You’ve heard rumors of the City of Dreams. It’s existence has been officially denied, although unconfirmed reports have placed it beneath the ruins of Machu Pichu in South America. Others say it’s in Arkham, Massachusetts, or hidden in a secret network of tunnels under Moscow.
But we’re here to tell you the truth. Do you want to know where the City of Dreams is?
It’s on YouTube! Yes, the wondrous Twilight Zone-esque series written by J. Michael Straczynski and produced as a part of The Seeing Ear Theatre is available on YouTube. Here’s the first episode:
Episode 1 – The Damned Are Playing At Godzilla Tonight
Part 1 of 3:
Part 2 of 3:
Part 3 of 3:
The dark, ominous tale of the bigoted owner of a small nightclub in the City of Dreams who faces a new sound, and a band that just won’t quit…on either side of the grave.
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
It seems that back in October that “MTV Comics announced a new comic by J. Michael Straczynski, The Adventures of Apocalypse Al, which will be published online and on tablets and mobile devices in Spring 2012.”
The Adventures of Apocalypse Al marks the Eisner, Hugo, Eagle and Inkpot award-winner’s first graphic novel to follow the New York Times best-selling Superman: Earth One. Originally developed as a radio serial for the CBC, Al was never released and has had fans wondering if it would ever see the light of day. “Joe and I have been discussing the property since sometime in 2007, and it’s amazing to finally bring this series to fans.” said MTV Comics’ Tom Akel. JMS has described it as “Monty Python meets the Maltese Falcon en route to the end of the world.”
This comes as a bit of a surprise given that The Adventures Of Apocalypse Al was originally conceived, written, and produced as a radio drama, consisting of twenty 5-minute episodes, for CBC.
I’ve been covering the glacial drama that is The Adventures Of Apocalypse Alsince 2004. CBC Radio One has the show completed, in the can, and ready to run ago, but it never aired.
At this point I suspect the original incarnation of The Adventures Of Apocalypse Al will never be on the radio.
Talked about on today’s show: Time Killer was nominated for a Hugo, the Blackstone Audio audiobook, Sheckley’s family of themes, a collage of images, Immortality, Inc. is a comedy, Bronson Pinchot’s narration, Peter Lorre, Midnight Cowboy, “those are real tears”, a cartoon, Buddhism, reincarnation, the yoga machine, “manipulation catches up to theory”, surviving beyond death, Futurama, suicide booths, New New York, Douglas Adams, Matt Groening, zombies, are we chicking or egging, Mindswap by Robert Sheckley (SFFaudio Podcast #076), Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon, “you are not…”, are you your memories?, hundreds of trillions of assumptions, “why did communism fail?”, Tam knits, sweet sweet coffee, Harrison Bergeron, we need the CPU as well as the memory, Gregg would still be Gregg in another body, a body as an automobile for genes, aren’t skills a part of your mind, your memories?, bayoneting skills, Gregg wants longer pinkies, dynamic finger growth is optimal, episodic, the hunt, have the lawyer leave the room, “what if there is nothing more?”, this is a book about death, ghosts, walking through all the explanation for what happens after they die, tomb like an Egyptian, sane ghosts vs. nutjob ghosts, “the competition never ends”, “different dimension, same shit”, “transplant”, a black-market copy of a sensory recording of our hero’s story, interest in the twentieth century is waning, 1950s New York, Jesse has never been to New York, security theater, Gregg promises to take Jesse to New York, a private Winnebago?, the suspension of habeas corpus, Canada is a country that doesn’t work in theory (but works in practice), the United States as a utopian experiment, Australia has mandatory voting, Mayberry, “the right to die”, death is exactly like before you were born, you can only look forward to death, Mark Twain, death is just one damn thing after another, What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson, Dante’s Inferno, does love conquer all?, Cinderella, happily ever after, arguments that get all of us killed, Pakistan vs. India, tribalism, Ghandi vs. Jinnah, “the enemies of progress”, China, Buddhism, Confucianism, Shinto, ancestor worship, Khmer mythology, Hanuman the monkey king, “reality is only inside you”, are most people half-believers?, Sheckley doesn’t pick one way, did the serialization inform the storytelling, The Status Civilization, Sheckley looks at the world and laughs, there’s no thesis Sheckley is trying to explicate, Sheckley is “a sane Phil Dick”, horror vs. humor, Freejack is a loose adaptation of Immortality, Inc., Emilio Estevez and Mick Jagger, the role of the reader, the magic of radio (drama), The World According To Garp (film vs. novel), converting the nonconvertible, a romantic relationship, Aristotle’s Poetics, plot should follow necessarily (or at least probably) from that which came before, Accessory Before The Fact by Algernon Blackwood, “it all happens at the same time”, flat characters vs. round characters, do we live in a serial world?, if Hamlet was a television series, Gilgamesh still works, Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry vs. J.J. Abrams, an anthologic approach, Babylon 5 as the counter-example, Neil Gaiman, J. Michael Straczynski, Doctor Who, the vehicle of the series, will the dancing toilet paper company care?, Gregg: “I’m no longer god”
Talked about on today’s show: Beyond Fantasy Fiction, the prolific Philip K. Dick, Galaxy Magazine, H.L. Gold, is Upon The Dull Earth Fantasy or Science Fiction, suburban romance?, rural romance, Jesse loves the setting, cedars, angels, The Odyssey, On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Jesse’s terrible Philip K. Dick impersonation, a wooden faucet?, a one way ladder to another plane, using your coffin as a cocoon, “Rick, I cut myself.”, Rick is responsible for her death, is Rick in hell?, Silvia is a sick chick, shortly after Silvia’s incineration, blood from a New Jersey abattoir, Upon The Dull Earth would be perfect for the A Good Story Is Hard To Find podcast, God has moved on up, HE is capitalized, she’s Fantasy, he’s Science Fiction, she’s elf-like, he’s machine-like, iron and spirits don’t mix, ridding one’s self of civilization, Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle |READ OUR REVIEW|, uisge beatha mean “the water of life” (or whisky), is Silvia depressed?, YA, valkyries, insects, The Hanging Man had insects too, witch vs. saint, remember Prometheus and the fire?, ripples from the event, kraals of white skinned young women, is this all going on in Rick’s head, Rick picks up a hitchhiker to use him as a guinea pig, “you’re crowding me man”, going into the underworld to get back your dead girlfriend, when someone dies you mourn your loss, Plato (and Aristophanes’) story about the mythological division of male from female (The Symposium), “we were meant to be together”, “you complete me” and similar cliches, what happens at the end?, Fair Game by Philip K. Dick, Philip K. Dick stories often have a roadside cafe scene and a gas station scene, “like the doves in a John Woo movie”, where does the title of Upon The Dull Earth come from?, she was merely playing at death, disturbed spirits thirsty for blood, the natural of order of things has been violated, William Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Act 4, Scene 2, the character name Sylvia comes from the play, but sylvan means “of the wood”, is she a fairy?, HBO’s True Blood, Icarus, the Wikipedia entry for Upon The Dull Earth, the many mentions of clay, Wonder Woman came from clay, Batman: FalseFaces by Brian K. Vaughn, J. Michael Straczynski, the Golem, Ted Chiang’s Seventy-Two Letters, The Adventures Of Cavalier And Clay by Michael Chabon, capricious (adj.) Given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior, religion, Steven H Silver’s review of Seventy-Two Letters (and Stories Of Your Life And Other Stories), FREE TED CHIANG!, Saint Bernadette, Philip K. Dick really cares about the way the story is told, we never see inside a character’s mind, the authorial view, is Dick popular in for movies for this reason?, it’s grotesque!, she filled the Silex, “We’re all going to have wings!”, “We won’t be worms anymore”, Silvia’s looking for an abusive relationship, Blackstone Audio, the audiobook, Upon The Dull Earth is best read aloud, Tama didn’t know how fantastical Dick was, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, its a Noir Horror Science Fiction Fantasy story, anime, Berserk, Project A-Ko, Princess Mononoke, I only understand Japanese movies made by Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon, The Seven Samurai, “I can barely understand the people wearing a Storm Trooper costumes”, Jesse needs some accessible anime, Spirited Away, what are the background assumptions in anime, Cowboy Beebop intro, Luke’s review of Solaris on SFBRP, Erik S. Rabkin, Just Imagine is a crazy musical with plenty of background assumptions (like prohibition), Hey Want To Watch A Movie? podcast, is there an MST3K podcast?, Tam was thinking of the non-podcast Rifftrax.com, readalong vs. watchalong, The Thing, The Thing From Another World, The Thing (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger, The Amazing Spider-Man, comic books vs. Hollywood, The Avengers will be written and directed by Joss Whedon, swastikas are banned in Germany, it’s a case of it’s time to end the podcast.
Here’s a two hour lecture given by J. Michael Straczynski at MIT back in 2009. Sorry, there’s no audio only edition.
This year’s Julius Schwartz Lecture speaker was transmedia creator J. Michael Straczynski, who has most recently entered the motion picture arena, writing the period drama Changeling for Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie, adapting such books as Lensman for Ron Howard, World War Z for Brad Pitt’s company, and They Marched Into Sunlight for Tom Hanks and Paul Greengrass, as well as reviving Forbidden Planet for Warner Bros. and selling two new original movies, The Flickering Light and Proving Ground to Universal and Tom Cruise’s United Artists, respectively. He has also begun work on Last Words, a pilot for a new TV series for the TNT network.
Previously known best for his role as the creator of the cult science fiction series Babylon 5 and its various spin-off films and series. Straczynski wrote 92 out of the 110 Babylon 5 episodes, notably including an unbroken 59-episode run through all of the third and fourth seasons, and all but one episode of the fifth season.
His early television writing career spans from work on He-Man, She-Ra, and The Real Ghostbusters through to The New Twilight Zone and Murder She Wrote. He followed up Babylon 5 with the science fiction series Jeremiah.
Straczysnki also enjoys continued success as a comic book writer, working on established superhero franchises, such as The Amazing Spider-Man, Supreme Power and Thor, as well as his own original series, such as Rising Stars, Midnight Nation, The Twelve, and The Book Of Lost Souls. He is also a journalist, publishing over 500 articles in such periodicals as the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Writer’s Digest Magazine, and TIME Inc.
He was one of the first television producers to actively engage his fan community online and has consistently explored the interface between digital media and other storytelling platforms.
Gregg Taylor, the creator and writer of Decoder Ring Theatre, is a creative genius, the quality and scope for which we have seen very few before. He is writer of genuine superbness, on the level of J. Michael Straczynski and Rod Serling. But unlike Straczynski, who wrote 92 of the 110 episodes of Babylon 5, and unlike Serling, who wrote 92 of 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone, Taylor has written 42 out of 42 episodes of Black Jack Justice and 70 out of 70 episodes of Red Panda Adventures. I don’t think there is any kind of precedent for this in the history of scripted drama, not on work of this quality or superfluity.
Battlestar Galactica, the recent TV series, ran 73 episodes. Writing credits for that show go to more that a dozen different writers. People think that Joss Whedon wrote Firefly. He did, but he didn’t do it alone. He wrote or co-wrote maybe only half the episodes of that short series. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Nobody is doing anything like what Gregg Taylor is doing with scripted series, and I’m not sure anybody ever has, not on radio or TV. Taylor has, unbelievably, released a full cast production episode of both of his full cast series every two weeks, fall through to the spring, every year since 2005. That’s a stunning, stunning achievement.
I could go on and on and on. But if you just go and listen to the shows yourself I’m sure you’ll get as caught-up in them as so many fans of these independently produced shows have. Maybe start with the fairly standalone-ish episode #70 of the Red Panda Adventures |MP3|. Here’s the episode description:
There are some situations that you just can’t prepare for. You can be the cleverest mystery man on the block, there will still be days that you just never saw coming. Those are the moments that cry out for a fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty… well, you know…
The talented Thomas Perkins, who does the covers for the Red Panda novels*, created this awesome “lobby card” art for the episode:
*Yes, Gregg Taylor is writing novels set in the Red Panda world too. And no, they are not mere reworkings of the scripts – theses are true canon series novels that fit into the chronology like so many Star Trek novels written for hire never did, and like the Babylon 5 novels claimed they would.