Not a Blog

Can’t Shut Me Up

April 28, 2010 at 8:29 pm
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For those who haven’t had enough of hearing me pontificate, there’s a new podcast up on the Dragon Page at http://www.dragonpage.com/2010/04/27/cover-to-cover-405a/

Hear me talk with Mike & Mike (no, not Greenberg and Golic) about WARRIORS, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, and the HBO series.

No football talk. I’m saving that for when I’m a guest of the other Mike & Mike.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

April 27, 2010 at 5:57 pm
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Well, okay, maybe not “soon.”

But eventually… we hope… (fingers crossed).

The good folks at Mike the Pike productions are developing my werewolf novella, “The Skin Trade,” into what we all hope will be a major motion picture. These things do take time, of course, and we’re still a long way from the cameras rolling… but Mike the Pike has commissioned this nifty poster as a promotional sales tool, and I thought I’d share it.

Now all we need is a movie to go with our poster.

You can find out more about Mike the Pike at their website: http://www.mikethepikefilms.com/

On other fronts, I am writing on DANCE WITH DRAGONS, writing on episode eight of the HBO series, waiting for three more rewrites to come in on FORT FREAK, looking at some spectacular art by John Picacio, and spending my spare time with Varys, Littlefinger, the Old Bear, Jory Cassel, Septa Mordane, Bronn, and some other old friends. Need more hours in the day, please.

Fifteen Fantastic Years

April 25, 2010 at 4:58 pm
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Let’s raise a glass to all my good friends at Harper Collins Voyager in the UK, on the occasion of their 15th anniversary.

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Here’s wishing you many, many more.

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Draft Musings

April 24, 2010 at 6:03 pm
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Well, another NFL draft has come and gone.

I liked the new three-day format, with the first round and the second/third being telecast in prime time on Thursday and Friday respectively. The days did not seem quite so endless, and the break between round one and round two allowed for more wheeling and dealing. The first night actually drew higher ratings than the NBA playoff games being broadcast that same night, which just goes to demonstrate the respective popularity of football and basketball in the United States.

Who would ever have guessed that what began seventy-five years ago as a bunch of fat old men getting together in a hotel ballroom with a stack of magazines about college football and a lot of index cards would one day become a three-day sporting extravaganza watched in real time by millions of people? And really, under the glitz, it’s STILL just a bunch of fat old men with index cards… though with the new format, now at least something actually happens every ten minutes, instead of fifteen as previously.

My general impressions. The Seattle Seahawks had the best overall draft. Good picks, and they made some good trades too, including picking up Leon Washington from the Jets. If Leon comes back strong from his broken leg, he’ll be a real asset there. The Oakland Raiders also did surprisingly well. (How did that happen? Does someone have Al Davis tied up in a cellar somewhere?) Not only did they snatch Rolando McClain away from my G-Men, damn them, but they traded a late round pick next season for Jason Campbell… who may have been the worst QB in the NFC East last season, but still represents a huge upgrade over JaMarcus “I Complete Forty Per Cent of My Passes” Russell. The Raiders could be dangerous this year; they already had a good defense, and they made it better. With some decent QB play, who knows?

Dallas got the highest-rated WR in the draft. Made me grind my teeth. Philadelphia went for quantity, kept trading down for picks. One was Mike Kafka, the QB from my alma mater, Northwestern. I like to see Wildcats make good in the NFL (it happens so seldom), but did it have to be the Iggles? Odds are, some of these picks will turn out to be good, which means Philadelphia likely improved themselves. But I think they will miss Donovan McNabb before the year is out. Eagles fans are excited about Kevin Kolb, based on his performance standing in for McNabb last season, but two games does not a career make. Right now, Philly has the weakest QB in the NFL East, and that will bite them on the ass eventually.

Evil Little Bill seemed to have thirty-four picks as well. Thirty-two of them were tight ends. BB must be planning a new offensive scheme; Tom Brady and ten tight ends.

And how did my teams do? Glad you asked.

The Giants had their usual boring draft. They were slotted in as #15, and that’s where they drafted, every round. No moving up, no moving down, no trades, they just sat where they were and picked a player when the pick got round to them. The big excitement was having Mark Bavaro announce one pick for them.

The G-Men went into this draft desperately needing linebackers. Especially a middle LB, since they released Antonio Pierce. But the Raiders snatched away Rolando McClain, the LB they were really high on, so they went another way in round one. In round two, everyone expected they would pick Sean Lee or Brandon Spikes, both of whom were still available when they chose, but I guess those guys did not impress them. So as it turned out they did not get a LB until the third day, when they picked Phyllis Diller… er… Phillip Dillard. I found him in my draft magazines, but just barely. Hope to hell he’s good.

Last year the Giants did not get as many sacks as they had in previous years, true… but even so, the strength of Big Blue’s defense has been its defensive ends, a trio relentless pass rushers as good as any in the league — Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and Matthias Kiwanuka. So who did they pick in round one? Another pass rusher.
A phenom named Jason Pierre-Paul who has supposedly been sensational in all seven of the college games he’s started. Also, he can do this:
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I guess the Giants new defensive coordinator is planning to install a radical new pass rush wherein the ends backflip over the offensive linemen to get to the QB.

But seriously, boys and girls… Pierre-Paul does appear to be an amazing athlete, but his lack of actual game experience worries me. My teams have drafted combine heroes before, most recently the Jets with Vernon Ghloston only two years ago, and we know how THAT turned out.

In later rounds, the Giants drafted a huge defensive tackle named Joseph (who I hope turns out better than the last huge defensive tackle named Joseph that we drafted), a tall rangy safety, that previously-mentioned linebacker, a “sleeper” linebacker from William & Mary who wasn’t even mentioned in any of my draft magazines, an offensive guard who is said to be a real mauler and nasty run-blocker (a bookend to Chris Snee, I hope)… and a punter. I guess that means Jeff Feagles is really going to retire. He is older than I am, after all. I will hate to see Feagles go, though admittedly his punting did fall off badly last year. He’s still the best there is at punting from midfield, where he excels at dropping the ball on the opposition’s three-yard line. But when the Giants were pinned inside their own twenty and needed a huge booming distance punt to get ’em out of trouble… well, that’s where his age showed. If this Dodge kid is half the punter Jeff was, I’ll be happy.

All in all, a very unglamorous draft. No “sexy” picks. A punter, an offensive lineman, and five defensive players. I doubt any of the draft gurus will rate this draft highly — but given the way the Giants’ defense collapsed last year, it may have been just what we needed.
Tom Coughlin hates to give up points, and so do I.

(I still wish we had gotten McClain, though).

The Jets, as usual, did things differently.

They’d already traded away several choices before the draft began, and they traded away a couple of more today, so they ended up with only four choices.

And not choices I ever would have expected.

Last season Gang Green had the top pass defense in the NFL. It could have been even better with a real stud defensive end sack artist rushing the opposing QB, so I figured that would be what the Jets would go after. But no. Instead they used their first round pick on another cornerback, a kid named Kyle Wilson from Boise State. He looks to be a good one, though. Teamed with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, he should give the Jets the best corner trio in the NFL. I don’t think Rex wants ANY passes completed against us this year. From now on, he brings nine on every play. But hey, if Wilson is as good as advertised, maybe he’ll be able to shut down Wes Welker, who has been killing us every time the Jets play the Patriots. Welker, and the AFC championship game against the Colts, explains why Rex drafted him, I think.

Second round the Jets picked a huge Haitian kid named Vladimir Ducasse to play on the offensive line. Guard to start, I guess, maybe eventually right tackle. He’s gigantic and very talented, it’s said, but raw… but he’ll be competing for a starting spot right off, since the Jets have just released Alan Faneca, their big free-agent acquisition from a couple years ago. Faneca is still a hell of a run blocker, and was a major contributor to Gang Green’s league-leading rushing attack last season, but he was a liability in pass protection, and gave up way too many sacks. Plugging in a raw kid like Young Vladimir in his place is kind of a risk, even so. In the long run, probably a good move, if Ducasse is as gifted as advertised. In the short run, I hope this doesn’t get Mark Sanchez killed.

The Jets weren’t supposed to pick again until the end of the fourth round… but they traded up into the middle of the fourth to nab Joe McKnight, a running back out of USC. Quick, elusive, shifty, good at catching passes out of the backfield. The choice puzzled the hell out of me, however. “Wait a minute,” I said. “We already have a quick, elusive, shifty RB who is good at catching passes out of the backfield. We have Leon Washington. What do we need this Joe guy for?”

My question was answered a round later, when the Jets traded Leon Washington and a seventh round pick (their last of the day) to Seattle for their fifth-round pick, so they could choose a huge pile-driver of a fullback named John Connor. (Nicknamed, yes, you guessed it, ‘The Terminator’). Kewl. Not many NFL teams use blocking fullbacks any more, but the Giants and Jets are two that do, and I love them. The Jets already have a great blocking fullback in Tony Richardson, but he’s almost as old as Jeff Feagles, so I guess John Connor will be his eventual replacement. Must admit, I love the idea of having a Terminator on my team… and there’s some suggestion that Connor might be more of a Mike Alstott type, capable of running the ball as well as blocking. If so, I really like this pick.

That being said, this Jets draft seems more geared for the long term than for the immediate future. Terminator is a new, younger Tony, but unproven. Vladimir is a new, younger Alan Faneca, only unproven. McKnight is a new, younger Leon Washington, one who hasn’t recently suffered a compound fracture of his leg… but still, unproven. The Jets get younger, but do they get better? The only pick that seems likely to provide immediate impact is that first-rounded cornerback from Boise State.

And of course the Jets did nothing at all to bolster their pass rush, which remains the most conspicous lack on Rex Ryan’s defense. Could it be they still hold out hope for Gholston?

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2010 NFL Draft

April 21, 2010 at 1:22 pm
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Feels very strange to have the NFL draft opening in midweek, and in prime time, but there it is. Round One is almost upon us, and the Rams are on the clock.

((And speaking of the Rams, they should take Suh, not Bradford. Defense first. Spags knows that. I wonder if all this QB talk is just a smokescreen? We’ll find out soon))

Very odd year for both my teams. I have no idea who the Jets or Giants will select. The Giants have pick #15 in the first round, and those mid-round picks are always hard to project. No way of telling who will still be on the board. Most mock drafts have the Giants going after a linebacker, ideally Roland McClain of Alabama, the consensus #1 LB. The G-Men certainly need a game-changing impact LB, and if McClain falls to them, I think they need to take him… but about half the mocks suggest that he will be gone by the time they pick, most likely to Denver at #11. If it falls out that way, I think it would be a mistake for the Giants to pick the second-best LB at #15. No other player at the position is worth that high a pick. If they must have a LB, and McClain is gone, they should trade down to the end of the round and pick up an extra pick or two.

Some recent reports have the Giants targeting the draft’s top running back, C.J. Spiller of Clemson. Spiller would certainly make an exciting addition to the offense… but I don’t think there’s much chance he will fall to 15, which means in all likelihood the G-Men would need to trade up to get him. Is he worth the price? I don’t know. Yes, it’s true, the Giants run game fell apart last season… but Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw were both playing with injuries that required post-season surgery, and rookie RB Andre Brown spent the whole year on injured reserve. If all three come back healthy, the Giants should have plenty of talent and depth at the RB position, so I’m not sure we need Spiller.

As for the Jets… things look even more confusing for Gang Green, who don’t pick until #29. Up until last month, most of the mock drafts had the Jets taking Notre Dame WR Golden Tate at that position, to give their passing attack a little punch. But then Mike Tannenbaum traded a fifth-round choice to the Steelers for Santonio Holmes and his four-game suspension. Once Holmes gets on the field besides Jericho Cotchery and Braylon “Oops” Edwards, the Jets should be set at wideout, so Tate no longer looks so likely.

After the trade, most draft gurus figured the Jets would go after a pass-rushing DE or LB sack artist. Despite the league’s $1 defense last season, they did not get many sacks. A real force off the edge could only make the D even better. Vernon Gholston, alas, has proved to be a bust. So another pass rusher seemed called for. Only then the Jets signed Jason Taylor away from the Dolphins (Jason Taylor! in Jets green!! the end is nigh!!!). Taylor should give them the disruption Rex wants on passing downs. So maybe they don’t need a sack artist now.

Which leaves them… where? I have no idea.

I think it may come down to “Best Player Available” for both my teams.

Can’t wait for tomorrow!

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Locus Awards Shortlist

April 20, 2010 at 4:45 pm
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LOCUS has announced the shortlist for its annual awards, and I’m pleased to report that SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH, the Jack Vance tribute anthology I co-edited with Gardner Dozois, has been nominated in the Best Anthology category.

((Three of the five nominees in Best Anthology were edited or co-edited by Gardner, who is also up himself in the Best Editor category. Despite which, he is convinced he is going to lose both awards. That’s why we call him Eeyore.))

Neil Gaimain’s story for SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH is also a finalist, in Best Short Story, and Vance’s autobiography has been nominated in Best Related Book.

For the full list, check here: http://www.locusmag.com/News/2010/04/locus-awards-finalists.html

Homecoming

April 20, 2010 at 11:31 am
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Back home again, and once more buried. I was only gone for four days. How the hell does so much mail and email pile up IN FOUR F*CKING DAYS, I ask you?? It makes me dread what will await me when I return from the much, much longer trip to the Australian worldcon this fall.

Could be worse, I suppose. I could be somewhere in Northern Europe, sleeping in an airport while I waited for air travel to resume. One wonders what will happen if this volcano keeps spewing ash… not for days or even months, but for years. It has done so before, I am told. Try to imagine a long-term shutdown of all air traffic over the British Isles. Time to invest in steamship lines?

Air traffic in and out of Chicago was unaffected, thankfully, and I had a good time at C2E2. Comicons are very different beasts than the SF cons that I usally attend — much larger, but less social, with the main activity revolving around the dealer’s room rather than the room parties that are the heart of worldcon, etc — but still fun. Mostly I sat at the Avatar booth, signing books and comic books. The first issue of FEVRE DREAM was released there, with not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE variant covers.

There were plenty of readers and fans on hand, more than enough to keep my signing hand limber, but not so many that I could not spare the time to visit with people as they came up. It’s always nice to have a few moments to chat, something the really large shows (that’s another difference between comicons and SF cons, comicons are “shows” and SF cons are “cons”) and booksignings do not allow. Also got to meet and hang some with some of Avatar’s other stalwarts, including artists Jacen Burrows and Mike Wolfer and writers Garth Ennis and Max Brooks. Cool.

In between my panels, my reading, and hours and hours of signing, I found the time to devour a couple of great steaks (Chicago is a great steak town) and sample some not-so-great deep dish pizza (Chicago is a crap pizza town, with delusions of grandeur). Every few years, when visiting Chitown, I do try a deep dish, just to make certain it is still as “meh” as I remember. This time the pizza was from Lou Malnati’s, supposedly one of the good joints. It was… filling. Not bad. But not pizza.

Sunday night I went to Greektown with a group of stalwarts from the BWB. Mary Anne Mohanraj joined us there as well. She’s one of the Class of 2009 new recruits for Wild Cards, and an up-and-coming writer in her own right; it was great to finally meet her face to face, and of course it’s always fun to hang with Kate and Treb (Dallas Cowboys scum though he is) and the rest of the Bros. Opaa! Opaa!

Lots of news and developments on the funny book front. FEVRE DREAM debuted at the con, as I said. That miniseries will run to ten issues, then be collected as a graphic novel. Art by Rafa Lopez of Malaga, Spain, adaptation by Daniel Abraham.

A sample can be found here:

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2010/04/13/avatar-plug-of-the-week-george-r-r-martins-fevre-dream-1/

Avatar has two more series based on my work in the works as well. There’s IN THE HOUSE OF THE WORM, based on my novella of the same title. Adaptation by John Jos. Miller, art by Ivan Rodriguez. A four-issue miniseries, the art for which is half-finished. I saw the pages for the first two issues at the con, and thought they looked spectacular. Also coming… eventually… is a comic book version of my werewolf novella, THE SKIN TRADE. Daniel Abraham did the script for that one too. Unfortunately, we just lost the third (!) artist to have been assigned to the project (he failed to turn in any actual work), so we’re now back to square one. But Avatar will find someone great eventually, I have no doubt.

Meanwhile, IDW Comics decided that C2E2 was the place to break the news about the comic I will be doing with them: a graphic adaptation of DOORWAYS, the alternate world show that I wrote and produced for ABC Television back in 1992-93. We’re starting with the pilot, but if the sales are good enough, there’s no reason we couldn’t continue and do the unproduced back-up scripts as well, and then maybe some originals. The series was designed to be open-ended, and the comic will be as well. Still very early on this one, so we don’t have an artist to announce as yet, but IDW promises me we’ll attach someone great soon. I’m especially pleased to get this one going, so the wider world will finally get to meet Cat and Tom and share some of the adventures I had planned for them. There’s nothing as frustrating as working for close on two years on a project no one ever gets to see (well, the bloated two-hour version of DOORWAYS was released on videotape way back when, so a few people got to see it, but the comic will be based on my script, not the episode as filmed [in other words, the characters will not look like the actors, the SFX will be much better, the costume and set design and other visuals should be better, etc]).

(And before some of the Ice & Fire purists out there get their panties in a twist, please note, all my writing on DOORWAYS was done in 1992 and 1993, the ball will now be in the hand of IDW Comics and the artist they select, this project will NOT take any writing time away from A DANCE WITH DRAGONS or subsequent Ice & Fire novels, even if it runs for ten years).

C2E2 also included lots of talk about adaptating Ice & Fire itself to graphic novel form. I have a half dozen different comics publishers actively pursuing those rights, and I took meetings with most of them during the weekend. No decision, but I listened. I may or may not sign on for this… still undecided at this point… but I gather some formal proposals may soon be forthcoming, so I will at least consider those. If we do authorize a comic series or graphic novels, it will be based on the novels, NOT on the HBO television series. That’s a separation of rights issue.

I also had a great lunch with Mo Ryan of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. We ate at Berghoff’s in the Loop, a real Old Chicago sort of place, and a former haunt of mine (once a month or so, when I could afford it) from the days when I was a VISTA volunteer attached to the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation, and working in the Loop. I could tell you what we talked about, but then I’d have to kill you…

That Toddling Town

April 15, 2010 at 12:07 am
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Off to Chicago tomorrow morning.

C2E2! Greektown!! Funny books!!!

It’s all good. Especially the flaming cheese. (Len Wein likes to say that “opaa” is Greek for “the cheese is on fire”).

(We won’t talk about the alleged pizza).

Hope to see some of you at the con.

Back at the old stand on Tuesday morning.

(P.S. Had a good day writing today. Half the day on the book, half the day on the script. That’s something I NEVER do. But today everything seemed to click. Taxes are done too).

((Need more days like today)).

(((Soon))).

Some Great New Greens…

April 13, 2010 at 6:35 pm
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… from the supremely talented sculptors at Dark Sword Miniatures.

First up, from Jeff Grace, here’s Euron Greyjoy, the Crow’s Eye, with his hellhorn:

Next, from Tom Meier, comes Sam the Slayer himself, Sam Tarly of the Night’s Watch:

Also from Tom Meier, we have Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell:

And last, but definitely not least for the lecherous amongst us (myself included), the lovely Shae, from Tom Meier and dressed for play:

For more pix, visit the Dark Sword website at http://darkswordminiatures.com/

This latest batch of figures are not yet ready for sale, but lots of the earlier ones are.

FEVRE DREAM steaming your way

April 13, 2010 at 4:50 pm
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The first issue of the FEVRE DREAM miniseries from Avatar Comics will be in the stores on Wednesday, I’m pleased to announce.

The series will run to ten issues. The script/ adaptation was done by Daniel Abraham, author of the Long Price Quartet and creator of Jonathan Hive in the Wild Cards book. Artwork by Rafa Lopez of Malaga, Spain.

The original story, of course, is from my 1982 historical horror novel, FEVRE DREAM.

Check it out.

And if you’ll be in the Chicago area this weekend, be sure to drop by the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo ( http://www.chicagocomicandentertainmentexpo.com/) and get a signed copy at the Avatar booth, where I’ll be hanging for most of the weekend.