may be a hero to some, but he’s a long way from being David Milch. What I always loved about Babylon 5 was its ambition, and sense of scale - every story detail, no matter how small or large, made important contributions to the bigger picture. What the characters wanted, and what they did to get it, were always compelling; how they spoke, well, it was like knitting needles puncturing my head. Here’s a particularly clunky exposition dump from The Parliament of Dreams as an example:


GARIBALDI

Don’t blame me, blame Earth Central. “Say, we’ve got an idea. How about an entire week where every alien species on Babylon 5 is encouraged to demonstrate their dominant religious belief? It’ll advance the cause of interplanetary peace and understanding.” As bright ideas go, this one’s right up there with having my gums extracted.


Straczynski’s words are neither realistic, or stylised; they are clunky and workman-like; but despite some of his scripts being unbelievably wordy, he doesn’t actually tell his stories with dialogue, he uses action, and spectacle. B5’s most memorable moments are all dialogue-free: people running in slow motion, eerie reflections, shit exploding - consequences, in other words. Inevitability, if you prefer, which is really the over-riding theme of the whole series.

It took a while for the show to click with me - not only was the dialogue painful, but the performances were strained. It wasn’t until episode ten - Mind War, the last script in volume one, that I started to cotton on to JMS’s vision. That episode, with its “OMG, what did I just see” Act Three out, blew me away. Ten years on, and I can still taste the Campbell’s soup and tagliatelli I was forgetting to chew on as I watched the passage of the First Ones across Sigma 957.

EXT. SPACE - SIGMA 957
Establishing the Skydancer.

INT. SKYDANCER COCKPIT
Catherine is working at the equipment before her...when suddenly there’s a FLASH of blinding, bone-white light that floods the cockpit and burns into our eyes. It washes over everything, terrible in its brilliance.

She raises an arm to cover her eyes.

EXT. SKYDANCER
Something massive -- and I mean massive, ten miles across, glowing and gossamer and fire and nightmare, an impossible alien construct of angles and colors -- moves past the Skydancer in B.G. The Skydancer is barely a speck against it.

We can see only a portion of it. We should get from this a sense of overwhelming power, and mystery.

(note: this is not a shadowman craft; that’s later.)

INT. SKYDANCER COCKPIT
Vibrating -- not shaking, vibrating -- caught in the wake of something unimaginable huge. This is the nearest spacebourne equivalent to a ‘57 Chevy caught in a UFO encounter. The light is terrible.

EXT. SKYDANCER
As the alien craft moves toward a hole opening up in space, a time/space distortion that is almost painful to look at.

It moves into the distortion, which closes after it. The Skydancer is abruptly alone...and drifting.

FADE OUT.


That’s your awe and wonder right there, and it was something I was not getting out of my TV at the time.

Some of these early scripts are actually much better read than they were watched. At five acts, they rattle along quite nicely, moving from plot point to point extremely economically. Viewing the episodes again, this pace is lost, due to rather leaden blocking. One thing that doesn’t help is Straczynski’s ambivalence regarding his characters’ voices. He seems particularly undecided on how to write for Ivanova, oscillating in a single scene between the relatively simple, and neutral:


IVANOVA

Thought I’d see if there was any word yet from Earth Central on the Centauri problem.


to the “characteristically Russian”:


IVANOVA

Actually...I think I’ll vote for Marie Crane. I do not like Santiago. I have always thought that a leader should have a strong chin. He has no chin, and his vice president has several. This to me is not a good combination.


Inconsistencies like this, married to the observation that it took certain members of the cast a while to...well...learn to act, make early episodes a strain.

Straczynski has had these volumes packed with supplementary material: lengthy introductions detailing the genesis of the show and his trials as showrunner, with episode commentaries reflecting on the perils of arc-based television and how to react to slings and arrows. I’m waiting to see, as the volumes march on, whether the intros will evolve into a priceless writers’ resource or devolve into a soup of crusty anecdotes. So far, they could go either way. JMS is a mine of information, but he is also a smug, self-congratulatory writer, with a leaden style; a chronic self-mythologist who takes inordinate and inappropriate pride in the fact (legend?) that many of the shooting scripts were, in fact, first drafts. As if we couldn’t tell. Even though he can at times be self-deprecating, as in the commentary to Infection:

Every science-fiction series must, from time to time, produce its share of Man In A Big, Scary Rubber Monster Suit episodes. It’s a requirement, like learning how to parallel park in order to get your driver’s license. I wrote “Infection” because I wanted to write a story about xenophobia, about the fear of that which is different...about paranoia and lockstep fascism and prejudice and how all too often when we become obsessed with the enemy, we become the enemy. And while many of those aspects are in fact there, to varying degrees, it ended up being mainly a Man In A Big, Scary Rubber Monster Suit episode.


I get the impression that, sure, he sees that now, but had anyone tried to tell him this at the time, they’d have been out on their arse before they could get the sentence out. The man needs an editor more than Londo needs a haircut, because all too often, especially on the “bookend” seasons of B5, the quality of his output was erratic. And now, in these editions, I’m afraid that his introductions are going to go on and on to the point where they become embarrassing, rather than useful. I dread to think what he’s going to say when he starts winning Hugos on a regular basis.

But the fact is, Babylon 5 did win Hugos on a regular basis because it was, occasionally, just that damn good. And these scripts are well worth combing through to see how it got there.

Category: Books and Comics

Happy New Year

Well, that’s it for ‘05, and thank the Christ for that. 2006 is where I find out if this writing life is truly for me, or if I should just pack it in rather than risk the ire of Paul Guyot, the scourge of dilettantes everywhere.