Friday, October 29, 2004

"Whatever happened to... Sancho Panza?"

Hey Neil, I was just curious if you know the little fact about iPods (The battery goes kaput after 11 months) then why do you still buy them? (I ask because Apple admits that the iPod does this and the only way they will fix it is if you sent your iPod to them and dish out the cash (I'm sure if people stopped buying iPods because of this, then they wouldn't have this kaput money-making battery). So all in all it just makes me curious why you don't just buy another mp3 player and avoid the whole sharade to begin with.)~Az

Well, as long as it's under warranty Apple seem quite happy to repair or replace the iPod for nothing (which is why I quite like the fact that the iPods in question all went in about 11 months; they have a 12 month warranty automatically). It was only battery problems for one of them -- the other two were both hard disk failures, and given that I haul these things all over the world, treat them roughly and make them work extremely hard, I couldn't blame either of them for dying on me.

It's quite possible to change the battery on the iPod yourself (although you void your warranty, if it's still under warranty -- but then, if it's still under warranty, Apple will do it free). Lots of sites sell iPod batteries for less than $30, with pretty simple installation instructions. And I'm afraid all rechargeable batteries will need replacing eventually: the ones on your laptop, the ones on your phone, the ones on your mp3 player: I'd hardly call that a "charade", or even a money-making scheme -- it's more to do with the physical properties of matter.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to the new 60G iPod having 15 hours of battery life.

Interestingly, the first iPod in my house (a first generation 5G, which was my assistant Lorraine's, and is now my daughter Maddy's) is four years old, is in continual use, and still works like a charm -- no battery-life problems or anything.

As to why buy an iPod, I like the size, the shape -- the satisfying thingness of the object, a solid little hard disk in a box with an intuitively easy interface -- and, I'm very much looking forward to having 60 gigs of room to play with. (Interestingly, reading this interview with Jef Raskin, I was reminded of why the iPod works so well as an appliance, as well as why I still puzzle my Mac friends by owning two Macs and two PCs and not ever Making The Switch.)


we are Dario, Gabriele and Federico, three 23 years old italian movie design students. We're trying to contact you because we would really appreciate your opinion about a recent project of us regarding Coraline, a book we simply loved. it's a "book-trailer", a short video intended to convey the atmosphere of a book and to attract the curiosity of the viewer (and future reader, hopefully).
This work doesn't have ANY commercial purpose: it started out as an university project, but at the end of the semester it has been awarded the "ciak si legge" prize by the 2004 Grinzane Cinema committee (Luis Sep�lveda, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Masolino D'amico, Peter Lilienthal, Carlo Lizzani, Lidia Ravera, Maurizio Scaparro, Senel Paz and Vassilis Vassilikos).
We put so much effort in this project that we thought it was a pity not to show it to author himself! We would have liked to send you a copy of the DVD, but, since we don't know where to, we put it online and you can watch it here:

We hope you will like it


Dario, Gabriele e Federico

I think that's really cool, and spooky. Thanks so much.


Maureen McCarty decided to make a pair of Doc Martens boots for each of the Endless, and to auction them off at the Fiddlers Green Convention next month. She even got models to model them (I put on the Dream boots for her after the DreamHaven signing in September). Check them out at


Neil, Ive been cominmg to your site for quite a while now, I try to read everything you write as soon as its available or as soon as I find out it exists. I suppose you could say you're one of my heroes. However, I hope i dont offend you when i say this but no matter how much time I spend reading your BLOG, I still find it a little creepy and intrusive that I can keep up with some aspects of your day to day life. Maybe you find the term "hero" creepy, I dont know, but has anyone else brought this up? Has anybody else said that this is kind of like seeing your teacher at the mall. I want to imagine you not having a life other than writing novels and comics and short stories and films! Have you ever had this feeling about someone you consider to be your hero?

Well, one reason I've kept this blog up is that, in a lot of ways, it helps undercut all the Cult Of Personality stuff. While it's probably much easier if you want to be a hero just existing in people's heads, being whatever they want you to be, it's also more than a little odd, and probably very unhealthy. I'd rather, at least as long as I keep up this journal, try and remain as accessible as I can while still being able to get the work done and have some privacy; I have no desire to be anyone's hero. I'm a writer, and a very lucky one in that I've mostly been able write what I wanted to, and enough people like to read what I write that, unlike the great majority of writers, I can make my living writing (I'm a Beowulf, rather than a Dante, in Neal Stephenson's brilliant analogy). And that's enough.

I didn't sign up for this to be a hero, or any of that nonsense: I'm here to tell stories. And the stories aren't me.

When I was sixteen, The Stranglers released their song "No More Heroes" at the same time that Bowie released "Heroes" ("We can be heroes/just for one day") and I remember pondering what heroes were and whether we needed them, and whether we could be them. I wasn't sure that we did need them: when everyone's a hero then no-one's a hero, and I'd rather live in a world in which everyone's a hero.

I think I was lucky, when I was a young journalist, in meeting and talking to a lot of the people I admired, and I found them all, uniformly and unsurprisingly, people. And I also got to realise that the talent (or the craft) and the person are not the same thing. And that liking the work and liking the person weren't the same at all, and when that did occur, you were lucky. I'd much rather think of a writer, or an actor, or a musician, as someone who works hard at the craft and then goes back to life, rather than as someone who has no existence, as it were, offstage. And part of growing up is running into your teacher at the mall, and realising that his or her life carries on beyond the school, just as yours does.

Will the Dvd version of Neverwhere be out in the UK where u r from, U need to start to think about ur british public as well as ur American ones. And have u started to write the second book to it yet if not do u have any plans to when u will write it.

In the UK all rights to Neverwhere are controlled by the BBC, who licensed the DVD to New Video in the US. While I'm happy to "think about my british public", it has nothing at all to do with me, and everything to do with the BBC. Your best bet is to write to the BBC and request it. (You might want to spell things out in full when you do. It may make more of an impression on them.)

And I'll write another Neverwhere novel in two or three books' time, I expect.


Now listening to the Dittybops jukebox at And back to work...