order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish


Special Space Edition: Killing Pluto, and Sci-Fi Home Movies

Before I explain the movie above, here’s news: I have a book review in today’s Wall Street Journal!

It’s a review I wrote of How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Caltech astronomer Mike Brown, who is the man responsible for Pluto’s demotion to non-planet back in 2006. I highly recommend the book! Read my positive review at the Wall Street Journal‘s site here.

I’ve got space on the brain lately. Right now I’m writing the final chapters of my next novel, a science-fiction comedy called The Magnificent Moots. Also, when I was cleaning out my basement last week, I found a SHORT SCIENCE FICTION MOVIE I had made with some friends back in 2004.

In honor of Professor Brown’s very enjoyable book of science fact, and to commerate wrapping up my own book of science fiction, I decided to share this weird old movie with the world.

I made with Allan Lesage and the talented kids at the South Chicago Art Center (supervised by Sarah Ward) for an improv film competition in 2004. Allan and I randomly drew a theme out of a hat—”boys and girls”—and were given one month to write and shoot a movie that was ten minutes or less on that theme.

We decided to make our movie be about the very first time in the history of the universe that boys (in this case, astronauts) encounter girls (aliens).

I wrote the script, but the kids ended up improvising most of the dialogue themselves instead (and was better than what I wrote). I loosely based it on the Ray Bradbury short story “Here There Be Tygers.” The papier-mache planets and cheap tinfoil-and-cardboard sets were a lot of fun to make. The boys were played by Jodi Strong, Jaki Thomas, Anthony Steel, and Richard Booth. The girls were played by Latoya Williams, Cynamon Strong, and Kwanza Spencer.

If you watch it, turn it up loud—the spooky music and sound are particularly good, done by Brian Furner and John Dunlevy. Other contributors: Allan Lesage, Kristen Houser, Orion Montoya, Cori Nylund-Southern, Lorna Sanchez, John Huston (a.k.a. Dark Yellow, a.k.a. Neil Gaiman) and my now-wife Heather Norborg.

I feel wistful, watching this now. Other than Heather and Dark Yellow, I’ve fallen out of touch with almost everyone else who made it. So much has happened since then: Heather and I moved to Japan for two years, we got married, we have a wonderful daughter, I finally got The Order of Odd-Fish published, and so much more. And yet although everything that’s happened has been positive, and I’m of course very thankful—hey, happy Thanksgiving!—it’s always a little melancholy to stumble across the semi-forgotten debris of one’s youth.

Enjoy the movie, enjoy Mike Brown’s brilliant new book, and enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend!

More Odd-Fish Art, with Eldritch Snitches!

In Chicago? Tonight (Wednesday, 11/17) I’ll be doing an author meet-and-mingle at the Newberry Library with fellow writers Bryan Gruley, Hannah Pittard, Delphine Pontvieux, Tasha Alexander, and Andrew Grant. Come hang out! 20% off of all purchases at the Newberry Library Bookstore. 5-7 pm.

It’s been a while since I’ve featured Order of Odd-Fish fan art on the blog. The marvelous painting above is by Johanna Klay. It’s from the first chapter: Aunt Lily’s costume party at the ruby palace!

I particularly like the deft composition here. Aunt Lily is of course the center of attention, her hips cocked provocatively, with a bemused Jo naturally in the background, and Colonel Korsakov (complete with daffodil on his head!) breaking into their world from the left. We even get the alligator in the bikini I mentioned, cavorting goofily! (Another piece of art I received of Lily’s costume party also has an alligator with a bikini in it. An unexpectedly popular image . . .)

I received Johanna’s awesome painting too late for it to be in the Odd-Fish fan art show back in April, but if we ever re-stage the show, this will be a standout!

Here’s another wonderful piece, which was in the Odd-Fish art show, but I haven’t gotten around to posting it until now (sorry!). It’s the scene during the victory party after Jo’s duel in the Dome of Doom, when Jo kisses Ian, to the dismay of gangster queen Oona Looch. It’s by Miss-Artist on DeviantArt. She captured the moment quite well—I like Oona Looch’s look of startled disappointment, and how both Jo and Ian’s eyes are wide open. They’re both as shocked as Oona Looch is. Thanks for a great piece, Miss-Artist! (For those Oona Looch fans out there, here’s another picture of her, by Chen Reichert.)

I’ve also received a lot of good fan art from Cynthia Castiglione’s class at Near North Montessori in Chicago. (They’re the ones who baked the avant-garde pies back in June.) Here’s even more creative fan art from them: they wrote their own issues of the Eldritch Snitch!

These are pretty hilarious, and they speak for themselves. I especially like how they romantically link Sefino with Lady Gaga and Ke$ha, divulge revelations about Lily Larouche’s “old husband Doug,” how Mrs. Frisby is writing into the Eldritch Snitch (some Secret of NIMH crossover fiction?), and how Sefino was spotted at “the men’s section of the mall.” A great extension of the Odd-Fish universe! THANK YOU!

Halloween 2010

Hey, I’ll be chatting with the fine folks at Eve’s Fan Garden at 9 pm on Tuesday, November 9 at 6 pm PST (9 pm EST)!

Ah, Halloween! (Yes, I’m posting about it late. I’ve been fuddled with a cold for most of this week.) Above are the pumpkins I carved with Heather and our friends Margaret and Tony in South Bend last week.

This year’s Halloween was not as raucous as Halloweens of years past, when Heather and I used to throw elaborate costume parties, like the Sultan’s Envenomed Garden of 2008, or the Chinese Underwater Ghost Ocean of 2007. Having a baby does that. But my friend Megin more than picked up the slack with her “COOGER AND DARK’S FABULOUS CARNIVAL AND PANDEMONIUM SHADOW SHOW,” although unfortunately (fortunately?) I have no pictures to share.

I do, however, have a video of Lucy roaring with evil laughter. Or at least, we’re trying to teach her.

I was also in South Bend for the week leading up to Halloween, speaking at various schools: La Salle Intermediate, Jackson Intermediate, and Wilson Primary Center. I had a great time, and I think the students did too. Thanks, Julie Nave and the Notre Dame bookstore, for setting up all those visits!

I’ll leave you with this: Lucy dressed as a ladybug: