Dead = Dead (and sometimes = retcon)

Bartel Waterbugs helmetAfter working on a book for almost two years, having your biz partner go over it, two copy editors go over it, having a dedicated continuity editor go over it, and then reading it out loud for the audiobook, some mistakes still get through. And when the mistake is as butt-hurtin’ as the one below, it’s a wee bit frustrating:

“Hey Scott, I was just curious about something. Andre “Death Ray” Ridley seems like he’s an all star in this book, but there’s a hitch. You sorta killed him in week 13 of the MVP. Thought it was worth mentioning. In all honesty I’m glad he lived. Go Bugs.”
— Stiffnation

I read that and I thought: “Wow, that Stiffnation dude is a total wanker, spreading all these damn lies about my damn book.”

Then, I checked THE MVP. Sure enough, Stiffnation was right. André “Death Ray” Ridley died in THE MVP, Book IV of the GFL series, yet there he was in the weekly recaps of THE CHAMPION, Book V of the GFL series.

You don’t have to be a math major to see the issue here.

André “Death Ray” Ridley

Yes, André Ridley, named after my awesome roommate from my freshman year at Olivet College, had somehow come back from the dead, armored up, and stepped onto the field to play for the lime green, powder blue, lemon yellow and black (hey, not all uniforms can be as pimp as the Krakens, amiright?). In my brain, the Waterbugs were synonymous with Ridley, so when I wrote about them, I wrote about him. That slipped by all the eyes, because no one remembered a little line from a weekly summary of THE MVP.

In short, we missed this one.

Now don’t go sending emails about how you volunteer to be a GFL continuity editor, because trust me, we’re covered. The amount of stuff our editor did catch is impressive (turns out I have a mind for character and plot, not so much a mind for tracking the 53 players on 22 GFL rosters). We’re good. Sometimes, though, even Rain Man can miss something.

We had us a Zombie Ridley. At first I thought something along the lines of: “Well, he wasn’t really dead, or maybe he was declared dead and then new technology brought him back to life.” Plausible, right? Yeah, until I threw this idea at ARealGirl and she said: “But dead equals dead.”

Four words from her, and I’m stymied.

Because she’s right. The commitment we make to all y’all is that we don’t try to tug at the heartstrings by killing off characters, then backpedalling and bringing those characters back to life so we can tell more stories. In my opinion, that’s dishonest storytelling. It’s lazy storytelling. It’s a way of saying: “the only thing left that will get you is if I kill off your favorite, but I like my franchise, and I really like the money it brings in, so I’ll ‘kill’ the character and then conveniently bring her/him back for the next movie/book/season/series.”

That system works great for a lot of creators and a lot of fans, but it’s not how we run our shop. Andre Ridley died — in print — and that’s that. Dead = dead. It’s embarrassing and it sucks, but that’s really all there is to it.

So how do we fix it? We change that character name for the upcoming eBook and paperback. We re-record those spots for the audiobook and update them to Audible. We can’t change the hardcover, though, as that is already out. Zombie Ridley will be a legacy in the hardcovers only. He will vanish from the official timeline after his demise in THE MVP.

The player’s new name? Dylan Stiff.

Don’t get crazy looking for errors, Junkies, this is a one-time deal.

Making this change is a pain in the ass, but it’s what we need to do to make the story right. Also, Stiffnation is still a total wanker for pointing this out.

PS: Where did Andre get his nickname? From the Top Gun video game, circa 1989. You couldn’t play without a callsign. Many hours in the dorm room were burned with André “Death Ray” Ridley and Scott “The Mad Doberman” Sigler flying sortees against those damn communists in an effort to keep the world safe. We only turned that game off when it was time for THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS cartoon. Such was college life, folks. 



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  1. Tim Heuer

    I just found out about this and I can barely believe this happened. Dylan Stiff is my cousin. I got him and another of my cousins the first three books of the GFL series as Christmas gifts. One a year as they came out. I bought the fourth, The MVP, for them too, but I found out they had both already pre-ordered and got them. I am so happy to see them both loving the Siglerverse. I’d like to thank you Scott for your mix of anger and commitment to making it right. I really respect the pride you take in your work being as accurate and believable. You’ve made one OJ very proud and jealous of his cousin.

    P. S. I corrected Steve Saylor’s Black Shadow podcast novel twice and all I got was a thank you for winning him a beer. Not complaining, but still jealous.

  2. PaulC

    I loved this blog post, Scott. When I was growing up I was a fanatical comics reader and hated when a character was “killed” time and time again, only to be “revived” later (it happened ad nauseam to X-men’s Professor X).
    The worst retcon ever was “Dallas” soup opera Bobby’s death (and the subsequent seasons) being explained as a “bad dream”, that’s good tv for you!
    Reading your opinion about this kind of retcon made my literary day and my faith on good writing.

  3. Mike Berger

    Love the integrity Scott. Dead=Dead. Characters coming back after being “killed” off has always been a pet peeve of mine, the only time I didn’t mind some cloning was the Spinward Fringe series, but it was used as interesting plot points that drove the main story, plus the new characters were not the same as the one’s who’d died, so I guess it’s not the same.

  4. Sam Sweeney

    If it helps, I’m a fan of the South Carolina Gamecocks and we have two football players with the same name. Both are sons of a former Gamecock and NFL player, Gerald Dixson. Gerald Sr had two sons with two different women at about the same time. Thus Gerald Dixson, our starting DE and Gerald Dixson, our starting DT.
    Just saying.

  5. ComicBookGoddess


    Doesn’t it make more sense for the earlier reports of his death to be exaggerated? For some overworked sports editor to have made a mistake?

    You can write a short story about a mob of fans hunted him down for it!


    1. scottsigler

      ComicBookGoddess: I’m with you in spirit, here, but that butts up against the main rule of the Siglerverse, which is Dead = Dead. I could see if his death was “rumored” or even “faked.” In sport that is obsessed upon by much of the galaxy, however, one has to assume that GFL officials wouldn’t make a mistake at game-time. If there had been a mistake, surely that would have been in the news the following week.

  6. mkaz

    Hey Scott!
    Man, I can’t believe I missed this. I find a lot of your booboos (see 1/4/2013 Goreline as an example), but those pale in comparison to this one. You da MAN for turning a glitch into a great story on your blog! You rock!

    PS About when is Pandemic going to hit the podcast?

    PPS Restart the Goreline! The junkies love it!

  7. Todd Taylor

    Identical twins with identical names? Or, like the sons of George Foreman, in this case the sons of André Ridley (Sr.): André Ridley Jr. and André Ridley III?

  8. sethmd73

    Like the the fictional character Dread Pirate Roberts, Quarterback Andre “Death Ray” Ridley is not one man, but a series of individuals who periodically pass the name and reputation to a chosen successor. An Andre “Death Ray” Ridley has been QB on the Water Bugs roster since the team was founded in 2672.

    It is believed that the tradition started when Andre won a bet with the Bartel Water Bugs owner that if they won Galaxy Bowl XXII (2680), the head quarterback of the Water Bugs would forevermore be named Andre “Death Ray” Ridley. After winning, the original Andre retired at the end of 2683. The second ‘rookie’ Andre was killed in 2684 on a clean hit by Alonzo Castro and Chok-Oh-Thilit in Week 13 of the 2684 season. The QB formerly known as Dylan Stiff is the third to bear the name, legally changing his name to Andre “Death Ray” Ridley for the 2685 season. #RETCON

  9. Gordon Blizzard

    I think it makes narrative sense for Andre to bite it. The GFL is a deadly sport and a QB who does more of his work on the ground is way more likely to get killed. It would take a really tough(or lucky) guy to survive even a brief career playing that way.

  10. Sean Carolan

    You were just using that creative tpol honed on all the Spap Operas of the 70s and 80s? The missing long lost twin. He suddely appears and takes over his brothers idenity, girl friend, job etc.

    1. scottsigler

      Mark: Cloning is another trope that I avoid, at least as far as making the clones exact copies of the original organism. Too much goes on in the development from single cell to functioning organism for exact copies to occur.