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Lizard Brain is a shared blog about Science Fiction and Fantasy from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

Long-promised news on the TV Show

07.15.14
by Daniel Abraham

Sometimes you start something really big and complicated – like entering a whole new kind of business for instance – and you really really hope that things are going to go well? Yeah, so about that . . .

A few months ago, it was announced that SyFy, Sean Daniel Company, and Alcon Entertainment had made a deal to make The Expanse into a TV show. Ten episodes, straight to series (which means we wouldn’t be making a pilot episode and then hoping that it got picked up – the deal was to just march straight ahead), with the two of us attached as producers which we figured meant doing pretty much anything we could to help support Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, who wrote the script for the first episode and agreed to spearhead the show. We came out to Los Angeles in . . . Jeez April, I think? We settled in to work, promising news as soon as we had it.

Detective Miller

Detective Miller

And then we went dark. It turns out releasing news about this kind of thing has an etiquette all its own. Even now, there are a bunch of things we know that we don’t get to tell you. But there is now some stuff to share.

First off, casting. This isn’t an easy project to cast. We were hoping to get as many folks to come play who both grokked genre and also knew how to do first-rate mainstream work. With that in mind, the role of Detective Miller is going to be played by Thomas Jane. Who, if you don’t know him, was designed in a government lab for the role. Seriously. He’d done The Punisher and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World and Stephen King’s The Mist and Dreamcatcher. The man knows his genre chops. And he’s also been in Boogie Nights and Magnolia and The Thin Red Line. And Hung, where he got the three Golden Globe nominations. He can play tough, he can play vulnerable, and most of all he can play someone who’s well-bruised by the world. There was a while there I was afraid we weren’t going to get him, but ever since we have, I’ve been tracking down clips of his performances and feeling like I just found a Banksy print in my alley. It’s that level of cool.

And then there’s the director. I was unaware coming in of how important the first director is in a new show like this. Turns out, sort of critical, because whatever they do, however they approach the show, it pretty much sets the tone for everyone who comes after. We already had a fair amount of Breaking Bad in our project’s DNA because we were working with Sharon Hall who developed it back when she was at Sony.

So now we have more.

Terry McDonough did several episodes of Breaking Bad, including the one called Better Call Saul which was for my money one of the best hours of one of the best shows in my lifetime. I didn’t know it, but I’d actually seen his work the first time years ago in a show called Wire in the Blood that I still remember. He’s won the BAFTA and Royal Television Society (UK) Awards. When they were talking to him about our show, he was actually in my hometown working with the folks on Better Call Saul. If you’re looking for someone who can take the project and see complex characters in serious conflicts, this is kind of your guy. He’s not one of the people who looks down on SF. He directed Brian Cox in Doctor Who: An Adventure in Time and Space and just got a Hugo nomination for it. He directed Patrick Stewart in The Eleventh Hour. Between his instincts for nuance and humanity and his track record for making character-centered, award-winning television, he’s a brilliant fit.

And then there’s the look of the sets and costumes, which I don’t get to show you. I can say this: we’ve gotten to be involved with a lot of the preliminary design and concept work. This has involved a lot of really cool art and conversations with Richard Taylor and his team at WETA in New Zealand. The folks that did Lord of the Rings. Yeah, them. And the production designer who’s going to take the concept work and carry it through? Seth Reed, who just got an Emmy nomination for Cosmos. And did the art direction on Minority Report and From the Earth to the Moon.

Also, we’ve been spending most of our time in the writer’s room with an amazing group of screenwriters. In addition to Mark and Hawk – who, I would like to say for the record, have some of the best instincts for story I’ve seen anywhere – Naren Shankar has come on board to help out. That might not be a name you know, but he worked as one flavor or another of producer on CSI from 2002 to 2010 while that show was not only one of the best rated but possibly the most visually stylish things on network TV. He’s worked on Star Trek and Farscape and The Outer Limits. And we have other writers who’ve come from shows like Mad Men (seriously, one of our writers has Emmy nominations from Mad Men), and The Killing and Burn Notice.

The adjective people keep using to describe this project is “ambitious.” We’re trying to write something that’s genre but doesn’t rely on a knowledge of genre. We’re trying to film something that’s dark and dramatic and also funny and humane. Something that actually moves the line forward on science fiction television.

You do something like that, you really really hope it’ll go well.

It’s going well.

46 Comments

James SA Corey Google Talk

07.04.14
by Daniel Abraham

So here’s a thing that happened.

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James SA Corey’s Phoenix Comicon Schedule

06.03.14
by Daniel Abraham

So we’re heading to Phoenix Comicon this coming weekend from our new day gig in LA.  Here’s what they’ve got us booked for:

Putting the Science in Science Fiction : Science guest Phil Plait and science fiction writers talk about keeping the science real, or appearing real, in science fiction.   Panelists: John Scalzi, L.E. Modesitt Jr, Phil Plait, Ty Franck
When: Fri, 10:30–11:30AM  Room: Sheraton Valley of the Sun

Spotlight on James S. A. Corey, the creator of The Expanse : A spotlight on James S. A. Corey and his friends Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck, and M.L.N. Hanover. Five authors, 2 panelists, no waiting.   Panelists: Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck
When: Fri, 3:00–4:00PM  Room: North 126bc

Autographing – When: Friday 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm   Where: 2526/2528

From Page to Screen: Redshirts and The Expanse : Join authors John Scalzi and James S. A. Corey (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) as they preview the upcoming TV series based on their respective novels, Redshirts (FX) and The Expanse (SyFy).   Panelists: Daniel Abraham, John Scalzi, Ty Franck
When: Sat, 10:30–11:30AM  Room: North 132

Star Wars Legends (Previously Known as The Expanded Universe) : Join authors Michael A. Stackpole and James S. A. Corey (Daniel Abraham/Ty Franck) for a look at their Star Wars novels and to hear their thoughts about the new Star Wars Legends label and the Expanded Universe.   Panelists: Daniel Abraham, Michael A. Stackpole, Ty Franck
When: Sat, 1:30–2:30PM  Room: North 127ab

Autographing – When: Saturday 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm   Where: 2528 (until Daniel bugs out a few minutes early for…)

The Eternal Dragon : From Smaug to Eragon, dragons are an enduring part of fantasy literature. Join some of our author guests as they talk about the roles dragons play in their work.   Panelists: Daniel Abraham, James A Owen, Melanie Rawn, Naomi Novik
When: Sat, 4:30–5:30PM  Room: North 126bc

Drinks With Authors : Join our author guests for a glass or two in an informal setting.  There will be door prizes and other giveaways from our participating publishers.    Panelists: Kevin Hearne, Myke Cole, Sam Sykes & many others
When: Sat, 8:00–11:00PM  Room: Renaissance Salon 5-8

Not in Sequential Form: Superheroes in Prose : Authors discuss superheroes in prose, from their original fiction to the shared world of Wild Cards, how do they handle super powers?   Panelists: Carrie Vaughn, Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck
When: Sun, 12:00–1:00PM  Room: North 122c

The Military in Speculative Fiction : A look at the military in speculative fiction. Writers of military ranging from the SOC of Myke Cole’s Special Ops urban fantasy to the future of war in John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series talk about how they use it and why.   Panelists: Daniel Abraham, John Scalzi, Myke Cole, Ty Franck, Weston Ochse
When: Sun, 1:30–2:30PM  Room: North 127ab

More Autographing – When: Sunday 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm   Where: 2528

The only other thing that’s definitely scheduled is tracking down Catherynne Valente and begging her to sign some books for Daniel’s kid.  Apart from that, I assume we’ll be in the bar. Y’all should come hang out.

5 Comments

How To Buy Cibola Burn

05.23.14
by Daniel Abraham

The early reviews of Cibola Burn are pretty decent.  Starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal.  We’re being sent out on a book signing tour for the first time ever.  Interest is high, especially with the TV show taking shape.  But chances are good that the preorders are going to be low.  Why?  Because Amazon has decided to escalate its let’s-call-them-negotations with Hachette by pulling the preorder option.

Coming soon to a bookstore near you!

Coming soon to a bookstore near you!

Now to be perfectly honest, we’re going to be fine.  Our last book hit the NYT bestseller list, and this makes it less likely the next one will, but James SA Corey is a solid thing.  Some of our fellow authors at Orbit and Little Brown aren’t in as good a position.  Maybe they don’t have three books already out or the books they have have taken longer to grow the series.  Whatever.  My point is that there are damned good writers and people who are going to be hurt by this.  Hell, we’ll be hurt by this too.  It’s just we bought up to a 16 constitution and have enough hit points.

So let’s talk about how you can buy Cibola Burn.

I mentioned that we were going on a book tour, right?  Well, almost all those signings are going to be at independent bookstores!  Many of which will be happy to have us sign a book for you while we’re there!

TATTERED COVER in Denver

We’ll be at the Highland’s Ranch location on June 18th.

POWELL’S in Portland

We’ll be at the Cedar Hill store on June 19th.

MYSTERIOUS GALAXY in San Diego

We’ll be there on June 20th.

BORDERLANDS BOOK in San Francisco

We’ll be there on June 21st.

ELLIOT BAY BOOKS in Seattle

We’ll be there on June 22nd, our bodies broken and our lives in shambles.

Consider ordering from one of these stores.  We’re happy to sign and personalize the books, and most if not all of them will ship Cibola Burn (or any other books you’d care to pick up) straight to you afterward.

Failing that, Cibola Burn — like all Hachette titles — is still available shipping at no particular delay from Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and a wide variety of critically important indie bookstores near you.

Just not Amazon. Please do feel free to mention this to your friends, your enemies, pretty much everyone you know.

76 Comments

Signed Cibola Burn

05.14.14
by Daniel Abraham

So while there’s that, y’know, half the country that’s not going to be covered by the book tour, your friends and mine at Orbit are putting together some signed bookplates.

So that’s cool, right?

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Los Angeles Signing and the Prix Imaginales for. . . Daniel Hanover?

05.06.14
by Daniel Abraham

So, first off, we have achieved an additional signing in Los Angeles.  We will be at Barnes & Noble Santa Monica on June 17th at 7pm.  We’ll be reminding y’all as we get closer, but if you’re in LA, please come play.

Daniel... Hanover.  Okay.  Now we're just making this stuff up, right?

Daniel… Hanover. Okay. Now we’re just making this stuff up, right?

And in other news . . . well, this is really cool, but it takes a little explanation.  My first fantasy series — The Long Price Quartet — did not, perhaps light the world of commercial fantasy on fire.  The folks who read it tended to love it, but publishing is a casino.  They were good books, they are books that I continue to be quite proud of, and they didn’t sell much.  And in Europe, they didn’t just sell poorly.  They tanked.

When the time came to do the new fantasy series, Daniel Abraham was not what you’d call a name to conjure with.  In order to get the new books a chance, my French and German publishers suggested a pseudonym.  Now, I’m pretty up front about being comfortable with pseudonyms, so that was fine.  I’d been writing under MLN Hanover for a while, my Twitter handle was AbrahamHanover.  It was suggested that The Dagger and the Coin series be released under the name Daniel Hanover.

Well, Daniel Hanover’s La Voie du Dragon (Daniel Abraham’s The Dragon’s Path in the US & UK) is short-listed for the 2014 Prix Imaginales along with some very impressive company:

Joe ABERCROMBIE.- Servir froid (Bragelonne) 
Miles CAMERON.- Le Chevalier rouge – Renégat t.01 (Bragelonne) 
Daniel HANOVER.- La Voie du dragon – La Dague et la fortune t.01 (Fleuve éditions) 
Nnedi OKORAFOR.- Qui a peur de la mort ? (Éclipse) 
Catherynne M. VALENTE.- Immortel (Éclipse) 

My thanks go to Emmanuel Chastelliére who wrote all the actual words in the book and Fleuve Noir for taking another chance on me under whatever name.

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James SA Corey’s West Coast Book Tour

05.02.14
by Daniel Abraham

So the fine folks at Orbit are sending us out on a short tour about when Cibola Burn hits shelves.  The gigs we’ve got so far look like this:

Cibola_Burn

Book 4 of The Expanse, still with great cover art because Daniel Dociu continues to rock.

Wednesday, June 18th 7 PM: Tattered Cover Highlands Ranch (Denver, CO)

Thursday, June 19th  7 PM: Powell’s Cedar Hills Crossing (Portland, OR)

Friday, June 20th  7 PM: Mysterious Galaxy (San Diego, CA)

Saturday, June 21st  3 PM: Borderlands (San Francisco, CA)

Sunday, June 22nd  3 PM: Elliott Bay Book Company (Seattle, WA)

We’re also looking at adding a gig in Los Angeles in here somewhere, but that hasn’t been nailed down yet.   And there’s going to be a signing in July at Page One Books in Albuquerque.

We’re also going to be at the Phoenix Comicon June 5th – 8th, and we’re likely to hit SDCC, but more information about that as it develops.

AND we’re going to be Guests of Honor at Milehicon in Denver this October (along with Michael Swanwick and Kaja & Phil Foglio).

If you are anywhere near any of these gigs we would love to see you, your friends, your co-workers.  Pretty much anyone.  Seriously, there’s nothing as dismal as a book signing with no one there but us.  And if we’re not coming to your neighborhood this time — like if you’re anywhere in the eastern half of the United States, for example, the fine folks at Orbit will be putting together a contest of some sort to send out signed bookplates, which I’ll tell you more about when I know it.

Also, many of those bookstores may ship books, so if you wanted to order some from there, we’d sign and personalize them for you.

15 Comments

The Expanse PICKED UP at SYFY

04.11.14
by Daniel Abraham

So The Expanse has been picked up for a 10-episode season by Syfy on the strength of an amazing script by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby.  Not shooting a pilot, commitment to a full season.

We have a *great* team, and they’re only getting better.

Things are going to get interesting right about now

43 Comments

Countdown to Honor Among Thieves (Full of Sith edition)

03.03.14
by Daniel Abraham

If anyone has the impulse to hear me and Ty talking about Star Wars in greater detail, you have the first of several opportunities right now.

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Oh hey! I have a blog.

03.03.14
by Daniel Abraham

So you know that dream where you forgot to go to class all semester, and then you have to go take the final?  My relationship with the blog has been kind of like that.  I wound up getting on Twitter and Facebook, and then the whole updating the blog thing totally fell apart.  So. let’s see…  where to we stand, where do we stand…

Han Solo

If y’all are keeping track at home, you’ll recall James SA Corey wrote a Star Wars novel.  Well, it’s coming out Tuesday.  It’s gotten some decent reviews thus far.

The Expanse Novels and Novellas

The fourth Expanse novel — Cibola Burn — will be coming out this summer.  I’ll tell you the truth, there are some things about this one that made me *very* *nervous* but all our beta readers said we got away with it.

Also the second of the five novellas will be out before then.  It used to be called Beloved of Broken Things, but because we never have anything come out under the names we pick, it will be released as The Churn.  This is why our working title for Cibola Burn was Dave.  But anyway, keep an eye out, and we’ll let you know when it comes out.

The fifth book is well under way.  Right now, it’s going under the moniker Nemesis Games, but by the time it comes out, it could be anything.

The Expanse TV Show

We’ve seen the script that Mark and Hawk wrote, and it’s effing AWSOME.  Ty’s also seen some of the concept art.  What does this mean?  Hard to say. The process of business in Hollywood is pretty much a cipher to me, but the project has the best team I could ask for, and they’re doing great work.  We are, after all,  professional gamblers.

The Dagger and the Coin

I finished the page proofs for the penultimate Dagger and Coin book this weekend, only two days late.  The last book — presently The Spider’s War — is underway, and I’m already feeling a little wispy about ending my time with these characters.  I shall be bloody bold and resolute.  And there are some scenes coming up soon that I’ve been waiting five or six years to write.

The Game of Thrones graphic novels, Clarkesworld, etc.

I’m coming very close to the end of the the fourth Game of Thrones graphic novel.  Tommy Patterson, the artist who has been responsible for the heavy lifting on the art, has been doing great work.  Also, I’ve been doing columns for Clarkesworld. And James SA Corey has a (non-Expanse) short story in the Old Mars anthology. Daniel has one coming out Rogues.

Appearances

If you’re of a mind to come hang out, Ty and I will be at the Phoenix Comicon, Bubonicon, and MileHiCon.  I’m also going to be spending a few hours with George RR Martin at his theater in Santa Fe come August (about which more as we get closer).

We’re also looking at some signings one place and another when Cibola Burn comes out.  We’ll let you know when we have a better idea what that looks like.

Secret Projects

We’ve got a couple.  They’re pretty cool.  Without giving anything away, they involve watching West Wing, talking to a bunch of scientists and engineers, and talking about the economics of blackmail.

And you?

What’ve y’all been up to?

44 Comments