Saturday, August 23, 2003

just watch the swan

I'm currently reading a book called THE TURK, about the famous eighteenth-century chess-playing automaton (the book has a website -- the preface is here at Chapter 1 (also on line on the site) talks about John Cox, an Englishman, who made a mechanical, moving, elephant, a tiger, and a swan. Coincidentally, a friend just sent me a link to a museum site with Cox's silver swan on it. It still exists (although it's now pretty fragile) and you can watch a real video of it preening, moving its head, and swallowing a silver fish. Check out for a little sense of wonder at the movement and grace of a quarter-of-a-millennium-old technology.

(The next book to be read will be Martin Millar's just finished novel Lonely Werewolf Girl, which my assistant Lorraine has already read, and tells me is quite possibly the best book that anyone's ever written. This is high praise, and even if it doesn't manage to clear that particular hurdle I'm still really looking forward to it.)

Once again the Live Journal feed has stopped feeding. It seems to do that when the RSS feed doesn't validate -- last time we had this problem someone helpfully forwarded me a link to the feed validator at and I'd go in and clean up stray ascii characters it couldn't parse until everything worked. This time I haven't got a clue what's wrong with the entry it's marked up as not validating.

And the FAQ line seems to have gone down yesterday afternoon and not come up again. Which is a good excuse for me to go back and answer lots of the things that came in over the last few days. But not tonight.

From Saturday morning US Time "I Have a Cunning Plan" will be available to listen to, probably for the next week -- it's a half hour radio documentary: Twenty years after the wily Edmund Blackadder first appeared on our screens, the series' producer John Lloyd tells the inside story of one of television's classic comedies.

And there's a new Brian Aldiss short story in the Independent. (I got more of a kick from the idea of a Brian Aldiss story in an English quality newspaper than I think I did from the story itself, which read more like part of something much longer than like a short story in its own right.)

And it seems that Diamond will be making busts of the 1602 Dr Strange, which is fun.

Wolves in the Walls is on the New York Times bestseller lists for the second week running, and now Coraline's joined it in paperback. Which is nice, particularly because I believe that Wolves is a comic (I think the publishers are calling it a graphic novella. Not that that means anything at all.) Your mileage may vary, but I like the idea that I've finally written a comic that made it onto the Times list...

Not a question, but I can't seem to find anywhere else on the site to input my ideas.
I was re-reading Stardust for the nth time, and I couldn't help realizing how similar it was to Great Expectations. I found all the characters and plot points.
I thought it was ironic how you put in the bit about Dickens being a young man in the first part of the book.
Great stuff. Myself, I hated Great Expectations, and had Stardust been dubbed a re-working, I never would have picked it up.
Thanks for writing such marvelous books, and do keep writing them, else I will run out of things to read.

I don't think I'd call it a reworking; but there are definitely a couple of places where Stardust and Great Expections wink at each other from across the room, yes.


I should be able to post details for the Sept/Oct mini tour of Finland, Norway, Sweden, Croatia and Germany very soon. And there will be a UK signing tour in early November -- again, I'll put up the details as soon as they're finalised.


As far as I can tell, the Fox suit against Al Franken seems to have presold more than enough extra copies of his book to pay the legal fees he'll have incurred defending it, but it's still nice to see the judge's comments:

"There are hard cases and there are easy cases," the judge said. "This is an easy case. This case is wholly without merit, both factually and legally." ... In addition to denying the injunction, the judge took direct aim at Fox for bringing the case.

"It is ironic that a media company, which should be protecting the First Amendment, is seeking to undermine it," Chin said.

The judge also said the "Fair and Balanced" trademark itself is weak, considering those words are used so frequently "in the context of the public marketplace."