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The Order of Oddfish

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

November 26, 2010

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!