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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

low brow art starts here

So Dan Guy went back into his data cloud, redid it so it now only registered words that I've written on the blog, and excluded other people's questions and comments, and let me know that I've written, in the last six years of blogging, 873,905 words. (Excluding these.)

(As soon as Dan's satisfied and we've got the cloud up at Neilgaiman.com I'll link to it. It's rather fun.)

People are also fiddling in back rooms to speed up the video footage on the secret Stardust site. Apparently Neilgaiman.com is not currently set up to deliver streaming video in the quantity people wanted to see it.

Dennis Kitchen wrote to tell me that there's now a dedicated Will Eisner website up at http://willeisner.com, including forums and a Will Eisner Wiki.

Martin Roberts wrote to tell me you can see a video of me being gobsmacked and singularly unprepared when Anansi Boys won the August Derleth Award at http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=1846991572 (and you can also see lots of other things much more fun than me fumfing, including Joe Hill winning two awards and Pete Crowther being Pete Crowther). When you are quite certain that funny books don't win awards, and that you don't win British Fantasy Awards, you don't even jot down on a bit of paper the list of people you should thank.

When I saw the Locus link to "Novelist David Eddings burns down office" I thought yeah, I have days like that, but it turns out he didn't do it on purpose.

My Chinese editor, or one of them, Ann Lin, wrote to send me a link to her blog, where she has the Chinese Anansi Boys cover up -- http://blog.sina.com.cn/m/linyao.

Help, please!I vaguely recall you mentioning in your journal an author as witty and popular in (I think) the 20's, but now generally forgotten who had written a book about (again, I think) greek gods in a modern setting. Having found and loved Jonathan Carroll's novels through your mention, I looked at various books from this author on amazon, and they seemed the sort of thing I'd like to look into. However, after much use of the site's search function and mental anguish, I fail to recall the name.I hope I'm not making this up; it's been wriggling in my brain for the past year or so.Thanks for your time.RMC

That would have been Thorne Smith, and his Night Life of the Gods.


Hi Neil.The billboards will soon be after you. (and all other Mini Cooper owners) Look at this URL to see what I mean:
http://news.com.com/Via%2BRFID,%2Bthese%2Bbillboards%2Bknow%2Byou%2Bby%2Bname/2100-1024_3-6154185.html - Steve ManfredRiver Falls, WI

You know, really high on the list of things I don't want ever to see on a billboard as I drive by is "Hey Neil, I bet you drive faster than you write!" or something similar...

Hi Neil,Since I plan on re-purchasing the Sandman series in it's Absolute form, I'm going to be giving my older TPB versions to a young friend I know would love them. My question is: Do you expect the Absolute collection to be limited to the 75-ish issues of the main Sandman series or will Endless Nights be included as well? I don't want to be asking for it back from the kid in a years time! Cheers!

I don't think there are any plans to do an Absolute Edition of Endless Nights at this time. It was an oversized hardback anyway...


Hi Neil, Aside from the statues and posters (being released by DC) and the various books (by Harper Collins) are there any plans for other Stardust merchandise to be released for the movie, such as action figures or clothing?Thanks.Rob


Not as far as I know. Which is a pity, because I'd really like to collect the set of dead princes. (Each of them is dead in a different interesting way.)

It looks like there's going to be lots of Coraline stuff coming out in late 2008, if that's any consolation -- it's something Laika and Focus Films are planning to do and talking to people about already.

...

Last year I got artist Kelli Bickman to paint a mural for the bedroom. It's something I look at each morning when I wake up and I'm not bored with it yet, and I always see something new. (http://kellibickman.net/pages/neilgaimanmural.html)

Kelli asked if she could use the mural to do good things -- for the CBLDF and for the Tibetan Handicapped Children's Hospital, and I said sure. She's put it on lots of cool stuff, available through http://www.cafepress.com/gaiman.

Another Good thing for the CBLDF is coming from the lovely people at Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs -- see http://www.blackphoenixalchemylab.com/new.html for details, and I'll link to their actual page when they have it up. If you like scents and perfumes and books, then you should click on this. Seven scents, inspired by characters in books, with half of what you pay going straight to the CBLDF...

And finally, a link to my pal Eddie Campbell's blog, containing a picture I took on my phone for him, in Foyles, the last time I was there. (And while it is true I thought it hilarious, it was more the entire concept of "Low-brow Art" as a category, with all sorts of marvellous stuff in it, that I found funny, than the appropriateness of that shelf for a book called The Fate of the Artist. But damn, that was funny too.)

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Not quite authorised, not quite not

[Edit to add -- right now if you click on the link you'll just get an Error message, as it wasn't ready to go public and it was running too slowly and so on and has been taken offline. I'll put something up as soon as it's back. Sorry.]


[Later Edit. It seems to be back up -- give the video a chance to load before playing, though, or it will be a bit stuttery...]


I'm not quite sure how widely this is meant to be spread, but Paramount have decided to change direction on their Stardust website at www.stardustmovie.com. Which means the website will take a bit longer to come out, and be a bit different when it does.



Meanwhile they've had a finished version of the early website ready to go for some weeks, containing a few video interviews with me, some answers to Stardust questions, Stardust wallpaper and even a do it yourself Charles Vess colouring thing (which is much too much fun). So we talked to them and they talked to us, and the webelf did webmagic, and if you just happened to click on



http://neilgaiman.com/stardust/



you might find yourself somewhere that looks very different and has Paramount copyright notices and things all over it, but is actually here on www.Neilgaiman.com.

I'm not sure how long we're going to be allowed to keep this up, so if you're interested you should probably go and play with it now, and tell anyone who might be interested that it's here.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

What authors don't do, and other digressions

Jonathan Carroll just sent me a link to these haunting little photographic studies of age and time: http://www.bobbyneeladams.com/age.html and I stared at them and thought, I should pass this one on.

Do authors, if ever, read their own work for pleasure? Especially you, Mister Neil Gaiman.

I'm sure some of them do, just as some singers probably like listening to their own albums for pleasure and some filmmakers leave their films on. For the rest of us, by the time you've finished making something like that, you probably don't want to read it/hear it/watch it again.

I was once stuck in a house where there was (literally) nothing to read but a battered and elderly paperback of American Gods, and rather than have a bath with nothing to read, I picked it up, opened it to the Cairo scene and had a long bath reading my own book, and found it not as mortifying an experience as I thought I would. But given that that's the only time that's happened in almost a quarter century as a writer, I think it's a no. (I don't listen to my audio books for pleasure, either.)

Just to let you know, there is an English version of the Apple Mac adverts with the Mitchell and Webb guys from Radio 4 and Peepshow, have a look at http://www.apple.com/uk/getamac/ads/ - now will you get a Mac? all the best for the new year, pete

But I've got a Mac, honest. I've got a couple of them. And I got all my family Macbooks. I'm just not interested in using one as my main travelling and working computer until they weigh a lot less.

Hiya, Neil:I thought you and your readers would find this amusing, if not downright fantastic. In Vegas, on October 5-7, there will be the first ever International Alchemy Conference: http://alchemyconference.com/ According to the site, it will be the largest gathering of alchemists in 500 Years. Made me think a bit of the Cereal Convention in The Doll's House, though this will, presumably, be a bit less threatening. Then again, maybe not. :-)Pam (http://www.phantasmaphile.com/)

I just think it's really cool. I just wonder how Las Vegas will cope.

i think the million words count is misleading. does it include faq line questions, emails, etc that you've posted?

I'm sure it does. I can't see any way a word counter could figure out which words were mine and which were other people's, can you? I'm sure that wordcount also includes the occasional essays and speeches I've posted here, and, in all probability, the captions to photos. I suppose if you're worried about having been misled you could mentally change "I've written" to "I've written, reposted or cut and pasted".

Dear Neil,
Your mentioning of bangs vs. fringe was the tipping point of my curiosity and I finally had to look it up. The word "fringe" is fairly obvious visually, as that's what it looks like, but apparently "bangs" comes from "cut bang-off" which is a way of chopping the tail of a race horse so the hair is flat straight across. Or something.Being from North America I would rather my face did not reference the back-end of a horse, but I suppose there's nothing I can do about that. Especially since I've been known to wear ponytails now and again. Candace

I love it when I learn something.

Incidentally, I am reading Avram Davidson's Adventures in Unhistory (subtitled Conjectures on the Factual Foundations of Several Ancient Legends. Actually the title page is much longer than that, but I'll leave it to you to find one) every spare second I can grab reading time, and can unhesitatingly recommend it to any of you who have ever thought about being authors, or wondered about the origins of such things as Dragons or Mandrakes or where Sindbad actually sailed to, or who have ever dreamed of being sat down and told wonderful cool arcane and true things from a brilliant, crusty old author who thinks you're just as smart as he is, or you will be, once he's finished telling you something, in his own way and in his own time and the journey is always the destination. It's a maze of delightful digressions and bizarre wanderings. Wonderful stuff.

(If you're wondering if it's the sort of thing you'd like, here's the LA Times review.)

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

1,014,261 not counting these

Right. Maddy has a whole new hairdo consisting of a fringe (which Americans inexplicably call bangs), or bangs (which the English mysteriously call a fringe), and she looks oddly like the Coraline puppet from the Henry Selick film, while I have, er, not quite as much hair in my eyes as I did this morning. Stopped off at DreamHaven (http://www.dreamhavenbooks.com/) after the haircut and signed a pile of stuff for them (it'll be up on www.Neilgaiman.net soon enough).

Also bought a few books, which considering how much time I've had recently to read, and how much I have sitting in piles waiting to be read (I seem to be reading everything I can find about Bert Williams right now) is madness. Still, I picked up, with joyful expectation, Avram Davidson's Adventures in Unhistory, Diana Wynne Jones's The Pinhoe Egg, and Kim Newman's The Man from the Diogenes Club. It's nice to have books on the To Be Read Pile you know will be good. A Charles Vess cover drew my eye, and I found myself getting the paperback of Herminie Kavanagh's Darby O'Gill, and I wrapped up the shopping expedition with a copy of M. John Harrison's Viriconium (not to read, just so I had a copy with my introduction in).

And I just got to see some site statistics (courtesy of Dan Guy who has made the Webelf her Clouds -- the first is up at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/labels/ and is really rather fun. Hurrah for you helpful people out there reading this) and I learned that as of the last post, I'd written One Million and Fourteen Thousand, Two Hundred and Sixty One words on this blog.

I wish I'd known that 14,261 words ago. We would have had a party. With balloons.

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Time to go...

One of the many delights for me in making Sandman: Endless Nights was in helping to bring artist Barron Storey to another audience. Barron is a genius: an amazing artist, a teacher and thinker about art, astonishingly creative, enormously influential (I remember my wry amusement when one reviewer referred to Barron as being a Bill Sienkiewicz imitator, for Bill, along with countless other important artists, is someone who acknowledges being influenced by Barron) and I still remember how overwhelming it was to see

One of the treasures of my bookshelf is the Barron Storey Marat-Sade Journal, published by Tundra about fifteen years ago, long since out of print and prized by collectors (Dennis Kitchen used to have a few copies left selling for $90, but he's sold out and the only one on Amazon is selling for $275.)


Now the first new Barron Storey journal in 15 years, Life After Black, will be coming out in Spring, and its progress is being tracked at the Graphic Novel Art site blog: http://graphicnovelart.blogspot.com/search/label/Barron%20Storey (There -- I just used someone else's label.)

You can see more Life After Black pages at http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryDetail.asp?GCat=1927

...

We're finding all sorts of video stuff and putting it up over at the Exlusive New and Improved Cool Things section (http://www.neilgaiman.com/exclusive). The one that follows, however, we have to link to. It's a recording of me, last October, doing the lovely Cody's event in Berkeley, when I got to get up in front of an audience and read and answer questions and have Much Too Much Fun Doing It.

http://fora.tv/fora/fora_clip.php?cid=303#

Hi Neil,

Love the new Cool Stuff & Things section. Compliments to the Webelf! May she have many scuttling tasties.

Noticed your notebook pages from American Gods and it reminded me of a few doctors I know. I had tried to read some stuff they had written but couldn't make it out. I asked them and they couldn't decipher it either (thankfully it was all non-medical)! Has that ever happened to you after moments of frantic scribbling?

No offense meant though, I actually could make out about 80% of what you wrote in the pages which is much more than I can say for those doctors.

Cheers!
Aloysius


While it would be true to say that I never really have a problem with my handwriting (although other people do) I would also have to admit that every now and again, typing up a story, I'll find myself glaring at a word that doesn't freely divulge what it was originally meant to signify.

The American Gods notebook pages are a lot smaller than the originals, though, which also doesn't help.

I recently found the handwritten STARDUST books, and was planning to scan a few pages in from them for the upcoming DC Comics ABSOLUTE STARDUST hardcover.

...

Right. Miss Maddy and I are off to get our hair cut. And she would like to dictate a message: "My hair will be totally sweet y'all. Hahaha. I crack myself up. Hey. You aren't supposed to write that -- HEY! You aren't... Daa-aad. (=sigh=. And then, ominously,) You're a funny one..."

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Cool Stuff and Things

The other thing the Webelf has been working on for a while is this: It's the area of the site that was formerly known as Exclusive, and is now Cool Stuff & Things http://www.neilgaiman.com/exclusive/. And it went live today. It ought to change content when you refresh it...

(It's Cool Stuff & Things because that fits into the same area as Exclusive Material used to.)

The Webelf did a great job -- and it's the direction we're taking the site right now, more visually interesting and making it easier to find things and also allowing magical randomness to show people fun things they might otherwise not see. Address applause or grumbles to her.

It also looks like we're going to have some fun and unique Stardust movie material up here very soon.

The Mystery Aide has gone back to start setting up an LA office, to which people will be able to send things, thus taking the strain off DreamHaven Books (who don't really mind acting as a maildrop but sometimes I don't pick up mail from there for months). All should be revealed next week.

My 2 year old son loves "Crazy Hair" (thank you), the poem and real crazy hair. I know a book was in the works with art by Dave McKean, any word on a release date?
Thanks for your time!
Eric!


I'm not quite sure when it will be released, but I can tell you that Dave McKean delivered the final double page spread today.... which means the book is now in the production line-up. It looks like this:


(Click on the picture to be able to see it at a reasonable size.)

The moment I know the release date for Crazy Hair, I'll post it here.

...

I'd vaguely noticed the "Overheard in..." phenomenon over the last year or so, where those of us who enjoy earwigging send in to websites the best or strangest things we've overheard on the streets or off them, and recently googled to see how many there were out there. I discovered that there are plenty of them, of variable quality. Minneapolis is one of my favourites. Here are a few of the better ones...

http://www.overheardinnewyork.com/
http://www.overheardinminneapolis.com/
http://www.overheardinpittsburgh.com/
http://www.overheardinlondon.co.uk/
http://www.overheardintheoffice.com/
http://www.overheardindublin.com/ (a bit less scribbled-in-the -notebook than the rest of them)
http://overheardinphilly.blogspot.com/ (now up for sale, for those Philadelphians who want it to continue)
http://www.overheardinathens.com/ (not the one in Greece).

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Exciting Label News! (Harpsichords not mentioned.)

For those of you who were wondering about the labels, or where to find them, or for those of you on the kind of feed where you can't see them, they are all clustered together for your edification and enjoyment over at

http://neilgaiman.com/journal/labels/

in alphabetical order. Twice.

(PS: The webelf says that she thinks that it would be fun to create a tag cloud for the labels. Personally, I think it would be much more fun to create a cloud for the entire couple of million words of the blog. Either way, she'd be trying to do things blogger isn't built to do, so if any of you wish to give her advice on making tag clouds, she can be found at neilwebwelf@gmail.com, flitting gracefully from bush to bush and eating small scuttling things that do not get out of her way fast enough.)

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Mostly pictures

I was sure the Stardust Movie website would have gone live by now, but it's still a holding page. In the meantime, I was just sent a link to a Russian (I assume) site with a bunch of stills on it -- some seem scanned from magazines, but there are a few I wonder how they got their hands on... http://kino-express.ru/stills/stardust

I've grabbed one of the witch-queen's first meeting with Ditchwater Sal...



And one of our heroes dining airborne with Robert De Niro...




This is going to seem a stupid question but where are you when you write your blog? I don't have a mental picture, and I wish I did. Can you describe it? Lynn.
It depends. Sometimes I'm in bed, or at least on the bed, sometimes I'm in the downstairs office (that's where I am right now) sometimes I'm on the road and then I could be anywhere. Recently I've mostly been posting from the TV room upstairs, where I set up while we were moving the office around.
(Photos taken today by Mystery Aide. This is how I look when someone says "Are you writing?" when I am...)



And this next one was a bit more posed, because we need some current photos. (Look! Now I do not look grumpy!) Not sure how long the beard has to live right now. Probably a couple more weeks...

I've had the sushi pillows for two years now. They've held up well (except for one of the shrimps, which had to be sewn up) and I recently went back and got their yellowtail and edamame). (Their website: http://www.theoriginalsushipillow.com/.)

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The war on fame...

I'm still proofreading and copyediting. Today I also tackled a small heap of fanmail, some of it going back an embarrassingly long time. Meanwhile Lorraine and the new Mystery Aide were recreating the downstairs office.

You would not believe the strange things that have been found during the haul-everything-out, move-all-the-furniture, move-it-all-back process. Things believed lost for years. Things I'd forgotten I'd ever been given. Amazing, strange things... (All of them currently in plastic tubs in the hall).

The Walker event with me and Dave McKean is up on the web -- http://channel.walkerart.org/detail.wac?id=3651

I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with the UK Director of Public Prosecutions, but I do, vigorously. http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,1997397,00.html


Do I have to ask you a question? (I only asked so I could comply with the bold "YOUR QUESTION" above this field.)
I just wanted to show you some pictures (not of me, though you probably get some like that - ick, poor you) but of a doll version of Dream that I commissioned last fall. The artist has finished him, and people have been telling me I should show you. Donn, the artist, said it was all right if I did. He sculpted the doll himself and painted it, and a friend of his does the clothes. Donn took the photos. So here you go:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v442/misanthropicbliss/progress/dream_stand.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v442/misanthropicbliss/progress/dream_sit.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v442/misanthropicbliss/progress/dream_stand_clothes.jpg Not bad, eh? :)Take care.- Ceiridwen

That's marvelous. No, you don't have to ask a question (although you're more likely to get a reply if you do). And while nobody ever sends photos of themselves, they do send links to their art, and to things they've made, all of which I look at and a very few of which I post here. This one, for example, I thought was amazing:

Just in case you don't know already...Abi Sutherland, a Making Light regular, is donating a gorgeous specially bound edition of 'The Dream Hunters' to the Mike Ford Auction and Extravaganza at Boskone next month. http://evilrooster.com/items/2007/01/the_dream_hunte.html


I'm tempted to bid on it myself.

Hi Neil,
I suspect you've been bombarded with this one, but in case you haven't this might be another reason why you need a mac http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.html
Regards,
Guy


Actually, I think the Mac to PC ratio in the house is now significantly more Macs than PCs. I'm the last PC holdout in the family, and I'm as likely as not to be found using the office iMacs -- more likely for some things. If only they'd make a Macbook that weighed next to nothing, I'd probably grit my teeth and go and find somewhere that would translate all my old WordPerfect 4.2 and 5.1 files into a current more Mac-friendly format, and go over to Mac laptops.

I tend to write on baby laptops that don't weigh much (this is what I've been using for the last couple of years). Sooner or later I'll pick up (literally) a new lightweight Macbook and decide I wouldn't mind carrying it through a hundred airports. But they need to make it first...

And the program looks terrific.

You are going to go back through the blog and label all the old entries aren't you? You know...in your spare time...for the sake of completeness.

Lynn

PS: Come on...ya know you want to!


Well, yes. I do want to... I'm not sure where I'd find the time, though. But I promise I'll keep labelling the new ones.


Do you enjoy fame? Reading your journal, I almost feel sorry for you as you describe a press junket, with the continual interviews and sore writing arm. But this is what writers strive for, isn't it? Huge adoring readerships, exotic locales for book signings, bestseller lists. Does fame have an effect on your writing?I saw you read when I was in college in Madison, and was inspired by this floppy-haired Brit with a sense of humor; you looked exactly as a writer ought to look. It gave me some hope that being a writer could be good. I loved Neverwhere, and I adore your effervescent prose, which seems effortless and light as a feather, but like any souffle, I suspect it's actually quite difficult to get it so. And as a separate note, having grown up in Wisconsin, thanks for the descriptions. Your bit about the House on the Rock was perfect. Cheers,-Jessie

Do I enjoy fame? No, not much. I quite like finding myself in interesting places, but I like being at home more. I like having readers, and I like meeting readers, I love reading aloud and I like that I don't have to get up early in the morning and go and do a job I don't enjoy. Making stuff up is still great except when it's not. But I'm never entirely comfortable with the rest of it. It's still weird that I live in a world in which more people know me than I know.

But mostly I don't think about it.

Hi Neil, in fact it’s not a question but a little feedback from one of your Chinese readers. I posted it on neilgaimanboard.com, and some kind people told me you don’t read that board. So I check the fqa and find here to say what I’d say. I hope it weren’t too rude, and I’m sorry if I interrupted you.
American Gods the simplified Chinese version has burst out on December, 2006. My friends and I all read and fell for it. WOW. And the translator treated your baby well. I think the Chinese version is precise and beautiful. It was said Good Omens has been on the way. So, be prepared for the rush of loving words from Chinese dreamers. ^^
...
Best wishes.
Yours,
Carmina


Which I'm mainly posting because normally people write to tell me that the translation in their part of the world is sort of disappointing, and it's lovely to hear about one that people are happy with.

and finally, a few people -- all enthusiastic fans of the site and the podcast -- wrote to let me know about this...

Afternoon Sir!
Not a question as such, more of a heads up. I love genre fiction - always have done. There is a 'podcast' I have been listening to for a while now and most recently they did a 2 part show about your goodself. It's hosted by 2 geordies who have a real passion for anything good - hence you and your work being featured! They have such a relaxed structure to the show, it's like listening to a Ronnie Corbett joke when they're in full flow!
Please give it a listen and let them know how they're doing - it'd mean a lot to them to get some feedback. The show can be found through itunes or at www.starshipsofa.com .
Thanks for taking the time to read this, I know you are busy.
Have a great week,

Alastair Webster
Liverpool.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

fact checking 101

I read my copy of New Scientist last week, and was duly outraged that staff at the Grand Canyon are not allowed to talk about the age of the Canyon, and are only allowed to sell a book suggesting that the Canyon was formed during Noah's flood about 4,000 years ago.

This morning I was just as outraged to realise that a) New Scientist just prints press releases without checking them in any way and b) the whole article was bollocks.

The Press Release itself began

HOW OLD IS THE GRAND CANYON? PARK SERVICE WON’T SAY
Orders to Cater to Creationists Makes National Park Agnostic on Geology

Washington, DC — Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees.

People more outraged than I was phoned or wrote to the National Park Service (which is more than New Scientist did)...

and were told that the Grand Canyon is millions of years old, that no one is being pressured from Bush administration appointees — or by anyone else — to withhold scientific information, and all were referred to a statement by David Barna, Chief of Public Affairs, National Park Service as to the park’s official position. “Therefore, our interpretive talks, way-side exhibits, visitor center films, etc. use the following explanation for the age of the geologic features at Grand Canyon,” the document explains.

If asked the age of the Grand Canyon, our rangers use the following answer: ‘The principal consensus among geologists is that the Colorado River basin has developed in the past 40 million years and that the Grand Canyon itself is probably less than five to six million years old. The result of all this erosion is one of the most complete geologic columns on the planet.’


While the creationist text on the age of the Grand Canyon is actually on sale in the "inspirational" part of the souvenir shop, beside the books on the Hopi and the Paiute legends of how the canyon was formed.

The Skeptic magazine reports here on how they, too were insufficently, er, skeptical and fell for this rot: http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-01-17.html

[Edit to add -- it's the curse of the internet. Post about fact-checking and you'll soon realise you should have checked your facts. Actually I'd mentally conflated the New Scientist article I linked to and the Doonesbury cartoon on the same subject, which I read around the same time. As you'll have realised, the New Scientist article doesn't say that the park people are forbidden to say the Canyon is millions of years old.]

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Monday, January 22, 2007

It's Not Just January 31st any longer...


I'm hoping to write a proper blog entry tomorrow. Things are getting done and finished and sorted out, and the world is good, and I'm getting close to raising my head above the parapet. Meanwhile I am -- brilliantly -- managing to give the impression that I'm actually blogging by posting a National Gorilla Suit Day link.

No, seriously.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

a post of bits

Lots to write about as soon as I get my head above the current pile of mostly proofreading-and-copyediting. (If writing fiction is dessert, then copy-editing is eating all your vegetables. Blogging is snacking between meals. Yes, I'm still on diet*, why do you ask?)

In the meantime, a few odd tidbits...

Ever since catching a Radio 4 documentary last year (no longer available), I've become intrigued recently by Bert Williams, and have been buying lots of books about him and recordings of his, which meant that I discovered Archeophone Records (http://www.archeophone.com/index.php) -- an amazing resource for anyone interested in late Nineteenth and early Twentieth century music. (I wasn't, but I am now.) This includes Yearbooks -- the hits of each year. And listening to their 1922 CD I stumbled over the Mister Gallagher and Mister Shean act, which I'd known about (mostly through parodies, TV commercials, and an obscene version quoted in Gershon Legman's Rationale of the Dirty Joke) but never heard. Mister Shean was Groucho Marx's uncle, and a few clicks later I was watching Groucho Marx and Jackie Gleason doing their own Gallagher and Shean tribute on YouTube (it's at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpl-JGLbwwQ). (I played once with the idea of doing a "Mister Vandemar and Mister Croup" song but it never went beyond the playing stage.)

Archeophone put up a recording of the month, with a little information about each act, at http://www.archeophone.com/features/recordings/index.php -- there's a lot to listen to.

John Crowley (an amazing writer and a lovely man) is putting up a reading list of books for writers , especially would be writers of Fantasy and SF, at his livejournal, http://crowleycrow.livejournal.com/. I've read about half the books on the list, and given that two of them are two of my favourite books in the world I'm looking forward to reading the rest. (This is the original request for a reading list -- http://crowleycrow.livejournal.com/38533.html -- and this is the result is at http://crowleycrow.livejournal.com/38862.html. This is, as he says to "shame them [his students] out of concocting another pseudo-medieval non-society peopled by folks like themselves (and a few dragons and vampires, also much like themselves). " I think it should apply to all writers...

Susan Henderson has a contest which has a) already been won and b) if you're coming there from here you'll guess the answer immediately. But it's at ... http://litpark.com/2007/01/19/contest-time/


* It's working just fine, thank you. I call it The Don't Eat So Bloody Much and Would It Kill You To Take A Walk Now And Again Diet.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

just because...

I'm not being much of a blogger until I get caught up, I'm afraid. (Bad blogger. No grapefruit juice.)

So in the meantime, here are some photos from the snow yesterday... They include Maddy getting what would have been a snowball in the face if the snow had been the kind that stuck together instead of the kind that doesn't, Holly eating snow, and Maddy joyfully sliding down a hill on her back.

Just because.











*the person peering nervously into shot is Holly's boyfriend Alex, who was just learning about this thing called snow. A fine houseguest of the kind who does the washing-up unasked.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

snow and work

My daughter Holly's boyfriend Alex is in from the UK, and he came here rather than she went there because he wanted to see snow. Which we normally have in this part of the world in abundance at this time of year (in fact you're normally hard-pushed to see anything else), but this year we've have record high temperatures and record no snows. But finally, as of last night, the world has delivered, and I woke this morning to the sound of a snow plough scraping on the drive, and everything is white and wonderful. Alex is excited and is planning to throw snowballs around, make snowmen, all that.

Several people wrote to me suggesting that I mention here that grapefruit juice can interact with medication. It can -- more details at http://www.healthcentral.com/peoplespharmacy/pp_guides/PDF/gfruit02.pdf

A little bit more science fiction becomes fact as anti-cancer eggs are produced. While black diamonds coming from space isn't just SF, it's 1960s DC Comics style SF ("He was just holding that black diamond and then he turned into... into that!")

I just got an email from Rain Taxi (http://www.raintaxi.com/) who are doing their annual fundraising auction -- lots of signed books and rare books...
http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZraintaxi ; while over at SFsite -- http://www.sfsite.com/home.htm -- they're doing their Readers' Choice Awards for book of the year (first won by Neverwhere in 1997, I just realised, looking at http://www.sfsite.com/yearsbest01.htm).

Over the years I've mentioned here how much I love Tom Phillips' remarkable book A Humument, and I've even mentioned that it has a website. But now the website has the entire book up, available to be read or looked at on line, a page at a time. It's a book I buy in order to give away. It makes me oddly happy. I recommend it.

(Edit to add -- there may be a problem with the files. If there is, they're also up at Tom Phillips' own site, click on the file size beneath each page to show the full-size page -- http://www.tomphillips.co.uk/humument/0/001010/index.html)


Today I'm doing the lettering draft of Eternals 7 (which makes this the first seven issue long six issue mini-series in history), finishing a four page comic about John Romita, and finishing copyediting Interworld (a book that Michael Reaves and I wrote in 1998, because it was easier to write the story as a book than get Hollywood people to understand the treatment, which we finally decided it was time to allow out into the world) and also doing the galleys of the UK Fragile Things.... and I probably won't get a chance to play in the snow.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Exit Harry Horse

I was reading Journalista! today and found myself momentarily shocked. Harry Horse is dead -- apparently he killed himself in a suicide pact with his wife, who had MS. I found myself trying to persuade myself that it wasn't the Harry Horse I knew, the one who I met in Edinburgh, who I read with, funny and enthusiastic and endearingly awkward and charming.

I followed the links, and it was the same Harry Horse, of course. We liked each other. He loaded me up with his books, and I read them to Maddy. We shared a love for J.P. Martin's UNCLE books.

What a strange world.

And right now I can't think of anything funny or interesting to write, so here's Harlan Ellison reading a short story instead. http://www.creatvdiff.com/ and click on Prince Myshkin. (It's a DVD extra from an upcoming documentary about Harlan by Erik Nelson, who produced, among other things, Grizzly Man.)

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Walker fun

Dave and I spent a fun day first being interviewed at MPR then we went down to the Walker for a sound check, out to eat (they scoffed at my not having a gooey chocolate dessert and having a grapefruit juice instead. But I shall have the last laugh.) Then we got to the Walker to find that there were a lot of people in line and only 300 free tickets, which made us feel vaguely guilty. (My apologies if you were one of the people who couldn't get in.)

We talked and read, Dave showed film clips and images, we were in conversation, we answered questions from the audience. (You'll be able to see the whole thing at http://channel.walkerart.org/detail.wac?id=3651 soonish.)

Then we went down to leave, and, because the cars weren't moving and some people asked, signed some books for people in the parking lot, which was, I think, a first for the Gaiman McKean partnership. We spent a happy hour in the parking structure, watching the automated leaving system break down under the numbers of people leaving. (You pay before leaving, as in an airport, and you go to your car, and you try to leave. 300 other people are trying to do the same thing. It takes a while to get to the front of the line. Then all you need is one person who either forgot to pay before leaving, or who has been waiting in that line for fifteen minutes and ten seconds, and the whole system breaks down, and the attendants at the front look sadder and sadder and explain that they don't have an override switch and so cannot open the barrier for people even they want to -- and they do -- and they go off and try and get some working tickets, and as the hour ticks by several hundred people resolve not to come back to the Walker again, at least, not if it involves parking...)

Thanks to Sarah from the Walker and Eric from RainTaxi for putting it together...

(And finding the Rain Taxi link meant I noticed that there's a whopping great interview with me on their website at http://www.raintaxi.com/online/2006winter/gaiman.shtml.)

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Last Coraline picture for a while, I expect


I just got sent a photo of me actually looking at some of the characters and their possessions. These are painted models, not the puppets that will be appearing in the film. Henry is explaining, under the gaze of Georgina Hayns, the Puppet Fabrication Supervisor, how Coraline's father has a different kind of jaw movement to some of the other characters. He thinks I'm listening. Actually I'm just trying to figure out whether I should go "Oh look! A dangerous polar bear!" and then while everyone is looking around trying to see what I am talking about or running away or trying to find a nice plump seal to throw to the polar bear and distract it, I could put one of the models under my leather jacket. And then I am remembering that I forgot to wear my leather jacket.

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Save money! Ask me how!

...and all the CORALINE posts reminded me that someone wrote in recently to let me know that Barnes and Noble were having an online post-holidays sale on the Coraline audiobook (the US one, with me reading it). It's the 3 CD version, and it's on sale there right now for $2 (it's usually $18) and if you want one at that price you should probably move fast, as it mentions that quantities are limited. (Edit -- no, it's the cassette version, not the CD version. Sorry.)

(And I just noticed that the B&N Edgar Allan Poe book is out of print, so I think I'll put my introduction, an essay on Poe, up on http://www.neilgaiman.com/exclusive/ soon.)

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The Coraline Movie's Mission Statement is...

And, because they knew it delighted me, the Coraline crew sent me a photo of one of the buttons that overwrote the "Mission Statements" belonging to the previous occupants of the studios.


Also, I just got an email saying

You're having too much fun with the labels on new blogger, aren't you?

And I'm afraid that I am.

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First Coraline Photos

After my visit to the Coraline set just before Christmas I said They are also doing technical tests -- it's easy enough for me to say in the book, and for Henry to put into his script, that as Coraline walks away from the Other House, the trees are less like trees and more like the idea of trees, but making an orchard turn into a misty abstraction is easier said than done when you have to build it. So they've built one, and are doing their camera tests to see if it will work.

I've just been sent a few photos from the visit... here's me and Henry Selick looking at the mock-up of the trees as she walks from right to left. (Click on the photo to see the bigger version and it will become easier to see what I was talking about.) Standing between us (and blocking the Coraline model) is Tom Proost, Shop Foreman.




And because those are a bit shadowy, here's a picture of Bo Henry, set construction supervisor, Henry Selick and me, surrounded by half-painted trees and a bit of nightmarish topiary. I have no idea what I was looking at, but I bet it was extremely interesting.



I'll put up a few more photos when I get them -- I hope they'll send over one or two with characters in. I mean, trees are good, but the characters are the thing...

Photos by Serena Davidson.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The best film of 2006 was...

Still deadlining. Have lost a bunch of weight now, hurrah. I've now got to that place where I'm comfortable with just not eating as much, while eating more veg, using grapefruit as a snack food, drinking more water, all that. Just trying to make up for a year spent eating on the road, really. (There are four tubs of jeans in my closet, each a different waist size. I'd reached the tub at the far end, and they were getting tight. Am now at the next one down from there. And one more size to go before I'm back at my proper BMI wossname. As I learned a couple of years ago, if I get to the jeans in the thinnest tub at the end, people point out that I'm looking gaunt. And this is probably the last post about weight because a) it's boring and b) if you mention losing weight in a blog post people start sending you emails telling you that you're contributing to the current epedemic of Anorexia and ruining the self-image of the young.)

Anyway, this post is about Pan's Labyrinth -- as seen and discussed in http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2006/09/sunday-morning-cinema.html -- and is to congratulate Guillermo on winning the Critics Prize.

Guillermo del Toro's gothic fantasy Pan's Labyrinth has been named the best film of 2006 by the National Society of Film Critics.

Guillermo is the executive producer on the DEATH movie, which appears to be beginning to possibly think about perhaps seeming to come back to life, maybe, so I'll congratulate him soon enough in person.

But it's nice to do it here.

And I know I meant to link to this Charles Vess blog post, showing the stages of the Stardust sculpture he's been working on, but I don't think I did. Lots of pictures... http://greenmanpress.com/news/archives/98

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Monday, January 08, 2007

famousnessness

There's an interview with Dave McKean in the Star Tribune, setting up for Dave and Me Doing Stuff Before An Audience at the Walker in Minneapolis on Jan 11th (Details at http://www.raintaxi.com/readings/). I'm uncomfortable with the "Dave's the less famous one of the Gaiman-McKean partnership" editorial approach -- there are many worlds in which I'm very-famous-artist Dave McKean's less famous collaborator.
The interview's at http://www.startribune.com/384/story/916130.html

I did a quick Google to try and find a few Dave McKean articles pointing this out, and I found this article -- http://www.mpr.org/www/books/titles/gaiman_coraline/mckean.shtml -- at MPR's Talking Volumes. While the article on Dave is actually up on http://www.neilgaiman.com/exclusive/essays/essaysbyneil/ , there's some terrific stuff in the MPR article sidebar -- lots of radio interviews, and the entire Talking Volumes radio special on CORALINE with Katherine Lanpher at the Fitzgerald Theatre.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

pretty vacant

In my quest to give you things to read while I'm off scribbling things, my old schoolfriend Geoff Notkin (you can find him not going to prison here and being taught by Will Eisner here) was recently seen hunting for meteorites on the Discovery Channel's Cash Or Treasures. He writes about it on his website at http://www.aerolite.org/cash-and-treasures.htm. (If you own a copy of Sandman:The Kindly Ones, you can see a photo in the back of Geoff -- and me, and Graham K Smith -- as punks in 1976.)

And for the readers in the Philippines (and there are a lot of you)... Kristin writes to say that We're organizing a two-day literary convention--the Read or Die Convention 2007--which will be held on February 3-4 2007 at the Hotel Intercon, Makati City. It's to promote reading, support for Filipino readers, and more public awareness of Filipino literature. The event is non-profit and all the proceeds will be donated to AHON Foundation, an organization which refurbishes public elementary school libraries. The event is supported by the National Book Development Board, the Department of Education and UNICEF.The convention website is here: http://read-or-die.org/rodcon/

and she adds

We'd also like to solicit donations from people who live abroad, if that's possible, in order to supplement the amount which will be donated to our beneficiary (and we hope that we can still earmark some funds left over--if there will be any leftover money--for other organizations which need it. We've just learned, for example, that Books For The Barrios (http://www.booksforthebarrios.com), a group based in America which organizes book drives for the benefit of our public school libraries is in danger of closing its operations due to lack of support. The vice-president got in touch with us via RodCon and asked us to help).

and something for you to look at (if you haven't seen it already)...

Have you seen this? Ron Mueck is this incredible artist who makes shockingly realistic sculptures of people. Either that, or he kills giants and embalms them. I hope you enjoy it. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2005/12/29/GA2005122900888_index_frames.htm?startat=1

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An even quicker one

Just a heads up -- some time in the next couple of days the Stardust Movie site is going to go live. It's been up at www.stardustmovie.com for a while, but hasn't had any content until now.

I've just been sent a preview of the first round of content, and it's really fun -- there's a gallery of Charles Vess Stardust art, much of it previously unseen, there are video interviews with me about the origins of Stardust and about Charles Vess, and I answer the first five Stardust questions...

(The http://www.beowulfmovie.com/ site still only has the flames-and-cast-list-and-shield on it.)

While I'm being a rubbish blogger, let me point you to this Horn Book article on the use of Mary Sues in school fiction, this Stewart Lee article on humour, a wonderful Ursula LeGuin article about fantasy from the New Statesman, Jane Espenson's blog filled with terrific writing tips, and, in case you missed it, an article about a recent case of human hibernation. Also Terry Jones on the sums of war. Oh, and a Good Omens Lexicon.

And I forgot to mention here that Sir Ian McKellen will be doing the narration for the Stardust film.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

quick one

Am beset by deadlines and such, so just a short one to say that people ask me fairly regularly to recommend things for them to read, and I keep meaning to.

Sooner or later someone will go through the almost six years and several million words of this blog and extract lots of things that I've pointed to and said "you should read this" about (much like http://quotableneil.blogspot.com/ did for quotes) and we'll put up a giant list... but in the meantime, I thought I'd point to
http://www.readyourselfraw.com/recommended/rec_neilgaiman/recommended_neilgaiman.htm where they've assembled a bunch of graphic novels which I blurbed, introduced or reviewed. Almost all of which I remember reading.

Right. Back to work.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

"Never use goats when there's an R in the month!"

I woke up to an emailed warning that I might be about to have spammed LiveJournal again. As the Webelf explained, the good news was she'd fixed one of our Blogger problems, and turned off the Feed while she was doing it-- "The bad news is I'm fairly sure that when I turn it back on again, it will spam Livejournal and cause lots of hate mail for you. (And lots of happy letters to me about pink mink whips, if precedent holds.)I'm not entirely sure how to avoid that, at the moment.. should I offer myself up to send pre-emptive apologies?" but as far as I can tell, it's only randomly reposted one entry, and not even a long one at that.

So we're now on new Blogger and things should be working. Fingers crossed. Toes crossed. Touch wood. Not that I'm superstitious or anything but where Blogger is concerned (spits over left shoulder, flings salt on the lucky goat-talisman, does the good-luck jig, pockets his powdered imitation rhinoceros horn and a bottle of coloured sand from the Isle of Wight) you never know...

...


From issue 551 of Locus, "Locus Looks at Short Fiction", by Nick Gevers


In the '50s, there was a particularly enjoyable kind of SF in which present day people were abruptly confronted with beings whose enticing alienness threw contemporary society into goofy relief -- Henry Kuttner wrote this way a lot, sometimes with C.L. Moore, and William Tenn did a good job of it too. Neil Gaiman's brilliant story "How to Talk to Girls at Parties", collected in Fragile Things and reprinted in F&SF in January, pleasurably recalls such tales, as its teenage male protagonist and friend, wandering London streets a few decades back on quests gregarious and hormonal, stumble on a party where foreign girls -- really foreign girls -- are to be found in numbers. The eerie confidences vouchsafed by these girls, masterfully weird, gradually impress on the testosteronized consciousnesses of the boys that something very odd is going on. Several sorts of longing are engaged here, all familiar to a genre audience. Gaiman knows his readers well, and depicts their younger selves heart and soul. A superb, disconcerting portrait.
which made me happy, not because it's a good review, but because the story got compared to Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore). I'm pretty sure their story "Vintage Season" was somewhere in the back of my mind for taste and texture when I was writing HTTTGAP. It's a story, like "All Mimsy Were the Borogroves", that is there in my head from when I was a boy, and that I've not gone back to for so long.

(That's interesting -- a google tells me that "All Mimsy..." has been filmed -- http://www.apple.com/trailers/newline/thelastmimzy/ and the Best of Henry Kuttner is coming back into print as The Last Mimzy And Other Stories, which a small cause for celebration. (The back in printness, not the retitling.)

(And being compared to William Tenn (Phil Klass) makes me smile.)

Did you know that peoplw who are your characters can now get a tee shirt?
http://www.cafepress.com/wargorl.87826704
Dane

No, I didn't. But I'm glad they can. Only female people, though, obviously. Male characters would still have to write it on their hands in felt-pen.

Incidentally, I learned (via Mark Evanier) about Amazon's 30 Day Price Guarantee -- http://www.slate.com/id/2156900/ -- and was as thrilled to see a phone number for Amazon customer service (1-800-201-7575; to get a human right away, dial extension 7) in the article. I don't think I'm ever going to go and check the price of things I bought over a 30 day period, but there are now services that will do that for you...

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

What I have learned so far in 2007

Remind me not to post about breaking the Internet again: first newBlogger spams poor Livejournal on my first post back, and then my own internet connection goes down completely on January 1st, when there are no help people at the end of the helpline, and it's another full day until they can get it back online.

Obviously there are things one must not joke about. I am beginning to suspect that the Internet is watching us, and its feelings are easily hurt.

...

Small parental moment of proud happiness -- my son Mike, having obtained his Masters in, er, computery stuff, had to decide whether to accept a job offer from an unidentified computer company named after a fruit or a job offer from an equally unidentified search engine company named after a lot. Both were things he wanted to do. He made his decision, and will now be joining the ranks of the employed.

(I would have been happy with either choice, but was delighted with the one he chose, because I've been there to talk and sign books, and, frankly, the food's terrific.)

(The sharp-eyed among you might find a clue to his decision in this recent photograph.)


I formally gave him the framed Bernie Mirault/Matt Wagner page from the "Origin of the Riddler" story I wrote, as his Hurrah You Now Have A Job That Does Not Actually Involve Preparing Fast Food Present, and wrote that it was now officially his on the back. (Curious as to how fast I could find the page in question on the web, I googled "Mirault Riddler" and a couple of seconds later I was at http://goodcomics.blogspot.com/2005/12/its-festivus-miracle.html staring at
which impressed me no end.)

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Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Day

The rain turned to snow before midnight, and I was already asleep by then, feeling sort of under the weather. This morning the sky was a perfect blue and, feeling a bit less like I was getting 'flu than I had the night before, I headed out for a walk in the woods.

The best thing about going for walks in the woods are the cats, who pretend they aren't really along for the walk, but are merely there by some kind of feline coincidence. Today the cat pretending she wasn't actually accompanying me was Princess, who was extremely well camouflaged. We startled a rabbit hiding in a fallen screech-owl box, who waited until we were inches away to thump off at speed.

I don't think I've made New Year's Resolutions for a while, but I think it's time to lose some weight, get back into shape and start to think about the next adult novel while getting a lot more written on the next children's novel. Meanwhile, lots of small deadlines to get done.

I'm not sure how long this article from the Economist will stay up online, but reading it left me wishing I hadn't already written a djinn story, in American Gods, and starting to wonder if there wasn't something else I wanted to say.
All this may yet play a part in the war on terrorism. Factions in Somalia and Afghanistan have accused their enemies of being backed not only by the CIA but by malevolent jinn. One theory in Afghanistan holds that the mujahideen, “two-legged wolves”, scared the jinn out into the world, causing disharmony. It is jinn, they say, who whisper into the ears of suicide-bombers.

...The story of Ahmed Shah Masoud, the commander of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, clearly shows up the link between jinn and myth-making. Masoud resisted the Soviet Union and the Taliban from his base in the Panjshir valley until he was assassinated by al-Qaeda operatives on September 9th 2001. According to local legend, Muslim jinn were on his side. One of his fighters was said to have slain a dragon in a mountain lake during the Soviet occupation and to have brought the dragon's jewel to Masoud, with the help of Muslim jinn. In murdering Masoud, some Panjshiris say, Osama bin Laden declared war on Muslim jinn also.
http://www.economist.com/world/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8401289





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