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"I wasn't looking at your neck!"
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September 22 2006

"Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy!" now on sale. Jane Espenson says "I think Buffy fans in general would love it too. The book actually discusses Bob's interaction with Buffy writers and actors as well, providing a rare little glimpse into that world from a unique perspective, as a friend of those making the show."

This is a follow up to a previous Whedonesque story. If you recall, Joss endorsed the book and it went on sale this month.

Reading is fun and as a very wise man once said "To read makes our speaking English good". And it's not often fans get to read inside accounts of the Buffyverse that don't come from the cast and crew. Cheers to Jane for the relevant info.

and remember to check in, once in a while, at his homepage, boy's funny, he's politically savvy, and he knows his way around a pudu.

[ edited by annagranfors on 2006-09-22 10:28 ]
I think I'll be getting this. Besides Jane's possibly biased endorsement, a week or two ago Orson Scott Card posted a very favorable review of this in the "Uncle Orson Reviews Everything" section of, his website. I've been clued in to some very interesting stuff in this column, which is separate from his postings on his own works and political views, which I seem to recall some here eschewing. He reviews books, films, foods, gadgets, websites, all kinds of stuff.

And if you haven't read his recent fantasy novel "Magic Street", I highly recommend it. Zero politics, much goodness.
Yep, disagree with Card on a lot of things but he sure can write (he had a similarly glowing review of Serenity on his site when it came out). Re: new book, is it anything like his Alvin Maker stuff because I really enjoyed the early one's in that series ? May have to think a bit about whether I want to put bread on the table of someone that holds some of his more extreme views though (haven't bought any of his books since he nailed his colours to the mast, for no reason other than extreme disappointment with 'Children of the Mind', the fourth Ender book).

I think I may well stick this on my to-be-bought list so that it can eventually go on my to-be-read pile so that, around about the heat death of the universe, I may actually get around to reading it. Bob Harris may be Jane's fella but I reckon she's got easily enough integrity not to sell us a lemon (as has the Joss-man).

(BTW, a couple of days earlier in her blog she talks about including 'atmo' in her BSG script thinking she'd seen it before only to realise she'd seen it before in Firefly ;) and also that she's working on a spec pilot so hopefully something comes of that)

[ edited by Saje on 2006-09-22 13:31 ]
Haven't read any of the Alvin Maker stuff, but from the descriptions I've read of it I'd suspect "Magic Street" was quite different. Takes place in the present, mostly, and is very funny with terrific characterizations. The main protagonist, and many other characters, are black, but in no way stereotypical. IIRC, the first chapter or two was available on the website a while ago.

Also, Saje, I didn't mean to impugn Jane's integrity. I hold her in great esteem and read her blog faithfully--it's just that when someone you love does something really good, in my experience it's only human nature to tend to over-praise. So I guess I'm impugning my own integrity.
I may impugn mine too then, starting to feel left out ;). Agreed, it probably is natural to de-emphasise the negatives (even subconsciously) when it's someone you love.

'Magic Street' sounds pretty different (the Tales of Alvin Maker are set in a sort of alternate pioneer era America where magic is real and manifests itself in individuals as 'knacks' which can range from a supernatural cooking ability all the way up to Maker which is basically an ability to see exactly how things should fit together and then fit them that way - usually not really my kind of thing but for some reason these grabbed me).

I may still have a look though (possibly in the remainder bin for conscience salving reasons ;).
I'm definitely interested in this book. Sounds like a good read.
Jane here! Greetings, everyone! Just wanted to drop in and smilingly say that sometimes my friends and family produce crap. At those moments I am silent. But sometimes, they produce genius. This book is genius. The "I loved it" rate on this thing is phenomenal. It's a humor book with this cool suspense element that'll keep you up turning pages all night. Check out the praise at (the Wall Street Journal had kittens over how much they loved it)... or just head right on over to Amazon. Seriously. Kittens.
Thanks for posting Jane. (May we call you Jane? I figure yes, since that is how you identified yourself.) It is great to see you here. Your blog is much loved by many of us, as are your scripts.

The praise by so many people whose writing I respect makes me feel I must read this book. Maybe I'll get it to take with me on my trip at Thanksgiving...

[ edited by newcj on 2006-09-22 20:35 ]
Hey, JaneEsp, thanks for stopping by ;). Yep, that's what I figured. Either you'd be silent or, more likely, you'd maybe have told the guy before he did the whole 'letting the entire world see it' thing that it needed some work. Therefore, it probably doesn't need work. QED.

Also love the blog, BTW, it's now my first stop on the blog roll each morning (just before Neil Gaiman) even though i'm not an aspiring script writer and I don't usually eat lunch so whatever's the opposite of target demographic, i'm it ;).
Jane, thank you for your wonderful blog. It's one of my must reads each day.

Given the rave reviews The Prisoner of Trebekistan has received, as well as the varied sources from The Wall Street Journal to Maggie's blog, this is going to be the next book I buy.

I hope the good people at The Wall Street Journal are keeping those kittens safe from any poker playing demons.
WooHoo! Jane's here! Doin' the happy dance!
Hey Jane! will definetely check the book out.

And thanks for answering my Grey's related question. :)

xoxo nic
JaneEsp's "smilingly say" made me happy, as does her blog, daily.

In my spare time, I love to compare and contrast Tim Minear's "I hate lunch. Eat frikkin' anything!!" to Jane's lyrical lunch legends.
Just got back from a delightful table-cooked shabu-shabu lunch to read your lovely comments! Say, this book plugging is fun!
Feel free to do so any time. You are always welcome here.

[ edited by Lioness on 2006-09-23 00:03 ]
It's a Whedonesque Jane's lunch scoop!

It's good to see you in these parts, and like many here, I love your blog, and read it regularly. Very helpful. I will be picking up "Prisoner of Trebekistan" soon. Thanks!
Say, this book plugging is fun!

This makes me happy!
Jane, next to Joss I love you above all.

(Well, my family probably get a look-in too, but you know what I mean.) I'll be looking for this book when it reaches England, or possibly before. You rock. You say the book rocks. Therefore the book does rock. QED.
Welcome, Jane. Lovely of you to stop in here.
It IS in England -- through! It seems to be everywhere but China. It's a wonderful thing. And thanks, everyone, for the warm welcome. Now, how're you ever gonna get rid of me?
Like we'd ever want to . . . :)
Now, how're you ever gonna get rid of me?

Smithers, release the attack kittens.


What do you mean "The Wall Street Journal has them"? Confounded financial reporters and their unseemly peccadilloes.

[ edited by giles (yes, it is my real name) on 2006-09-23 04:07 ]
Exxxcellent ! ;)

Like we'd ever want to . . . :)

Oh, SNT, ye silver tongued devil ye ;).
JaneEsp: "Say, this book plugging is fun!"

See, that's what you miss by not having comments enabled on your blog -- the highly satisfying joy of (tada) Instant Gratification! However, you do also skip spam comments, unsolicited script ideas, flame wars, and painful grammar & spelling.

Well, so, come over here for instant grat, anytime. Joss is a big guy (his heart & mind, not his slimmed-down svelte external self) and there's room for all who hail from the Whedon'verse. Post topics! Bring your friends! Make up stuff! It's fun and it wastes valuable time! Yay! Kittens. (I predict that this will become the new Internet sign-off.)
*grins* I actually ordered and read the book the week that it came out, just based on Joss' and Jane's recommendations. I even sent an email to Bob Harris via his website, and he (sweet man) replied the same day, saying that he'd say "hey" to JaneEsp for me ;).

As someone who has finished the book, I'd back up the endorsements, not only because Jane is one of my favourite TV-writers. It is seriously sweet, intelligent, funny, witty, smart, honest and very very wise. I began the book not expecting anything of it, but finished really really impressed, with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye. It's seriously that good. I've recommended it to all of my friends.
for no reason other than extreme disappointment with 'Children of the Mind', the fourth Ender book

Saje? You actually went on to the fourth book, after that extreme exercise in shark jumping that was the conclusion of Xenocide? Sorry, slightly OT. I agree with OSC's politics more than most here, I suspect, but some literary sins are downright unforgiveable.
Oh my god!! Oh my god!! Oh my god!! Did I sound like Dawn?? Anyway, welcome fer shur JaneEsp!!

And, QuoterGal, I think you may be right about "the new Internet sign-off." Kittens. And wouldn't you rather be on a plane with them rather than snakes??

Aaaaand, Oh my god!! Oh my god!! Oh my god!! JaneEsp!! (In my book, anything good bears repeating.) I love your blog, but I save up the week's worth so I can savor them all like a box of chocolates on the weekend. (Oh crap. Did I just sound like Forrest Gump?)

I really like shabu-shabu. Ok. Now I'm hungry. Jane, reading your blog and/or Pickwick Papers always makes me hungry. Apparently even writing about one or the other has the same effect. But please visit anytime. A lot.
Heh, jclemens, I figured 'Speaker for the Dead' (wonderful book, IMO) had earned him a shot at literary redemption so second chances were extended, not taken, and are now (possibly) revoked ;).


(trying something new with the exclamation points, maybe slightly outre though, raggedy edge and all that ;)
Outré can be so far out (pronounced "oot") that it comes back in again.

I know. I'll go to my room.
Yay, Jane postage. I, like Saje, love the blog even though I have no aspirations as a writer. That said, I am very interested in lunch so I guess that's what keeps me going back (that or the wit, intellegence and fascinating discourse, nah must be the food ;) )
"for no reason other than extreme disappointment with 'Children of the Mind', the fourth Ender book

Saje? You actually went on to the fourth book, after that extreme exercise in shark jumping that was the conclusion of Xenocide? Sorry, slightly OT. I agree with OSC's politics more than most here, I suspect, but some literary sins are downright unforgiveable."

I guess I was lucky that the library does not have Xenocide and I just skipped it. ;-) The messages just got too heavy handed for me as the series' went on. Can someone (other than Saje, who is obviously not qualified ;-) ) tell me if that is that the case with his writing in general as he got older or is it only as he got further into those series'? Inquiring minds want to know.

I would think that this would be a convenient place for folks like JaneEsp to post. They do not have to deal with keeping the troops in order like they would have to do on their own site, yet have access to a group of people who follow their work and those of their previous co-workers. Seems like win win situation to me...

(wanders off whistling)
I ordered and read "Prisoner of Trebekistan" as soon as I read about it here. It's a fantastic book. I stayed up til 4am on a workday to finish it because I couldn't stop reading it.
Jane! Esp!

Okay, my fan girl moment is over.

Or, in fact, fan boy. Since I am, in fact, male. Maybe the moment isn't actually over.

Jane! Esp!

Also, hello!

I will stop abusing my ! key now. Honest.
newcj, I'm also not qualified to answer your question, since the only fiction I've read of his written in the last 20 years is the aforementioned Magic Street, published in 2005. Kudos to the cover artist--it spoke to me in Barnes & Noble.

I checked, the first five chapters are available to read at, plus early chapters of most of his stuff, so you could easily make up your own mind.

And Bob Harris' website is quite entertaining.
SangChaud: "Now I'm hungry. Jane, reading your blog and/or Pickwick Papers always makes me hungry."

Pickwick Papers is one of the Dickens I'm saving unread so that I always have one to contemplate savouring. But almost all Dickens makes me hungry -- either through detailed prandial descriptions or depictions of extreme hunger and poverty.

I thought I'd post Joss's blurb about this book again, well, because I like it, and also, if you are breathing, as I am, it applies to you. It certainly made me want to read it.

''Prisoner of Trebekistan is so effortlessly funny and informative, the fact that it’s also tender, human, and very wise kind of sneaks up on you. . . . Amidst the nerve-wracking Jeopardy! showdowns and hilarious study rituals, Bob Harris has found the difference between facts and knowledge, between knowledge and wisdom, proving conclusively that the answer to the meaning of life may very well take the form of a question. A must for anyone who loves Jeopardy!, or has ever seen it, or is breathing.'' —Joss Whedon, creator, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

(And SangChaud, whenever I see your name, I immediately hear: "I'm hot blooded, check it and see. I got a fever of a hundred and three."

I don't know what to say about that... except that it's cruel.)

ET: Oh, yeah, forgot: Kittens, y'all.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-09-23 21:56 ]
Thanks for putting up the full Joss blurb. Isn't it fantastic? And thanks, too, to all of you who have already read and are praising. Whee!

Another kittens thread!

And what are those Wall St. Journal types doing with those kittens? Probably supplying them on the black market to walking loan sharks. And speaking of land sharks, anyone see the news about the discovery of sharks that walk on their fins? Fact follows fiction once again.

[ edited by barboo on 2006-09-24 00:26 ]
Welcome, JaneEsp! You're one of our favorites here, and we're glad to have your kitteny self amongst us. Although I don't intend to become a script writer, your blogs about how to write well are so informative and creative, they really help me appreciate what goes into a good script, and to analyze what I'm seeing. I feel like I really get it now, like I've taken a wine-tasting course and can now tell a pinot noir from a cabernet! (Yes, I saw Sideways -- why do you ask?) And I also know what to order for lunch the next time I'm in Los Angeles. ;-)

Kittens, y'all.
barboo: "And speaking of land sharks, anyone see the news about the discovery of sharks that walk on their fins?"

Oh, man! No, I didn't see it, barboo.


I did not need to know that. (;>)

*think kitten-y thoughts, think kitten-y thoughts*

Um, !Kittens!, y'all?

*oh my god! Sharks that walk on their fins! I'm never going to the beach again.*
QG, they walk on their fins on reefs. UNDERWATER. In Indonesia. As long as they don't mate with those snake-head fish that can live out of water, we're safe.

Jane, you're my Goddess. If I ever get the chance to meet you I will probably genuflect.
Weeks later. An abandoned thread.
Just wanted to say I am in the middle of this book and it is as good as everyone says it is. And, bonus! it makes a perfect Christmas present for those Jeopardy watching parents of mine that say "Don't get us anything. We don't need anything."
And Jane keeps making guest appearances in the book. Another bonus.
And I ordered my 2 copies from my local independent bookstore, paying $10.00 more each book than if I gotten it on Amazon. So I'm supporting local bookstores. Another bonus. For them.

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