Category Archives: Books

Famous Novelists on Symbolism in Their Work and Whether It Was Intentional

I read this great post on John Green's Tumblr, titled Famous Novelists on Symbolism in Their Work and Whether It Was Intentional:

"Reading is not a game of Clue; books are not a mystery that you have to solve by putting all the pieces together. That’s not the point. Find the meaning you want to find in it. That’s what we do with books because that’s what we do in life."

[John adds this:] If the point of reading is merely to understand precisely what the author intended, then reading is just this miserable one-sided conversation in which an author is droning on to you page after page after page and the reader just sits there receiving a monologue.

That’s not reading. That’s listening.

Reading is the active co-creation of a story, complete with all its symbols and abstractions. 

I thought about what John said. It set a small fire in my brain, and this is what came out:

English teachers who forced me to find symbolism and meaning in books make assigned reading in high school absolutely miserable. It was bad enough that I couldn’t just enjoy the story and spend time with the characters, but they also made me go on some kind of treasure hunt where I had to find something the teacher/school/board of education/someone-who-was-not-me decided was the “correct” thing to find.

As a result, I hated many classic works of literature, and actually resented them and the people who wrote them. I'm pretty sure that's the opposite of what any teacher would want their students to take out of any class, especially an English Literature class, but it's what happened to me.

Years later, when I was in my mid-twenties, I spent the summer rereading the books I’d hated in high school, because I figured they were classics for a reason and maybe as an adult, I'd be able to see why. I read:

Great Expectations - still hated it.

A Separate Peace - liked it, didn’t love it, but that’s a big improvement over how much I despised it when I was in school.

1984 - Loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Brave New World - Read it just after 1984. Loved it.

Romeo and Juliet - Hated this when I was 14 (who, at 14, is mature enough to appreciate it? What a huge FAIL it is to teach this to 9th graders), and was moved to tears by it as an adult. Went on a bit of a Shakespeare tear as a result, and did Julius Caesar, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, and Macbeth. Still didn’t understand all of it, but loved every second of it.

All Quiet on the Western Front - When your authoritarian Cold Warrior English teacher isn’t somehow making this book all about how fucking great Reagan is, it’s just amazing.

There were others, but you get the idea, right? I even grabbed the Cliff's and Spark Notes to get some "education" from the books when I was done reading them, but I can't recall anything the notes said, just what the book gave me when it was all done… I think that says a lot.

When I was a kid, I was already an avid reader, so these (hopefully) well-intentioned teachers couldn’t turn me off from reading in general and forever, but both of my siblings still won't pick up a book if you gave them a hundred dollars to do it. I understand that educators want to encourage students to dig into stories and see what they can find in them, and that’s a great exercise, but forcing them to find what some board of education has decided is the One Right Thing To Find does those kids (and did this kid) a huge disservice.

And not that it matters, but I'm going to reread The Great Gatsby just as soon as I finish A Clash of Kings, because it feels like the right thing to do.

Afterthought: I love teachers. I'm on record stating that my heroes are teachers, and I believe that teachers do not get the salary or respect by American society that they should get. I'm not attacking teaching or teachers at all with this post; I'm just recalling the experience I had with a small number of teachers in the 80s, who I'm sure were doing their jobs they way they thought was best for their careers and their students.


in which i have a realization, and i am grateful

In the precious few moments I had today between work-related responsibilities, I stopped into my comic shop, and I saw this:

The Guild: Fawkes

I made this!

I've been so busy, and I finished my part of this project so long ago, I wasn't prepared for how proud and excited I was when I saw a book that I had written in my own comic shop, right there down the shelf from Brubaker, Wood, Willingham, Fraction, Waid, and other comic book authors I respect and admire.

When I bought some copies, Amy (who some of you know from Tabletop) held it up and said, "Is this your first published work as a comic author?"

I thought for a second and said, "I've written manga before, but this is my first comic book."

And that's when it hit me: Today, I am a published comic book author. A real one, and if I work really hard, and have a little bit of luck, it's only the beginning.

I've been traveling and working so much the past few months, I haven't been able to slow down and look around very often (life moves as fast as Ferris Beuller warned us), so I haven't been able to just stop, reflect, and be grateful for what I have. I don't mean to suggest that I'm taking things for granted, or under the delusion that I'm some kind of big deal or anything stupid like that, I just mean that I can't think about more than what is immediately in front of me until it's done, and there's been a long list of somethings in front of me for most of this year (which is awesome; it's great to be busy making a living doing what I love.)

But it's all too easy to get so overwhelmed with all the responsibility, we forget to take a moment to be grateful for the opportunities we have.

Today, I am grateful.

And now I am going back to work.

“you are hearing me talk”

I'm working on an audiobook — actually, a series of five audiobooks — for the next two weeks. I don't know if I can say what it is, but I think it's safe to reveal that it's a classic fantasy series from the 80s, and I'm actually quite surprised it isn't already available in audio.

I really like the studio I'm working with, and I'm in the process of finding out how much it would cost me to utilize their services to make audio versions of Dancing Barefoot, The Day After and Other Stories (including Hunter), and Sunken Treasure. Assuming it isn't too expensive, and assuming there is enough interest, I also want to do an audio version of the expanded special edition of The Happiest Days of Our Lives.


Someone found my Kindle on the airplane this weekend. I’d really like it back.

I left my Kindle on an airplane this weekend (post-convention exhaustion will do that to you), and someone found it.

I know that someone found it, because they've been using my account to buy games and books. Based on the purchases, I'm fairly sure the person who found my Kindle (which is named Wheatley) is young, possibly a teenager or a college student. He or she likes Scrabble, Battleship, Spelling Star, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and something called Telesa. He or she also hopes to learn Samoan, French, and Spanish. He or she has spent a fair amount of my money on these things.

I used Amazon's Personal Document thing to send a note to my Kindle, thanking the person for finding it, and telling them that I can be contacted at [email protected] to arrange its return.

I'm hopeful that this person will do the right thing and get in touch.


I called Amazon, reported it stolen, and they deactivated it after refunding me the fradulent purchases.

This isn't the end of the world; I can afford a new Kindle (thank Steve the Fruitbat), and in the grand scheme of things, it isn't the biggest of deals… but I sincerely hoped that whoever has my Kindle now would have read the note I sent to it, which is titled TO THE PERSON WHO FOUND MY KINDLE, and gotten in touch to return it to me. I want to believe in the basic goodness of people.

I really hope that it wasn't just taken by some kid who decided to keep something because, you know, Finders Keepers. I really hope that it was taken by some dirtbag who turned around and sold it to a kid who is too young to know that "this Kindle comes with whatever you want and you never have to pay for it, just give me fifty bucks for meth!" or whatever is a pretty clear flag that something isn't totally honest with this thing.

Anyway, it looks like I'm not getting it back, and all someone has for their trouble is a useless piece of plastic and wires.

The Tournament of Books: State of Wonder vs. The Sisters Brothers

I am a judge in this year's Tournament of Books at The Morning News. The Tournament is a bracketed competition that pits sixteen books against each other, two books at at time. It's sort of like March Madness, if March Madness didn't bore me to death.*

I love to read, and I have so much going on**, I don't have as much time as I need to read everything I want. When something like this comes along that basically gives me an excuse to read books and not feel guilty because I should be doing something else, I always get excited.

The round I judged went live today. Here's a little bit:

I’ll spare you any sort of contrived suspense (there’s plenty of that in State of Wonder) about which book I picked to send to round two, and just cut to the chase: I had to restrain myself from reading The Sisters Brothers in one sitting, and State of Wonder felt like the most tedious homework assignment I’ve ever had in my life. The Sisters Brothers easily and handily wins this matchup.

Of course, there's much more to it than that, but why bury the lede? I hope you'll take a moment and head over to the tournament and check out the whole thing, then come back.

Okay. Welcome back. I hope my judgement entertained you. I knew that I wasn't going to write as intellectually as the other judges, so I just embraced who I am, and wrote my judgement the same way I'd write a blog post or one of my columns. I made a deliberate choice to be direct, hopefully humorous, and unapologetically opinionated.

I expected to be savaged in the comments over there, but they've been almost entirely awesome, whether they agree with me or not. In fact, it's one of the rare times I've actually enjoyed reading a comment-based discussion. See, kids? Reading makes you a smarter and better person than not reading. And that's a fact!


*Insert sportsball joke here.

**I'm kind of a big deal. /smirk

I’m on a boat: Romper Stomper

I’m on JoCoCruiseCrazy 2, and I’m taking an Internet vacation until I get home. So every day while I’m gone, something from my archives will post here automatically, for your entertainment. I had a lot of fun picking these different things out, and I hope you enjoy them again, or for the first time.


Originally published February 2003.

I used to be a big fan of South Park. I watched it every week, and anxiously awaited new episodes.

When I heard that they were making a movie, I was thrilled, and counted down the days until it opened. Of course, while the creators poured all their creative energy into the movie, the weekly content of the TV show suffered dramatically. It felt like filler with no creative soul, and I stopped watching.

So it is with WWDN as of late.

All of my creative energy and focus has gone into rewriting "Just A Geek," and racing to get it done in time for a late March release.

I love WWDN, and really enjoy writing for it, but I have limited resources in my head, and when I have to pick, the website takes a back seat to the book. I hope readers understand.

Having said all that, I'd like to offer a small excerpt from the book, so you can all see what I've been working on.

This is from Chapter three:

Writing about the satisfaction and love I felt when I was with my family came very easily. I didn't have to put on a brave face, or risk revealing how frustrated and tormented I was in my career. When I focused on my family, I felt liberated, and found humor and happiness at every turn.


28 August, 2001
Romper Stomper

From an e-mail I got this morning:

I'm writing a book about Romper Room and came across a TV appearance of you on a California show with Miss Nancy. You told the hosts you used to watch Romper Room ?religiously."

I'm writing to people who were on the show, or who watched the show, to get their impressions of Romper Room. I'm hoping you can answer some questions. What made you watch it? What's your strongest memory of the program? Were you ever on Romper Room?

My response:

I was never on "Romper Room", but here is my clearest memory from watching it as a kid:

I would sit on the floor of our house (which was really a chicken coop behind my grandparents farmhouse. Yes, we were that poor), my fingers dug deeply into the golden shag carpeting, my tiny fists balled with anticipation, as Miss Nancy would hold up her magic mirror and ask it to tell her, "did our friends have fun at play?" I would sit up straight, stare into the glorious black-and-white 13-inch Zenith TV and wait patiently as she saw Steven and Jody and Tina and Todd and Michael and every-fucking-body except WIL! Hey! Miss Nancy! I'm sitting right here! I've had LOTS of fun at play! I did the DooBee dance! I ran around pretending I was a fireman! I HAD FUN AT PLAY! WHY CAN'T YOU SEE ME?! AM I INVISIBLE?! *pant* *pant*

I never watched TV shows like the ones I did when I was four. Jesus, does anyone?


Writing that made me laugh out loud. I hadn't planned on it turning into a rant, but I was doing lots of improv at the time, and I just wrote what came out of my head. I thought it was really funny, so I called my mom as soon as I was done to read it to her. When she picked up the phone, I could hear wind chimes and a waterfall. She was gardening in her backyard.

"Hey, it's your son," I told her.

"Hi Willow! How are you? Are you feeling better?" My mom always sounds happy to hear from me, and her voice is comforting — like a warm blanket, fresh from the dryer.

I was able to answer truthfully. "Yes, much. I wrote something funny for my website and I wanted to read it to you."

"Oh, honey! That's great! Let me turn off the hose." I heard her set the phone down, and I closed my eyes, picturing their backyard: the beautiful redwood deck my dad and brother built, covered with potted flowers and tomato plants, the railing draped with white twinkle lights. I heard the jingle of their dog Kona's collar, as she chased a butterfly, or the water falling from the hose. I saw water cascading into their swimming pool, and recalled the long summer afternoons spent floating in that pool, and the warm summer nights I spent as a teenager sitting in their spa, looking up at the stars. I breathed in, and I could smell the star jasmine which still grows under my old bedroom window.

"Wil? Did you hang up?"

"No, sorry. I was . . . lost in thought. Can I read you what I wrote?"


I told her about the e-mail I'd gotten, and read her my response. I paused dramatically, and lowered my voice for the final sentence. I eagerly awaited her response.

"Oh, Wil," she said, "why do you need to have such a potty mouth?"

I resisted the urge to tell her that I had no fucking idea.

"It's comedy mom, and it's not always pretty."

"Well, it's very funny. I just wish you didn't have to cuss so much."

I beamed, knowing that I'd made my mom laugh, and — more importantly — made her feel proud of me.

"I gotta go answer emails, mom. I love you."

"I love you too, sweetie. Bye-bye."



I’m on a boat: Hunter – a short pay-what-you-want Sci-Fi story

I’m on JoCoCruiseCrazy 2, and I’m taking an Internet vacation until I get home. So every day while I’m gone, something from my archives will post here automatically, for your entertainment. I had a lot of fun picking these different things out, and I hope you enjoy them again, or for the first time.


Originally published February 2011.

Hunter is a short Sci-Fi story set in a dark and desperate world

Here's a small preview:

Pyke chased the girl down a street still wet with the afternoon’s rainfall. A thin sliver of moon was glowing behind the thinning clouds, but it wasn’t bright enough to pierce the darkness between thefew street lamps that still worked. The girl was fast. He had to stay close, or she’d escape. 

Pyke had let the girl put about 500 feet between them when she ranthrough a bright pool of light and was swallowed by darkness. When she didn’t reappear, Pyke knew he had her, for there was only one place she could have gone. He followed her through a once-ornate gateway into the old city, where the colony had been founded a century before.

Her footfalls echoed off rows of empty windows down narrow streets that seemed to turn back on themselves, an ancient trick intended to confuse invaders. When the Gan arrived, they solved this puzzle by simply bombarding most of the buildings and walls from low orbit until there weren’t many places left to hide. Hunters like Pyke—a second-generation Goa colonist who’d grown up in the old city—knew every twist, every turn, every blind alley and every hidden basement.

It wasn’t the first time Pyke had pushed a rebel into the avenues. In the six months he’d been working for the Gan, he’d let dozens of terrified patriots think they were making their escape into the old city’s maze-like streets, only to trap them in one of its countless dead ends, where he’d have a little fun before turning them over to his masters.

He heard a splash just down the block, followed by a yelp. She must have fallen in a puddle, Pyke thought. Shallow craters were everywhere in these streets; filled with water, they made quite effective traps. Pyke slowed to a jog and grinned. It was only a matter of time now.

It is just about 2500 words, which is about the length of a story you'd read in a magazine. I'm not really sure what the appropriate cost is, so I'm experimenting with the Pay What You Want model that seems to be working really well for a lot of artists I respect and admire.

If I sold Hunter to a magazine, I'd probably get around $125 or so (assuming I could get the SFWA professional rate of five cents a word. I figure that at least 125 people will want to read this, so if all of them donated a dollar, I'd feel really good about this, and I'd be able to do it again in the future. If you're interested (and I hope you are) you can downloadHunter and pay what you want (even the low low price of NOTHING AT ALL) at Wil Wheaton Books dot Com.

A couple of FAQs:

Is this about the amazing 80s cop drama HUNTER starring Fred Dryer?

No, it's an original work of fiction set in a world I made up. 

Where could I find out more about HUNTER and Fred Dryer?

Oh, I bet Wikipedia will help you with the show and its star.

Don't you mean "it's"?

No, I don't. This rhyme from Strongbad has served me well: "If you want to be possessive, it's just I-T-S … if you want to use an apostrophe, it's I-T-APOSTROPHE-S!"

Can I use something other than PayPal to give you filthy money?

Not at the moment, no.

But PayPal is evil!

I know. Luckily, you can stick it to me and PayPal at the same time, if you want. Yay!

What about Google Checkout?

I'm working on it. Well slap my fanny, I figured out how to use it. Yes, you can use Google Checkout. The only thing is, I couldn't find an option that lets you set your price, so I set it at $2.00, which seems to be the average people are choosing to pay.

Can I download the artwork and use it for the cover?

Yes! I tried to embed the neat image Will Hindmarch designed into the files, but apparently I haven't unlocked that skill yet.

Are you going to expand this story?

Maybe. I know a lot about the world and other stuff that would be spoilery, because I've thought about it a lot, but I don't know if I'm ready to expand this particular story much more. I think I'll be revisiting [spoiler] at some point, though, because it's very intriguing to me.

So I've decided to pay for this. What do you suggest?

A billon dollars seems about right to me, but most people are choosing between 1 and 5 bucks.

Can I print out the PDF?


I bought the [mobi | pdf | epub] but now I want [some other format] do I have to pay you again?

Of course not, but thank you for asking. You're a good guy or girl.

Can I give my copy to a friend?

Yes, but I'd prefer you link them to the Hunter page at Wil Wheaton Books dot Com where they can download their own copy. I hope that this will introduce new readers to my work, and if they're at my virtual bookshelf, maybe they'll check out my other work.

Are you doing an audio version?

I don't know. Maybe in the future.

Isn't Wall of Voodoo an amazing band?

Hell yes! I've been listening to The Index Masters pretty much non-stop for three days.

Okay, that just about covers it. If you like this, please tell your friends.


From the Vault: “…because Next Generation FUCKING RULES!”

I'm digging into The Vault for stories to tell next week when I perform on JoCoCruiseCrazy 2: The Encrazening, and I caught myself reading this story, which I wrote and published in Dancing Barefoot, when I was a baby writer almost ten years ago. 

This is from The Saga of SpongeBob Vega$ Pants (or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love Star Trek) also: Put Some Thought Into What You Name Things, Kids, Because You May Find Yourself Telling a Story With A Stupid Title Ten Years After You Wrote It.

I sit at my table, uncap my sharpie, and put on my gameface. 

My pen hand is strong. I'm ready to be witty, charming and friendly. Although the actual number of autographs I've signed over the years is probably close to half a million, I am ready to make these fans feel like the autograph I'm currently signing is the only one I've signed all day, maybe the only one I've signed in my whole life.

Over the years, I've learned something from this experience: it's never about the signature. It's about that brief moment, that brief encounter with a Star Trek cast member, that is so important to the fans. That 30 seconds or so of hopefully undivided attention is what they're really paying for, and I always do my best to make sure they get their money's worth. Contrary to popular belief, sitting at a table signing hundreds of autographs for several hours without a break is hard. It's not just mindlessly scrawling my name; It's stopping and listening to the always excited, sometimes shaking, always sweating, sometimes scary dude who wants to know exactly why I did “X” on episode “Y” and would I please sign his picture in silver, because Marina signed it in gold and now he wants the men in silver and the women in gold, and I hated your character and here are 25 reasons why and I expect an answer for each one of them and I'm not leaving until I'm satisfied.

The fans come down what amounts to an assembly line, stopping at a table, enjoying their 30 seconds of attention and trading a ticket for an autograph. They move to the next table, and repeat.

I personally think that this “assembly line” method, while the only one that really works, has the potential to totally suck for the fans. 

The first one hundred or so who come through the line will get to see a smiling, effusive, friendly actor, and will leave feeling happy and satisfied. Those unlucky ones who are at the end of the line risk seeing actors who are tired, with cramped hands and degraded signatures. 

It is a challenge for me, but I always remind myself that the last fans through the line have paid as much as the first fans, and they've also waited much longer, so they are the ones that I need to give the most attention to when I am the most drained. I know that as I get toward the end of the line, my humor slows down, and my voice fades. I know that I've let down my fair share of people over the years, but I always do my best. 

I see the first fan walking down the hallway, trading tickets and getting signatures from actors. I watch her as she goes table to table. She's not wearing a spacesuit . . . that's a good sign. She has a witty sci-fi T-shirt on. Also a good sign. 

She arrives at my table, and I cheerfully say, “Hi! How are you doing today?!”


Oh boy. This is not the way I'd hoped to start out.

I try to soothe her. “Uhh . . . I think . . . that . . . this convention . . . just started . . . and . . . uhh . . . I'm sure that if you talk to Dave, everyt–”


“Uh . . . yeah . . . well, you see, the thing is, I'm sort of not exactly involved in the planning of this convention, you know? I'm just, like, a guest . . . maybe you could try talk–”


And she storms away, without an autograph, without another word.

I look at Marina, who's one table down from me. Angry Fan has stormed past her, too. Marina shrugs, and I make the international sign for “crazy person” by twirling my finger near my temple.

I hear a man clear his throat, and I look up to see a smiling middle-aged face. He has a dark beard, and is dressed as Commander Riker. 

He gives his autograph ticket to the staffer sitting next to me, and asks me to sign his model of the Enterprise D. He thanks me, and moves along.

And so it is in the world of Star Trek conventions. One person will scream at me, and the next will want to give me a hug. A person will walk up dressed in an elaborate Borg costume, and the next person will be dressed in a T-shirt and Dickies, quietly laughing at “all the weirdos.”

For the next three hours, I sign pictures of the young, geeky Wesley Crusher. I sign posters of the teen heartthrob that I'm told I once was. I sign posters that I'm not even on, in silver because everyone else did, accepting the apologies from the poster owners that I'm not on the poster. I always answer with the same joke: “That's okay, you just can't see me, because I'm on this planet here . . .” They laugh and feel good and so do I.

A group of very attractive German girls comes over next, and two of them tell me, in broken English, how much they love me.

I think, Oh yeah, tell me some more, baby. Tell daddy how you love him. Ich bin ein sexmachiner!


I am so sorry. I have no idea where that came from. I apologize.

There are also 20 Japanese kids who've all come over together from Tokyo. They are all smiles and laughter, excited, and having a great time. The girls ask me to write their names on their picture when I sign it, they giggle and bow and blush and thank me, over and over. For a second, I feel like a rock star. 

One of the Japanese kids is a boy, about my height. When he presents his Wesley Crusher action figure for my signature, he tells me, “My friend all say I am you twin!”

He smiles proudly. “We look just the same!”

Last time I checked, I wasn't Japanese, but I'm not about to tell him that. I look at him for a moment and reply, “Dude. You are so right. It's like I'm looking in a mirror!” 

He turns to his friends, says something in Japanese, and they all share an excited murmur. I pick up my pen, and write: “To Hiroyuki, my long lost twin brother: Don't Panic! -Wil Wheaton.”

He thanks me over and over. His smile is so huge, I fear that his face will turn inside out. As he walks away from my table, I feel happy – I've brought joy into this kid's life, just by signing my name and being friendly. It's one of the few perks (or responsibilities, if you will) that comes with celebrity that I truly enjoy.

ϑ ϑ ϑ


About 200 or so people into the day, I have one of those memorable “battlefield” experiences; the kind that we Star Trek actors share during a layover in Chicago, after a convention in Cleveland.

I've just finished signing a poster for a 40-ish man who is wearing a spacesuit that is a little to tight across the waist. He's painted his face blue, and donned a white wig topped with antennae, like the Andorians from the original Star Trek. The next person in line is a woman in her 30s, dressed conservatively.

I say hello, and she smiles at me . . . until she sees my T-shirt. Then she becomes hysterical. She points at my shirt and screeches at me, “You are going to hay-ell! You are going to hay-ell!”

“Why am I going to hell, ma'am?” I ask, trying to figure out if she is joking. I am wearing a black T-shirt with a picture of a hand making rock-and-roll devil horns that says, “Keep Music Evil.” I think it's very funny, and it's a nice counter-point to the squeaky-clean image of Wesley Crusher that is so indelibly burned into these people's minds.

“You're wearing that shirt! And that shirt promotes SATAN!”

Okay, she's definitely not joking.

“So I'm going to hell because I'm wearing a shirt? Is that right?” I ask her, patiently.

“Yes! You! Are! Going! To! HAY-ELL!”

“Well, as long as I'm not going where you are, ma'am.”

And she leaves, but not without getting my signature, on her collectible plate, in gold ink, not silver, because John DeLancie signed his in silver, so now silver is the color reserved for “Q.” Nobody else can sign in silver. Not even a captain. Well, maybe Captain Picard, but not Captain Janeway.

I am able to contain my giggles until she is out of ear-shot.

“Is it always like this?” the staffer sitting at my table inquires.

“Nope. Sometimes it's really weird.”

We laugh, and the signing goes on.

And on.

And on.

This next part is from when I went on the stage later that same afternoon. It still makes me laugh.

“I have the limited edition Star Trek Monopoly game.” I say.

“Of course, it's a limited edition of 65 million. But it's extremely valuable, because I got a number under 21 million.”

They laugh. It's funny, because it's true.

I go one better. “Plus, it's got a certificate of authenticity signed by Captain Picard!

“Yes, that's right, my Star Trek Monopoly game, which I've rendered worthless by opening, comes with a certificate of authenticity signed in ink by a fictional character.”

I see a guy in the front row say something to his buddy, and they both nod their heads and laugh.

“Cool thing about the game, though, is that there is a Wesley Crusher game piece in it, and the first time we sat down to play it as a family, Ryan grabbed Wesley and proclaimed, as only an 11-year-old can, 'I'm Wil!! I'm Wil!! Nolan!! I'm all-time Wil!! I call it!!'”

I see some people smile. I start to pace the stage. I'm hitting my stride, and the stories flow out of me.

“One time, when we were renegotiating our contracts, we were all asking for raises.

“We all felt a salary increase was appropriate, because The Next Generation was a hit. It was making gobs of money for Paramount,” (I like that word – gobs) “and we felt that we should share in that bounty.

“Of course, Paramount felt otherwise, so a long and annoying negotiation process began.

“During that process, the producers’ first counteroffer was that, in lieu of a raise, they would give my character a promotion, to lieutenant.”

I pause, and look around. I wrinkle my brow, and gaze upward.

“What? Were they serious?”

A fan hollers, “Yeah! Lieutenant Crusher! Woo!” 

I smile back at him.

“My agent asked me what I wanted to do. I told him to call them back and remind them that Star Trek is just a television show.”

Okay, that was risky to say. It's pretty much the opposite of just a television show to these people, but they giggle.

“I imagined this phone call to the bank,” I mime a phone, and hold it to my ear. “Hi . . . Uh, I'm not going to be able to make my house payment this month, but don't worry! I am a lieutenant now.” I pause, listening to the voice on the other end.

“Where? Oh, on the Starship Enterprise.”

I pause.

“Enterprise D, yeah, the new one. Feel free to drop by Ten Forward for lunch someday. We'll put it on my officer's tab!”

Laughter, and applause. My time is up, and Dave Scott stands at the foot of the stage, politely letting me know that it's time for me to go.

The fans see this, and I pretend to not notice him.

“In 2001, set up a poll to find out what fans thought the best Star Trek episode of all time was. The competition encompassed all the series. The nominated episode from Classic Trek was City On The Edge Of Forever. The entry for The Next Generation was Best of Both Worlds Part II. DS9 offered Trials and Tribble-ations, and Voyager weighed in with Scorpion II.”

As I name each show, various groups of people applaud and whistle, erasing any doubt as to what their favorite show is.

“Now, look. I know that Star Trek is just a TV show. Matter of fact, I'm pretty sure I just said that five minutes ago, but there was no way I was going to let my show lose. It just wasn't going to happen. Especially not to Voyager – er, V'ger, I mean.”

I pause, and look out at the crowd. I wonder if Mr. “V'ger” is out there.

“So I went into my office, sat at my computer for 72 straight hours, and voted for TNG over and over again.

“I didn't eat, and I didn't sleep. I just sat there, stinky in my own filth, clicking and hitting F5, a Howard Hughes for The Next Generation.

“Some time around the 71st hour, my wife realized that she hadn't seen me in awhile and started knocking on the door to see what I was doing. 

“'Nothing! I'm, uh, working!' I shouted through the door. Click, Click, Click . . . 

'I don't believe you! Tell me what you've been doing at the computer for so long!'

“I didn't want her to know what I was doing – I mean, it was terribly embarrassing . . . I had been sitting there, in crusty pajamas, voting in the Star Trek poll for three days.”

Some people make gagging noises, some people “eeww!” But it's all in good fun. They are really along for the ride, now. This is cool.

“She jiggled the handle, kicked at the bottom of the door, and it popped open!”

The audience gasps.

“I hurriedly shut down Mozilla, and spun around in my chair.

“'What have you been doing on this computer for three days, Wil?' she said.”

I look out across the audience, and pause dramatically. I lower my voice and confidentially say, “I was not about to admit the embarrassing truth, so I quickly said, 'I've been downloading porn, honey! Gigabytes of porn!'”

I have to stop, because the ballroom rocks with laughter. It's a genuine applause break! 

“She was not amused. 'Tell me the truth,' she said.

“I sighed, and told her that I'd been stuffing the ballot box in an online Star Trek poll.

“'You are such a dork. I'd have been happier with the porn.'

“I brightened. 'Really?'

“'No,' she said. She set a plate of cold food on the desk and walked out, muttering something about nerds.

“I stayed in that office for another ten hours, just to be sure. When my eyes began to bleed, I finally walked away. It took several weeks of physical therapy before I could walk correctly again, but it was all worth it. Best of Both Worlds Part II won by a landslide.”

I pause dramatically, and the theatre is silent.

“And it had nothing to do with my stuffing the box. It's because Next Generation FUCKING RULES!”

I throw my hand into the air, making the “devil horns” salute that adorns my satanic T-shirt, and the audience leaps to their feet, roaring with applause and laughter.

I can't believe it. I started out so badly, but I got the audience back on my side. I say thank you, give the microphone to Dave Scott, who is now sitting on the stage pointedly checking his watch, and exit, stage left.


ϑ ϑ ϑ


I'm a very different person now than I was when I wrote it, in every single way that matters (and a lot that probably don't). I cringe a little bit at some of the ways I wrote back then, but it's the best I could do at the time, and I'm proud of it, and the 29 year-old who struggled to write it.

Reading this stuff today made me feel strange, but also good, It's sort of like I was looking in a mirror that held a reflection within it for ten years, but let a little bit out today, just for me.

About the writing of the Fawkes issue of The Guild

I thought it may be interesting to some people to know a little bit more about how the Fawkes comic came together.

When we were up in Vancouver for Eureka, I was always bugging Felicia to come hang out with me and Neil Grayston, or to get out of our building and have an adventure. More often than not, she couldn't come play with us because she was writing scripts for The Guild comics. For the record, we had all the fun without her. So there, Felicia. Nyahhh.

At some point, we were having dinner or something and I asked her if she was interested in doing a Fawkes comic together. Because, you know, we didn't have way too much stuff to do already. She thought it would be a fun thing to do, and we started pitching stories to each other.

Eventually, we came upon something that we both thought was awesome, and we started writing it. It was surprisingly easy for us to come up with the story; the real challenge for me was keeping the story tight enough to fit into the pages we had. Luckily for me, I have a number of friends who are professional comic writers, and I was able to steal some of their writing tricks:

  • Keep things simple.
  • Format the script in what we call the Modified Brubaker, which is based on the Brubaker, which is based on the Ellis.
  • Have fun.
  • Do at least 4 pages a day when writing the first draft.
  • Read lots of comics and let them inspire you.

Oh, it also helps to have a co-writer who is a freaking genius and is also one of your best friends.

So the whole thing came together, and we ended up with a script that we both loved. We turned it in to our editor, got his notes, and did a final pass. I think the entire time from closing the deal with Dark Horse to giving our editor the final script was about 5 weeks.

The real fun for me was getting to ask for artists I love: I am crazy about Paul Duffield's work, especially on Freakangels. I loved Emma Rios's work on Osborn. Jamie McKelvie's work on Phonogram and Suburban Glamour belongs in a museum. Oh, he's also a good friend, which made it even cooler that we get to work together.

Paul said yes right away, but getting Emma was more difficult, because we couldn't find her. I asked my friend Kelly Sue (who wrote Osborn) to bug Emma on my behalf, and that whole thing came together pretty fast, too.

So I had two cover artists I was dying to work with, and an interior artist whose work I love so much I want to marry it. I don't know how it all managed to work out, but I'm going to guess that the stars were right and not ask too many questions. When we saw Paul's cover, we realized that we'd never seen Fawkes in game, so I think it's awesome that Paul got to design his avatar, and boy did Emma capture the sexual tension between Fawkes and Codex! I've seen some of Jamie's pages, and I don't know how he managed to get into my head and draw exactly what was there, but he's doing it perfectly.

I can't talk about the story too much, but I can say that I wanted to let Fawkes speak for himself, in his unique way, and see some things about his life that we didn't get to see on screen in The Guild. I'm incredibly proud of what Felicia and I came up with, and I think fans of The Guild are going to be really happy with what we did.

One of my super secret projects isn’t a secret any longer…

FINALLY, I can talk about this, and because a picture is worth a thousand words…

Felicia Day and I wrote a Fawkes story for The Guild comic together. There are two covers, the one above is by Paul Duffield, and this one is by Emma Rios:


Jamie McKelvie is drawing the book, which comes out on May 23rd.

Here's how Dark Horse is describing it:

Felicia Day and The Guild are back, along with costar Wil Wheaton, for a brand-new story spotlighting Fawkes, the dashing, debonair, and douchey leader of the evil guild Axis of Anarchy! His relationship with Codex threatened to tear the Knights of Good apart until he was thrown off a balcony for his treatment of her. Set after season 4 of the show, this issue reveals how Fawkes deals with his split from Codex and navigates the aggressive personalities of the Axis, and follows his journey to his surprising state when he returns in season 5!

Felicia and I talked to io9 about it last week, so if you want to know a little bit more, head on over there and check it out.