MY Battlestar Galactica

Like most geeks, I hopped on board the 2004 Battlestar Galactica sensation. Like fewer, I was still a stalwart fan of the original series. And perhaps on my own, I still prefer the original to the reboot. The original series was what it was and it did what it was very well. The reboot showed a whole bunch of promise early on and then puttered out before limping to a conclusion. I only made it a few episodes into season three and while I've tried repeatedly to finish the series--starting at the beginning, starting at season three, choosing those episodes people tell me are the best--it never holds my interest. It had great potential but that isn't enough, in my opinion.

Today I was rewatching some episodes of the original series while I worked and a thought popped into my head. In the original series, the cylons were not the folly of man but of a reptilian race that had died out and the cylons were now their own expansionistic empire, a more classic invading "other" like the Mongols. In the new series, the whole "sins of the father" premise features  heavily in the seasons I watched. I really liked that notion. It was one of the things that really drew me in early on. But at the same time, the longer the series went, the more the cylons came across as whiny (until the story diverged with the skinjobs and things go weird.)

A trip to Wikipedia to see the rest of the series that I never watched reveals that Earth was populated by a different cylon race thousands of years before that had created their own cylon servant class and the resulting war wiped out the planet. WTF? Man is destined to create cylons? Is that the theme we're going for here? Because how do planets separated by so much distance suffer the same fate?

This kind of bums me out because the purpose of this post began as my own notion of how I would do BSG, which now is too similar to the reboot to be worthwhile to pursue as fan fiction. In my version, the cylons are still the invading other, but they weren't created by a reptilian species, they were created by humans on Earth. Rather than Earth being the 13th colony, it is the origin of the human species and the 12 colonies are just that, 12 colonies. Through the confusion of time, Earth has become a lost colony rather than a homeworld and when the cylons discover and attack the humans, the refugees flee to the lost colony. But when they get there, they discover that it is the origin of not only their species, but of the cylons as well.

Because the reboot did something similar, I don't know if I'd have Earth be wiped out in the resultant war or maybe it would be the cylon homeworld. I won't develop it any further than this post, I think. I love BSG, and I love the potential of the world (fiction-wise) that it's created. I'd love to tell stories there, in my own way. Neither series fully realizes the setting as I'd like to see it. But as soon as you start talking about the final five, I will stop listening because I really don't care. Even so, how earth plays into the setting could be interesting. (Certainly better than a cast off of cylon vs cylon apocalypse or arriving at a planet in the early '80s and knowing all the customs and how to ride a motorcycle.)

Redux: Where I Write

As time goes on, I find there's a topic from my old (decommissioned) live journal that I wish people might have read. So I post it here as a "redux", meaning I haven't changed anything, so some of it may be out of date. Still, the heart of the post is worthwhile, so I post it for you to read. In case you're wondering, I settled on THE TRIAD SOCIETY as the final title.

How strange. I seem to have fallen into a pattern of posting every other week on a Thursday. That is unintentional. June is my busiest month out of the year and this year was particularly bad. The amount of dreck that came out of editorial was massive. The worst offenders submitted and then promptly left on vacation. Jerks.

But that's not what this post is about! I just had to get that off my chest. (The last month really has been miserable in that respect. So much more work than was necessary to complete these projects. Sometimes it took me longer to decipher what was needed than to actually create the ebook!)

Have you heard of

The Rejectionist

? She's a popular insider/industry blog, written by an anonymous agent assistant. Her agent reps fantasy, too. She seems like a pretty cool assistant to work for. I hope she works for an agent I query and not one I've stricken from my query list. I think we'd have a fun dynamic working together (though her tastes lean toward classic metal and maybe some NWBHM while I lean toward Nu Metal and Metalcore). (Interesting aside, I plugged Metalcore into Last FM the other day. I was pleased it recognized the genre, but displeased when it spat death metal at me instead. I know the difference, Last FM! Don't try and fool me!)

Now, we don't always see eye to eye. She reminds me of

Anna Genoise

a lot in her absolutist take on prejudice and discrimination. While we all agree that discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, or sexual preference is wrong, I tend to lean toward a "multiple factors" approach rather than pointing a finger and calling for the torches and pitchforks. Still, I enjoy her blog. She has sass and I'm a sucker for sass.

Well, last Friday she made a proposal. Don't tell, show us where you write. It's a common question, "Where do you write?" That and When... At home, on the porch, whatever. Writers tend to adopt favorite spots, locations where they are most productive. Some people go to Borders every day and that's how they do their thing (I've tried this and neither Borders nor Barnes and Noble are conducive to maximum output). Instead of just saying where we write, which has become almost rote memorization by now, we should show it.

Now for me, I write in public places, so I limited my pictures so I wouldn't creep people out by taking pictures of them. If you've followed this journal or read

my website

, you know I love breakfast food. I like it from a diner. And I like it at a counter. Specifically, I like Jackie's Diner. (I also enjoy Dylan's in Chelmsford as a second option.)

I went to Jackie's with my wife when we first moved to Nashua. I tried the coffee and it blew my mind. They serve Green Mountain coffee. If you live outside of the Northeast corridor, this is the coffee the serve at McDonald's except without the shit ton of sugar that McD's adds. Specifically, they serve breakfast blend which is the awesomest coffee ever. Enjoying the coffee, I went back. And back. And back. I am now a regular and eat at the counter with other regulars. They know I write and mostly leave me to my devices (especially when I stare off into space). We can differ on politics, which is a big deal in New Hampshire, and other things, but that's all cool because we're all regulars. The waitresses know what I do and they support me in my effort even though the owner Carol doesn't like laptops. Mine doesn't take up a lot of space, thankfully.

She's okay with it. I'll give her a signed copy when I finally get published. Coffee, pancakes, eggs, more coffee. Who couldn't write like this? My brain is powered by breakfast! Rrraaaaaaahhhh!!!!!!

Problem is, because I'm such a regular, they like to talk to me. That's all right. That's more of an early morning or weekend writing spot. I get the bulk of my writing done on the MBTA commuter rail between Lowell and Boston North Station. Getting a job in Boston has proven to be one of the greatest events of my life. Not only because I work for a much better publisher than I used to (which I do), but because now I have a commute. This was hard to get used to and some days it still runs me down. Getting home at 6:15 in the evening being "early" sucks. Getting home at 10:00 at night sucks more. But despite all that, the commute has proven the absolute best thing that has ever happened to my writing. It is time that can't be taken away (except by standing room only and shrieking children). I tried to set boundaries with my wife when we first moved in together (before we were married, because you know you were asking). It would last for a few weeks and then dissolve. This can't be taken away. This is dedicated writing time. Two hours of writing a day, one hour each way. I wrote BLACK MAGIC AND BARBECUE SAUCE and WANTED: CHOSEN ONE, NOW HIRING in a year's time because I rode this train. People think I rushed or I didn't revise. Nope. Two hours a day, five days a week and then writing at Jackie's on the weekend. That netted me two novels. Bam!

My regular seat was taken when I took this picture. I was in one of those sideways facing seats that fold up when no one is in them, so I couldn't frame the best picture I wanted. But writing on the train is writing on the train regardless of where you sit. This is also why I use an Eee PC (early gen netbook if you don't know what that is). Like any good fantasist, I have a bit of a belly, so using a full-size laptop is kind of hard. And who needs it? I can type on this thing and that's all I need. Type type type.

After taking this picture, I worked on my WIP for the rest of the ride in. I will do the same on the way home. Later this year, I will have another completed manuscript to send to agents and eventually I'll crack this glass ceiling and publish my damn books!

And who knows, when I finally do, maybe the Rejectionist will be the assistant who pulls my work out of the slush pile. (That's Joseph L. Selby, Le R. The next work you'll receive from me will be either THE TRIAD SOCIETY or THE HOOK AND HAMMER SOCIETY depending on which title I finally settle on. Get ready with a request for a full! ;)

Knight Rider Revisited

So I've got some pretty awesome opportunities going on right now, of which I will not speak lest I jinx them. I will say that it involves rewriting two different manuscripts, which may seem horrible to the uninitiated but is really flipping awesome. I'm in serious crunch time right now and will be for a few months. If ever there was a time not to suck, this would be it.

The trick is, when I'm not writing on the official stuff, my brain keeps creating. Lately, it has been falling back on that Knight Rider post I did awhile back. I have since rewatched the pilot of the original series (and thus answered why he was called Michael Knight, something I knew as a child that but forgot as an adult). If you've never seen the original Knight Rider, you haven't missed much. It was an '80s show that is very much an '80s show. It did not endure the test of time.

The thing is, it was iconic for its time and impressionable to a young boy. Even if you haven't seen it, you've probably seen KITT, the black Trans-Am (from the original series) / Shelby GT500 (from the 2008 failed series) with the red light that flashes back and forth like a Cylon.

The 2008 show smacked of formula and made classic sci-fi mistakes that someone that doesn't normally read/write the genre would make. Specifically, the artificial intelligence of KITT and the abilities of the car were too powerful too quickly. The super-computer that can hack building security systems to watch through cameras, that can change the appearance of the car, etc etc. Put that all in the beginning and where do you have to go to challenge your protagonists? That's not power creep, that's a power skyrocket.

They did a few things right, tossed up the "man and his car" dynamic with another character. They better played the outlaw status (of course, with a lame FBI agent). Of course, they screwed up the whole two people and their car dynamic with the surly jock guy driver and daddy's-girl love-hate romance thing that was never very romantic and never actually developed their characters beyond being whiny. I really don't like the cocky jock hero. That was the biggest barrier for me to getting into Farscape. Crichton really rubbed me wrong.

ANYWAY, so me being me, I think I can do it better. ALSO, my mind is in super-duper creative mode, and while I do not have time to write fan fiction, I do have a blog where I can tickle my fancy for the time being. So settle in for a more of Joseph L. Selby's Knight Rider (2012).

Major Michael Long (Idris Elba) is a decorated Army special forces/airborne ranger detached to Knight Industries as a test driver and military consultant as part of the KITT development program under contract by the Department of Defense. As an operator of the KITT platform (a hummer in its first iteration), his call sign is White Knight. Once the team goes independent, his call sign changes to Black Knight. I'm not sure how this will play, what with television race politics, but mostly it has to do with the car, going to the black car (of indeterminate make--I don't feel compelled to adhere to the original Trans Am; there's advertising money to be made here, so do what's best for the show's budget).

Wilton Knight (William Daniels) is the founder of Knight Industries, one of the country's leading arms manufacturers. In his old age, he's focusing on saving lives rather than taking them, working on technology to save soldiers' lives rather than take them. The company is going in the opposite direction. He considers the KITT program to be his final legacy. He is assassinated when the technology is stolen.

Eleanor Knight (China Chow) is Wilton's only child and director of Knight Industries' fastest-growing division. She oversees contracting with the CIA and military. Her relationship with her father is strained. She does not share his vision of the future of the company. She has a worse relationship with Michael, who has a poor opinion of contractors and the contracting industry.

Yi Bo (Jerry Shea) is the team's linguist and computer programmer. He works on integrating voice command and voice actuation software with Vik's prototype KITT design. He and Vik do not get along. He think's Vik is immature and doesn't like his practical jokes (such as Vik installing a Cylon voice as the default program voice). He is also a Chinese spy. He tries to steal the KITT technology, but doesn't know Vik is working in a secret partition. The version of the software he steals is obsolete and non-functional. He pursues the team, trying to finish his original assignment.

Vik Singh (Vik Sahay) is the team's computer intelligence designer. He is the geek's geek. All your nerd humor has an easy access point here. Relax on the cliches, though. Yes he's single, but that doesn't mean he doesn't know how to act around women. He just finds computers more interesting. He's an overprotective father obsessing over his greatest creation, which gets in the way of life. This obsession is what prevents Bo from getting a complete version of KITT and what saves Navi's life.

Anand Patel (Sachin Bhatt) is the chief engineer responsible for integrating the KITT systems into military transports. He is inadvertently killed when Bo steals the software.

Navi Patel (Navi Rawat) is Anand's wife and partner. She specializes in advanced combustion engines and propulsion systems. She is wounded but not killed during Bo's theft. She takes the KITT software from Vik as they escape the burning warehouse. She installs it in the care that becomes the show's KITT-mobile. She is responsible for the upkeep and performance of the car, making any mechanical improvements. (Ejector seats! You remember this? David Hasselhoff flying up on top of a 20-foot wall and jumping down the other side and landing without bending at the knees. Oh '80s, you so crazy.)

Knight Industries Turing Transport / KITT (Zachary Levi) It's inevitable that KITT will eventually have a voice. In its first appearance, KITT is a white hummer. The red light is installed only as a point of reference for test-course observation. Vik originally installs a Cylon voice (as much for me as the classic nerd shout out). Eventually the computer creates its own voice as its begins to display genuine artificial intelligence. This is a feature that allows the car to evolve over the course of the show and adds an air of unpredictability, as these commands are not being programmed by the team.

Special Agent Connor "CC" Campbell (Tahmoh Penikett) is a retired Marine lieutenant and current field officer in the Washington, DC, bureau. He has a stellar track record and an investigative mind. He is assigned to retrieve the KITT technology and apprehend the criminals responsible for the espionage. He's not so single minded as to be oblivious to the clues that show a more complicated conspiracy, but he's also not so morally gray to overlook that the KITT team ran instead of coming to the authorities.

Supervising Agent Glen Larson (Richard Schiff) is Agent Campbell's direct supervisor. He may be corrupt but there's no evidence and he makes no direct overtures that suggest one way or the other. He takes an active role in the investigation, making sure to remain informed in all matters.

Probationary Agent Francis Elliott (Fran Kranz) is a young but genius computer expert that Agent Campbell recruits to aid in his pursuit. Where Campbell does the field work, Francis tracks the group digitally, trying to target the various GPS and network connectivity made by the KITT software.

Zhang Li (Bruce Locke) is Bo's handler and leader of the espionage group trying to steal the KITT technology. He is also the Chinese representative at the United Nations and has diplomatic immunity. Agent Campbell wants to have the State Department expel him, but Agent Larson insists the evidence isn't convincing. He wants a more solid case before they approach the State Department so they don't tip their hand.

In season 2, Army CID gets tired of waiting for the FBI to crack the case and this introduces new characters that I have not cast here.

Now, there are a few racial topics to discuss. First, the entire "Knight Rider" team is non-white. This is intentional. One of the reasons I enjoy British television is that the racial politics aren't so obvious. The need to include or exclude an actor because of gender and ethnicity tires me. Idris Elba was the best character in Thor despite the uproar of his skin color. And he's proven he can carry the lead in Luther, which is a super awesome show that needs more episodes. I admit that China Chang has looked "less" Asian in some of her roles, and while it's horrible that's even a consideration, some network asshole will bring up the lack of white leads, so screw that guy. Take this middle ground. Navi Rawat has years of exposure on Numb3rs and other shows and Vik Sahay was a comic genius on Chuck, so hopefully the lack of white in the team won't be an issue and this will usher in an enlightened age in American TV where the color of the character doesn't matter.

Likewise the villains are Chinese. This is also intentional. Rather than having a chase-and-run scenario between the team and the feds, the fact that the team isn't in the wrong makes that chase unsustainable unless there's a third party complicating things. This is classic Scarecrow and Mrs. King espionage and we're using China instead of the Soviet Union. So anyone wanting to say that it's unfair that the Asian (non-Indian) actors are all villains needs to show me where they were complaining that Russians were always the villains in the '80s.

Which brings us to the Feds. Yes the white people are chasing the non-white people and no that wasn't intentional. It's a mix of TV race politics and a genuine desire to cast those actors in those roles. Tell me Fran Kranz wasn't the best part of the Dollhouse and you'd be lying. Who doesn't want more Richard Schiff? He's always awesome and giving him a possibly corrupt character to play just sounds like a lot of fun. So when the same network prick above asks where the white people are to play to middle America (that's what they call racists), we point to the good guys. Look! The law-abiding characters are white. Shut up and sit down. Let's tell an awesome action/espionage/adventure story with Idris Elba being awesome.