Dare I Eat A Peach?

Sep. 21st, 2017 06:57 pm[syndicated profile] not_a_blog_feed
Yesterday another birthday came and went.

(And thanks to all those who sent me cards and emails. You're very kind. Love you all).

I had a good day with family and friends, but...

69

Really.

Urk.

How did that happen?

Seems like only yesterday I was one of the Young Turks of Science Fiction.

What a long strange trip it's been...

And I still have a ways to go, I hope. Lots of stories still to tell.

(And yes, Mr. Prufrock, I still eat peaches).
... GAME OF THRONES successor shows, that is.

Truth be told, we've had five scripts in various stages of development for months. Which I believe I mentioned...



But now at last all the deals are signed, and it can be told. BRYAN COGMAN has come on board to pen the fifth of the successor shows. James Hibberd broke the news on ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY.

http://ew.com/tv/2017/09/20/game-thrones-bryan-cogman-5th-prequel/

Bryan Cogman should need no introduction for any GAME OF THRONES fan. He's been part of the show since the beginning... since before the beginning, actually, since he was first hired as assistant to David Benioff and D.B Weiss way before the series got on the air, before even the pilot had been filmed. From those humble beginnings, he advanced to staff writer, to story editor, to co-producer and producer and supervising producer. Less formally, he has also been GOT's "Keeper of the Lore," the guy who knew the canon better than anyone (except me, though sometimes I am not even sure of that). He's written more episodes of GAME OF THRONES than anyone but Dan & David... including some of our very best ones. If D&D have been the kings of Westeros for these past seven seasons, Bryan Cogman has surely been the Prince of Dragonstone.



I'd love to tell you more about the series Bryan will be working on... but we haven't done that for the other four successor shows, so we shouldn't for this one either. All in good time.

I can say that, like the other pilots, it will be a prequel rather than sequel, a successor rather than a spinoff. Bryan's series will be an adaptation, and one that will thrill most fans of the books, I think, set during a very exciting period of Westerosi history. And I'll be working with him every step of the way; we're going to be co-creating the show.

Meanwhile, Jane Goldman, Brian Helgeland, Max Borenstein, and Carly Wray are all at work on the other four successor shows. I've been working with them as well (some more closely than others), and I'm excited by some of the ideas they're coming up with. HBO should have a wealth of material to choose from. (And that's not even counting the four weird-ass series concepts I've come up on my own, just for the hell of it. There are eight million stories in the naked city, and maybe ten times as many in Westeros and the lands beyond the narrow seas).

You should not expect to see all five shows, though, at least not immediately.. much as I might love the idea, HBO is not about to become the GAME OF THRONES network... but we could possibly see two or even three make it to the pilot stage, with one series emerging on air in 2019 or 2020... and the others maybe later, if they come out as well as we all hope. Then again, maybe... but I should not speculate, you folks get WAY too excited. Truth is, no one knows. Least of all me.

For now, suffice it to say that Bryan Cogman has signed on, and we're thrilled.

Emmy Winners

Sep. 20th, 2017 04:17 pm[syndicated profile] not_a_blog_feed
Congratulations to all the winners of this year's Emmy Awards. And especially to my friends at HBO, which once again led all other networks in number of nominations and number of victories.

It was a great show this year, I thought. Yes, even without GAME OF THRONES. Stephen Colbert made a terrific host. I especially enjoyed his opening number.



A strong lineup of nominees this year gave us some great winners... though, as always, that also means some equally deserving finalists wound up as losers. WESTWORLD especially was robbed, as was STRANGER THINGS. But it IS an honor just to be nominated, and the time will come for both of those shows, as it finally did for GAME OF THRONES. The big winners this year were Hulu's HANDMAID'S TALE (adapted from the novel by Margaret Atwood) and HBO's BIG LITTLE LIES (adapted from the novel by Liane Moriarity). ((Notice the common denominator there? BOOKS! Do a faithful adapatation of a great book, and you can't go wrong)). I was also pleased to see BLACK MIRROR get some love, especially for its brilliant "San Junipero" episode.



GAME OF THRONES, of course, was not eligible this year, having shifted from April to August. Which meant that, for the first time in seven years, I was not actually at the awards in LA. Instead Parris and I watched from home. It felt kind of strange not to be there, truth be told. Not bad, just strange. It was actually sort of relaxing. The Emmy weekend can be very exciting, but it is also exhausting, even the parties... the heat, the crowds, the noise. The red carpet seems to get longer (and hotter) every year. Maybe that's an ordeal that should be left for the younger and more photogenic members of our television community.

Will I be back next year, or the year after, or the year after that? Time will tell. Emmy is a fickle goddess who bestows her kisses where she will. But either way, I'm good.

((Comments on the Emmys welcome. Off topic comments will be deleted)).

Tea at Worldcon

Sep. 18th, 2017 05:15 pm[syndicated profile] not_a_blog_feed
That Finnish Worldcon wasn't all vodka and beer. It was also tea!

Maybe you missed the fun in Helsinki. If so, you certainly missed my guest appearance on TEA & JEOPARDY, Emma and Peter Newman's Hugo (and Alfie) Award winning podcast.

But have no fear, it's on line now:

http://teaandjeopardy.geekplanetonline.com/podcast/bonus-episode-live-tea-and-jeopardy-show-worldcon-75/

Enjoy. I know I did.

Sunday Blues

Sep. 18th, 2017 04:31 pm[syndicated profile] not_a_blog_feed
Football sucks. At least this season.

It is becoming clear that I am not going to get much joy from watching the NFL this year. The Jets lost again yesterday, 45-20, in humiliating fashion. They managed to hang with the Raiders for most of the first half, until muffing a punt in the last minute of the first half. It was all downhill from there. Oakland repeatedly ran the ball right up the gut of our D, through the zones where David Harris and Sheldon Richardson once patrolled. I think 0 - 16 is a real possibility.

I have more hope for the Giants, but judging by last week's loss to the Cowboys, it may be a false hope. We will see what happens tonight against the Lions.

And I can't even enjoy the pregame show any more, sad to say. For years... decades... I have been a devoted fan of ESPN's NFL COUNTDOWN show on Sunday. But last season the show lost Tom Jackson, and with it much of its appeal. And this season they have retired Chris Berman as well. After two weeks, I've had enough. I say it's spinach, and I say to hell with it.

Another Sadness

Sep. 15th, 2017 12:40 am[syndicated profile] not_a_blog_feed
I've been trying for several days to write something about the death of Len Wein.

It's been hard. The words stick in my throat. Len was not just a professional colleague, as Jerry Pournelle was. Len was a friend. An old, dear friend. He lived in LA and I lived in Santa Fe, so we never saw each other more than a few times a year, but I cherished all the time I spent with him and his wife, Chris Valada. I don't have a bad memory of Len, and I doubt that anyone does. He was a sweet, kind, funny man, and a joy to be around, to share a meal with (even though he always refused to "eat anything that looked like itself").

Len and I went way way back. We were both there when comics fandom was being born, and we met for the first time in a place called the Workingman's Circle, at the 1964 New York Comicon. The first comicon... and Len Wein was one of the kids who made it happen, one of the organizers, while I was the first fan to send in $1.50 for a membership. We were both in high school at the time. Many years later, at a San Diego Comicon with its 150,000 members, I turned to Len and sad, "See what you did?" He just laughed and replied, "Who knew?"

You don't need me to tell you about his career, his professional accomplishments, his creations. If you don't know who Len Wein is, you've never read a comic book. He created Wolverine, the New X-Men, Swamp Thing, the Human Target, Lucius Fox, and, oh, about five hundred other characters. Maybe a thousand. Most of those were created under the old work-made-for-hire contracts so common in the comics industry when Len stared out, so he had no ownership of any of them, and made very little, if anything, from all the movies and TV shows that featured them. (Lucius Fox was the exception to that, since he was created later, under a contract that gave the creator more rights, In one of the little ironies of life in the comics biz, Len made more money from Lucius Fox than he ever saw from Wolverine). If it had been me, it would have made me incredibly bitter to see my creations making billions while I got some loose change, but Len never bitched about it. He knew the rules when he signed the contracts, he would always say. And he loved seeing his creations on the big and little screens. There was no bitterness in the man, and no anger that I ever saw.

He loved comics, and he loved life, and I'm just one of the many who loved him.

((Comments allowed, but only about Len)).
We've found our scriptwriter for WHO FEARS DEATH, the television series we're developing for HBO based on the award-winning novel by Nnedi Okorafor.

His name is SELWYN SEYFU HINDS. He's written television, film, comics, journalism, history. He's a producer as well, and will be a co-executive producer on WHO FEARS DEATH, as well as writing the pilot. We're very excited to have him aboard... and to finally be able to announce it, now that his deal has closed (these things take a while).





You can find out more about him on IMDB, or hear him speak (though not about WHO FEARS DEATH, not yet) here: http://www.blackisonline.com/2015/02/the-jam-ep-15-w-selwyn-seyfu-hinds/

It was not an easy selection. We considered dozens of terrific writers, finally winnowed it down to half a dozen strong finalists, and interviewed each of them at length. I was not able to be in LA for the interviews myself, thoughI took part by phone... but executive producers Michael Lombardo and Angela Mancuso, our development executives from HBO, and of course Nnedi Okorafor were all in the room for every interview. All of us loved what Selwyn had to say about WHO FEARS DEATH, and how he would like to bring it to the screen. It's a powerful book, but not an easy adaptation by any means... but we think we've found the right writer for the assignment.

I was also pleased to see Michael Lombardo and Angela Mancuso finally credited in the news stories about Selwyn and WHO FEARS DEATH, since the last round of stories made it sound as if I was doing it all by myself. Even now, though, some of these stories are getting it backwards, talking about how I "added" Lombardo and Mancuso. Ah, no... rather, they (and Nnedi) added me. This was their project from the start, I'm the new guy in the boat. But I'm thrilled to be here, and I'm excited to be working with Michael, Angela, Nnedi, and now Selwyn. We all share the same goal: to make this extraordinary novel into an extraordinary television series.



((I will leave comments open, but only for discussion of WHO FEARS DEATH. All off topic comments will be deleted)).

A Sadness

Sep. 10th, 2017 09:51 pm[syndicated profile] not_a_blog_feed
Jerry Pournelle has passed away. He was 84.

It would seem that he attended Dragoncon in Atlanta, caught some kind of bug, and died in his sleep on September 8, after complaining of feeling unwell in his last blog post, on the 7th.

Pournelle has been a major figure in the field for as long as I have been a part of it. I first met him in 1973 at the worldcon in Toronto, where both of us were finalists for the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer (along with Lisa Tuttle, Ruth Berman, George Alec Effinger, and Robert Thurston). That was the very first year the award was given. To the surprise of no one, Pournelle won, though Geo. Alec Effinger finished so close behind the con gave him a special second place plaque, the only time THAT ever happened. (How close, you may ask? Ten votes, two votes, a single vote? No one knows. In those days, worldcons did not release vote totals).



The Hugos were given at a banquet in those days. I could not afford a ticket, so I came in after the meal for the awards. It was rather an unusual ceremony. The Hugo rockets had not arrived, so the winners received only empty bases... except for Jerry, since the Campbell sponsors (Conde Nast, in those days) HAD managed to come up with a plaque. There's Jerry holding it, above.

The other weirdness about that night was that toastmaster Lester del Rey, for reasons only known to himself, chose to present the awards backwards. In other words, he started with Best Novel (the 'Big One,' then as now), working his way though short fiction and to the fan awards, and ended with the brand-new never-given-before Campbell. Thing is, people started leaving after each award was given, and by the end, there was hardly anyone left in the hall except me, Jerry Pournelle and his party, and the other nominees and their friends (I think Lisa Tuttle and Ruth Berman were there, but Thurston and Effinger were not, someone else accepted the plaque for Piglet).

I came out of the night all right. It was an honor, a huge honor, just to be nominated. And in the aftermath I came up with the idea of a Campbell Awards anthology. A couple editors told me it was an idea worth pursuing, but of course I needed to get all the nominees to sign on... and the key one was Jerry, the winner. So I bought him a drink and pitched him the notion, and he said yes (though, being the consummate pro, he made that contingent on me being able to pay competitive professional rates). Eventually that conversation led to my NEW VOICES anthology, and launched my career as an editor and anthologist... and I'm still going strong there, forty-four years later.

The Hugo voters knew what they were doing when they gave Pournelle that first Campbell; he went on to have an amazing career, both on his own and in collaboration with other writers, particularly Larry Niven. With INFERNO, LUCIFER'S HAMMER, FOOTFALL, and (especially) MOTE IN GOD'S EYE, the two of them helped transform the field in the 70s. They were among the very first SF writers ever to hit the big bestseller lists, and among the first to get six-figure advances at the time when most writers were still getting four figure advances... something that Jerry was never shy about mentioning. Though he was nominated for a number of Hugo Awards in the years that followed, he never won one... but if that bothered him, he did not show it. "Money will get you through times of no Hugos better than Hugos will get you through times of no money," he said famously.

Pournelle was fond of talking about all the help Robert A. Heinlein (whom he always called "Mr. Heinlein," at least in my hearing) gave him when he was starting out, and he was a passionate advocate of RAH's "pay it forward" philosophy, and did much to help the generations of writers who came after him. He served a term in the thankless job of SFWA President, and remained an active part of SFWA ever after, as part of the advisory board of Past Presidents and (even more crucially) on GriefCom, the Grievance Committee. Jerry could be loud and acrimonious, yes, and when you were on the opposite side of a fight from him that was not pleasant... ahh, but when you were on the SAME side, there was no one better to have in your foxhole. I had need of SFWA's Griefcom only once in my career, in the early 80s, and when we met at worldcon with the publisher I had Jerry with me representing Griefcom. He went through the publisher's people like a buzzsaw, and got me everything I wanted, resolving my grievance satisfactorily (and confidentially, so no, no more details).

His politics were not my politics. He was a rock-ribbed conservative/ libertarian, and I'm your classic bleeding-heart liberal... but we were both fans, and professional writers, and ardent members of SFWA, and we loved SF and fantasy and fandom, and that was enough. You don't need to agree with someone on everything to be able to respect them. And while MOTE IN GOD'S EYE may not have won the Hugo in its year, it remains one of the great classics of space opera, destined to be read and re-read for as long as people read science fiction (it IS an honor just to be nominated).

The last time I saw Jerry was at Keith Kato's chili party at MidAmericon II. He loved Keith's chili as much as I do, another point in his favor.

R.I.P. Jerry. You were one ornery so-and-so, but you were our ornery so-and-so. Hoist a pint for me at that Secret Pro Party in the sky, and say hello to Mr. Heinlein.

Here We Go Again

Sep. 10th, 2017 08:54 pm[syndicated profile] not_a_blog_feed
Well, my NFL season got underway this morning pretty much as expected: with the Jets losing.

They were playing another rebuilding team from the AFC East, the Buffalo Bills. One of the weaker teams on their schedule, yeah... but they still managed to lose, and look terrible doing so. The Bills gutted Gang Green with their running game, going right through the line... where, as it happens, Sheldon Richardson used to be standing.

On the good side, our first round draft choice looked pretty good.

The rest of the team, not so much.

And instead of playing either of the young QBs, to see what they've got and maybe watch them develop, we played the old guy, Josh McCown, a 38 year old journeyman on his 8th team. Sorry, I just don't see the point.

It's going to be a long long season for fans of Gang Green.

(Comments open for discussion of football ONLY. All other comments will be deleted).

Signing Up A Storm

Sep. 8th, 2017 11:55 pm[syndicated profile] not_a_blog_feed
It's been a while since I visited the Jean Cocteau to sign books, so my staff dragged me down there yesterday, thrust a pen into my hand, and confronted me with a couple mountains of books.

For you Wild Cards fans, I signed a hundred or so copies of the new trade paperback reissue of DEAD MAN'S HAND, the Wild Cards noir mystery story I co-authored with John Jos. Miller.



And if you're fond of funny books, I also signed several towering piles of the new Dunk & Egg graphic novel, THE MYSTERY KNIGHT, scripted by Ben Avery with art by Mike S. Miller, the same terrific team who did the HEDGE KNIGHT and SWORN SWORD graphic novels.



Both titles, and dozens of others -- by me, and by a host of other writers -- are available via mail order from the Jean Cocteau at http://jeancocteaucinema.com/product-category/merchandise/

Speaking of signing, though... I think I may have set a personal record in Russia when I signed 900 books in two hours at my St. Petersburg event. I have signed more, at events in Slovenia and Dijon, France, but those of those events lasted a LOT longer than Russia. Four hours in France, seven in Slovenia. I barely survived the last...

More about Russia in another post.

Westeros Down Under

Sep. 7th, 2017 09:18 pm[syndicated profile] not_a_blog_feed
Australia is one of my favorite places in the world, particularly the city of Melbourne... and it would seem the Aussies like me too.

Melbourne, as it happens, is adding five new stops to its Metro, and in a fit of jolly Aussie optimism they have asked the public to suggest names for the new stations. And it would seem that names from my books are among the leading contenders:

http://mashable.com/2017/08/31/game-of-thrones-melbourne-train-stations/

I have to admit, I am bemused and rather flattered by this. The idea of a Melbourne Metro Station named Winterfell tickles my fancy... though, having been to Australia numerous times, I will assert that winter never really does come down there. Highgarden, the Eyrie, Dorne, Westeros... well, some names are more apt than others, admittedly, but all of them beat Station McStationface, which I fear will be the ultimate victor, given the results of other recent Name That Thing balloting.

Myself, I think they ought to consider naming one of the stops after the late great Aussie country singer Slim Dusty: they could call it The Stop With No Beer.

(I will leave comments open here, but ONLY for discussion of Melbourne's metro stops. All off topic comments will be deleted).
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