Not a Blog

Howard Is Gone

January 19, 2024 at 2:08 pm
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Howard Waldrop died on January 14 in Texas, of a stroke.   He was 77 years old.  (Two years my senior, barely).

The world got a little darker then.

I learned of Howard’s passing through a phone call from a mutual friend.   I was away from home when it happened, out of the country, with no email and no internet, else I would have posted something here much sooner.

Howard and I never lived in the same city, nor the same state, but we had been friends for a long long time.   When we first “met” — via comic fandom and the US mail — John F. Kennedy was in the White House and both of us were in high school, Howard in Texas and me in New Jersey.   I had just bought a comic book from him.   BRAVE & BOLD #28, as it happened.  Starro the Conquerer.   Howard charged me a quarter.   When he sent the comic, he backed it up with a nice drawing of a barbarian on stiff cardboard, and a friendly letter asking me if I liked Conan.   We struck up a correspondence that lasted more than half a century.  We finally met in person in 1972, at MidAmerican Con in Kansas City.    He was my oldest friend from the SF community… the kindest, brightest, funniest man you could meet…   and one of the greatest writers of his generation.

He was one of  a kind.   There will never be another like him.  But he only wrote one-and-a-half novels, so he never got the acclaim (or the money) that he deserved.  These days, short story writers get little respect (’twas not always so, at least in SF and fantasy) and less money.  And Howard Waldrop was among the very best short story writers ever to work in our genre.

And certainly the most original.

I last spoke to Howard less than a week before his death.    He has been living in an assisted living hotel in Austin for the past few years.   We have been adapting a few of Howard’s classic stories into short films, and our mutual friend Robert Taylor had just screened a rough cut of MARY-MARGARET ROAD GRADER for him on his laptop.  (Howard did not use a computer and had no truck with email, texts, or social media).  I was calling to ask if he liked it.  He did, I am pleased to say… and I am so so so happy that he got to see the film before he left us.   He was not entirely happy when we spoke… he had fallen out of bed a few days before, and had required help to get back up.   That made him grouchy.  Howard gave good grouchy.   But talking about the film cheered him up.  That was good to hear.   He was laughing by the time we ended the call.

We are making a couple of other Waldrop adaptations as well, and I promised him I’d get him a cut of those as well before the end of January.   I never dreamed when hanging up that we would never speak again.

There’s so much more I could say about Howard… and I will, I will.   But not today.   This would turn into a novel if I told all my stories in one long post.   So many memories.  So much laughter.   So much love.

I still cannot believe he is gone.  I want to call him up right now, and hear him laugh again.

Current Mood: gloomy gloomy

Amazing Animation

December 31, 2023 at 8:24 am
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There is so much on television these days, in the age of streaming, it is hard to keep up.  The days when we had only three networks, and we pretty much knew what was on each of them every night of the week  are long gone.   One thing is the same, though.  It is always a joy to stumble on a show that you haven’t seen before, a great show that just blows you away, that sinks its claws into you and won’t let go.

Parris and I found one  just last week; an animated series called BLUE EYE SAMURAI.

I hardly know where to start on this one.   Once we started watching it, we could not stop.   Binged the whole thing in three nights, and I am already hungry for the second season.   They are doing some amazing things with animation these days, as series like LOVE, DEATH, AND ROBOTS have shown… and this is coming from a kid who was weaned on the classic Disney features (my favorites being PINOCCHIO and DUMBO, but really, I loved them all — the originals, please, not these “live action” rehashes).   Even so, BLUE EYE SAMURAI has the most gorgeous art that I have ever seen.  The story is terrific as well.   Set in Japan during the Edo period, it is violent, visceral, sexy (and more than a little kinky in spots), with amazing action sequences and a cast of well-developed characters, colorful and complex and real.   Flawed heroes, villains who are more than cartoons (though they are cartoons, being drawn, after all).

It reminded me of some books I read… what was the title of that series, now?   Something about a song…

Ah, never mind…

BLUE EYE SAMURAI is very much its own thing, and it is magnificent.   Even if you don’t normally watch animation, give it a try.   It’s terrific.  If you like my own stuff, I think you’ll love it.

As it happens, HBO and I have our own animated projects, set in the world of A SONG OF ICE & FIRE.   None of them have been greenlit yet, but I think we are getting close to taking the next step with a couple of them.   When this last round of development started a few years back, we had four ideas for animated shows, with some great talents attached.   Writers rooms and summits, outline and scripts followed in due course… but, alas, two of the original projects were subsequently shelved.

(Those of you who have read my reports in years past may recall that I prefer to say “shelved” rather than “killed,” as nothing is ever dead for good in Hollywood, and a project put on the shelf one year can be taken off the shelf a few years later).   (( I still have hopes of presenting the stories that we shelved in another form, perhaps as graphic novels)).

Work on the other two animated projects continues apace, however…and meanwhile, we have moved NINE VOYAGES, our series about the legendary voyages of the Sea Snake, over from live action to animation.   A move I support fully.   Budgetary constraints would likely have made a live action version prohibitively expensive, what with half the show taking place at sea, and the necessity of creating a different port every week, from Driftmark to Lys to the Basilisk Isles to Volantis to Qarth to… well, on and on and on.   There’s a whole world out there.  And we have a lot better chance of showing it all with animation.   So we now have three animated projects underway.

Will any of them make it to air?  happen?   No way to know.   Nothing is certain in Hollywood.   But if it does happen, with one or two or all three shows, I hope we can make them  as good as gorgeous and gripping as  BLUE EYE SAMURAI.   We will for damn sure try.

A Blast From My Past

December 13, 2023 at 9:46 am
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I was wandering through the Land of the Streamers a few nights back, as I am wont to do sometimes, looking for a new series or an old movie that might pique my interest.   So many streamers, so many choices, you never know what you’re going to run across.

This time, I ran across one of my own shows:  DOORWAYS, the busted pilot I created and filmed back in 1992 for Columbia Pictures and ABC, is being streamed on Amazon Prime.   Came as a surprise to me.   No one had told me this was happening.

DOORWAYS is the great “What If” of my life.   It was an alternate world show, and had the pilot been picked up to series, well, that would have been my own alternate world.

It all started back in 1991.   I had been working in television and film since 1986, writing for THE TWILIGHT ZONE, MAX HEADROOM, and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, then moving into development (“development hell,” as they call it out in LA, and with good reason) doing screenplays and pilot scripts for various and sundry movies and TV shows that never got made, but that summer I found myself between assignments, and began a new novel… a fantasy that would, ultimately, become A GAME OF THRONES.   I was about a hundred pages into that come fall when my Hollywood agent called.  It was “pitch season,” and she had set up meetings for me with ABC, NBC, and Fox, to pitch series concepts.

I had an idea I wanted to sell: an adaptation of “The Skin Trade,” the novella I had written about a hot female private eye and a hypochondriac werewolf collection agent, set in a fictional midwestern city that combined aspects of Chicago and Dubuque, Iowa, both places I had lived.  The story had won the World Fantasy Award, and I thought it had the makings of a good television series.   So I put the novel aside and hopped on a plane for LA.

I couldn’t just go in with one idea, however.   Sometimes, when you do that, you are one sentence into your pitch when the execs say, “sorry, we’re doing something similar,” and the meeting is over five minutes after it began.   My agent had urged me to have a second arrow in my quiver.   I was pondering that on the plane when a line came back to me, the opening sentence of a much older story of mine, a short fantasy called “The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr.”   There is a girl who goes between the worlds, that one began.   I did not think “Laren Dorr” itself would work as a TV series, but that line planted a seed, and by the time I landed at LAX I had the idea that became DOORWAYS.

It was a good thing I did.   As it happens, neither NBC nor ABC nor Fox wanted a werewolf show, but I had that second arrow in the quiver… and all three of them responded to the idea we were then calling DOORS.   ABC moved fastest, and made me a deal within hours of my leaving that meeting.   I spent the rest of 1991 writing — and rewriting, of course — the pilot script, and we got the green light to film early in the new year.   I brought in my friend Jim Crocker from my TWILIGHT ZONE days to share showrunning duties with me, and Columbia Pictures Television (where Jim had an overall) as the studio… and that summer we started shooting.

DOORWAYS (the name was changed to avoid confusion with Jim Morrison’s band and Oliver Stone’s movie) starred George Newbern, Kurtwood Smith, Carrie Anne Moss, Rob Knepper, Hoyt Axton, Tisha Putman, and an amazing young French actress named Anne Le Guernec.   For various complex reasons, we had to push back the shoot a few months, which made it too late to be considered for ABC’s fall schedule that year (network TV was very seasonal in those days)… but when we delivered late that summer, the network loved it.   Loved it so much that they ordered six (6) back-up scripts, an unusually high number.   I spent the rest of that year developing those episodes, writing one script myself and hiring and supervising five writers on the others.   We expected a mid-season pickup.   EVERYONE expected a mid-season pickup.   I had writers sending me sample scripts and agents pitching their clients for staff jobs.   It was an exciting time.

Alas.   The best laid plans of mice and men and television writers… as it happened, there was a shake-up in the executive suites at ABC.  And one of the iron laws of TV and film came into play:  the new guy never likes what the old guy loved.   The new guys passed on DOORWAYS.  We tried to sell it to the other networks, of course, but there were only four back then, and it was a rare thing when any of them bought a show developed by a competitor.   They all preferred home cooking.

That was quite a blow, I will confess.   We had come so close… much much closer than any of my other pilots… so close I could taste it.   And quick as that, it was done.   ABC eventually aired the pilot — “burned it off,” as they did with busted pilots — sometime that summer.  Even there, they screwed it up.   DOORWAYS was a ninety-minute show (ninety minute pilots were all the rage in the early 90s), but they scheduled it for a one hour time slot, then had to pull it.  I think they eventually rescheduled and ran it at three in the morning one night, but I am not even sure of that.   There was also a DVD, where they puffed up to two hours by adding deleted scenes.

There’s a good chance that more people will watch the show on Prime than have ever seen it before.

I hope so.   DOORWAYS was a turning point for me.  It taught me something about myself.   I was well paid for writing and producing the pilot, and for developing those back-up episodes.   Hell, I was well paid for all the pilots I wrote back then.   I was making more money than I had ever made in my life.  But I was not happy.   Working on shows like DOORWAYS, creating worlds and characters and plots, spending months or even years with them… only to find, in the end, that you had been writing for four execs in a room, that no one else would ever see what you had done… it was just too frustrating.   I had been a writer for twenty years at that point, I had won awards and lost them, gotten good reviews and bad ones, and that was fine… but doing work no one ever saw or read… no…

So I returned to that novel I had set aside in 1991, when I got on that plane for LA.   It became A GAME OF THRONES, and, well, I guess most of you know what happened after that.   At the time, I figured I was writing something that could never be filmed.  It was just too big for television, too long for a movie, too much sex, too much violence, too many characters, battles, and castles.

Hoo hah.  You know nothing, George Snow.

If DOORWAYS had been ordered to series… well, maybe it would have been cancelled after nine episodes, or maybe it would have run for nine seasons… television is a crapshoot at the best of times.   The only thing that’s certain is that my life, and career, would have been very different.  So maybe it all worked out for the best.   A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE and the world of Westeros is what I will be remembered for, if indeed I am remembered at all.

Like a doting father, though, I love all my children.  (I wrote a story about that too, “Portraits of His Children,” won a Nebula for that one, lost the Hugo to Harlan).   Dirk and Gwen, Haviland Tuf, Willie and Randi, Simon Kress, Abner and Joshua, the Nazgul (the band, not the RIngwraiths), Maris of Lesser Amberly, Popinjay and Lohengrin and the Great and Powerful Turtle… and Tom and Cat and Cissy too.

I am pleased that, at long long last, at least a few people will get to meet them.



Current Mood: amused amused

Minions Cosplaying Voyaging

December 9, 2023 at 10:29 am
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Recently some of the Fevre River Minions went on a promotional push at New York City ComicCon to push sales for VOYAGING Vol 1 The Plague Star, a new Graphic Novel Adapted and illustrated by our very own RAYA GOLDEN and based on the short story collection Tuf Voyaging.  The tale of a wanderer across the Thousand Worlds GRRMS beloved sci fi universe.

NOW to be clear these costumes are NOT from the Graphic Novel, since this is new material and no one could tell the difference between an established charater and some COOL cats from outer space we took to our advantage.  Plus one of the hashtags we’ve been pushing is #catsinspace so these are our cool cats 😉

Here are the other associated hashtags:

#catsinspace, #candygore, #VoyagingV1, #graphicnovel, #SciFi, #comics,#tenspeedgraphic, #theplaguestar 

Fans of the source material and new readers alike will love this in house adaptation of a fan favorite characters prologue story.


Here’s a link to the Amazon page please check it out and if you enjoy it leave a good review.

Photos shot by    Makeup by  Featuring the badass Minions Sid, Raya and Marisa cosplaying.


A Visit to Old Blighty

December 6, 2023 at 8:58 am
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I have been busy catching up these past couple of weeks, dealing with the thousand-odd emails that accumulated while I was over the Pond in London Towne for two-and-a-half weeks.   (Most of that was spam, though, and quickly dealt with).

It was a busy trip.  I have not been to London since before the Dublin Worldcon a few years ago.    That trip was largely for fun, this one was mostly work… though we did find time to see a few plays on the West End.  CABARET was amazing, but oh, so dark.   I love love love the film version with Liza Minelli, one of my favorite films of all time, but the stage production has a whole different feel.  Brilliant, but gut wrenching, especially considering the times we are living through right now.   We also caught the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE.   A wonderful book, but so much of it depends on internal monologue and Neil’s rich, evocative prose that I wondered how they could possibly bring it to the stage.   I need not have worried.  They did a masterful job.   I hear they may be bringing it to Broadway soon.  If so, don’t miss it.   Finally, we went to see THE MOUSE TRAP, the Agatha Christie whodunit that has been playing on the West End since 1952.   That was a fun evening as well.

And since we are talking theatre… one of the meetings I had in London was with Dominick and Duncan, the director and scriptwriter of our own stage play, the one we have been working on for the past few years.    Originally we were calling it HARRENHAL, but we have now settled on THE IRON THRONE as a title… until we think of something better.   Regardless, things are coming well, I think, and we are hopeful of being able to open in late 2024.   Maybe.   But you never know.   There’s still a lot of work to be done.

I also found time to meet with my British publisher, and my other British publisher, to talk WILD CARDS and A SONG OF ICE & FIRE and (of course) THE WINDS OF WINTER.

And… of course, of course… I also spent three days with HOUSE OF THE DRAGON.  Starting with a visit to the studio where HOT D is being shot.   (I had originally planned to visit there months ago, but the WGA strike put an end to that, and instead I stayed here in Santa Fe, working on WINDS OF WINTER and walking a picket line).   All I have to say about that is… ohmigod!  I am no stranger to film sets.  I have worked off and on in television and film since 1986, where I joined the staff of the TWILIGHT ZONE revival at CBS.   I still recall the rush where I saw them building Stonehenge on the sound stage behind my office, for an episode I’d written.   And of course I visited the GAME OF THRONES shoots in Belfast, Scotland, Morocco, and Malta.   Those were incredible too.   But nothing I have ever seen can compare with the Red Keep and Dragonstone sets they have built at Leavesden Studios in London.   HUGE, stunning, and so damned real that I felt as if I had gone through a time portal to medieval Westeros.   I love castles and have visited dozens of actual medieval castles, keeps, and towers in my time, and none of the real castles I’ve ever seen can hold a candle… or a torch… to our Red Keep.

It was not all tromping through sets, though.   I also spent two days locked in a room with Ryan Condal and his writing staff (Sara Hess, Ti Mikkel, David Hancock, and Philippa Goslett) talking about the third and fourth seasons of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON.   They were lively, fun discussions, and we got some good work done… though two days was not nearly enough.   There is so much ground to cover that I am not sure twenty days would have been enough.

The highlight of the trip, though, had to be the sneak preview that Ryan gave me of the first two episodes of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, season two.  (Rough cuts, of course).   Of course, I am hardly objective when talking about anything based on my own work… but I have to say, I thought both episodes were just great.   (And they are not even finished yet).   Dark, mind you.   Very dark.   They may make you cry.   (I did not cry myself, but one of my friends did).   Powerful, emotional, gut-wrenching, heart rending.   Just the sort of thing I like.  (What can I say?  I was weaned on Shakespeare, and love the tragedies and history plays best of all).

We also got to spent Halloween in London.    My minions made me dress up.   They are very bossy minions.

Also got to spend some time over there with friends old and new: Lisa Tuttle, Paul Cornell, Meredith Glynn, Jane Johnson, Mark Lawrence, Maisie Williams.

A lovely trip, all in all.  We even got to see some fireworks on the Fifth of November.

But now I am back, and there is so much work to be done.

Current Mood: tired tired

The Dragons Return

December 3, 2023 at 12:53 pm
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The dragons are coming back.

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON has wrapped its second season, and is now deep in post production.

HBO has just released the first teaser for season two.


HOTD season two coming your way this summer.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Highgarden Holiday Recipe from The Official Game of Thrones Cookbook

November 28, 2023 at 9:04 am
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Season’s Greetings from Westeros, Essos, and Beyond

As we head into the holiday season, where kitchens will be fragrant with delectable morsels, it seemed a fitting time to share an early look at The Official Game of Thrones Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel. Enjoy this sneak peek and scroll all the way down to discover a recipe you could incorporate into your year-end festivities!

The cookbook is presented as the in-world manuscript of Maester Alton, a curious, food-obsessed Citadel master who loves the fare of the highborn and small folk alike. His recipes evoke the world’s regions, history, and stories in a charming and knowledgeable voice. Each section is introduced with stunning woodcut illustrations like this one featured in the opening pages of the book.

To whet your appetite for all that is to come on May 7, 2024, peruse the table of contents at your leisure.

You’ll be able to enjoy everything the vast culinary world The Official Game of Thrones Cookbook has to offer next summer! In the meantime, astonish family and friends this fall by serving flavorful Highgarden Dumplings at your banqueting table.

Makes: 4 servings

Prep: 20 minutes

Cooking: 40 minutes

Nowhere in the Seven Kingdoms can boast such rich harvests or such flavorful produce as

the Reach. Perhaps there is some truth to the legends of Garth Greenhand and his agrarian

powers, but more likely the fertility of the lands around Highgarden can be attributed to the

more mundane properties of its soil and geography. Regardless, so great is the bounty of the

Reach that without its exports, much of Westeros would go hungry. One happy consequence

of these plentiful harvests is that cooks and farmwives throughout the region are endlessly

dreaming up new ways to employ their bounty.

One of my favorite dishes, rarely seen anywhere but the south, is a small dumpling made

with either squash or beetroot. The recipe is straightforward: the vegetables are roasted until

soft, then blended with flour and an egg to make a dough that can be cut small and boiled. The

resulting bite-size dumplings are soft and a little chewy. Sauced with butter, herbs, and cheese,

it’s a memorable combination that plates beautifully for honored guests.

1 pound (about 2 cups) butternut squash, peeled and cubed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 egg

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1½ to 2 cups all-purpose flour

Brown Butter Sauce

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Small handful of fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

½ cup cooked peas

Salt and ground black pepper

Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the squash with the olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes, flipping the squash halfway through, until very tender.

While the squash is cooking, make the sauce: Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large frying pan, stirring occasionally. After several minutes, it should become foamy and start to turn a nutty brown color. Reduce the heat to low, add in the sage, and then stir in the heavy cream. Let cook for several minutes, until somewhat thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the walnuts and peas. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Once the squash is cooked, add it to a medium mixing bowl and allow it to cool for several minutes. Add the egg and puree with an immersion blender until smooth (the squash may also be mashed by hand, but the texture might be more rustic). Add in the Parmesan and nutmeg. Gradually add in 1½ cups of the flour, then, if needed, continue to add flour until you have formed a dough that is not sticky and can be kneaded. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Divide the dough into quarters and, still working on the lightly floured surface, roll each quarter out into a rope that is no more than ½ inch thick, then cut each rope into sections about 1 inch long. Once all the dough has been cut, add the dumplings to the boiling water in batches of four. Allow the dumplings to cook for several minutes, until they are all floating at the top of the water, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon and drain them.

Add the cooked dumplings to the sauce and stir to coat. Serve warm and top with extra Parmesan cheese, if desired.




The Pain, the Pain

November 22, 2023 at 3:52 pm
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Ah, the New York Giants.    They made the playoffs last year, and even won a playoff game.   This year they were supposed to take the next step forward.  Hopes ran high.

And the New York Jets.   They just missed the playoffs last season, but they have a great defense, and they signed Aaron Rodgers in the off season.   Hopes ran high.

Then they started playing the games.


Life is meaningless and full of pain.

Current Mood: gloomy gloomy



November 11, 2023 at 7:52 am
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November 11.   Armistice Day.   Celebrated to mark the end of “the War to End War.”

Would that it had been so.    Alas.

Let us never forget the costs we play at war, however.   Herewith a powerful song from one of my favorite films of all time.


Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

NFL Football

October 27, 2023 at 9:32 am
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I don’t want to talk about it.