No further updates will be posted here.
I have been extremely busy – and will remain so for a few months more, but I wanted to give you all a life sign.
After that I can see a bit of more time to do stuff that I like to do. Scifi/Fantasy reading/watching/listening, Radio/Electronics stuff, Astronomy – and much more …
For now, no real reading, only a tiny bit of TV.
I am looking forward to the premiere of Sense8 on Netflix on 5th June. I hope I can make it at that time …
I will tell you more when the time is right …
A while ago I started to read the Dresden Files series of books by Jim Butcher.
At present I have read the first 3 books of the series, and enjoyed them thoroughly. I surely intend to read further in the series, and there is no lack of material. The series has, at present 16 books out, and the total series is expected to be around 25 books. Nor these books are not the massive tomes, such as the “Song of Ice and Fire” books, so reading a book at a time, mixed with other books, will be manageable. I have the first 12 books on the Kindle, so I don’t even need to buy them before I can read them 😉
Jim Butcher is the Guest of Honour at the Eastercon in Heathrow next year, and I am considering going there if time allows.
There is a TV series that ran for a single season, 12 episodes a few years ago. I found the DVD set and watched it the past week end.
Paul Blackthorne, also known from “Arrow” plays Harry Dresden, and I like his acting in this one, but I think he is better in “Arrow”.
I found the TV series quite entertaining, after a few episodes it started to find its feet. Harry Dresden is the only person in Chicago having his occupation in the phonebook stated as “Wizard”. He helps the local police out in the strangest cases that would normally have gone unsolved.
He is a rather powerful wizard, but has dabbled in black magic which was not too popular with “The Council”. He is under essentially constant surveillance and invariably accused of the worst of intentions.
The series follows him in a series of cases, the pilot episode “Storm Front” is relatively true to the first book in the series with the same title.
The TV series is “based on” the books, but after the pilot it deviates considerably from the books, so I should be relatively spoiler safe when I resume reading the book series.
I would rate the series at an enjoyable, slightly above average 7.5/10.
I rate the first 3 books a bit higher, at a solid above average 8/10
Sometimes fans can blow a particular story completely out of proportion.
This is what happened to the story of Peter David (PAD) who wrote 2 episodes of Babylon 5, in particular “There all Honor Lies”, where B5 should be, at least in a small part, be financed my merchandize.
JMS made a small re-write as a response to receiving a Teddy Bear from PAD as a gift. JMS has gone on record as not liking “cute”, so the re-write resulted in the bear being spaced by captain Sheridan.
Later PAD put a story of a spaced bear into another story, saying that it was done by a race called the “Straczyn”. There was a bit more back-and-forth, and suddenly the fans were blowing this up to be a feud between PAD and JMS.
The truth is that it was all a friendly tease between the two, as Peter David wrote on his blog in 1997.
Please read the above link for the full story. I found it quite amusing.
Some of you may not be familiar with #FreeBabylon5, so here is a short description :
There have been several attempts to revive the interest in the Babylon 5 TV series, including JMS’ attempt to buy back the rights for everything. He already has the rights for a theatrical movie, but can not do much with that.
Come September 2013 he had enough of this and made a not on his Facebook page, saying that he could do no more and encouraging the fans to “be organized and be loud”, in order to get Babylon 5 back on TV screens and streaming services. Babylon 5 has been away from TV screens for over a decade in the US. He (and we, the fans) want casual viewers to be able to stumble across the series.
So – the fans started a campaign – letter writing and attention creating measures. The campaign has already been partly successful. The full 5 year series has been shown on the UK Watch channel, with a trailer referencing #FreeBabylon5, and is currently running in Denmark, Germany and Italy.
I have been participating by giving away FreeBabylon5 stuff at a few conventions, and had some fun with that.
Now on to my draft text for an article for the FreeBabylon5 website :
“This is a personal account of my (Babylon Lurker’s) attendance of Loncon3 also known as Worldcon 2014.
Since I live in the Netherlands this was the first Worldcon I have had available near me since I started to go to conventions.
I met Jan M Schroeder at Phoenix Comicon 2013 and Space City Con 2014, and she provided me with some #FreeBabylon5 treats to give away at conventions.
The first two conventions were small local conventions in Copenhagen, Denmark with 30 – 150 attendees – and I got to give away a bit of this. One Swedish writer saw my “#FreeBabylon5” badge and immediately reacted by saying that B5 is a brilliant show.
The third was Fedcon in Düsseldorf, Germany, a media oriented convention with about 5000 attendees. I did get to give away a fair amount of the #FreeBabylon5 stuff, since I met a fair amount of B5 fans there.
Having gone to bigger conventions I decided to go to Worldcon in London this year with a fair supply.
I did not have a table, but just walked around, talking to people. I was slightly surprised by the sheer number of Babylon 5 fans I met there. I must have talked to about 100 people during the 5 days, and my impression is that about 80% of those were B5 fans who happily received the FreeBabylon5 stuff. I am aware that B5 is more popular in the UK than in the US, but among the US people I met the number of fans was high. Essentially everyone knew B5, and many of the non-fans had the show on their to-do list.
I have to assume that this is because Worldcon attendees have a very wide range of Science Fiction interests, books, films, TV, comics etc. I guess I should not have been surprised at all .
On Saturday a Babylon 5 fan meeting was arranged, and in spite of it coinciding with the masquerade we had 40 – 50 people there. Not everyone I met had even heard of the fan meeting. I am sure it could have been bigger if it had been more widely announced.
Jan had indicated that the temporary tattoos were quite popular at SDCC, at Worldcon I found that the #FreeBabylon5 ribbons were more sought after. I ran out of the ribbon supply, but I still have some of the tattoos left, and a few buttons/badges, too.
Loncon 3 has been a very good convention experience in general, and a good B5 fan experience in particular. I will certainly continue being a roving Ambassador/Ranger at other conventions that I will attend.”
Jan M Schroeder has just finished a transcript from the JMS announcement. She has encouraged sharing, so I bring it here as well :
Updated 2014-08-10 due to a glitch.
“Whew! Okay, I’ve finally transcribed the relevant portions from my audio recording:
JMS recaps what’s coming up and then:
So we’ve been having a really, really good year at Studio JMS. And where that comes in handy – where it’s kind of important involves this (B5 logo comes on screen). So… Fact: When I made the Babylon 5 deal with Warner Bros. it was just short of indentured servitude. Financially, I’ll never seen a dime out of Babylon 5 ever. I have no problems with that; I knew what I was signing when I go into it, but I mention it to piss them off every once in a while. One thing that I was able to withhold was the film rights. I still own the movie rights to Babylon 5. I’ve been pushing Warner’s for the last…ever since the early cretaceous period…to “Let’s do a Babylon 5 movie – a proper big budget feature film.” And they’ve always dragged their feet [because] that’s what Warner Bros. does. They knew that they had the upper hand because I couldn’t take it to any other studio because these days all the studios want all the rights. So if I brought it to say, Sony or Fox, they’d want the TV rights which Warner Bros. controls. Warner Bros. will never give those rights up so we were always handcuffed by that.
Turns out, however, there’s one studio in Los Angeles…Distributors, by the way, don’t care about the TV rights. Distributors just [care] about the movie, they don’t care about the TV part. There’s one studio in town that doesn’t care if it doesn’t have the TV rights…that wants to see this movie made and will do it with or without Warner Bros. (Studio JMS logo comes on screen).
Here’s the plan: We’re going to have, through Studio JMS, at least two, maybe three TV series on the air next year. We’re going to have at least one or two movies going ahead. And we’ll use that to parlay serious investment in the studio. I’m not talking Kickstarter, I’m talking about one hundred million dollars, two hundred million dollars; we already have people who are lined up and interested in doing that.
So in 2015 I will write a Babylon 5 screenplay. I’ll be giving Warner Bros. the opportunity – if they want to step up, “Help yourself”. If they don’t, 2016: We make it. I’m not going to wait around for more of our cast members to die. So that’s the long term plan and those are the current updates on everything that’s going on right now.
Question from a fan: Asked if JMS might crowd-fund for a million of the investment so that fans can be part of it.
JMS: I would rather not. Here’s the reason why, though. I come from the ranks of fandom – I’m as rank as any of you. To me, much as I understand that Kickstarter and crowd-sourcing are a way for those outside to get involved with the process, show their appreciation for the process, I am resistant to that lure because it feels to me like taking advantage of the fans and I have a hard time with that on a moral and ethical basis. I’d rather have an investor come up and say “Here’s a check for a hundred million dollars” – which I would gladly take, by the way; if anyone in the audience happens to have one of those lying around, let me know – than to come to the fans and try to get it. Science fiction fans, and horror fans, to a degree, are the most exploited folks out there. “Line up, buy the merchandise, watch the show.” And I just see this money suck happening. So the answer is no.
Question from a fan: Are you considering a reboot to bring in new viewers or are you thinking of a continuation with the cast and crew from the original series.
JMS: It would have to be a reboot because it’s now been twenty-plus years since we started that show and some of the age ranges wouldn’t always work with some of the characters. So we’d have to move a few people around. But what I want to do is use the original cast one way or the other and move a few things around. I’d love to see Bruce as President of the Earth Alliance; that would be the perfect role for him.
I love playing around with the cast anyway. The one story that I wanted to do for the original B5 and they wouldn’t let me do it was, when Londo was injured and had this dream sequence, I wanted to have different actors play different roles. So Jerry Doyle would play Londo. Claudia Christian would play Delenn and Delenn (Mira) would play Ivanova. Peter Jurasik would play Jerry Doyle’s role. Andreas Katsulas would be the Commander of the Station and Bruce would be G’Kar. They said, “People would be way too confused.” JMS: “They won’t be confused, trust me! Listen, they have the intelligence for this.” It was the only story that they said “No, no, no, no and by the way, no.” The chance to [ ] play around with the cast and have some fun with it could be a good thing.
Any errors are mine. Feel free to share.
This is the text from Jan M Schroeder regarding her Saturday activities at this year’s San Diego Comicon, brought here with permission. Thanks Jan.
I have my own comments on what could have lead up to this point, but that will have to wait. Please enjoy.
J. Michael Straczynski has bee a very busy bee, as you will see in Jan’s report below :
Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con (or the day JMS announced that he’ll do a B5 movie).
I got there at a good time, not long after the con opened at 10:00 AM. A little surprisingly, the mezzanine didn’t really seem too much busier than other days so far except for the food area being busier. I’ve got pre-written letters to WB and NBC/Universal out on the table and a fair number of folks took those to mail after adding a little demographic info. Five or six were left with me and I dropped them off to be mailed.
The big panel of the day was JMS’ of course. First I went to his signing and got a few things signed that will most likely be destined as fund-raisers. I verified with JMS that he wouldn’t mind if I handed out buttons and postcards before his panel. A new friend, Lukas, handed out at the door and I wandered the room where people were already staying from the panel before.
JMS started the panel by reviewing his current projects, both ‘out house’ (not Studio JMS) and in-house and continued with news. We got an introduction to the Sense8 actors. JMS described it as a “…complex, amazing tapestry of stories.”
– Ten Grand: JMS is currently negotiating with a major Studio/Network for a series based on this.
– Shadowman feature film: He’s two to three weeks from turning in the latest draft.
– He couldn’t name it, but he’s working on a project for Universal concerning Rod Serling and working with Carol Serling, Rod’s widow on it.
– Again he couldn’t say much but he showed a title card for a show called “Two Streets” that he’s just made a deal with Universal for that he’ll be working with “Walking Dead’s” Gail Anne Hurd.
– “Titans” is the name of the Feature film/graphic novel project that was just announced yesterday (see movie thread).
So it’s been a really big year for Studio JMS. And due to that, he can now look to doing a feature film for B5. JMS recapped that WB owns everything about B5 except the movie rights and even though he holds the film rights, to take a B5 movie to another studio without holding the TV rights wouldn’t work. There’s one studio in LA that doesn’t care about that – Studio JMS – and in 2015 JMS will write the script. He’ll give WB the opportunity to step up, but if they don’t, Studio JMS will make it in 2016 on their own with a $1-200,000,000.00 budget.
A fan asked if JMS might crowdfund part of the film so that fans might be involved and JMS said that he resists doing that because it seems to him that SF fans are an exploited group and he doesn’t ever want to do that – he’d rather accept investor money.
Asked about the current situation with streaming Babylon 5, JMS said that it’s all up to Warner Bros. and gave the #FreeBabylon5 campaign a nice plug, telling of the success in Europe to date and hoping for some movement domestically.
A fan asked if the success of a B5 feature might improve the chances of streaming and even future TV projects and JMS said that it would probably have a significant effect, that a good way to get someone’s (WB) attention is to rattle their cage.
Asked if the film would be a reboot or a continuation:
“It would have to be a reboot because it’s been twenty-plus years since we started that show and some of the age ranges wouldn’t work with some of these characters so we’d need to move a few people around. But what I want to do is use the original cast one way or another but we’d have to move some things around. I’d love to see Bruce as the PPresident of the Earth Alliance; it would be the perfect role for him.”
JMS went on to tell about a story he wanted to do that he wasn’t allowed to in the original show where when Londo was injured, he wanted to do a dream sequence where the actors played different characters but the studio thought the audience would get confused.
A fan asked what’s being made not that would equal B5 for being transformative and JMS replied that TV is having a golden age right now with lots of amazing things. being made.
He concluded with his regular homily for the fans to never surrender their dreams, that with persistance and talent and luck, can overcome your circumstances and follow your passionss and succeed.
(posting in various places- feel free to share)
Starting with the Babylon 5 podcasts known to me now, here is the list :
The Babylon Podcast :
– 280 episodes
– warning : Massive spoilers in their episode discussion
– Very comprehensive with episode discussions, interviews, discussing books and comics
The Babble On Project :
– currently running
– essentially spoiler free sections and spoiler sections
– episode discussion, a few interviews.
– sometimes poor audio quality with shouting into the microphones.
Downbelow : A Babylon 5 Introcast :
– started 2014, currently at episode 30, at the end of season 1
– intended spoiler free, they have succeeded in doing that
– each B5 episode has a discussion episode, some episode commentaries
Braving Babylon 5 :
– started 2014, currently at episode 9
– generally spoiler free, first time viewer of B5
– single host talking about one episode per podcast episode
The Babylon Project Podcast :
– started 2014, currently at episode 4
– generally spoiler free section followed by a spoiler section
– single episode discussion
The Audio Guide to Babylon 5 :
– started 2014, currently at episode 5
– starting every episode with a generally spoiler free section then a spoiler section present from the beginning
– Single episode discussion
White Star 5 :
– started 2014, currently at episode 4
– spoilers inevitable due to the nature of the discussions
– Discussions of themes, characters etc – no episode discussions
Jumpgate : The Babylon 5 ReWatch Podcast
– Started late 2013 or early 2014, currently at episode 14
– spoilers inevitable due to the re-watch quality
– single episode discussions
SQPN : Secrets of Babylon 5 :
– ran in 2011 for 17 episodes, possibly pod-faded
– generally spoiler free, first time viewer
– two hosts discussing 2 episodes per podcast episode
Wow ! 9 B5 podcasts that I know about, and 6 of them started less than a year ago.
This really looks like a renaissance of the interest for Babylon 5.
That was the quick overview, some more details for some of the podcasts will follow.
If you search the net and iTunes – and many other podcast aggregators you can find thousands upon thousands of podcasts in all kinds of categories.
I have mainly focused on Science fiction and radio related podcasts, and I am going to tell a bit about the scifi podcasts I have collected. It is so easy to collect more than you have time to listen to, so I have over 1000 un-listened podcasts for later use.
I started my podcast listening when I had had an accident and broke the arm inside the shoulder, and since I was interested in Babylon 5 that is where I started the search, and, lo and behold, there was one : The Babylon Podcast They already had about 40 episodes out, so I got started with catching up. They also had a live recording, so one night (my time) I listened in – and they opened up for a brief talk, so on my first night of listening a podcast recording I could jump in and participate for a minute or two. Just for the fun of it – the episode I was on was number – wait for it – 42. The Babylon Podcast has run its course, and covered all things B5, series, spinoffs, comics, books. More detail on that in a later post. Beware The Babylon Podcast has lots of spoilers.
The Babylon Podcast led me to “Slice of Scifi”, a more general podcast mostly covering TV and films, always with an interview. I enjoyed that one a lot.
From the same group, and with the author MIchael Stackpole (among others, known from the Star Wars X-Wing series) there was “Dragonpage Cover to Cover”, all about books and authors, so I was fairly well covered.
Come 2014 – Babylon 5 podcasts seems to have had a renaissance, last I checked I had 5 (or 6?) more B5 podcasts in my podcast directory. I will give an overview in the next post, because they all have different qualities and different levels of spoilers for possible new B5 viewers.
I just edited another of the pictures from the meeting with Ed Mitchell at Space EXPO.
This shows that longest of all the Moon walks in the Apollo program. Apollo 14’s.
From Apollo 15 on They brought a Moon Rover, so they had much less walking on the Moon.
I may add a few more pictures later.