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September 5, 2013


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Just after finishing my last blog entry, I  found out about the passing of SF author Fred Pohl. Right up front let me say I was never a HUGE Pohl fan… but that's more my fault than his. I just haven't read lots of Pohl's work… though those I did read I quite enjoyed – in particular the Heechee novels that started with "Gateway".

Born in 1919, Pohl was part of the same generation that brought us Clarke, Heinlein, Clement, DeCamp, and Asimov. His departure all but closes the door on that great era of  seminal SF voice. I met Pohl once, back in '80. He would have been in his early sixties. He was a wise and balanced voice at that presentation and was very open to conversing with his fans.

I guess the era of his generation's active influence in the genre ended some time ago, but Pohl's departure just seems like something close to putting a period to the end of their sentence. So with said, my hat's off to all those great SF authors of the 20th century who forged the foundation of what we enjoy today.May their legacy shine brighter and brighter.

When one door closes, another opens. Maybe some of you have already heard the news but a company has optioned the James S.A. Corey "Expanse" novels for TV. Alcon Television group has acquired the rights and plans to move ahead on producing a pilot that they will then shop around to networks. They are aiming for an hour-long episode format, ala "Game of Thrones" (among countless others…). Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby ("Iron Man", "Children Of Men") developed the pitch and will write the pilot for the hour-long drama. They also will executive produce.

CALIBAN'S WAR by dana-redde

So let's hope this is good news... and that it gets picked up by someone like Showtime or HBO instead of SyFy or Fox! I am cautiously optimistic. I at least hold more hope for this than I do for SyFy's "Ringworld" and "Childhood's End". And as you all may recall, I'm a big fan of the "Expanse" novels. It's probably my current favorite active literary series. This news begs the question for us "Expanse" fans, though – who would you cast in the main roles of the Rocinante's crew? I'm still chewing over my own response to that.

  • Listening to: SOMA-FM
  • Reading: "Crux" by Ramez Naam
  • Watching: Portlandia
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dana-redde Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Exciting news about the Expanse pilot! I've always seen Fred Anderson as Shepherd Book/Ron Glass, but I don't Firefly-tize any of the other characters. I like Naomie Harris or your choice of Noémie Lenoir for Naomi (what convenient names :) ) There are plenty of white dudes who have the kind of youthful-handsome-but-not-too-rugged-or-too-pretty look that I picture for Holden, and so long as they get one who can act, I'll be happy. Lee Pace is a little too pretty for my headcanon, but I never object to seeing him on screen :D I'm more concerned with them getting the PoC right and not whitewashing the crap out of them, since that's usually where TV and movies make missteps. On Goodreads, a thread was arguing that Julie Mao was white, and I just wanted to bang my head against the wall.

Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional General Artist
I don't think Ron Glass is as imposing as Fred is/needs to be. I picture of more of an aging action hero. With Denzel Washington getting on in years, he might make a good choice and has more "presence". I'd love to be able to say Richard Rountree, but he's gotten too cuddly with age. You're right in that Holden's casting is probably the smallest challenge, if only because Hollywood's Wonderbread shelves are brimming with his archetype. I still think Lee Pace could be a good fit.... but he's certainly not the last word for me.

Julie Mao is white???? Man, what are these people thinking?!? I suspect it's even easier for people to overlook Alex's ethnic roots since the guys don't often make hay of it in the writing. If he and Naomi show up as WASPS, I'll find it hard to watch the whole thing... at least without gnashing my teeth. I'm thinking that W.Earl Brown could make a good Amos.... though he might be aging out of the role.
dana-redde Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Seriously, I could maybe see an argument for biracial because of the French given names, but come ONNN. Also, in CW and AG, her father and sister are described as looking Chinese. But racist fanboys gonna be racist.

Ugh yeah...Alex KAMAL...with  blond hair. *cringe*

W Earl Brown is a great choice!

Haha, maybe I need to watch more TV, I'm literally drawing a blank trying to come up with possible actors.

Do you think they'll just ignore the "Belters are tall and skinny" thing or try to CGI it?
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Professional General Artist
On the belter thing, I'm betting they ignore it... but I wonder if they could do something like what they did with Hobbits in LotR to make Belters look taller?

Yeah... I'm not much of a TV watcher either so I feel your casting pain....
Drell-7 Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Professional General Artist
Fred was a true giant of the field, as you say. I think he was the last of the monumental talents that fired the genre for so long. Fred was local to me, and I'd sometimes run into him a couple of times a year. One particular time was in 1999, when I shared a bus ride with him during the American Astronomical Society meeting in Chicago.There was a field trip up to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to visit Yerkes observatory. Fred was there simply as an amateur astronomer, like most of us. During the tour of the awe-inspiring 40 inch refractor (the largest refracting 'scope ever built), the guide happened to notice Fred's name tag and commented, "You have the same name as the famous science fiction author." Fred and his wife laughed, and said, "I don't know about famous, but I AM the science fiction author!" The guide got all bug-eyed, before saying that he was honored to meet him, and stumbling back into his very good account of the history of the telescope.
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Professional General Artist
I guess there ARE some folks out there who don't know what famous folks look like ;)
Farwanderer Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2013
I had the honor of having a private conversation with Fred and David Gerrold at MadCon 1999. What a blessing it was to do so. I should more aptly say I sat and listened as those two talked of MANY things. I knew that was a magical moment and I am greatly saddened at hearing of his passing. You are so right, the giants of SF are all but gone and I fear the future of the genre.
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Professional General Artist
I think the genre will do just fine, but it won't be the same... and folks like Pohl blazed the trails that others now can only follow.
Robby-Robert Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013
Well, holy crap. That ruined my day, and I wasn't in the best of moods to begin with. I'd been following his blog for years, and always wondered at his wisdom, good grace and decency.
May we all meet again at the eschaton!…
RalfMaximus Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I read Gateway in middle school when it was new. Didn't know/care at the time that it would be considered a classic -- it was just something I picked up at the drug store while mom was shopping.

HOLY FUCK. It opened my eyes to what it was to be an adult: all the pathos, suffering, bad decisions, regrets. I hated and envied Robin in equal measures; wanted his life but at the same time was thoroughly glad I didn't. All of this painted against an honest thriller/mystery science fiction backdrop. Gateway! Sex! Adventure! Boredom and instant death!

It's the first book I finished then turn around and read again straight through.

Pohl had the gift of building dense, realistic futures with only a few words. So much of Gateway's universe is implied. In a way I'm sad that the sequels (ranging from pretty good to meh) described things in more detail... that ruined some of the mystery, made it less "real". Though I do credit the sequels for CHON and my interest in the Oort cloud.

Pohl was a better writer than other "masters" (lookin at you, Heinlein) and I'm sad he's gone.

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