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Monday, December 31, 2007

As I was saying

I wrote this in 2004, quoting myself in 2001. And it feels like a good time to repeat myself one more time. Every three years...

I know it's bad form to repeat yourself, but I was about to list all the things I hope for the readers of this blog in 2005, and I realised I'd already written it back in 2001, when I said...

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.


And I really still do.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

anything done for the first time releases demons...

It's been a remarkable year with lots of things done for the first time, including film premieres and visits to Japanese fish markets. But I think on balance this was my favourite moment.

Rob Sawyer was holding the camera...

(Click on the link http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2007/12/anything-done-for-first-time-releases.html if you're on a feed that doesn't show you a YouTube video here.)

(The totally inappropriate music is by The Tubes.)

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Friday, December 28, 2007

The Guest Blogger Reviews Sweeney...

I read this...

I was interested to hear your take on "Sweeney Todd," because I also loved it and thought it was brilliantly done. My thirteen-years-old-in-four-days daughter is begging me to take her to see it, so I have to ask: how did Maddy like it? I'm hesitant to take my daughter due to the graphic nature of the film, and while she thinks I'm being overprotective, I think I'm simply being considerate of her sometimes oversensitive nature. So, I'd love to hear Maddy's opinion on the film!

and sent it on to Miss Madeleine, who replied....

Why hello there blog readers! This is Maddy. I would like to say that I, being thirteen-and-four-months-years-old, enjoyed Sweeney Todd a lot! If you're almost thirteen I don't think it should be too bad. In my opinion it was a little bit icky, but I just turned away or covered my eyes at those parts. They might have made my stomach lurch a little bit, but I mean it's not enough to give me nightmares or anything. If your daughter really wants to see it then I think it would be a mighty fine idea! Have a nice day. :)


and an informative PS on the post from this morning,

Hi Neil,

Regarding the woman who was offended by Stardust: I work in a Barnes & Noble and can say that it is not categorized under Young Readers (which has a sign indicating a recommended age range up through 12). It is only available in the Teen Fiction and SciFi/Fantasy sections.

Also, when I was 12, I think I was starting to read Stephen King.


That was my assumption. (The first bit anyway, about the placement in the bookstores. The bit about what people read at 12 -- I'd just point at what I said this morning. I don't think it's about age, at that age. I think it's about who you are and what you're ready for in your fiction. Some 12 year olds are ready for Stephen King, some aren't. Maddy discovered King on her own age 12 and loved him. I gave Holly Carrie when she was an 11 or 12 year old Goosebumps fan and scared her off horror for life.)

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"I'm the Demon Barber of Fleet Street and you can't catch me..."

I took the family to see Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd last night, which I absolutely loved (even down to a couple of grace notes, the St Dunstan's market and the Bell Court street sign -- in the earliest versions of the Penny Dreadful, Sweeney's shop was part of St Dunstan's Church and Mrs Lovett's was around the corner, in Bell Yard). I even loved Johnny Depp's early-Bowie-when-he-was-still-doing-Anthony-Newley singing style. (At least until, on the way out, I found myself trying to imagine a blood-spattered Sweeney Todd singing "The Laughing Gnome" as he waited for customers, and was unable to explain to anyone else why this was funny.) I think it just edged out Ed Wood as my favourite Tim Burton movie.

Puzzled as to why we had to drive many miles to see it in the only screen showing it outside of the Twin Cities, and sad that the room we saw it in was mostly empty.

Dear Neil,

I wonder how you feel about both Beowulf & Stardust being among the top 10 most P2P traded movies of the year?

http://www.wired.com/entertainment/hollywood/news/2007/12/YE_best_of_p2p

Are you glad that they're popular, or do you wish people would actually pay for them?

Thanks!

Laura

I'm simply glad that they're popular.

I suspect that in a few years you'll be able legitimately to download a film the same day it goes on general release, and go to cinemas for an experience you'll not be able to get elsewhere (Beowulf is a much better film in 3D, and, interestingly, did 40% of its first week business on 700 3D screens. The 3D thing is not something you can experience from a pirated download, not yet,) and one day the people who made the film (including the writers) will be properly compensated for it. Because mostly the solution to piracy seems to be providing the pirated thing yourself...


My 12-year old daughter chose Stardust for a school book report. We purchased it in paperback at Barnes and Noble. From the packaging, it looked like an appropriate fantasy story for her age and her 6th grade teacher approved it. We were very offended to find that it had an explicit sex scene and the word "fuck" in it. The marketing of this book was misleading. Were you intending to mislead children into reading it? Why would you do this?

Nope, not trying to mislead anyone, and I'm sorry you were offended.

Stardust
was written and published as an adult novel. In 2000 it was awarded the Young Adult Library Services Association Alex Award given to adult books that young adults enjoy. Because of this, and because of the demand from schools, Harper Collins decided to bring out a Young Adult edition of the book as well. That would be the "Stardust Movie Tie In Teen Edition" up on Amazon these days.

While I'm sure there are many twelve year-olds who would qualify as Young Adults and who can happily read books intended for and marketed for teenagers, just as obviously many of them wouldn't and can't, and if you feel yours doesn't I'm sure you're right. I'm not as convinced as you are that the sex scene is "explicit", although the word fuck is definitely there, printed in very small letters. But Stardust is definitely not one of my children's books, like Coraline or Interworld, or (when I finish it) The Graveyard Book. It's an adult book, with, in the US, a Young Adult edition as well.

...

The first real online community I encountered was the Compuserve Comics forum in late 1988 or early 1989, more or less the week it started in the UK. I'd messed around on bulletin boards and such before, but from 1989 until around 1995, the Compuserve Comics forum was the place to be, and a lot of that had to do with the reassuring and wise presence of Paul Grant, who went under the online name of Zeus (because he was huge and bearded, not because he wore a toga and flung lightning bolts). John Ostrander mourns Paul's passing, and a lot of old-time Compuserve people come out of the electronic woodwork to join him.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Probably the last Dog Photos of the Year

It's been a strange year. On the 30th of April I found a dog by the side of the road. This is what he looked like then...



He was wet, a sort of off-brown colour, smelled dreadful and while he didn't seem very bright, he was extremely goodhearted.

It turned out he was very bright, he'd just spent his three years of life on a short chain in a farmer's yard, and no-one had talked to him, or expected anything more of him than barking at visitors as a sort of canine doorbell.

And this is what he looks like now... (with a very scruffy author this morning). (Photos by Holly.)


Cabal is one of the most beautiful dogs I've ever seen. What breed is he?

He is, as the farmer who gave him to me said at the time (and I doubted at the time, because I didn't know that he was white under all that) a White German Shepherd Dog (what we called an Alsatian when I was growing up in England -- the German Shepherd became known as an Alsatian in the UK during World War I in much the same way that French Fries became Freedom Fries in the US a few years back). There would be a lot more White German Shepherds around if the Nazis hadn't decided they were racially inferior and needed to be cleansed from the gene pool. Of course, the same could be said of my family.

Hi Neil,

Santa was good to me this year and gave me the latest Steven Erikson novella from PS Publishing - http://store.pspublishing.co.uk/ I just went tonight to have a look at the site and ended up with five books since they have a sale on. Any pre 2007 books in their catalogue are half price. I thought of you since you did the introduction for the Mark Chadbourn book I just got from them!

P.S. I got a t shirt from my brother I thought you would like. The logo is 'I'm only wearing black until they invent a darker colour'.

They are a wonderful publishing house, and with only a few days left I would be remiss not to point to their sale. (Here's their current catalogue.) I should dig up the thing I wrote about Pete Crowther for the World Horror Con programme book, while I'm at it...

Neil,
I've got a story you might be interested in. A while back, a bar called Gandalf's in Frostburg, Maryland burned down (no one was hurt). Up the street was a local independent bookstore called Main Street Books. During the fire, one of the employees was watching, when a sheet of paper fluttered out and was found by the employee. What was it? A charred page from Good Omens. It's currently hanging up being displayed in the bookstore.

That's delightful. And, of course, appropriate.

Hey Neil

So what is up with Hill House? Back in October they posted an update PDF on the Anansi Boys but nothing on Neverwhere. Neverwhere was ordered in 2003 and suppose to come out in 2005 and we are still waiting.

Is this something that I should start to worry about or are they just too overwhelmed and not given to responding to inquires any more? I love their work and everything I have gotten is amazing, I just want the books that I order all those years ago or at least to know they care.

Also Cat was trying to help me get an answer on the MELINDA Triptych but got the same response I did. Zip.

Anyway sorry to ramble and thanks in advance,

John Mooney

To be honest, I'm really hoping that the bringing out of Anansi Boys means that things are turning around for Hill House. They've had a rough year or two, including some illness, and I really wasn't sure what was going to be happening. But the first copies of Anansi Boys are in and look like a triumph of the bookmaker's art, and should now be going out to people. I'm not sure what's happening next.

Pete Atkins at Hill House did the work on helping create the Neverwhere Author's Preferred Text some years back, and then he and Pete Schneider assembled every Neverwhere memo, outline and BBC script draft for their Neverwhere Supplementary Volume (not that it'll contain every draft of everything, for it would be very dull if it did). Like you, I'm hoping that Hill House is back in the game.

They've now got the correct phone number up on their website.

...

A few people wrote to say that it was unusual, European Butterflies in the American Midwest. And it would have been if that was where I was, but the butterflies were in Europe, as was I.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cabal and the Snow


Honestly, he'd look more impressive if he didn't have snow on his nose.
Posted by Picasa

Snowmen Later

Outside it's a winter wonderland. Look:





I got some wonderful presents from my family. My favourite was a scrapbook that Maddy made of the year filled with photos of the family and brief Maddy-style essays and commentary on the photos. ("Well father, even though we look like a two-headed person in this picture, I would like to say that it's one good-looking two-headed person. Ha :) . Mike's graduation was a wondrous family outing!!") It melted me.

I am afraid that I have somehow forgotten who sent me the link to a beehive-extension-in-a-bell-jar at http://www.hemmy.net/2007/09/16/bees-makes-hive-in-a-jar/ but I am already planning on buying a jar, or similar strange glassy thing and finding out what the bees make of it.

Hi Neil,
Merry Christmas! I was wondering, in the spirit of the season and in honor of your swarms of yellow and black buzzing friends, if you would post a link to Something Awful's evil charity drive to flood the third world with bees VIA heifer.org. http://www.somethingawful.com/d/news/bee-charity-drive.phpFor only $30 this holiday season you too can send 12,500 bees to terrorize unsuspecting civilians in places like Uganda and El Salvador, where the brave might try to make an alliance with the bees for their sweet, sweet nectar. By noon we've already given away a million bees to the needy and I figured you might be able to help get us to ten million.Thanks,
Laura


I can do my best. After all, you cannot have a land flowing with milk and honey without bees. And, um, lactating mammals.

(Coincidentally, I just got a wonderful Xmas gift from a friend of a Heifer.org bee donation in my name.)

...

There is a trailer for Hellboy: The Golden Army up at http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/hellboy_2_the_golden_army/trailers.php
Hurrah.
(And this may mean that I can post a couple of photos from my time on the set that I've kept under wraps until now.)

...

I just discovered this site, forgive me if it's old news, but I was wondering if the idea for this originated with The Corinthian, or if you drew on a previously existing "nightmare image" when you created him.
http://www.freakingnews.com/Mouth-Eyes-Pictures--1741.asp

Good question. I think that the Corinthian was pretty definitely the first actual comics character to have mouths for eyes, although Steve Bissette (I think) drew a Swamp Thing Cover showing Swamp Thing with mouths for eyes a few years before Sandman. And I'm sure that you could go and find other occasions that people did the image over the years -- let me know what you turn up if you want to go looking. Mouths for Eyes has definitely become a lot more common since the Corinthian turned up, but that probably has a lot more to do with ease of photomanipulation than with the character creeping into the popular consciousness.

Honestly, I'm just glad to see how disturbing it is.

(Which reminds me. A chapter of Steve Bissette's from the Golden/Wagner/Bissette Companion, all about the NEIL GAIMAN'S MIDNIGHT DAYS collection, is up at http://srbissette.blogspot.com/2007/12/save-me-from-myself-i-am-going.html)

What are your thoughts about the US Library of Congress classifying all Scottish authors under the English literature heading? I can see smaller libraries trying to save space, but shouldn't such a large and respected library concern itself more with accuracy? I've included the link to the artice at the BBC below.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7157708.stm
Sincerely,
Christina


On the one hand, it's silly: Scotland is its own country, with its own traditions and its own literature, a literary tradition in English and Gaelic. On the other hand, it's less work for the Library of Congress. But then, they'd have even less work if they just filed them all under Books.

Re: winter butterflies This is actually not a question.Your entry with the picture of the butterfly last December 20 is actually not a butterfly but a moth. Moths when they rest have open wings, while butterflies sort of fold them vertically.

No, I'm afraid it was a butterfly... as to which one, the first person to identfy it was Heather, who said,

Dear Neil,
Intrigued by the butterflies, I did a bit of research. It looks to me like a male small tortoiseshell, which is evidently very common in Britain. It seems it likes to hibernate in houses and may wander out if the walls are warm enough. Lots of information here and some wonderful pictures of the chrysalis: http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species.php?vernacular_name=Small%20Tortoiseshell
Happy writing!
- Heather


...

Hi Neil,
I am the Animation Supervisor on Coraline. We met briefly when you visited the Coraline studio awhile back.
Anyway, the clip you posted is causing quite a (positive) stir on my website. Check out what they are saying here:http://www.stopmotionanimation.com/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=25&topic_id=4688&mesg_id=4688&listing_type=read_new
We are now employing about 25 animators with over 37 stages in operation. When/if you have time, you may want to pop in and see the sets. There are many more cool things to see at this stage of Production.Happy Holidays & thanks for hosting the clip on your website.
- Anthony


It's lovely seeing people begin to talk about it. It's over a year since I went out to Laika and saw them beginning to work on Coraline, and I've been really impressed with everything I've seen since then.
...

And waiting for me here when I got home, only a year or so late, were my own two copies of the Hill House limited edition of Anansi Boys. It is absolutely gorgeous. Possibly even worth the wait...

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Blinking at the daylight

I learned from Wikipedia that Sandman:The Dream Hunters was actually based on Pu Songling's Strange Stories From A Chinese Studio, which I thought I ought to read. Will report back.

Normally shortly after waking on Christmas Day I am sitting half asleep on a sofa wearing a dressing gown blinking blearily while around me everyone opens presents. Right now I am awake and fully dressed, and about to take the dog for a walk, and then I'm going to wrap the presents I haven't yet wrapped. Which is, um, all of them, because I am useless sometimes.

And normally around this point in the year I post a link to the version of me reading my very short story "Nicholas Was..." on the Warning: Contains Language CD. Given that this time of year is all about the traditions, here you go...

http://www.neilgaiman.net/sound/02-nicholas-was.mp3

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Changing planes.

I wrote this on the plane (it's what happens when you finish a book and you haven't got anyone to talk to about it). And I have wifi until they throw me out of this airport lounge:

Just finished Cory Doctorow's book Little Brother.

I've liked Cory's fiction as long as I've been reading it -- gave him a blurb for his short story collection -- but this made me happy in ways only Cory's non-fiction had made me happy before.

This is because Cory is one of the Explainers. The people who see what's going on, or what they perceive to be going on, and then turn around and tell everyone else, and once you've heard it their way you can't ever see it the old way again.

Douglas Adams was one. Bruce Sterling does it sometimes, and so does Bill Gibson. They all do/did it more in conversation and in non-fiction than in fiction though. Malcolm Gladwell can do it in non-fiction (I've never met him and don't know if he does it in conversation, which is the best way of getting it from Cory or Bruce or Bill). (A favourite recent moment was watching Cory explain to Rob Brydon why YouTube is a dandelion.)

Little Brother is a YA novel, and it reminds me of nothing so much as a Heinlein juvenile (this is a good thing. Heinlein's books for younger readers were mostly terrific, something I mention here because I run into people who either haven't read Heinlein or have only read some of the messier later adult novels, or who disagree with Heinlein politically with or without reading his books, who have no idea how good the juveniles are).

Little Brother is mostly brilliant. It's a political polemic, a tract on privacy and information, on hacking and cracking and politics. It's set in a near-future America in which a bomb has gone off, and it's about a 17 year old kid called Marcus versus a Department of Homeland Security that's out of control.

And Marcus is actually, believably, wonderfully, in there with a chance.

It's about honesty, not-running away, and about smart vs stupid. There were moments in the book where I wanted to cheer, moments I felt were dead on, moments that made me feel really old.

It's not perfect. Cory's baddies are too bad, in some ways. There's a kid called Charles, who is an evil sneak, reprehensible in every way, who also holds political views that are at odds with our hero's, making us cheer Marcus when he starts quoting from the Constitution to defeat evil Charles...and Charles felt like a wet straw man. When things get ideological, I wanted Marcus to have at least one decent argument with someone who disagreed with him but at least seemed to have a point of view. There's a scene where we see a Karl Rove figure telling cronies not to travel before the mid-terms, implying that maybe the Americans are bombing themselves for political advantage... each time something like this happened I felt like Cory was selling himself and the book short, in a way he doesn't when he explains the statistical danger of false positives (something I'd just been reading about in Derren Brown's Tricks of the Mind, oddly enough, although that's only oddly enough if you're either Cory or Derren). It feels like a stronger book whenever Cory gives the impression that the bad guys think -- know -- that they're in the right, that the Bill of Rights and the Constitution are disposable when you come up against Evil Forces Bent on the Destruction Of America. Because you can treat as many people as badly as you need to if you're in the right. Too often, the baddies are bad and the goodies are good. And if I'm going to nitpick there are a couple of plot things that hiccup...

But I'd recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I've read this year, and I'd want to get it into the hands of as many smart 13 year olds, male and female, as I can.

Because I think it'll change lives. Because some kids, maybe just a few, won't be the same after they've read it. Maybe they'll change politically, maybe technologically. Maybe it'll just be the first book they loved or that spoke to their inner geek. Maybe they'll want to argue about it and disagree with it. Maybe they'll want to open their computer and see what's in there. I don't know. It made me want to be 13 again right now and reading it for the first time, and then go out and make the world better or stranger or odder. It's a wonderful, important book, in a way that renders its flaws pretty much meaningless.

....

Ten songs that always make me inexplicably happy when I hear them:

Love's a Prima Donna, Cockney Rebel
Cheese and Onions, The Rutles
The Jeep Song, Dresden Dolls
Ever Fallen In Love (most versions, but the Thea Gilmore cover on Loft Music is my favourite)
Tower of Song, Leonard Cohen
The Day We Caught the Big Fish, T. V. Smith
Smells Like Teen Spirit, Tori Amos
Rock & Roll Nigger, Patti Smith
Gin and Juice, The Gourds
Pyrate Love, Jollyship the Whizz-Bang

The first eleven things that turned up when I told the iPod to play 14068 songs randomly:

Heart, Nick Lowe
Coast Starlight, North Atlantic Explorers
We Were Wrong, Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
Keep Up, Thea Gilmore
Duke of Earl, Frank Black
V-2 Schneider, David Bowie
Fireflies, Patti Smith (From Gone Again. Not sure I've ever heard this track before. Suspect that I put the whole album onto the iPod without ever listening to it.)
Sex Life, Black Box Recorder
All the Time, Tom Waits
Cast of Thousands, The Adverts (also one of my inexplicably happy songs)
Et moi, et moi, et moi, The Snivelling Shits.

...

Publishers Weekly reviewed the Neverwhere Audio Book. They said,

Neverwhere Neil Gaiman, read by the author. HarperAudio, unabridged, 10 CDs, 12.5hrs., $39.95 ISBN 978-0-06-137387-9

Gaiman assumes the role of narrator for his latest book, offering an intimate reading that steals one's attention almost immediately and keeps the listener involved throughout. As the story is based in the United Kingdom, Gaiman is a quintessential raconteur for the tale, with his charming Scottish brogue instilling life and spirit into the central character of Richard Mayhew. Pitch perfect, with clear pronunciation, Gaiman invites listeners into his living room for a fireside chat, offering a private and personal experience that transcends the limitations of traditional narration. The author knows his story through and through, capturing the desired emotion and audience reaction in each and every scene. His characters are unique, with diverse personalities and narrative approaches, and Gaiman offers a variety of dialects and tones. The reading sounds more like a private conversation among friends with Gaiman providing the convincing and likable performance the writing deserves. A Harper Perennial paperback (Reviews, May 19, 1997). (Nov.)


which is really nice. Well, it is if you're a writer and still a bit nervous of the whole audio book thing.

And I post this -- http://www.henson.com/press_releases/2007-12-21.pdf -- without comment, but with a huge and rather goofy smile.

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Like the Dark Knight trailer, but with buttons...

A few weeks ago someone asked if the Henry Selick Coraline 3D trailer was available online, and I said I'd try and get permission to put it up here. Which the powers that be said no to, because, well, it was 3D.

And then I asked if there was anything I could put up from Coraline. They said they'd see what they could do.

I wasn't sure we'd be given anything, so didn't talk about it. But it's here. I just watched it...

So, for your enjoyment (I hope), a small Christmas present. The first Coraline footage to be released to the world.

(It's not really from me. Laika and Focus chose it and did all the hard work, the Web Goblin did all the building it in the background. I just claim the glory and bask in the reflected wossname.)

It's still about a year away from it coming into cinemas. But here's a first look...

http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Cool_Stuff/Video_Clips/Coraline_Sneak_Preview

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

winter butterflies



I don't know where the butterflies come from. It's a big empty house, and it's winter. There aren't any flowers or greenery inside the house. Outside the trees are bare. The doors and windows are all closed. But every day or so there's another butterfly, fluttering through the house like a flower, sitting by the windows or fluttering crookedly through the kitchen.

I'm getting better, just in time to go home with rather less work done than I was hoping for. I've slept a lot, and consumed several pots of honey, two whole ginger roots and a dozen or so lemons, though. And I've coughed a great deal. ("Was that you coughing was it?" asked the occasional housekeeper, passing through the other day for the first time in a week. "I thought it was a dog barking.")
...

Nothing to add to what Warren Ellis said about this astonishingly disturbing Westboro Baptist God Hates The World song video, so I'll link to Warren's post at http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=5361.

(Well, actually, I'm also fascinated by the idea of a God who is so consumed with disgust with humanity for, amongst other things, not universally making homosexuality a capital crime, that he would, literally, hate the world (except for about 60 people, and a really cute, scary baby girl). And the idea of a group for whom every disaster, natural or manmade, happening to anybody, is a visible, magical, literal demonstration of their rightness and God's hatred for the world.)

...
I see that Beowulf is coming out on DVD in February:



Really interesting article on where we re right now with the Uncanny Valley, talking chiefly about Beowulf and Pirates of the Caribbean 3 at http://www.vfxworld.com/?atype=articles&id=3494.

...
A couple of people have written to ask me why the audio books I did of Neverwhere, M is for Magic and Fragile Things are up on the US iTunes store, while Stardust isn't. I have no idea.



(And you can get an MP3 of Miss Maddy interviewing me for 15 minutes there as well.)

I was already starting to feel remarkably ignorant about my own stuff. Then this came in...

I hadn't seen any ads for Stardust coming out on DVD so the first I saw was here. Lucky for me I was going shopping anyway, so I picked it up. I thought people would be interested to know that at Borders they have an exclusive (or they say it is) version. For $3 more you get a 10 page book of Charles Vess's drawings which, for someone like me who doesn't have the graphic novel, is really great to have. I figured people would want to know. :)

and I had to write to Charles Vess to see if he knew anything about it.

Charles says

Yes, it is true. I'm holding several copies as DC just sent me a batch of
the pamphlet inserts.It's a bonus item which reprints 8 pages of 'sketches' from
the supplemental material in the new edition of our book along with one now
fully painted image that acts as a cover (to the insert). I believe that it's a
Border's exclusive.
That cover image will also be featured as one of the next three s&n
prints in the deluxe Stardust box set (available only from GMP) but, of course,
printed ever so much better in that form. All of the next six and final prints
in the set will be newly painted images rather reprints of already existing
illustrations.
Here's a jpeg of the cover art so you can take a gander at it...

And I include it here so that you can gander likewise.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A useful post (honest)

This just arrived in my in-box, and it seems a bit last minute, so I thought I'd repost it here for anyone in the LA area who was wondering what to do on the evening of Wednesday the 19th...

CBLDF Member Holiday Party This Wednesday
This Wednesday, December 19, the CBLDF's Member
Appreciation Holiday Party
lands in Los Angeles at the venerable Golden
Apple Comics on Melrose! A sleigh full of great creators will be on hand to
celebrate Free Speech & spread comics cheer, including Percy "MF Grimm"
Carey, Rob (Scud) Schrab, Bill (Simpsons) Morrison, Gerry (Infinite Horizon)
Duggan, Marc (Manhunter) Andreyko, Christos (What If: Civil War) Gage, Larry
(Beanworld) Marder, Rantz (Displaced Persons) Hoseley, and more! Come by for
signatures, sketches & surprises! The first 50 current or new CBLDF members
signing up at the event will receive a gift bag packed with great items,
including preview editions of Frank Cho's Jungle Girl, Alex Ross' Superpowers,
Gerry Duggan's Infinite Horizon, and Rantz Hoseley's Displaced Persons, plus a
variant cover of Sinbad: Rogue of Mars #1, a DJ Spooky Sampler CD, a Will Eisner
graphic novel, and additional signed CBLDF prints!To make the night even more
special, Golden Apple will be providing holiday cocktails & snacks, a CBLDF
benefit auction, and 10% off all purchases made by CBLDF members, and a matching 10% donation to the Fund! Golden Apple has also prepared an exclusive MF Grimm
print, limited to just 25 pieces for CBLDF members coming to the event! The party
starts at 6:00 PM and runs until 9:00 at Golden Apple Comics, 7018 Melrose Ave.
at LaBrea. For more information, visit http://www.goldenapplecomics.com!/


For those who can't be there, there's an online auction at http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQfgtpZ1QQfrppZ25QQsassZcbldf -- and it includes a signed 1996 San Diego Stardust Print.

And then for those of you who want to look further than eBay for CBLDF things, there's the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab CBLDF scents at http://www.blackphoenixalchemylab.com/neverwhere.html is the American Gods and Anansi Boys scents,
and
http://www.blackphoenixalchemylab.com/stardust.html is the Stardust one.

(Sooner or later Beth is going to release her Snow, Glass, Apples perfume which is, I think, my favourite of all of them. People smell like sexy vampire apples when they wear it. Honest.)

And I should post that there's a treasure trove of cool, rare, and (in my opinion) often criminally underpriced stuff ($20 for a signed Frank Miller Sin City Poster?) at the CBLDF store at http://www.cbldf.com/. (And books and comics signed by everyone from Frank Miller and Jim Lee to Matt Fraction and Jeff Smith, often at cover price.) And when the stuff is gone, it's gone -- there used to be an awful lot of stuff up on the CBLDF Neil Gaiman Store page, and I notice it's now down to 7 items. (Admittedly, one of them is the Fiddler's Green Program Book, which I thought long gone and sold out completely.)

Right. Bed now.

(Well, bed once I've posted this link --http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6513517.html -- to a Publishers Weekly article on The Writers' Strike and Comics...)

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Monday, December 17, 2007

A story for which the world is not yet ready

The Baker Street Irregular in me took great pleasure in learning about the Giant Rat of Papua, Indonesia. All right, it's not Sumatra. But it's still in Indonesia. Yes, Indonesia is a really big place, and Papua is a long way from Sumatra, especially for a rat.

But still.

A Giant Rat! Near Sumatra!


Ahhhh.

...


The cough is no better, although I am industriously trying every remedy people have suggested and am now awash in honey, lemon juice, cider vinegar, chocolate, cayenne, and Guaifenesin-based cough syrup. Also sundry waters and teas and suchlike.


And I'm trying to use a wireless keyboard that randomly forgets to send characters to the computer. This is dead irritating.

...





Hi Mr. Neil,


All of the vlogging nerdfighters from Brotherhood 2.0 (www.brotherhood2.com) are taking part in an attempt to seize all of YouTube today with videos designed to get people to donate to various charitable organizations. I chose the C.B.L.D.F. and I would appreciate it if you'd link to me on your blog. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRpmypcOv9E


Happy Monday,


Jane





Consider it linked.





...





Dear Neil,


Pending the upcoming release of Stardust on dvd (which I'm most assuredly buying on release day and forcing my family to watch Christmas day), I'm reminded of the videos you posted a bit back about the writer's strike and how you're all lobbying to get a pay increase from dvd and tv sales. That being said, since your name is well-marked all over Stardust, book to movie and all that, do you still only get a miserable $0.02 from each dvd we buy? (and if so, would it be possible for the company to just buy a bunch of wholesale copies, maybe slap a signature - or not!- on them and resell for a higher price off the website, thus making a little closer to the amount you deserve and also happier fans?)


- Dani





That's really kind of you to be concerned. The truth is, if lots of you buy the Stardust DVD it will be regarded as a good thing and success, and probably make my life easier, but Charles Vess and I really got our share of Stardust back when we sold the film rights; and while it might be a really good idea to sell signed DVDs, I'm happier in the authoring business than I would ever be in the selling signed DVDs business. (Having said that, it's really not a bad idea -- and it's one that Peter Beagle did for The Last Unicorn DVD. Which, if you want a copy, you should order from http://www.conlanpress.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc where you will get it signed, and Peter Beagle will get half of what you pay. Such a bargain.)


I'll happily point people at DreamHaven Books' NEILGAIMAN.NET website, which they created because I got tired of answering the question of "Where can I get this thing that you did..." with "From DreamHaven". It's the best selection of stuff by me (and connected to me, and by people who worked with me, and so on) out there, and they are nice people and it's a good shop. (And no, I don't get a cut. I'm just happy that the stuff is out there and I have somewhere to send anyone who asks.)


The thing I'm proudest of that I made this year is probably this:







because I love audiobooks, and it's nice that the first version of the complete text edition to come out in the US is in audio format. The abridged version of Neverwhere that Gary Bakewell read was the reason I've never again said yes to permitting abridged audio books (it started out really well, then you could feel the abridger's desperation in the last half as huge chunks of plot were tossed overboard), but it took a long time until the rights were free and we were able to do this as a complete and unabridged audiobook, with me doing the voices the way I hear them in my head, chewing the scenery as Croup and Vandemar.


...



And finally, Happy 90th Birthday to Arthur C. Clarke!


The only time I ever met Arthur C. Clarke was about 22 years ago, in Brown's Hotel, when he was in the UK to help promote the film of 2010. I'd been reading him since I was a nipper, and some of his stories -- "The Nine Billion Names of God", for one -- were the essence of pure SF for me. It was a story that, even as I read it when I was nine or ten, I wanted to have written. Sense of Wonder, from someone who really is a world treasure.


(And it makes me very happy to see a new edition of one of the books I loved when I was 12 has just been updated and reissued -- Brian Aldiss's A Science Fiction Omnibus is now out from Penguin Classics. It may not be Brian Aldiss's 90th birthday -- he's only 82 -- but he's still writing, and is a treasure too.)

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mailbaggery

The sore throat turned into something chesty and evil. Then all the hot water in the house dried up and went away. Still, my mood is better. And stuff is starting to get done. And I managed somehow get hot water to come out of the taps again. The wind is howling around the house...

Over at The New York Times, this article about SF that US politicians should admit to reading made me smile, althought I thought a few of the descriptions were pushing it.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,In Search of a Book to Read to My Nephew--
Part I
After countless hours of googling bizarre combinations of your name, "children", "books", "favorite", and various other words, I came across a book and its sequel titled GRIMBLE and GRIMBLE AT CHRISTMAS written by Clement Freud (grandson of Sigmund--as I'm sure you know). After discovering these titles, I proceeded to famous internet retailer Amazon.com to discover they, both of them, were out of stock and were "Used & New" with the lowest price being about $45. I then found my way over to eBay, and located a copy of GRIMBLE for... drumroll... $130! In light of these unfriendly prices (I'm cheap, you see) I was hoping you could utilize your "well-known author" powers to possibly influence a publishing company to bring GRIMBLE back in to print, or simply direct me to a website selling them for a reasonable, middle-class friendly price.
Oh, yeah--I almost forgot--can you recommend any other books to read to my five-year-old nephew (I've already read to him CORALINE, and he, as well as I, loved it)?
With much thanks and a fan always,Ben [last name removed by NSA... just kidding]

Actually, and in part because of my lobbying, Grimble was reprinted in the McSweeney's children's anthology with the astonishingly long title. I'd suggest you get the book directly from McSweeney's who tend to have it up very cheaply on their website -- recently they even offered it for nothing (plus postage) although I was too late to put that up here. All profits go to Good Causes too.

(And they have lots of cool stuff that would make nice presents up at http://store.mcsweeneys.net/index.cfm).

Beyond that, it's kind of hard to suggest books for a five-year-old, in the same way that it's hard to suggest books for a 38-year-old. People are different. (I know that at 5 Maddy loved Roald Dahl, for example, and all the Daniel Pinkwater picture books and early chapter books.) B

I really do need to put up some lists of books and authors -- and links to books that recommend other books.

Incidentally, I just noticed that over at the Pinkwater website there are Pinkwater Podcasts which include readings from Fish Whistle, the book that kept Terry Pratchett and me sane during the 1990 Good Omens tour.

Hello! I have a question for you about the signed limited edition of Coraline. According to amazon.com, the release date was November 30th. I pre-ordered mine over two months ago, so I assumed I'd have no problem getting one. But I just got a notice from Amazon saying that my order has been delayed until at least January. This either means that Amazon is sold out, or that the book has been delayed. I'm obvously hoping for the latter, so there's a chance I can still get a copy. Do you have any information on the situation? Thanks!-Brandon

The book was delayed, and it was mostly my fault -- there was a point in there where the box of sheets for me to sign was following me around the world (literally) and it didn't get signed until I got home from the Beowulf touring.

Having said that, I see from http://www.subterraneanpress.com/index.php/2007/12/16/neil-gaiman-update-coraline-shipping-soon/ that the books are going out in the next few days.

(I also understand that the first shipment of Hill House Press Anansi Boys has just arrived in New York from Poland. More information as I get it.)

...

I spoke to Jason Webley, and told him I'd love to put one of his songs up here, and he agreed. So for right now you can download or listen to the complete version of Almost Time To Go from his new CD The Cost of Living at http://www.jasonwebley.com/audio/AlmostTime.mp3.

Guess you never really stuck around
All that long anywhere.
I guess I should have known that you'd skip town.
You always did catch me unawares.
Looking now at your debris,
These trails of paper strewn across the floor,
Towards an open door.
Look at all you've gathered, all you own,

Hold it in your hand, does it weigh more than a single feather?
If the things you feel outsmart the things you know,
It's almost time, it's almost time to go.

Happy-sad in a load of good ways. (Especially if you're writing a book set in a graveyard.) Go and listen to it, or download it....

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Friday, December 14, 2007

"Well, I can't take him like that. It's against regulations."

Several hundred people wrote to let me know about Terry Pratchett being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers.

Yes, it's very upsetting and no, it's not a good thing. Also, and most importantly, as Terry points out, twice now, he's not dead yet (although you mightn't know it from the reaction on the web), and he has a few more books in him besides.

It's not time for wakes, or for mourning, or for "Terry Pratchett -- An Appreciation and Remembrance" or any of that stuff, not now and probably not for a long time. He's still here, he's still writing. He's not done yet.

Right.

And if you're still upset, well, it's a good time to remind people that there are charitable organisations that can be supported, and things that can be bought the profits of which go to completely different charities (Good Omens scents for example).

...

The sore throat thing seems to have subsided to the point where I finally have a more or less functioning head back. (A good thing, as I can start writing again, rather more successfully.) On the down side I think someone crept in during the night and filled up my lungs with thick glue. (A bad thing.)

Sometimes making stuff up feels a lot like Coyote* running across the empty space between one rocky pinnacle and the next, and as long as you keep moving you're fine. When you stop and look down, it's suddenly all too apparent that there's absolutely nothing underneath and that you're keeping in the air by a peculiar effort of will.

And then a good day comes, and you start running through the air once again, and, if you're smart, you resolutely don't look down.

...

It's nice to see the Stardust film turning up on end of the year Best Of lists.

It's out in the US on DVD in a few days, and has been quietly doing really well around the world for the last several months (it's now made nearly as much in the UK as it did in the US, which I guess says something about the difference in marketing in each country).

...

I've had a few people ask how they should support the striking writers. I'm glad I can now point them somewhere which offers suggestions -- http://www.fans4writers.com/participate.shtml.

And Jason and Maui's engagement has made Boing Boing.



* Wile E, or the American Indian one who created the world.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Still alive (not the song)

I'm off on the edge of the world with almost no internet connection. It's raining, and my hair has gone peculiarly curly. I've got a sore throat of the kind I get when I've been travelling too much for too long, and have slept for much of the last 48 hours, like I do when I get a sore throat and it's time to sleep it off. I just drove to civilisation where I bought lemons, honey and ginger. And, for some reason that made sense when I bought it, but which now seems increasingly distant, celery. And am now internet cafeing.

I'm working on The Graveyard Book.

Jason Webley's new CD The Cost of Living, is mostly playing in the background while I'm working, and his song from that, Almost Time to Go is sometimes on repeat (Here's the first minute from his website.) Up there with the wonderful strangeness of the Amanda Palmer-Jason Webley Elephant Elephant by Evelyn Evelyn. (http://www.jasonwebley.com/music_elephant.html but it is sold out, alas.) He's having a sale -- http://www.jasonwebley.com/index.html -- until the end of December.

Also listening to the new Thea Gilmore CD, but seeing it's not released yet there's not much point in linking to it. But she's started a Youtube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/TheaGilmore), with, so far, one video of her playing a song on her sofa on it. (Also nice picture taken by Thea's husband-and-producer-and-terrific-songwriter-in-his-own-write Nigel Stonier of Thea and me before Beowulf premiere on her myspace blog.)

Here's a summary of what's going on in the Writers' Strike right now.

Charles Vess has just finished the wraparound cover for BLUEBERRY GIRL...




and finally...

I wrote to you earlier to advise that there was far too much fun being had reviewing Bic pens on Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000JTOYLS/ref=cm_rdp_product). There seems to be even more fun too muchly had reviewing Tuscan milk by a factor of approximately 25 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00032G1S0/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top).
What intrigues me most though is through this page, I now know that if I ever need Uranium Ore, a JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank, or simply a Fresh Whole Rabbit, Amazon will be my first stop.



To which I can add nothing.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Slow Fade

I have to get unstuck on The Graveyard Book, so I am in the process of going off on my own to somewhere far away that probably doesn't have any internet connection. (Well, it may have dial-up. But I don't know that I can get dial-up working on this computer.) After 19 hours of travel I'm half way there.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out why my iPod has decided that all the old TV shows, Movies and even a solitary downloaded iTunes music video I've put on it are suddenly actually songs.

...

And before I vanish I am putting up a link to Cat Mihos's Neverwear site -- for she has a new T shirt (it's the most-requested shirt, the "I Believe" speech from American Gods) and a pre-Xmas sale on the existing two... http://www.neverwear.net/store/

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Friday, December 07, 2007

[message redacted]

It's too late at night, so this is just to say that I went in to Minneapolis to to see Jonathan Coulton, in company with with Jen-the-dogsitter and Sharon-the-beesitter (although Sharon was actually and inexplicably on the Coulton Merch table). It was a delightful show -- Paul and Storm, the support act (and occasional backing vocals and badinage) were terrific and Jonathan was astonishingly good. They got a standing ovation at the end, and not just because Minnesotan audiences are nice and nobody wanted to go out into the snow.

If you're in Madison, Chicago or St Louis over the next few days go and see him (er, them) --http://www.jonathancoulton.com/shows.

...

I keep forgetting to post about Freerice, a sort of combination of it pays to Improve your Wordpower and the Hunger Site, and I really should, especially because it's more fun than solitaire when you're making a phone call and in front of a computer screen at the same time. Hundreds of people have written to tell me about it, but the first was Rachel Landau back in October, who said...

Hi, Mr. Gaiman! This website is probably far too distracting for you while you're busy writing, but could you post this link up?www.freerice.com
Improve your vocabulary and save the world, all at one website!

...

Hey Neil,Been reading this blog for a long time. Always enjoy seeing how ordinary and absurd other peoples lives can be. While I love the pictures you post off the people, animals, and places that are important to you, I have noticed that you never put any up of your son. Is he camera shy like me, or do you omit him for another reason?

I think he's less keen on the limelight than his sisters. But he's certainly turned up from time to time -- I found a few pictures of him at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/labels/Mike.html
for example.

...

It looks like I'm not going to post the 3D Coraline trailer here (mostly because it was made to be seen in 3D). But the good people at Laika and Focus are putting their heads together, and a Coraline Christmas Present is Being Discussed....

...

I just saw that American Films are not welcome in China. I sort of shrugged, but when I then read that,

Four films that would normally have expected to be cleared for release in January or February have been locked out: Disney's "Enchanted," DreamWorks' "Bee Movie," Paramount's "Stardust" and Warner's "Beowulf."

I started to take it personally...

...

And to finish, some robotic Coulton...

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The 3D Coraline Trailer

By some odd coincidence, these two came in back to back...

Hey Neil,

I've heard that with some prints of Beowulf there was a trailer for Henry Selick's Coraline adaption. Is this true? And if so, do you have it? Can you maybe link or post it? I'm sure many of us would love to see it. Thank you.

~Dylan


and

Hello Mr. Gaiman.

I was absolutely chuffed to finally see a trailer for Coraline when I went to see Beowulf. I'm really looking forward to the movie.

I cannot, however seem to find the trailer on the internet. Is it available anywhere? Do I simply have horrible Googling skills?

If you would direct me to a site with the trailer I will be most appreciative as I'd like to share it with friends who haven't yet seen it.

Many thanks!


Ashley

You can't find the pre-Beowulf trailer for Coraline on the internet, because as far as I can tell, it isn't there yet -- probably because it's only a 3D trailer (and it looks so much better in 3D than flat, especially the poking needle going through the buttonhole).

I've got a copy, though, and I've asked The Folk At Laika how they'd feel about me putting it up. Let me see what we can do...


...

Here's today's dog-bounding-through-the-snow photo, because he looks a bit wolfier or doggier and a bit less ice-weaselly.

Right. Back to proofreading.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"...making a gift for you"

The trouble with snow is that you can't simply wander outside to walk your dog. You have to prepare. You have to bundle up, and put on gloves and big boots and all that sort of stuff. And then the dog romps and vanishes and reappears and romps again (being the same colour as the snow he vanishes easily) and you simply tromp after him, or ahead of him, or at least somewhere on the same continent as him, singing Jonathan Coulton's "Skullcrusher Mountain" to yourself while the snow settles on your hair and your face, and you can't even take proper phone-photos because the gloves are too thick, and when you do, your finger gets in the way, and you can't really see the screen either. But still, everything's white and wonderful, and even shovelling the path to the house four times a day can be fun, sort of...

Most photos wound up looking like this:



And even in the ones that didn't have fingers in, Cabal looks like an ice-weasel.




.....


Mark Buckingham just sent me his illustrations for Odd. Here's the one for Chapter Three...





(Someone wrote in wondering how we make a profit or a royalty or anything on a ten penny -- or even one pound -- book. And the answer is, we don't. World Book Day is a good cause, and we did it for nothing.)



...


And finally, a Writers' Strike video with a message for all of us. Especially adorable animals.


(If you're on an RSS feed where you can't see it, click on the link to the actual blog entry or click here.)



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Monday, December 03, 2007

Kids! Save! Money!

It looks like Odd and the Frost Giants is on sale from Amazon.co.uk at 90% off. They're selling it for 10 pence... It might be a mistake, or it might be a loss leader, and it's not like it's expensive at a pound either. But I thought I ought to tell you, as Amazon tend to honour their mistakes. And remember, it's not out until March. (And it's being illustrated by Mark Buckingham. Hurrah!) (Depending on where you live, it may only be worth it if you get a few copies to spread around to friends.)

[Edit to add, I'm afraid they've just whacked on a 90p "sourcing fee" bringing it back to a pound.]

[[Later: And it's now back to a full pound again.]]



With the money you save you could nip over to Todd Klein's website at http://www.kleinletters.com/and buy a beautiful signed print that Alan Moore wrote and Todd lettered. You can read about it at http://kleinletters.com/Blog/?p=589

(And to add a little colour, here is a picture of the aforementioned Greatest Living Englishman drinking tea on my birthday.)


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strikes and scripts and stuff



I'm feeling like a particularly bad sort of striker. The WGA strike was called the day before I left LA for the UK, and I've not been within a thousand miles of anywhere that we're picketing since. I get nice emails every day telling me where in New York the pickets are going to be, but New York's a long way away -- for the time span of most of the emails, it's not even in the same country as I am. And now I'm starting to get a bit frantic about the last couple of chapters of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, I may go to ground to finish them and vanish completely.

But in case anyone had any questions (and judging from the FAQ line, a few people have), yes I wholeheartedly endorse and approve of the strike, and, for whatever it's worth, voted for the strike powers (along with about 95% of the WGA membership, so no surprise there).

The bit of this that puzzles me most is that elsewhere in the world, the idea that the writers get paid when the work is watched online is one that's been taken for granted. If I wrote a TV series for the UK, I'd get less money upfront (not much less) but I'd be well recompensed for repeats, DVDs, internet downloads and so forth. (For whatever it's worth, I get 125 times as much in royalties on a hardback novel as I'd get on an equivalently priced DVD.)

At the very end of this post -- in case they break the various RSS feeds -- I'll put two video summaries of the issues. Partisan, of course.


...

Hi Neil,
I went to see Beowulf as soon as it came out and I liked though it didn't quite match up to Stardust which blew me away.
Anyway I thought I had found two mistakes in Beowulf.The first was the mountains of Denmark. This is something Denmark is famous for not having and is a major point for jokes by Icelanders as myself about the country which used to rule us. But then somebody pointed out on the imdb.com forums that though this does not conform to reality it does fit the poem which says:
"'......sailors now could see the land, sea-cliffs shining, steep high hills, headlands broad.' "

Oral tradition does these things to poems. The version was probably not written down by anyone who had ever seen Denmark. Somewhere there might have been versions that speak of the great flatness of Denmark but those are forever lost to us. The other point might be a little harder to explain away by the poem. Iceland is mentioned at least twice in the movie which is out of place since it was probably not inhabited at that time nor is it likely that anyone who might have known of it would have called it by this name. Was it just your love of the country that made you mention it or are there other reasons? Or will you take the high road and blame your co-author? Icelanders will probably not be offended as they do like to hear the country mentioned. Anyway, thanks for writing this journal, it is especially fun for me since you tend to mention both folklore (I am a folklorist) and libraries (I am a library and information scientist) a lot and very favorably too.
warm regards from Cork, Ireland,
Óli Gneisti Sóleyjarson



Yes, the cliffs and high hills are from the poem.

In the script the line of dialogue was,

"They sing our shame from the middle sea to the ice-lands of the north."

I'm not sure whether that's what Anthony Hopkins actually says in the film, though. (And I have no idea where the just-as-anachronistic Vinland line from the Skylding's Watch came from, either. Wasn't in any draft by Roger or me.)

Incidentally, I thought I'd mention again that the Beowulf script book has a lot of the answers to this kind of thing in it, and that none of the descriptions of it currently online seem to explain what kind of thing the book is.

I found a review (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07320/834312-44.stm) which says,

How does a script filled with guts and gore and f-bombs become PG-13 animated fare? Witness "Beowulf: The Script Book" (HarperCollins Entertainment, $16.95), which is actually two scripts, both by graphic novelist/author Neil Gaiman and
Oscar-winning screenwriter Roger Avary.

The first script is what you get when you combine the writer of "Pulp Fiction" (Avary) and the writer of "Sandman," "Stardust" and "American Gods" (Gaiman), with no rules or outside interference. The second is their draft of the final studio script.

Avary provides a Foreword and "Middleword" that describe his decades-long obsession with "Beowulf" -- a centuries-old, 3,000-line poem -- and his growing compulsion to re-create it onscreen. He eventually, wrenchingly, gives up on directing "Beowulf" in the face of Steven Bing's big bucks and director Robert Zemeckis' passion for the project. Gaiman gives the Afterword, in which he says of the introduction, "Roger Avary is much too honest about getting the script made.
That's because Roger is a Holy Madman."

Gaiman and Avary first huddled in Mexico in 1997 to create the tequila-fueled first draft, in which the monster Grendel's penchant for human flesh knows no censorship. It does, however, follow the timeline of the original Old English poem.

Later, they have Zemeckis' input about taking cinematic liberties, along with his blessing to let their imaginations run wild, as his innovative Performance Capture animation process (as seen in "The Polar Express" film) knows no bounds.

The timeline and the setting is changed in the final draft -- instead of a story in two parts and in two countries, Beowulf begins and ends in King Hrothgar's court. Beowulf is awarded Hrothgar's throne rather than return home. Instead of meeting Beowulf as the strapping dragonslayer he becomes, we first meet old King Beowulf in his court ... and it's apparent you're in for a different experience than in the first script.

Just as intriguing as the script changes are those honest Avary moments. For instance, he finally finds peace with giving up his "baby" to Zemeckis when "Z." agrees to use Crispin Glover to portray the monster Grendel. The director had a contentious relationship with the eccentric actor during "Back to the Future 2," which resulted in Glover suing Zemeckis when the director inserted the actor's image into scenes. "To this day, the verdict protects actors from having their
likeness used without their blessing," Avary writes.

Still, Glover got the job, and Zemeckis used his newfangled technology to make him into a monster onscreen, which may have been payback enough.

The book of "Beowulf" scripts also contains artist Stephen Norrington's renderings that were commissioned by Avary when he believed he would be directing his first version, further fueling the question asked by presenting two visions back-to-back: "What if ...?"

(The mention in the song, though, is completely my fault. Sorry.)

...

Hi Neil, I'm a Swedish fan who was hoping to buy some your books from Audible.com, but apparently Audible doesn't sell them to Swedish people. Can you tell me why this is? As there is no Swedish or even European reseller of your books in audio form, this mean nobody gets my money and I'm stuck listening to Orson Scott Card.

There are lots of rights issues around the world that mean that companies selling audio things like songs and books don't always sell everything everywhere. On the audio books, you can always buy the CDs and rip them yourself. And there are even some audio books that come with MP3 CDs so you don't have to rip them, just drag them to your MP3 player.

(I just checked and Amazon is currently discounting the ANANSI BOYS MP3 CDs, so it's the cheapest way of buying the Anansi Boys audio.)

Neil, I was wondering what you thought about Philip Pullman's books and and the controversy in the united states about the new movie based on his first book.
Jessica


I like Philip Pullman very much, I like his books ditto, and I think the controversy is stupid. Does that help?


...

And here are the videos:




and here's another,



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Sunday, December 02, 2007

morpheus and nightmares and such

I keep forgetting to put up a link to this.

http://www.comicmix.com/comic/comicmix/mundens-bar/2/reader/

Unless, of course I remembered to put up a link to it and then forgot that I'd put up the link already. In which case I would be forgetting that I'd remembered to link to it.

It's Marc Hempel back on Sandman, sort of....

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Thinking Out Loud Mostly

For the last week, a few chapters a night, because you don't want to eat it all at once, I've been reading Gene Wolfe's next novel AN EVIL GUEST. I think I need to read it again. (This is a perfectly valid way to feel on finishing a Gene Wolfe novel.) I'm going to write about it here by way of setting my thoughts in order. It's set about eighty years from now, sort of, although the future feels like a high tech 1930s (intentionally, I assume, because in Gene Wolfe fiction it is safe to assume that things are intentional), so much so that one finds oneself reading the book trying to find a key to open it. The obvious key is Lovecraft, whose initials are dropped early, and further inside the book we find Miskatonic University and Great Cthulhu Himself (although not quite by name) , although that still doesn't really help figure out what kind of thing it is one is reading.

The book is the story of Cassie, a minor stage actress who is just about to become a major Broadway star thanks to the wizardry of Mr Gideon Chase, a high tech mystery man and problem solver, and Cassie is also about to become involved with a multibillionaire named Bill Reis, who may be trying to murder her. (It also has Hanga, the shark god from Wolfe's chilling story "The Tree Is My Hat" in it, from the Wolfe collection Innocents Aboard.) The point that I felt I was getting a key to what kind of book this was was the point where the name Cranston was dropped. As in Lamont, and The Shadow. Which made sense of a few things, as both Gideon Chase and Bill Reis get to cloud mens' minds in their own ways, have high tech gadgets and adventures. And when I realised that then the book sort of shook and shifted in my head and it seemed right and sensible that the future was a sort of 1930s future, that the book moves from horror (sort of) to spy adventure (sort of, with FBI agents and competing government agencies) with a tech sometimes indistinguishable from magic, that Chthulhu's in there and a stage Musical called Bride of the Volcano God, that Cassie is a sort of actressy Margo Lane, that the very real Polynesians of "The Tree Is My Hat" have been replaced with larger than life characters who feel like they could have stepped down from a movie screen, that there is at least one werewolf (there are hidden wolves in most Wolfe books, perhaps all) and a zombie and things like huge bats that I'm still not sure what they were. It's a pulp thriller -- and that's a compliment, because Wolfe knows from pulp thrillers (he wrote a wonderful pastiche of one in "The Island of Dr Death and Other Stories") and because here he's creating a strange sort of genre meltdown, a 21st century pulp adventure thriller with SF and horror elements that nobody else could possibly have written.


...

Hi Neil,
"A near death experience with a bumblebee"
An article on the questionable authorship of Footprints.
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/journal/feature.html?id=180239
-G

As mentioned in Sandman 15, I think.

You know, I rather like the idea that it welled up out the collective unconsciousness and forced hundreds of people to write it whether they wanted to or not.

Hello!

I am studying Stylistics at the University of Nottingham and am doing a corpus linguistic study on the language used in the Beowulf screenplay to invoke a sense of Germanic/Scandinavian history.

I've purchased Beowulf: The Screenplay, but in order to do a good corpus study I need the text in an electronic format. I'm starting to scan in the pages, but it's tedious work. Could you tell me if there is an electronic copy of Beowulf: the Screenplay out on the web somewhere? I've checked google and the obvious sites, with no luck.

Thanks for taking your time to read this note. I very much appreciate any help you can provide.

It's not out there as far as I know, although you might be able to buy it as an ebook. Although this reminds me, I keep meaning to link to Karl Hagen's blog -- particularly http://www.polysyllabic.com/?q=node/201
http://www.polysyllabic.com/?q=node/202
http://www.polysyllabic.com/?q=node/203 (there were versions of the script with lots of alliterations and kennings in, but none of them survived to the director's final draft)
http://www.polysyllabic.com/?q=node/204 (which says that Roger and I relied heavily on the Seamus Heaney translation, which I am sure we would have done if it had been around in 1997, but it wasn't, so we didn't.)

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