One of My Big Announcements for January

First, to everyone who looked at the picture in the last entry and said to yourself, “why, John Scalzi is in Vancouver, Canada, of course,” give yourself a pony. A pretty pony. Indeed that’s where I am at the moment. For those who additionally tried to guess at which hotel and specific floor of said hotel I’m on: Dude, stop stalking me.

The reason I’m in Vancouver, aside from having dinner at Fuel last night with Joseph Mallozzi, can now be revealed: I have a new gig as Creative Consultant for the upcoming Stargate: Universe television series. I’ve been talking to the SGU folks about it informally for some  time and flew out to meet the producers and writers, and talk about the ideas and directions of the new series. I also got the tour of the sets, which are still under construction, and which look pretty damn nifty so far. It all went very well, and I liked what they were doing with the show and the people involved, and equally importantly they seemed to like me too. So I was happy to say yes when they invited me onboard.

To answer questions that immediately come to mind: What “creative consultant” means in this case is to assist the producers and directors in shaping the direction of the series, to offer technical writing suggestions and advice, and basically to be useful when they want another point of view on something; it’s a background rather than foreground sort of job. No, I won’t be writing for the series at this point; hey, I just got the one gig, let me do that first. Yes, I’ve seen scripts and now know all sorts of stuff about the series you don’t, yet. No, I won’t tell you anything more than what’s already out there; my title is “creative consultant,” not “dude who leaks stuff.” Yes, the producers and writers are very smart folks who have a definite idea of what they want SGU to be, and I think it’s a good and intriguing idea with lots of interesting possibilities, which is why I signed on. No, I won’t be moving to Vancouver, though it’s a lovely town. Yes, dinner last night was spectacular, and I’m currently filled with crispy duck and other delights. I know for a fact Joe Mallozzi will be blogging about it, with lots of pictures of our dishes. Foodies, prepare to go insane.

The main reason I’m talking this job is that it looks like it’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun; as you may recall,  I noted earlier this year that one of the first questions I was going to ask about any potential gig this year was whether I would actually enjoy myself doing it, because life’s too short, you know? SGU indeed looks like fun to me, and it’s neat to be asked to get in on the ground floor of a television series and help to make it something all of you would want to watch. So that’s what I’m doing, and why I’m in lovely Vancouver, Canada today.

119 thoughts on “One of My Big Announcements for January

  1. Ha! I saw the pic last night and thought: “That looks exactly like the street outside my hotel when I stayed in Vancouver last year…” but figured I had to be wrong. I’m not wrong! What’s more, my memory is better than I thought! Yes!

    Also: congrats! TV production is the most fun in the world. Eat well and say random things in production meetings. Keeps them on their toes.

    Oh, and if you have time, hop on the ferry to Victoria and go to Pagliacci’s downtown. Best cheesecake in the known universe.

  2. Gratz on the CC gig, John! You’re on your way to reshaping entertainment in your own image! Bwa ha ha!

    (Seriously, that’s awesome. Enjoy!)

  3. Congratulations. I hope we can hear just what exactly a creative consultant does or does the job description say “whipping boy”?
    Just read the wiki and the show stars Robert Carlyle. Excellent. He is one of the those actors that I remember vividly the first time I saw him. 1994, in an episode of Cracker.

  4. >>Todd @ 3
    You’re in luck, then. The plot synopsis on Wikipedia makes this show sound suspiciously like Farscape. Or Voyager.

    And if the SGC isn’t using bright green clone soldiers on the opposite side of the universe, Scalzi, there’ll be hell to pay!

  5. Ive never thought much of Stargate, but I’ll try it again now that you have some shaping ability. Good luck with that.

    If your novels slow down because of frequent trips to the Pacific Northwest, we, your brainpal, will be quite upset.

  6. I got actor pals in Vancouver, who get hired for the various series filming there….so if I can get a good word in….

    (Or, at the least, you can get comped in to see a lot of theatre…)

  7. Dude in room 734 in the southwest corner.

    I know things Dude. You know things.. Best tell them to be dude.

    Just saying duuuude.

    Going to be interesting to see the comments on Whatever since I avoid other forums talking about SG.

    But I will miss my Atlantis.

  8. Hey, neat!

    I guess I’ll have to give this a look when it comes out.

    Also, can you bring us back some poutine?

  9. Please consult a hot alien chick into the storyline.

    I don’t think they need a consultant to do THAT….

  10. Cool stuff! I’m a big fan of stargate (and of joe mallozzi’s blog!) – neat to see two creative entities I like collide.

    Are you a fan of SG1 and Atlantis?

  11. Congrats..

    Oh and the restuarant is FUEL…typo…I’ve been reading his blog for years now…its his favorite place..

  12. So does this mean that John Scalzi is to Stargate: Universe as Harlan Ellison is to Babylon 5? Because that alone is pretty cool.

  13. I’m drooling with anticipation. The Stargate universe is one of my all time favorites! After Star Wars of course…

  14. Awesome, Scalzi — we’ll be watching, and catching up.

    ::note to self: attend to Netflix queue::

    @16: Don’t mind Nathan. He’s been terrible sick and that’s the patent medicines typing.

  15. Congrats on the new gig. Although I didn’t care much for Atlantis. I’m looking forward to Universe. Hopefully you’ll be able to breathe some creativity back into the franchise.

  16. Congrats on what sounds like a ridiculously fun job. At the same time, though, damn you Scalzi! Now I need to find time to watch another television show!

  17. Hi again Mr Scalzi

    Greetings again from Tipperary here in Ireland.

    Congratulations on your new job!! As a Stargate Regular (and Joseph Mallozzi Blogee) I am delighted you are joining the madness! All the news on SGU is very encouraging. I look forward to your thoughts/inputs and additions to Universe. Congratulations again…and don’t forget to check out Don Francesco’s!!

    Best Wishes

    Shirt’n’Tie

  18. The Fighter:

    No green soldiers as far as I know. Try to make it through the pain.

    BZArcher:

    Any poutine I find I plan on carrying in my stomach.

    M@D:

    Fixed! Thanks for the clarification. I want to get the name right because it was an excellent restaurant.

    Mark Moskowitz:

    Harlan and I are of not dissimilar heights, at the very least.

  19. Well, huh. The response from me was a loud “Huh!” When the fiancée asked, and I explained, she too said “Huh!”

    We hadn’t been planning on watching the show — Craplantis was just so… crappy. But now I guess I’ll have to give it a shot.

  20. Oh My God!

    I love Stargate and was sad to see the last episode of Atlantis this week (in the UK). Great to hear that you’re getting involved in the next iteration of the series.

    I expect great things from ‘Universe’ now. No pressure!

  21. Curse you, John Scalzi!!! After a decade long fanatical loyalty to Stargate, it was my last guilty TV pleasure, and I have already retired my television. Just when I thought I was freeeeeeee…..

  22. I *was* going to pass on watching SGU due to SG storyline fatigue, but now I’ll have to reconsider.

    Ok, the pool starts here:

    Which SGU Episode and Act will the first Pork-product & Feline reference appear?

  23. Congratulations!

    They need what you know, of Science Fiction, and of Film, and of New Technology. You’d like what they have: specific audience potential, $$$, and perks. A Marriage Made in Heaven.

    As they say in the Greater Hollywood Region: “Let’s have lunch.”

    Whoops, got to go. Late for a story conference…

  24. Congratulations! What a cool-ass gig to land. Can’t wait to see what you and the others come up with. Like Colin, I was sad to see Stargate Atlantis end.

  25. Wow, that sure boosts my hopes for SGU.

    Can you get them to fix the howling science errors before they hit the screen? (I mean, they’re not as bad as Star Trek, where someone’s “genetic profile” included their clothes, but Stargate’s MATH was wrong.)

    Also, I think there should be an episode where [omitted because I don’t want to kill the idea by mentioning it in public]. I will sell you this idea for $0.01 US, which is its approximate worth on the open market.

  26. I kindof feel like I just discovered the Reese’s peanut butter Cup: Stargate & Scalzi. Two of my current favorites put together. Very cool. Very.

  27. Yes! I was hoping something like this would happen.

    I was listening to Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing (because I am nerdy on levels that make Jesus cry) and a bunch of the Stargate people that were interviewed were talking about how much they loved your books.

    Congratulations, Mr. Scalzi. now I’m looking forward to Stargate Universe even more than I was before.

  28. Hey that’s great news. Glad to hear it. I found about you, your righting and your blog from Joe’s blog and book of the month club. Glad to see the recognition come full circle.

    If you do follow his blog, then maybe you know if Joe Abercrombie might become a Euporean Consultant in the near future. He could help writing for Robert Carlyle maybe.

  29. This is great! Two of my favourite things in one place, although I’d love to see Rodney from Atlantis with a Brainpal or something. Hope you have a fun time with this.

  30. Wow! It’s great to see my favorite author joining up with my favorite sci-fi show. Only good things can ensue.

  31. Sweet, you’ve got your foot in the door! Maybe there’ll be an OMW series (or one set in that ‘verse, at least) eventually.

    Congrats!

  32. My favourite author is getting involved with my favourite TV concept. What better start to 2009 could I wish for. Looking forward to see the fruits of your combined talents.

  33. Well, congrats!

    I noted earlier this year that one of the first questions I was going to ask about any potential gig this year was whether I would actually enjoy myself doing it, because life’s too short, you know?

    Words to live by, as long as they don’t coincide with “dirt poor.”

  34. Well, this should be fun. I’ve often wondered how the Stargate franchise would fair with a little more bacon and snark.

    Congrats, John. That whole Stargate thing always looked like it would be a hell of a lot of fun to be a part of, and I think so long as you remember to take your sense of humor to work, the show should, just like all its other incarnations, be a screaming success.

    I’d envy you, but, from what I gather, that end of Canada is largely poutine-free.

  35. Nice, I was hoping something like that would happen when I saw you were off to dinner with them. Should add some brilliance to the mix.

  36. Congratulations!!!

    Now if only they (Mallozzi and co.) will definitively say that Sam and Jack are married and expecting!

  37. i have to say congrats. I am a huge fan of the stargate Series (movies, games, books, and shows) and i am a huge fan of yours so life just keeps getting better.

  38. Cool, noep sorry, very cool! Another good reason to watch. This may call for a BLT sandwich party for the premier. BTW, congrats.

  39. On the one hand I’m happy for you and hopeful that the quality of the new series will be better IF Mallozzi and company y’know, LISTEN to you.

    Personally I have found that Mallozzi and the writers he championed can’t write strong women worth a damn. They either ignored the strong female characters (Sam Carter reduced to a desk jockey on SGA/Elizabeth Weir never used well after season two of SGA, Teyla’s characterization marginalized more or less after the character became a mommy) for ones that were weak in personality (and they needed to be saved by the strong men) and were more or less sexy eye candy. Not to mention killing off the more interesting female characters just for cheap drama.

    (Mallozzi would disagree but there are hundreds of female Stargate and SGA fans who would point to the lack of female script writers for the show and wonder if Mallozzi and Co. think women are in Sci-fi only for the eye candy factor and otherwise have cooties.)

    Sorry, I shouldn’t rant. It’s just that really want good female characters I can root for in the science fiction shows I watch.

    Given how you’ve written Jane Sagan and Zoe, I sincerely hope you’ll have some influence in the characterization of women on the show. And that you’ll have fun.

  40. Way to go SGU! That’s the best news about it I’ve heard to date (except maybe hearing that Robert Carlyle is on board) hmm Scalzi – Robert Carlyle, Robert Carlyle – Scalzi, it doesn’t get much better than that.

  41. First response: Oh. Snap.

    Second response: Can you consult them into giving Wil a part? That would constitute an awesome hat trick – Stargate, Wil and you.

  42. Hmm.. Wasn’t too enthralled with what sounds like Stargate:Voyager, but I’ll check it out now. The original series was fun because the cast had on screen chemistry and the ‘go through gate to do mission’ thing fit episodic TV well I thought. Atlantis was OK but devolved into sterotypes a bit too much. All of the series have had a disconcerting tendency to pit SGC against some galaxy threatening enemy who just happens to be not good enough to kill us off which stretches believability more than a bit. I’d bet they could keep the flavor of that universe without that.

    And… holy crap Neal Asher commented?!

  43. First off, obviously, this is way awesome to see you move into another field. I’m not familiar with SG except for the movie, but it sounds like you can really make a mark here.

    The question I’m curious about is: why you? Not in an insulting way, but there are tons of writers out there to pick from, so what did they think you would bring to the show? Plotting skills? World-building? Fart jokes?

    And are you the only one doing this, or have they hired a number of consultants?

  44. Oooooo that is exciting and makes me hopeful for the new series. I was bummed when Atlantis ended the other night.

    Its like, you just get to know characters and get attached to them and they end the series! Poop. But now I am looking forward to the new one. If you are helping I imagine it will actually be smart and stuff. woohoo!

    Looking forward to Friday too, not only because of your SF event but because it will be done in time for Battlestar Galactica! Friday is going to be uber sci fi geek out day for me. woohoo!

  45. Bill Peschel:

    As to why they picked me, you’d have to ask them. My assumption is they like what I do, writingwise, and because I have a professional history of looking at science fiction critically. As to whether there are others they will use in the same capacity: Dunno.

    Rick:

    Sure, it’s him. Neal Asher’s the bomb.

  46. Congratulations. I was a little leery of a new series starting so soon after SGA ended, but I’m interested to see what they come out with.

  47. Hey, welcome to the Stargate franchise :) Expect of lot of ‘gaters’ to be dropping by and following your every word and dissecting your blog for hidden clues as to what will happen in SGU :)

  48. Okay, whilst in Vancouver, I highly recommend a restaurant called The Afghan Horseman, though I must admit, I haven’t been there since they moved locations. If you’ve never had Afghani food, I suggest you try it out. Mmm…

    Oh yeah, and congrats on the new gig. I’m really looking forward to the new series, as I was never all that fond of the Atlantis one, though it definitely grew on me lately, and the last several episodes were pretty good, especially the last two.

  49. Very cool. Thanks for the update. I’ve just come to the SG Universe late…started watching the first TV show as Atlantis was airing the last episode. But I’ll try to catch up before SGU starts. Very cool to see that you’ll be there.

  50. I’m later than most to congratulate you, but no less sincere! That’s a great gig, and I hope you have a blast and make a decent pile of money at the same time.

  51. Hey, congratulations, John! It took a lot of convincing (and boredom) for me to give the Stargate series a try, because the memory of the movie was still festering in my mind, but once I did, I was glad. They have a very thoroughly constructed world at this point, and they’ve left a lot of room to do more with it. I look forward to the result.

    Also, there’s really good beer a couple hours south of Vancouver, and I’d be happy to spring for it.

  52. Damn straight Neal’s the bomb! And in amongst my half caffeinated reply above I forgot to say congrats. I can see your sensibility meshing well with the best of SG. Have fun!

  53. That’s fantastic news. I now hold a glimmer of hope that this time around they might be able to write their characters somewhat consistently and manage to find things to do with their female characters.

    No pressure! :)

  54. i’m a *huge* fan of stargate (got the big ole box set of all ten seasons of SG-1 for xmas).

    i’m so jealous. If they ever give you an extra plane ticket and, yanno, you don’t have anyone else to go with you, I’m available.

    i’m nice, easy-going, and won’t freak you out. ;)

    And if you get stuck on Stargate Universe minutiae (how things function, not the new show), I’d be happy to fill you in in painful detail.

  55. put simply , MGM seem to have lost the plot thats common of the US studio’s….

    your just not making for peoples lifetime dayly peak of sci-fi-opera, come big brother fiction such as the long term Dr who, star trek, or even the classic babylon5 that could make a come back if there were ant vision in the US these days….

    want to save cash, fine do the amander tapping ,green screen innovations, actors want to move in and out of different jobs long term, fine , do the UK classic life long term soaps type new for old faces swaps etc…

    but most of all you cancel a show without another one already shot and ready to air , and your still doing the antiquated weekly show spot instread of the dayly spot in this fast moving internet motivated ordience, weekly doesnt cut it, people will just record and wait for several hours to collect up before viewing, get out of the old and slow mindset and start producing continuous long term related stories for the dayly markets in this low income down turn.

    take a page from ananda, and put up some real HD web 10 minute cuts of pre-shows and build your 5 minute wonder show, remember, people want long term stability and continuation in some form ,not months of nothing, only to find out its nothing remotly related outside the name and a solid state big ring…..

  56. Ooo…

    I’d stopped watching Atlantis a season or two ago, because of how horribly they screwed everything up. But I’ll have to check out the new one.

  57. I’ve got no idea who you are (linked here from a friend) but if you know anything about science fiction, particularly the writing of, then you’re very welcome.

  58. Coooooool stuff to be happinin’ man. I haven’t watched any SG since the original series but from the sound of some of the comments, it won’t matter much. I’m looking forward to Scalzi consulted episodes.

    And by the way, I’m looking approximately northwest from my apartment in Everett Washington. Waving like a maniac so it’ll cover the 80 miles in between. HI JOHN! Figure I have to yell, 80 miles is a long way. 8D

    Since you’ll be flying over us when you fly down to San Francisco, just wave back. I’m sure I’ll see it

  59. First of congrats!
    From what i hear the new season is based on an ancient warship traveling through dimensions.
    1. how about adding a few real twists in the new series like you would find in episodes like prison break and 24, you think you know whats going to happen then boom big twist and just as you think you know again boom another e.c.t.
    2. how about an episode where the team jump in to a massive war going on between the azgard and those aliens we know nothing about that appeared in season 5 of Atlantis.
    3. if you remember your star trek history they did an episode where the crew went back in time on to the old enterprise without being seen by the crew members, this story line has possabilities.

    as a massive fan i kind of expected to much from the movie versions and found them to be more like an extended episode version and did not get that movie blockbuster feal from them, so i hope the new atlantis movie explosive!!

  60. Heh, since you’re in town at the right time of year, I gotta say it… Look up at the sky. Is that not clearly the inspiration for the first line of Neuromancer? =)

    And since your hotel is literally 4 blocks in a straight line from my apartment, allow me to do a little tour guide pointing for good poutine: Head south down Burrard till you hit Davie St., then hang a left and go past Howe St. There will be a place called Fritz on your right halfway to the next street(Granville). It shall be pleasing.

    And since it was mentioned upthread, it would be made of awesome were you to make it to White Dwarf Books… All the cool kids do it!! =)

  61. It’s been said, but I’ll say it again: *SQUEE*!

    I will be crossing my fingers that the nice SGU people solicit your advice early and often and that they do in fact HEED your advice!

    Go, you!

  62. I know I’m like the seven billionth person to say this, but SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!
    I’m so happy you’re a consultant for what is probably gonna be one of my favorite new shows of whatever year it actually comes out!
    Dude, you’re like living the dream!

  63. Congrats!

    Now, some points:

    The whole Robert Carlyle character sounds very Lost In Spacey.

    If I had one recommendation it would be to keep audiences on their toes – I hate series where you can pretty much nothing game-changing will happen, that everything will be back to normal at the end. Let people die!

  64. What a great gig! I’ve never seen any of the STARGATE shows, but I’ll have to watch this one, especially if it embraces a bit of a “print” attitude toward SF.

    My only concern is that it’s a bit too much like LOST IN SPACE or VOYAGER in its conception. The problem is, if the producers do a lot of stories about the crew trying to get home, we know we’re in for a disappointment from the beginning, because they won’t. But if they don’t do those stories, then why is being thrown so far from Earth part of the format? VOYAGER, in particular, suffered from that dilemma. But I’d love to be surprised.

    Again, good luck and congratulations.

    Dave

  65. Hey, congrats on the gig! Hope it’s tons of fun for you. Personally, this makes me much more interested in checking out the show. I know you’re not the guy who leaks stuff, but will you at least dish about the process after episodes have aired, Kung Fu Monkey style?

  66. I hate Stargate. Don’t get me wrong, SG-1 and Atlantis both had potential (Atlantis’ first season was actually pretty good), but they squandered it on ‘monster/virus or the week’ filler episodes and deus ex machina-plagued storylines. Hopefully, you’ll be in a position to discourage this kind of shoddy storytelling and steer Stargate in a new direction.

  67. Hey John; Jim here, writer of stuff (including many Stargate tie-ins and audio dramas) – it’s great to see a voice from the world of lit SF being brought in to add expertise to a TV series. Hope to see you writing for the show at some point in the future.

  68. Wow! That’s fantastic – I always really loved Stargate. SG: Atlantis seemed a smidge skimmed-milky to me, but that’s just pers’nal preference. Really looking forward to SGU even more now that you’re working on it! *simper, fawn*

    Oh and if they need a rilly rilly rilly good effects animator, you know if you just happen to hear someone saying “Gee, I wish we had a rilly rilly rilly good effects animator right about now” by the water cooler or something, don’t forget your old mate Mark, eh? Eh? Oh, another restraining order… cool…

  69. Congrats, John. I was a little leery of SGU. But you have now convinced me that it’s worth a scheduling slot on my DVR, once it goes live.

  70. Of course, as has already been established in SG-1, there’s every possibility that the creative consultant is himself an alien with amnesia.

    /me looks askance at John.

  71. Mr. Scalzi, to be honest, I’m scared. You have so much background material to draw on; the corollary being what to avoid. My humble advice: avoid the traps that were built into series like Star Trek Voyager and Farscape. Stick with the K.I.S.S. principle. Use the volumes of previously aired material. My ideal would be a recurring adversary, following our intrepid adventurers. If I have to watch a Gould-possessed Wraith or a Replicator Prior, I will know you aren’t trying. I read your books and you are better than that. That said, thank you for taking the job.

    Oh, just for my personal edification, it might be nice if someone were to define just how much better the Ancients’ technology is, when compared to the Asgard. Best of luck and all that.

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