Why I So Very Much Dig My Stargate:Universe Creative Consulting Gig

Because where else am I going to be able to give my thoughts on hyperthermophilic micro-organisms, infection vectors, black tape, M4 carbines, delta sunspot groupings, various animal venoms and the qualitative difference between “partially decomposed” and “partially eaten,” all at the same time? And have people thank me for it?

I swear, a lifetime of sucking up knowledge in a random and largely capricious fashion is finally paying off. This is a seriously fun gig, people.

45 Comments on “Why I So Very Much Dig My Stargate:Universe Creative Consulting Gig”

  1. I am equally envious and frustrated by the hints posited by your “research” text. You evil, evil man. Later, villains from all the other SF series will haunt your dreams. And you will so totally deserve it.

  2. Glad to hear you’re enjoying it :)
    Look forward to seeing the results!
    To be able to apply those facts that are stored in your head that you know you will never be able to apply to everyday life, you represent hope for us all.

  3. but whennnnnnnn…sorry, i didn’t mean to whine. I don’t watch as much SyFy as I should so I haven’t seen any previews or ANYTHING. Do I have to watch all of stargate to understand the show…?

  4. No, I think the plan is for it to be accessible for folks who haven’t kept up with the other Stargate series.

    The first episode is scheduled for Oct. 2.

  5. I’m hoping that’s the case (#8) – I saw the original movie but was never drawn into any of the series. Your involvement with the project has me intrigued enough that I’ll give it a shot.

  6. I think Stargate: Universe is very fortunate to have YOU as their consultant. And I’m so glad that you’re enjoying your consultancy at Stargate: Universe.

    Best wishes!

  7. Dude, it is the bomb!

    I told a teacher about a creative consulting gig I’m doing for something later this summer (can’t talk details yet) and he said ‘we usually tell kids reading lots of fiction, watching movies, being good a trivial pursuit and playing videogames doesn’t actually equal job preparation, apparently you didn’t get the memo…’

  8. The question is, do they take your comments and then discard them completely in order to make their terrible plots work? Because that’s kind of how I imagine it working in Hollywood. (One wonders why someone hasn’t told any actors holding a video game controller that you don’t just flail around and mash buttons, and I can only assume it’s because they simply don’t listen.)

  9. @9: you can bet they’ll introduce an uninitiated in the first episode as a foil to explain their universe to us.

  10. @Merus: The guys (and, I suppose gals, although there aren’t many of them) at Stargate are quite awesome… I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be paying Scalzi for his expert opinion if they weren’t going to use what he has to say!!! Also, Stargate happens in Vancouver, not Hollywood (although they are currently filming on location in New Mexico, which is neither Vancouver nor Hollywood). Things are more awesome in Canada.

    I second Morjana… the Stargate family is quite lucky to have Scalzi!!!

  11. When will you change the name of the show to Scalzi Goes Universal?

  12. @ Merus: Actually if you’d ever seen my missus attempt to play on the Xbox you’d swear that all those actors had taken special classes from her. On the driving games she has her elbows up at 90degree angles and for some reason has to lean into each turn and on the fighting games the controller seems to be moving in whatever direction she’s hoping her charactor will go.
    Its brilliant !

    As for you Scalzi you jammie bugger. Total congrats mate, I’m just starting to watch Season 1 of SG1 since its been a while, but I’m going to be using you as a fine example to my wife for why all this useless crap I read/learn/spout when I’m drunk can be turned into cold hard cash….
    Hmm, not sure she’ll buy that.

    Grats again though !

  13. What you know about the M4 Carbine?

    I carried one for years, hell, I can field strip one and reassemble it blindfolded. I can also qualify the difference between “partially decomposed” and “partially eaten (also between “totally decomposed” and “totally eaten” if it came down to it). I’m pretty good at identifying various types of animal venom, and most kinds of tape.

    Does Hollywood ask me for advice? Oh hell no.

    Probably because I don’t know much about hyperthermophilic micro-organisms. Damn it, I knew I should have taken that microbiology course – or spent more time in hot tubs.

    :::kicks rock:::it’s so unfair:::

  14. John, can you get them to get the physics right? (Except for the whole wormholes-as-viable-transportation thing, which would spoil the whole series if they did it according to the physics of, you know, the real world.)

    Hell, I’d settle for them getting the MATH right.* I watched both series, and I think they’re better than the movie (where there were only two stargates, and they only went to each other, so wtf do you need a Point Of Origin symbol for? plot device, that’s what: bad writing), but I really did have to hire a team of bridge engineers to suspend my disbelief.
    *I will, but only if someone asks.

  15. I can field strip one and reassemble it blindfolded.

    I used to be able to do that with the milkshake machine at McDonalds……. SGU hasn’t asked for me yet, though.

  16. I don’t get SyFy (and hateses the name!) so can you use your massive influence to get them to put it up on Netflix streaming? Cuz that would be awesome.

  17. I hate what the formerly geek-friendly SciFi Channel has become. They generally have something worth watching on Friday night, sometimes some interesting reruns during the week, and the entire rest of the time their programming is godsawful. The phrase “SciFi Original Movie” has became a byword for “schlock horror flick.” I mean…did we really need to know for sure that there are people willing to make Mansquito? (I linked that so you won’t think I made it up.)

    I’d give up watching them entirely if it weren’t for things like BattleStar Galactica, which is one of the best things of ANY kind I’ve ever seen on television, and certainly some of the best science ficiton…and, of course, SOD problems notwithstanding, the whole Stargate family.

  18. I was at the Creation Con last month in Vancouver, and had the chance to tell the producer bigwigs how delighted I was that they had had the excellent sense and good taste to bring you on board.

    Bigwig: And John Scalzi is very . . . what’s the word I’m looking for?

    Me: Snarky?

    Bigwig: Smart! That’s it. He’s smart.

    They also outed you, in terms of at least one aspect of your input: they said that they send the scripts to you, and you make notes on them and send them back. Presumably they actually pay attention to the notes. One hopes.

    Oh, and I asked them if you were going to write any scripts for them. Are you? Huh?

  19. I was going to ask what John knew about M-4 carbines, but Jim Wright beat me to it.

    Obsolete, special forces are grabbing up the SCAR carbines as fast as FN can make ’em.

    Pam, I doubt that the McDonalds milkshake machine maintenance tech wandering the universe is a good fit to the Stargate setting. However, there’s plenty of absurdist sci fi out there – we could figure something out.

  20. ” . . . grabbing up the SCAR carbines as fast as FN can make ‘em.”

    And combined with those other little FNs they use in the series, imagine the product placement possibilities: “FN, for all your anti-personnel, anti-alien, anti-monster and anti-zombie needs.”

  21. Jim:

    Interesting question is not “can field strip and reassemble blindfolded”. That’s a junior g-man lance corporal barracks game.

    “Can field strip and reassemble blindfolded while hanging off (cliff, building) in rapelling harness” is better.

    “…upside down…” begins to impress me, but not that seriously.

    “…in the rain…” and you have my attention and congratulations.

    The SEAL game of “drop all the field strip parts in 10m of water dissassembled, freedive down to them and reassemble it and bring it back up, in one dive” was also worthy of congratulations.

  22. Well WE had to field strip and reassemble OUR weapons in molten lava. And that was on our first day. By the end of the course we had to do it in molten lava with our arms cut off.

    Uphill. Both ways.

  23. Oct 2 is too far away – hey, when you get the copy of the credits, post the video on the site.

  24. Mr. S:

    You DO realize, I hope, that there is a down side if viewers do not like SGU….and add me to the list of people who are now jealous of your job…. :-))

    ….and as always
    Have A Very Stargate Day!


  25. 22. Xopheron:
    You break my heart! Yes, yes, the laws of physics require a creative interpretation to make the scifi work, but claiming I got my math wrong? Heartbroken, I tell you!

    …unless you’re calling out the dialogue, which is out of my domain, and have nothing but admiration for the beautifully illustrated whiteboards. Then I’ll be content.

    I’m so glad to hear someone else describe the bemusement and delight that comes from joining the SG family. I end up discussing the aerodynamics of dragonflies and offering opinions on string theory, but the vibe is identical!

  26. I can file the wormhole physics under “suspension of disbelief” after a few drinks, but would someone please retcon in a convincing manner why all the humans scattered all over the galaxy by the Goa’uld speak accent-neutral American English?

  27. Marko,
    a nanotech, reproducing, translation bug?

    too cool and yet another reason to watch television, although I too hate the SyFy name. How about those !@#$% sticking with something that has historical meaning to community? They could have called it the Speculative Fiction channel or something but this sucks.
    Good luck on the gig because it sounds like you are having a great time.

  28. You know, John, the military has been having some trouble with the M4 carbines not having enough barrel length to give bullets enough velocity to severely hurt or kill somebody. That could make for an interesting plot point…

  29. Mika 35: Heavens, you were the physics consultant on the original series?! How remarkable to encounter you here! Congratulations on many seasons of making deeply hokey physics sound pretty damn plausible, considering.

    But no, I think the math I’m complaining about is too basic for them to have asked you about it. It’s a matter of the difference between combinations of 38-choose-7 and combinations of 38-choose-6-plus-one-of-the-38(unique). One way you get billions of possible gate addresses; the other, you get…38.

    Point Of Origin Symbols are unique to each planet (“Then I realized I was close enough to use Earth as the Point Of Origin”). The DHDs are all interchangeable. So are the gates. They all have the same 38 symbols. That gives you 38 possible planets, not billions. (And why didn’t the Ancients just build the gates so you press the POO for the planet you want and be done with it? Strikes me as bad design on their part.)

    But as I said, I doubt they consulted you on that one.

    Marko 36: That’s one of the craziest things about the series. Especially since the Earth people in SGA speak different languages! (Teyla and Ronon understanding Radek when he speaks English, but not when he speaks Czech…well, I needed therapy.) It’s a huge hole, but one you have to leave to keep every damn episode from being all (and I mean ALL, as in the entire episode) about finding a way to communicate with the next set of humans. It’s just dramatic license.

    Mike 37: They specifically do NOT want to be connected to our community. That’s why the stupid name change. They aren’t GOING to be the Speculative Fiction Channel. If someone started one of those, I’d pay $20 a month to watch it, but I bet it couldn’t survive. We’re not big as TV audiences go, you know. If not for the Stargate family of shows, and some of their other Friday night offerings, they could just change their name to “The Truly Dumbass Horror Movie Channel” and be done (I say thee, “Mansquito,” and rest my case). Well, except sometimes they rerun old series. That’s OK too. Hey, they could have a different name depending on the time, like Nickelodeon did with Nick@Nite.

  30. To clarify: I don’t think the TV market for good science fiction is big enough to support an entire channel devoted to it. The market for dumb horror movies on Saturday afternoons is probably much bigger. I don’t think the lack of good SF TV is generated from the supply side; I think that those of us who watch all the good SF TV we can find are few in number, too few to be a sellable market.

    Case in point: the final episode of Star Trek TNG, which to any experienced SF reader is a fairly conventional time-travel mystery story, left most of the viewers confused. People thought it was hard to understand. That’s when I first got an inkling of how few we are, and how little akin to the TV audiences for shows like that. We’re a few drops in their ocean. That’s why I’m willing to hire the engineers to suspend my disbelief: if the shows were hard-core accurate and sophisticated SF, they wouldn’t be able to stay on the air long enough for me to complain about them!

    So while I’ve been disappointed to see SciFi do less and less SF (hang thee on, Stargate family!) and more and more cheese, and even more disappointed to see them change their name to something stooopid, I’m not sticking pins in little dolls over it.

    I save my pins for quite another network’s execs…speaking of Dolls.

  31. Consider that the silent crossing of space in 2001 was tough for people to grasp and appreciate, but big, loud fireballs in Star Wars are okay.

    And when I saw the Voyager flyby of Neptune at a UNIVERSITY PLANETARIUM, someone asked why there was no sound…

  32. Michael @42:

    There is too sound in space.

    Most recently that we’re aware of, the loud sharp “BANG” of Iridium 33 and Kosmos-2251.

    You just don’t want to be close enough to hear it…

    (Apologies to people I know in space radio / plasma sciences who insist that the RF spectrum stuff is sound too…)

  33. Yeah, keep the science in fiction! With the audience getting smarter they won’t hold up with nonsense. John keep up the good work, you are envied by many.

  34. @Marko
    “would someone please retcon in a convincing manner why all the humans scattered all over the galaxy by the Goa’uld speak accent-neutral American English?”

    (below is not my personal opinion, just retroactive continuity and some coffee)

    Lets say the American-English language evolves little over time since 2100. Its already a mix of a few dozen languages and dialects: all whom immigrated North-America brought with them their heritage a long time ago. It all combined in a relatively stable language.

    Now think along the lines of SG Continuum.
    Someone from the far future transplanted himself (and thousands of people) in the past on earth, shortly after distributes kidnapped earthlings on planet (1000 each) and rules them all. They spoke American-English.

    That someone had glowing eyes, and its almost impossible to come up with an better explanation. Please do so however.

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