JMS on CompuServe (Dec 22, 1996) *POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

Brent Barrett bbarrett at
Sun Dec 22 23:48:24 EST 1996

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 [ Summary of subjects in this section: ]
    Sb: #628239-writers
    Sb: #628932-#From jms re: yr 4/5
    Sb: #629079-#Glass Hand question
    Sb: #628916- Planted  Reminder
    Sb: #629174-Centauri speak
    Sb: #628828-#Dr. Kyle
    Sb: #629467-Spinoff arc?
    Sb: #629468-Spinoff arc?

 [ Summary: In response to another poster, this person states that he can be
   called a writer, even though he doesn't make his living writing and hasn't
   published anything.  He gives examples of several authors who are 
   considered "writers" today but who did not write for a living while they 
   were alive. ]

 #: 629194 S2/Star Trek: General
    21-Dec-96  18:29:30
Sb: #628239-writers

      You make a number of logical errors in your original message, and in your
approach to the discussion.

      For starters, most of the people you cited are 19th century writers or
turn of the century writers.  For most of history, writing was something very
few could do as a full-time profession because the field paid very, very
little.  It was thus *necessary* for most writers to sustain themselves with
other avocations.

      And yes, some of those you define were bankers or teachers, but their
first chosen love was writing.  I think they would define themselves as writers
first, bankers second.  Or third.

      Additionally, I believe the discussion at hand is of writing as a
*profession*, not a hobby.  Everyone writes.  Just by taking part in this
online service, we're all writing...but are we all *writers*?  If the answer is
yes, then the term no longer has any may as well say we are all
speakers.  Any writer knows that language has specific meaning.

      Sure, you can take a frog and cut it up, or administer warm soup to a
cat, but does taking care of a pet make you a veterinarian?  You've mended cuts
and bruises, does that make you a doctor?  These are *professions*, not

      Similarly, writing is a profession.  Yes, it has its share of dilletantes
and sightseers and "well, *I* did it once, so I'm every bit as much a writer as
James Joyce ever was"...but that's simply silly.

      You can define yourself as an *aspiring* writer, or an *unpublished*
writer, or a *professional* that there's latitude.  But to try and
lump anyone who types into the same category as Mark TWain or C.S. Lewis is
paralogia of the worst sort.


 #: 628932 S5/Babylon 5: General
    20-Dec-96  21:40:13
Sb: #628749-#From jms re: yr 4/5

>>  Similarly, there are a bunch of elements that would come up late 4 and
early 5 of similar or greater intensity.  If we get 5, they go there; if we
don't, they go in the sequel. <<

Joe, as thrilled as I am to here of a possible sequel, something worries me.
What assurance do you/we have that WB would treat the sequel any better than
they've treated B5?  After all the crap they've thrown your way--poor
publicity, screwy broadcast schedule, refusal to license videos, uncertainty of
renewal each and every year-- do you really want more of the same?

 _____    _____
   --->ba<---    Have a merry Christmas Retail Season (tm).
     /    \      May you never need a sales receipt.

 #: 629196 S5/Babylon 5: General
    21-Dec-96  18:37:58
Sb: #628932-#From jms re: yr 4/5

"Joe, as thrilled as I am to here of a possible sequel, something worries me.
What assurance do you/we have that WB would treat the sequel any better than
they've treated B5?  After all the crap they've thrown your way--poor
publicity, screwy broadcast schedule, refusal to license videos, uncertainty of
renewal each and every year-- do you really want more of the same?"

      First, it depends on where the sequel ends up, on what venue.  That will
have an impact.

      Second and most important: given everything you just wrote, WB has done
something else also: 1) they put B5 on the air when *nobody else would*, no one
else would take a chance on us, and 2) where networks usually meddle and mess
around with the content and the stories, WB has left us alone to tell the
stories we want to tell, no interference, no notes, no changes.

      Everything else is secondary to the story, because the story will go on
long, long after the other issues are forgotten.


 #: 629079 S5/Babylon 5: General
    21-Dec-96  10:50:28
Sb: #628745-#Glass Hand question

Didn't Harlan say at Loscon that he had finsi the script but that now you
weren't going to use it?

 #: 629197 S5/Babylon 5: General
    21-Dec-96  18:38:01
Sb: #629079-#Glass Hand question

      He was running a number and kidding around.


 #: 628916 S5/Babylon 5: General
    20-Dec-96  21:08:47
Sb: # Planted  Reminder

jms -

One possible "gun on the wall" which has yet to be fired was the plant rather
prominently illustrated in the Book of G'Qon.  For some reason (perhaps merely
viral upper-respiratory infection), that image has been nagging at me.  Will
that plant make a reappearance in either S4 or S5 (or the TNT movies or the


I can almost feel the rustling-in of some kind of enchantment already.

 #: 629198 S5/Babylon 5: General
    21-Dec-96  18:38:03
Sb: #628916- Planted  Reminder



 #: 629174 S5/Babylon 5: General
    21-Dec-96  17:15:24
Sb: #Centauri speak


We have heard the Drazi, Minbari, Narn, and just about every other alien speak
in their native tounges. I dont believe I ever heard the Centauri speak in
theirs.  If you haven't shown this, why not?

"Why cant the Centauri teach their children how to speak?
Minbari know Minbari,
The Vree are taught their Vreek..............."

( Im not clever enough or awake enough to finish the entire song...)


 #: 629199 S5/Babylon 5: General
    21-Dec-96  18:38:05
Sb: #629174-Centauri speak

      They'd have to speak it around someone else to make that point, and so
far it hasn't happened.


 #: 628828 S6/Babylon 5: Spoilers
    20-Dec-96  17:43:09
Sb: #628553-#Dr. Kyle

>>  It was noted in season 1 that Dr. Kyle was reassigned to Earthdome, under
President Clark. <<

Supposing for a moment this means Dr. Kyle was "questioned" by EarthGov, does
this mean that some people in EarthGov had some idea of what the Vorlons were
up to?  Will we ever see what they did with that knowledge?

I've been wondering for a while why the EarthGov thread and the
Shadow/Vorlon/Great War thread never really intersected.  I kind of had it in
my head that somewhere along the road they would.  Will the rest of Earth ever
get directly involved in the greater scheme of things, the way Sheridan and co.

 _____    _____
   --->ba<---    Have a merry Christmas Retail Season (tm).
     /    \      May you never need a sales receipt.

 #: 629200 S6/Babylon 5: Spoilers
    21-Dec-96  18:38:07
Sb: #628828-#Dr. Kyle

      We'll be getting back to the Earth thread by mid-season.


 #: 629467 S5/Babylon 5: General
    22-Dec-96  16:17:35
Sb: #627635-#Spinoff arc?

<"...could you write empty-headed drivel?  I mean by that, something devoid of
the psychological depth, cultural allusions and variously-voiced wit that we
currently appreciate in B5.">

>>Never have before, and see no reason to start now.<<

        Well, thank God for that!
                                Obviously you can write drivel since you can
write quality material. Drivel by comparison require little thought, if any
--only a pen and a piece of paper, but no stretching of mental muscles
whatsoever. Sure, you could do it, and get paid for it, but we both know it
would probably, in all likelihood be short-lived(then again, in television who
knows), and why let down your fans from this excellent series by treating them
to such an exercise in futility? Of course, you wouldn't, and God knows what
possessed Rebecca to even ask such a question in the first place.

>>One thing that tends to be true of TV writing in general, not just my case,
is that once you know who's running and writing the show, you have a fairly
good idea of the kind of show you're going to be getting, because shows tend to
be direct outgrowths of the personality of that writer.  You can use phrases
like "a Chris Carter show," which calls up one kind of show, or a "Carl Reiner
kind of sitcom," or "a Rod Serling kind of show."  A jms show falls into the
same category.  I like sharp, witty, in-depth writing; always have, always
will.  So that can be counted on as a constant.<<

        Unfortunately the auteur theory doesn't relate to television, which is
more or less what you seem to be alluding too above. Nevertheless, I'd
definitely classify you as an "autuer" even though the term is meant for film
                So what! Your distinctness of vision is well translated, and we
wouldn't have that regardless of who the director is on any given episode of
the series if it wasn't for you. ;-)

 #: 629534 S5/Babylon 5: General
    22-Dec-96  17:50:10
Sb: #629467-Spinoff arc?

"Unfortunately the auteur theory doesn't relate to television, which is more or
less what you seem to be alluding too above. Nevertheless, I'd definitely
classify you as an "autuer" even though the term is meant for film

      Education time.

      Back a while ago, the Cahiers du Cinema in France undertook a program
designed to showcase the various elements that went into creating a motion
picture.  Specifically, how each division was the author of the film; the
director, the cinematographer, the writer, others.  The first series of
screenings/presentations they held were on the director...and they got all
wowed, and the big guys showed up, and there was much fanfare...and that's
where they stopped.

      The whole "auteur" idea got corrupted to mean just one category, and that
was never the intent.  Further, there's no such thing as an "auteur," that's
just a name a bunch of French intellectuals/critics came up with, becaues they
feel the need to somehow figure out who's responsible (and the author can't
possibly be the author, after all, no no no...)

      So you now have situations where a director can put "A Film By" in front
of his name, even though he came in LONG after pre production, long after the
script was finalized, who does nothing other than direct.  The possessory
credit (which feeds right into the "auteur" notion) is something heinous and
offensive to most was originally not allowed, until Hitchcock (who
one could argue was definitely the auteur of his films in many ways) asked for
an exemption for his films.  The WGA agreed, but that was only supposed to be
for HIS films, nobody else...even called it "The Hitchcock Clause."  Only once
you let that particular cat out of the bag, everybody begins using it.

      The whole "auteur" theory is utter nonsense.


 #: 629468 S5/Babylon 5: General
    22-Dec-96  16:17:40
Sb: #628546-#Spinoff arc?

>>  You must understand how hideously difficult and exhausting telling a 5 year
tightly constructed story like this is..<<

        There's something I've wanted to ask you for a while now pertaining to
your arc and season 1. What we saw relating to the Shadows was about as thin as
it gets in year 1. I think there was perhaps one or two scenes with Morden
talking about his plans for Molari if I'm not mistaken, and the Shadows looked
far more two-dimensional in appearance. In fact, we only saw them once or
twice, and very briefly at that. In addition, there were a good number of
episodes that were non-arc related if I'm remembering correctly, or episodes
where a thin element of the arc ran through and along side a totally unrelated
story. I realize that what you were doing there was laying a lot of groundwork
and character development, giving us the histories of different races and
specific characters and all. However, what I'm wondering about is why there was
so little relating to the Shadows at that point. I know you could say in
response to that, "Well, that had only recently awoken," which of course fits.
But what I'm wondering is whether you were delaying the Shadow theme because
the special effects were still being worked out. Let's face it, the Shadows
aren't an easy accomplishment from the FX standpoint --perhaps now, but not
four or five years ago because computer graphics animation, CGI, was still
finding its legs.
        Am I at all on to something here, or had things panned out that way
because it was intended from the beginning?

>> Four years ago, when I started carrying this elephant, I barely had a grey
hair on my it's gone almost entirely grey, I look as if I've aged 10
years, and people who see me after a gap of a few years all say the same thing:
"What the hell HAPPENED to you?"  I tell them: Babylon 5.<<

        LOL!!     You might be right in part, but of course you do realize that
what's happened to you is what happens to everybody, that being "middle age".
You'd probably have changed in exactly the same way without B5 being a part of
your life. Less stress perhaps, but there's no beating the clock and the
predetermined pattern of genes. I hate that I'm losing my hair, but I'm also
aware that my hair pattern was predetermined since before I was even born.

 #: 629535 S5/Babylon 5: General
    22-Dec-96  17:50:14
Sb: #629468-Spinoff arc?

      No, it's real simple: this story is about more than just the shadow war.
I have no desire or interest in writing something just about this one big war.
People have lives before, and after.  So the show began long before we heard
about the shadows, and will continue after that thread is over.



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