Tuesday, February 04, 2003
Long, bitty day of phone calls and e-mail and not quite writing anything that I should have done. And tomorrow is all phone calls, I'm told -- all the interviews and so on that have been put off for the last month or so are jammed into tomorrow. So I get to write again on Friday.

Thanks to the fifty or so people (mostly fan-fiction writers who hadn't got the wrong end of the stick) who wrote in to say nice things following my last post about the ones who didn't. (The only thing I found slightly not-exactly-disturbing-but-just-a-bit-of-a-reminder-that- there-are-people-who-take-things-very-seriously-indeed was that several of you asked for me not to post your messages, or at least not to post the bits that could identify you to the fan-fiction community. Or to the part of it that takes things too seriously. Or possibly to the enforcement arm.) (Joke. That last sentence was a joke. Honest. Joke. I do not believe that the world of fan-fiction has or needs an enforcement arm.)


Pondering the nature of information right now, as I'm still ripping CDs onto the hard drive, so I can stick them on the iPod when it comes back from Apple all repaired and working again. Realising that a CD is no longer, as a record was, the thing that you need to make the music, instead it's now an archival place to go and get the music from, if the drive I'm putting the music on dies.

And yes, I knew that already. But now I really know it.

I keep thinking about a meeting I had under the Disney auspices about a decade ago, with the then-head (and possibly still-head) of the Imagineering unit, Bran Ferren, and a lot of really cool people from the worlds of academia and the stage (that was where I met lighting genius Jules Fisher, for example). We'd be asked sort of general questions, and then asked to ramble answers that might one day be useful. (Things like "We've been given this technology by the CIA where they can take a very small amount of video footage of a subject talking and type in what they want the subject to say, and it really convincingly makes it appear that that's what the subject is saying. Now is there any way we could use this in the theme parks...?")

I remember the talk drifting to CDs and music and what would happen when, one day in the far future, download speeds got fast enough that whole CDs could actually be sent up and down electrical wires, and the idea that perhaps one day it would be silly for music shops to have a store of CDs, when all you need was broadband and you could press your own CD and print out the label in the store.

And I suggested that perhaps we should stop looking at owning the object, and start looking at having a license to the content. Rather than buying, say, Lou Reed's Transformer, you'd have a Transformer license. You'd be paying to access the content, from wherever you were, whenever you wanted it, whenever you need it. I imagined an enormous central library of music, of film, of information, that you could access from wherever you were, that would know you were you, and what music etc was "yours".

Well, it was a radical and cool idea for 1994, at least it was for me. Now, everything seems transitional -- we're in a sort of no-man's-land between the object and the information.

And at the same time as I'm thinking that, I'm fascinated (and occasionally, surprised) by the dozens of CDs that I'm not bothering to put on the 120 gig hard drive (which has room and to spare, for now), and by how many copies of the same Elvis Costello Albums, not to mention Lou Reed's Transformer, I've managed to accumulate in my life, and why the first Carl Stalling Project is the only CD I own that's got the full five stars from the online CD-rating place...

I decided not to rip Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music onto the hard drive, by the way. It's not that I never play it, but when I do -- writing sequences in Hell for example -- I want to know I've done it. I don't ever want to idly hit shuffle and have some Metal Machine Music come on, when I'm not in the mood for it.

Which reminds me:

Dear Neil,
I wonder what you think about the new Lou Reed album "The Raven". After all it's his first venture into the realm of fantasy - although the classical one.
Sincerely yours,

I think the songs are the most interesting, musical and varied things he's done in years. Really really cool. The play extracts seemed parodic. The only time I had dinner with Lou Reed, about six or seven years ago, he recited the opening to "The Tell-Tale Heart", and his laconic delivery was perfect. I wondered as I listened to the mannered and overwrought theatrical stuff why he hadn't put that in there instead.

The Salt Lake Public Library, lavishly celebrating their new building, is announcing a Neil appearance on March 7-8. What's the "presentation" announced for the evening of March 7 going to be? A reading?

Hmm.. good question. I'll probably decide on the afternoon of March the 7th. At a guess, a talk, some readings and a Q & A.

I read in some magazine, a short article about an upcoming Sandman TV series? Is that for real? Because judging by the magazine where I read it, it could easily be a false rumor that got spread on the net and picked up by a contributor.

It said that it'd be done by WB, and the BBC, but still...I haven't been able to find anything on the matter. Is it true? And if it is, the most important question would be 'will you be involved in it? Will you write for it? (I hope so)'

Well, that's pretty much it. Please, excuse my poor English, but it's not my first language.

That's all I had to say...oh, and you're a great writer, and the light of my life, and yadda, yadda, yadda. You know the drill.

Sincerely yours,

--Claudia LL

Sounds like a hoax, I'm afraid.

Looking over your cannon (I feel downright like James Lipton), I could not find any plays that could be produced on stage. Have you ever had the urge to become a playwright in addition to your other endeavors?

(On an entirely personal note, thank you for replying to my request of your top five movie titles - I found four of the five and used them happily in my recuperation after surgery, although I couldn't watch "Brazil" since it made my stitches hurt.)
Shalene Shimer

I'd love to write a play or a musical, yes -- there's something amazing about live theatre. Several years ago I began an adaptation of "The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories" as a play, just to learn how to do it. It was going fairly well, and then that computer fell off a table after I caught my foot in the cord and kept walking, and while I thought everything was backed up I've never seen those files again. (which doesn't mean they're gone forever. Just that even if they exist it sort of slipped off the radar). I'm having very sporadic conversations with a nice lady in Scotland who wants me to do something with a play in an environment, which I'd love to do -- sort of like the "Miss Finch" short story I wrote, only for real.

Dear Neil,
I've recently re-read The Two Towers and now I just have to know... Is Gilbert's habit of "hoom"ing a tribute to Treebeard? It's one of those niggling wonders that just doesn't seem to go away...
Also, are you planning on reading any more of your own books on tape/cd or writing anything more along the lines of Two Plays for Voices? I've become hooked on's Seeing Ear Theater thanks to the Coraline cd which led me to Snow GLass Apples and Murder Mysteries on that site. I absolutely hated books on tape when I needed them, they seem so impersonal (and so frustrating when you can't see the words and feel the paper), but listening to Coraline was like having a rather creepy and wonderful bedtime story read to me which is a far, far different (and better) thing. I think radio drama is ideal for performing some sci fi and fantasy work, it leaves so much to the imagination which is, of course, exactly the point...
Ooooh! And while i've got the nerve to ask questions, do you have plans to visit WisCon this year?
I think that exhausts my nosiness.
Thank you for keeping the blog updated. It's funny and fascinating and one of the few sites i check on a regular basis.

-- culufinwen

Yes, I think Gilbert's "Hoom"s must have been Treebeard inspired, although they were mostly there because the real Chesterton had, I am told, a high squeaky voice, and I wanted Gilbert to have a slow deep voice.

Very much hoping to do more audio: I recorded three CDs worth of short stories and poetry for DreamHaven almost two years ago: I think they're waiting for Rick Berry to design the cover of the first one before soliciting it. And for Harper Collins, I'm talking about doing a CD of "Wolves in the Walls" and also "The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish" -- although we need to get onto it for it to happen before "Wolves" comes out in August.

No plans for WisCon -- I think that ComiCon, the San Diego one, is the only US con I'll be at this year.