I'm not sure how I missed The Privilege of the Sword. It's a sequel to Swordspoint, which is one of my favourite of Ellen Kushner's novels, and thus one of my favourite books. (Ellen Kushner would be my evil twin, only she's a girl, we're not related, and I strongly suspect that if either of the two of us is evil, then it's me.) When I was in LA last week, Harlan Ellison brought out a pile of books and said "Take something to read on the plane," and when I saw there was an Ellen Kushner book I hadn't read, I grabbed it with enthusiasm. I read the first half of the book on the way to the UK, the second half just now on the way back. It's lovely -- disconcertingly it moves from a first person to third person and back, and just as disconcertingly it feels at times like a YA novel for really smart YAs, only with lashings of hot sex. Everything happens in it just as it ought. Katherine is fifteen, a well-brought-up country girl, whose mad Uncle, the Duke, is going to make her a swordsman. And he does... It's elegant and fun and delightful.
So. A report on the last few days. Right.
I had an impromptu birthday party of great wonderfulness held in the hotel and organised ("Dad, I didn't organise it, the hotel did it all, I keep telling you,") by my daughter Holly. A wonderfully random assortment of friends came out, all on no notice -- including some, like Geoff Ryman and John and Liliana Bolton, who I have not seen in years. Champagne was quaffed. (Quaffing is like drinking only you spill more towards the end.) Mitch Benn showed up at half past twelve (by which time it was no longer my birthday and it was now his daughter Greta's) and sang "Be My Doctor Who Girl" while accompanying himself on his guitar until the hotel made him stop.
The 11th was the Beowulf premiere. It was huge -- an event that dwarfed the LA version. Flames gusted from the side of the building, there was a thirty foot high TV with Vikings and drums in front of it, thousands of people, and the whole thing was enormous. I tried to sign as many autographs as I could, and was yanked away to do interviews, but did the last part of the red carpet with Holly. I knew I had finally made it when I saw myself identified as "unidentified cast member" in the online premiere photos.
[Edit to add; I have been identified. I am Crispin Glover.]
Occasionally I get rather odd letters in on the FAQ line shouting at me for SELLING OUT TO MAMMON and WHY DON'T YOU WRITE NOVELS ANYMORE YOU HOLLYWOOD MOVIE SELLOUT, all the kinds of things that make me wonder why the people didn't send the letters in back in 1997 when I went off with Roger and we actually wrote Beowulf (or at least in March 2005 when we did the rewrite) and I find them as strange as I do the people asking why I no longer write comics ("But I do," I tell them. "In the last five years I wrote more comics than anything else.") It's weird being told you've sold out or gone Hollywood for work you did many years ago. Even so I found myself feeling peculiarly Hollywood at the London premiere, wearing my flash jacket and marching with Roger, Bob Zemeckis and the stars from cinema to cinema as Ray Winstone thanked people for coming and then added, cheerfully, "And I WILL kill your monstah."
(Relieved to see Beowulf's been certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Some people really like it and some people really don't, but the former outnumber the latter.)
And then up really early on the 12th, flew a couple of hours, had a business meeting, then drove into the more or less webless wilds for a day, had a day off, slept mostly, then got up at 2:30am to drive back to civilisation.
I often grumble about cell phones, but anything you can use to bring help when your car shreds a tyre on a mountain road at 6.00 am is all right in my book. Somehow I didn't even miss my plane back to London or my plane to the US.
And now I am home after 26 hours travelling. A busy three days, then off to the Philippines with Mike, then I finish The Graveyard Book...