I have posted this before, but it comes to mind every year on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.
Kipling said it better than I ever could.
Words to keep in mind.
Current Mood: sad
It’s awards season, and some of my Wild Cards writers have been covering themselves with glory.
David D. Levine, creator of the Cartoonist and the Recycler, just won SFWA’s ANdre Norton Award for best YA novel, for ARABELLA OF MARS.
Carrie Vaughn, creator of Curveball and Earth Witch and Wild Fox, took the Colorado Book Award for AMARYLLIS.
And one of our newest Wild Carders, Emma Newman (wait till you meet her character), made the shortlist for the UK’s prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award, for her novel AFTER ATLAS.
Congratulations, all. Well deserved.
Oh, and speaking of Carrie, check out her post on the Wild Cards blog site, a tribute to her favorite WC character (that she did not create herself), Doctor Tachyon.
Current Mood: cheerful
Our week-long M-M-Maxathon concluded on Satuday night at the Jean Cocteau with a staged table reading of “Xmas,” my thirty-year-old unproduced (until now) MAX HEADROOM script. And I have to say, we went out on a high note. We had a sold-out theatre, and the audience seemed to enjoy every moment of the performance, laughing and applauding at all the right places.
After thirty years, I was not at all sure how well my old script would hold up… especially with an audience of Max Headroom fanatics, many of whom had just sat through an entire week of Max, watching every one of the produced episodes. MAX HEADROOM was a really smart show, with some fine writing… tough acts to follow. But most of the viewers seemed to think “Xmas” was just as good as what had gone before, which gratified me no end.
One of the things that brought me back to books in the mid 90s, after ten years in television and film, was the sour taste that unproduced scripts left in my mouth… and in my soul. I was making good money during those years in “development hell,” but I came to realize that a paycheck was not enough. I hated spending months or years writing and rewriting a script, creating a world, a story, and characters I inevitably came to love, only to have some network or studio decide to pass. I wanted my stories told, and I wanted my teleplays and screenplays performed. Scripts are not meant to be read; to come alive, they need to be staged, acted out…
“Xmas,” written in 1987, was actually the first time in my short television career that I tasted the disappointment that so many screenwriters come to know so well. I had been writing for television for less than two years, after all, and up to “Xmas,” I’d had a charmed career. My only previous gig had been on TWILIGHT ZONE, where I wrote five scripts, every one of which was greenlit, produced, and telecast (though, okay, “The Road Less Travelled” got butchered on the way). “Mister Meat” had been a stumble, but I never went to script on that one. With “Xmas,” I went all the way, and the script had been delivered and slated, scheduled… only to have the show cancelled abruptly.
It’s been said that a writer’s characters are his children. If so, then unproduced scripts are a screenwriter’s stillborn children, and I have far too many of them (for my taste, at least — those who have worked longer in film and TV have many more). To have the oldest of those, “Xmas,” brought to life at long last… to hear the lines spoken, to hear the audience laugh… well, it meant a lot to me.
My thanks go out to our wonderful cast of local actors, especially Elias Gallegos, who played the starring role of Edison Carter. And to Lenore Gallegos, who did such a splendid job of putting this all together and directing. And especially to Michael Cassutt, who made this all happen, to “Max Headroom’s Daddy,” Steve Roberts… and to the one and only Matt Frewer, who graced our stage at the Jean Cocteau and brought M-M-Max to life one last time, hilariously.
Everyone had a good time on Saturday night, I think. But no one had a better time than me.
Current Mood: cheerful
The Jean Cocteau Cinema is primarily is a movie theatre, to be sure. We also feature various live events: music, comedy, magic, burlesque, and of course author interviews and readings. And we’re a bookstore as well, selling autographed copies of the titles from the various writers who have appeared here. If you’re a regular reader of the Not A Blog, you know all this. I’ve talked about all this frequently enough.
One thing you may not know is that we’re also an art gallery… well, kinda sorta. We have two walls in our lobby where we display the works of local and visiting artists, changing up every thirty days or so. I haven’t talked about that aspect of the JCC nearly as much.
But this month we have something very cool and unusual on our walls, a really stunning display of glass swords by local Santa Fe artist G. Michael Smith.
I might not want to go into battle with a glass sword — give me Valyrian steel — but they sure are pretty to look at. Come by and see them in person if you get the chance.
Last week in the trades a couple of stories appeared about NIGHTFLYERS:
There were a bunch more. Google and you’ll find ’em. Needless to say, once those stories appeared I was deluged with requests for comment and clarification.
Here’s the scoop.
In 1980 I wrote a novella called “Nightflyers.” It was one of my SF/ horror hybrids, a ‘haunted starship’ story, set in my Thousand Worlds universe. ANALOG published the first version, which weighed in at 23,000 words and got a beautiful cover. “Nightflyers” was nominated for a Hugo Award as Best Novella, but lost out to Gordon R. Dickson’s “Lost Dorsai” at Denvention. (That’s me and Parris at Denvention in the icon picture).
Later on, at the urging of editor Jim Frenkel, I expanded the novella to 30,000 words, and it was teamed with Vernor Vinge’s “True Names” as part of Dell’s ‘Binary Star’ series, an attempt to revive the old ‘Ace Double’ concept. I liked the original 23,000 words version, but I liked the expanded version even better. The expansions gave me room to flesh out the characters more. (In the original version, most of the secondary characters did not even have names).
In 1984 I sold the film and television rights to “Nightflyers” to a writer/ producer named Robert Jaffe and his father Herb.
In 1985 “Nightflyers” was published again as the featured story in a collection of my short work called NIGHTFLYERS, a trade paperback from Bluejay Books.
IN 1986 the Jaffes picked up their option and principal photography began on the film version of NIGHTFLYERS, directed by Robert Collector and starring Catherine Mary Stewart and Michael Praed. It was released in 1987. Jaffe’s screenplay, I think, was based on the 23,000 word version of the story rather than the expanded 30,000 word version, since all the secondary characters had new names, rather than the ones I’d given them for the Binary Star edition.
Which brings us to the present, and those news stories.
This new NIGHTFLYERS television series — actually, it is just a pilot script at present, still several steps short of going on-air, but I am told that SyFy likes the script a lot — was developed based on the 1987 movie, and the television rights conveyed in that old 1984 contract. Robert Jaffe is one of the producers, I see, but the pilot script is by Jeff Buhler. I haven’t had the chance to meet him yet, but hope to do so in the near future.
Since I have an overall deal that makes me exclusive to HBO, I can’t provide any writing or producing series to NIGHTFLYERS should it go to series… but of course, I wish Jaffe and Buhler and their team the best of luck. “Nightflyers” was one of my best SF stories, I always felt, and I’d love to see it succeed as a TV series (fingers crossed that it looks as good as THE EXPANSE).
And that’s all I know just now.
So while I was on the road out California way, the story broke about the four GAME OF THRONES spinoffs that HBO is developing. And of course the news has since spread everywhere, all over the web and all over the world.
Yes, it’s true. More or less. Though, as is all too common these days, various distortions and misapprehensions have crept into some of the reports along the way. And television being the fast-moving business that it is, there have already been some further developments.
For what it’s worth, I don’t especially like the term “spinoff,” and I don’t think it really applies to these new projects. What we’re talking about are new stories set in the “secondary universe” (to borrow Tolkien’s term) of Westeros and the world beyond, the world I created for A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. It is a world, and a pretty big one, and if there were eight million stories in the naked city back in the 50s, just think how many more there are in an entire world, and one with thousands of years of recorded history.
None of these new shows will be ‘spinning off’ from GOT in the traditional sense. We are not talking Joey or AfterMASH or even Frazier or Lou Grant, where characters from one show continue on to another. So all of you who were hoping for the further adventures of Hot Pie are doomed to disappointment. Every one of the concepts under discussion is a prequel, rather than a sequel. Some may not even be set on Westeros. Rather than ‘spinoff’ or ‘prequel,’ however, I prefer the term ‘successor show.’ That’s what I’ve been calling them.
Yes, I am involved, and have been for months. I had my first meeting with HBO about the possibility of a successor show back in August, when I pitched them two possible series. (One of those is among the concepts being developed, one is not). In the months that followed, other writers were brought in and pitched other ideas. Ultimately HBO decided to go ahead with four separate developments, to be written by Max Borenstein, Jane Goldman, Brian Helgeland, and Carly Wray.
It was stated in some of the reports that I am working with two of the four writers. That’s not quite right. I’ve actually been working with all four of the writers. Every one of the four has visited me here in Santa Fe, some of them more than once, and we’ve spent days together discussing their ideas, the history of Westeros and the world beyond, and sundry details found only in The World of Ice & Fire and The Lands of Ice & Fire… when we weren’t drinking margaritas and eating chile rellenos and visiting Meow Wolf. They are all amazing talents, and I am excited to be working with them. In between visits, I’ve been in touch with them by phone, text, and email, and I expect there will be a lot more back-and-forth as we move forward.
And there’s more. We had four scripts in development when I arrived in LA last week, but by the time I left we had five. We have added a fifth writer to the original four. No, I will not reveal the name here. HBO announced the names of the first four, and will no doubt announce the fifth as well, once his deal has closed. He’s a really terrific addition, however, a great guy and a fine writer, and aside from me and maybe Elio and Linda, I don’t know anyone who knows and loves Westeros as well as he does.
Some of the reports of these developments seem to suggest that HBO might be adding four successor shows to the schedule to replace GAME OF THRONES. Decades of experience in television and film have taught me that nothing is ever really certain… but I do think it’s very unlikely that we’ll be getting four (or five) series. At least not immediately. What we do have here is an order for four — now five — pilot scripts. How many pilots will be filmed, and how many series might come out of that, remains to be seen. (If we do get five series on the air, I might have to change my name to Dick Direwolf).
The one goal that EVERYONE involved shares here is to make these new shows just as good as GAME OF THRONES itself. No easy task, mind you. David Benioff and Dan Weiss are a tough, tough act to follow, as all those Emmys demonstrate.
I can’t tell you what the shows will be about (well, I could, but I won’t), but I will tell you a couple of things they WON’T be. Which will disappoint some of you, sure, but better to do that now than later, I think.
We’re not doing Dunk & Egg. Eventually, sure, I’d love that, and so would many of you. But I’ve only written and published three novellas to date, and there are at least seven or eight or ten more I want to write. We all know how slow I am, and how fast a television show can move. I don’t want to repeat what happened with GAME OF THRONES itself, where the show gets ahead of the books. When the day comes that I’ve finished telling all my tales of Dunk & Egg, then we’ll do a tv show about them… but that day is still a long ways off.
We’re not doing Robert’s Rebellion either. I know thousands of you want that, I know there’s a petition… but by the time I finish writing A SONG OF ICE & FIRE, you will know every important thing that happened in Robert’s Rebellion. There would be no surprises or revelations left in such a show, just the acting out of conflicts whose resolutions you already know. That’s not a story I want to tell just now; it would feel too much like a twice-told tale.
More than that, I will not say. Feel free to makes your guesses, if you like… but I am not going to be confirming or denying anything, so don’t expect replies.
And yes, before someone asks, I AM STILL WORKING ON WINDS OF WINTER and will continue working on it until it’s done. I will confess, I do wish I could clone myself, or find a way to squeeze more hours into the day, or a way to go without sleep. But this is what it is, so I keep on juggling. WINDS OF WINTER, five successor shows, FIRE AND BLOOD (that’s the GRRMarillion, remember?), four new Wild Cards books, some things I can’t tell you about yet… it’s a good thing I love my work.
The M-M-Maxathon got underway in fine style last night at the Jean Cocteau, with the screening of the original British TV movie, and the American remake of same. Michael Cassutt, who was a member of the writing staff on the show from beginning to end, was on hand to do the introductions and answer questions, and a fine time was had by all… even the young’uns who wandered in with absolutely no idea who the hell Max was.
The fun continues tonight with the screening of episodes two and three. Mike Cassutt will be with us once again, to answer questions and share all the great behind-the-scenes gossip.
And best of all, admission is FREE