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Monday, February 03, 2014

American Gods TV series News -- and more...

That was interesting. On Friday I recorded and put up  Green Eggs and Ham. I'd actually already recorded a reading at the beginning of January: it was nice and elegant, filmed in an oak-panelled library in Cambridge, with a blazing fire behind me. I was relatively nattily dressed and as coiffed as I get. The only problem with that video was, as we discovered on Friday, the audio track was completely inaudible, and watching someone read something that might possibly be Green Eggs and Ham but might equally be the telephone directory or just me doing whale noises did not seem like a good idea. So, when I heard that Worldbuilders had hit the $500,000 stretch goal, I went for my jog, showered, and recorded myself reading Green Eggs and Ham again, and uploaded it and forgot about it.

It's now had over 315,000 views, it's been written up all over the place, and, having looked at a few of the comments, I suspect that I would have received fewer comments about how I look like a homeless person if we'd used the original inaudible one, but ah, the whole point of hiding out and writing (at least for me) is that I get to grow a lazy tangle of beard and have no idea where in this house a hairbrush might be, I'm not even sure when I last listened to the news, and that as long as I get the words written all is well.

So far my favourite comment is from Entertainment Weekly, which says:

Don’t you wish that Neil Gaiman was your kooky uncle? He would sneak you into the circus and you’d get to hold the Biggest Amazonian Python That Ever Lived (whose name was Lucille). He’d help you put frogs in your sister’s bathtub. He’d keep secrets for you, like that time that you accidentally buried your dad’s favorite watch in the park. He would agree that pirate treasure is only good if it’s buried. To help you cement the fantasy that Gaiman is your favorite uncle, here he is reading Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.
Let's see: there's news, as I said in the header. AMERICAN GODS is now being developed for TV by Freemantle Media. As to where you will be able to see it, who is going to be in it, who will be writing or show-running, none of these things have yet been settled. But it already looks like it's going to be a smoother run developing it than it had at HBO, so I am very pleased.

(A few people have asked for more background on this: HBO had an option on American Gods for several years. It went through three different pilot scripts. HBO has a limited number of slots and, after a while, passed it to Cinemax, who are in the HBO family, who decided eventually they didn't want to do it, and the option expired, which unfortunately meant we couldn't work with Tom Hanks' production company Playtone any longer, as they are exclusive to HBO. However, Stefanie Berk, who had been one of the brightest stars at Playtone, had recently moved to Freemantle, and was as determined as she had been when she was at Playtone to bring American Gods to the screen. And I was impressed by her determination.)

Other TV news also came to fruition today, although I do not have anywhere to link you to, so you will have to take my word for it: Anansi Boys is going to be made into a TV miniseries in the UK, by RED, for the BBC.

Yes, I'm really thrilled about both of these things. Freemantle has the harder task, as they are going to have to open up American Gods into something bigger than the book.

Red are just going to have to make an absolutely brilliant faithful version of Anansi Boys.

...

I've been meaning to plug the The Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers (ages 14 – 19). It will be held at the University of Pittsburgh’s Greensburg Campus July 25 – August 3, 2014, and this is their fundraising week, raising scholarships for kids who otherwise couldn't afford to go. If you donate, you get a free PDF of flash fiction by Alpha Alumni. It's a great cause...  You can investigate further at http://alpha.spellcaster.org/.

Also, Len Peralta is in the last few days of a Kickstarter to raise money for the second series of his Geek A Week cards.  Obviously, you want a set. Just as obviously, you hope he gets to his $60,000 stretch goal, because then he'll reprint the first season, which has a me card in it, and you can play his Geek a Week card game with it.



And on the subject of Kickstarters, I met Kat Robichaud at the first of the New York Town Hall  EVENING WITH NEIL AND AMANDAs, and thought she was wonderful. Really funny and grounded and nice, with an amazing voice. Also, mega Doctor Who fan. (Here's Kat and Amanda singing Delilah.)









...

Dave McKean's illustrated edition of SMOKE AND MIRRORS went to the printer today. All the illustrations are in black and red -- here's the drawing he did for "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar".



and the one for "The Price".


According to Subterranean Press, it's long since sold out BUT they think that when all is said and done there may be an extra 20 copies for sale... http://subterraneanpress.com/news/neil_gaimans_smoke_and_mirrors_at_the_printer
As they explain, "No need to start checking now, but you might want to keep an eye out once we announce the book is shipping."

A book that there are a lot more than 20 copies of is the new hardback edition of Dave and my first book, Violent Cases. He's done an amazing job of, as an adult and experienced artist, essentially remastering the art, to get it to look, for the first time, like the original art he did, 28 years ago.



There is new material too -- here are portraits of us Dave did for the programme of the theatrical adaptation:


(I should probably apologise for the haircut.)



Violent Cases was our first graphic novel. It's, in some ways, a lot like The Ocean at the End of the Lane -- it's an adult story with a child protagonist, that's about memory and powerlessness and identity: it has Al Capone's osteopath in it, and prohibition Chicago, and parties. And like The Ocean at the End of the Lane, the most unlikely bits are all true (and Neil deGrasse Tyson explained the science behind  one of the unlikely things to me last year, during the intermission at the Connecticut Forum).

It's available here - http://bit.ly/ViolentCases -- or at indiebound or at your local comic shop.
...

I love this video.  It's a visual interpretation of some interview extracts done to establish what Americans in different parts of America actually say. I remember the first time I heard someone tell me, casually, on seeing rain falling on a sunny day, that the Devil was beating his wife...



SODA / POP / COKE from The Atlantic on Vimeo.

...


In re: your reading of Green Eggs and Ham. I have very conflicted feelings about this book (and not only because I am named Sam and this book came out when I was three and I have had to cope with this all my life). The thing about it I have the most trouble with is that along with the intended message of "don't be closed-minded", it teaches a second and much more disturbing lesson:  "no" doesn't mean "no". It teaches that "no" means "ignore, and pester and wart and nag until you get your way".  And that is a pernicious thing to teach to small children. It teaches them to nag and whine to get toys or candy or whatever the desire-of-the-moment is; when they are older, and in the worst cases, it buys into attitudes and world views that enable rape culture.  As the father of daughters, who will now and forever be put at risk by such a culture, I cannot but worry at such a book teaching such a lesson.

I  agree completely that as a father, you should absolutely definitely teach your daughters (and, if you have them, sons) that No definitely means No, that they are the final arbiters of what happens to their bodies, and that they should be able to make decisions about such things and hold to their decisions in the face of nagging, wheedling, cajoling and even threats.

I also think that, as a father, you owe it to your children, particularly small children of the reading/listening age that Green Eggs and Ham is aimed at, to encourage them to vary their diet and at least taste things they think they might not like: kids are mostly inherently conservative about what they will and won't eat (and not just kids) and encouraging them to try new and different foods and not just eat peanut butter sandwiches for six years is part of your job as a parent. The message I've always taken from Green Eggs and Ham is that, all cajoling and nonsense aside, it's worth seeing if you don't like something before deciding that you don't. Particularly in the matter of food. Because you might like something that looks unpleasant. (Also that if you are going to pester someone, you should do it in rhyme, inventively, using small words that would delight a child, and with interestingly drawn animals and modes of transportation.)

Of course, that was what I thought before I read this comic, which changes everything.

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