Monday, February 21, 2005

mostly soup and sneezing at this end

After a week off school, Maddy went back to school today, and now I have the 'flu instead. Sigh.

Lots of bits of unposted stuff sitting here, so I'll tidy it and post it: contains extracts from the Locus interview with me. And another photo, from the same Beth Gwinn shoot in Charles N. Brown's hotel room, which looks rather more like it was taken the morning after MCing the Hugo Awards than the rest of them. On the good side, the stubble's not green, the lips do not appear mysteriously to be bleeding, and probably the less said about the hair the better but I have to admit that it looks like an accurate representation of whatever was on my head that morning.


People who have no idea of the costs of small press publishing (or who assume that I'm making money from it, or that I have something to do with Hill House's pricing structure) sometimes write to chide me about the amount that Hill House Press charge for their limited edition books. All I can do is assure them that no-one's getting rich from small press publishing, and, now, point them to where a 25th anniversary edition of John Crowley's marvellous Little, Big is being pre-sold, in order to raise the money to publish it. (You can assume the $900 copies are basically subsidising the unsigned $95 copies.)


I was stopped on the street at Sundance and interviewed about MirrorMask, and games. I said that my favourite game was still the original Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game, and that, as a text-only game, it had the best visuals of any game I'd played.

It's now up online in an authorised (and saveable) format. With visuals.


There's an account of the Sundance panel about animation at -- it's a good account of many of the highlights, with a photo (although the way I remember it Leonard Maltin was the moderator, not a panelist, and wasn't fawning over the other panelists, but lobbing them questions to answer).


Dear Mr. Gaiman--I have found the strangest thing: "SUPERMAN IS A DICK" this subsection of trumpets-and it's true!
Can you explain what got this practice of luring readers in with Superman's cruelty started? Were you even aware? Having worked with DC Vertigo, I figured maybe you'd heard of this before... Creepy, isn't it?

It's a hilarious assemblage of covers.

(As I understand it, they did Cruel Superman covers whenever Talking Gorilla covers started to pall.)


(There are mild 1602 and Stardust Spoilers below here. Just so you know.)

Every now and again I get messages coming in telling me off over things I've written. Mostly I don't put them up here because I don't have much to say about them, other than perhaps a vague and unrepentantly cheerful "Sorry you feel like that" or an occasional "yup, I didn't like that one either, when it was done". (Yesterday, for example, brought one from a very nice man in Brazil who liked 1602 until the appearance of Captain America, but was offended by Captain America's name -- after all, he should technically be only Captain Part of North America -- and by the fact that Captain America is, despite what's happened to him in the story, still idealistic about the idea of the USA. Obviously I wished he'd liked the story, but I suspect that it's like someone with a horror of teeny-tiny people complaining that The Atom's turned up in a comic again and it's gone all creepy. I'm happy to make sympathetic noises, but there's nothing really much I'd want to do about it.)

This one, however, I thought deserved a real reply:

Dear Mr. Gaiman:
My name is Angie Gordon. I am a junior at Douglas High School. I was recently assigned to read your book, Stardust, for my English class. I must give you credit. I love your style of writing and how quickly paced it is. In fact, your book is very easy for me to read and I don't like to read. So you can understand my relief when I finally found a book I like. The purpose of this e-mail is to address my concerns reguarding the very descriptive and vulgar scenes where Dunstan and the fairy are together and when the prince and the girl from the inn are togetner. Yes, I am 16 and I need to learn about it sometime, and that is not the issue or my question. My question is why you included these scenes in such a descriptive manner. I felt that it was irrelevent to the plot of the book and you could have still made your point without being so descriptive. These scenes have not changed my mind about how good of a writer you are, and I shall continue to read more of your books. I would just like you to consider that young teens and students in middle school may read this. They are already battling the decision of whether of not to have sex, I know because I have a little sister and I am in the STARS program, and the extra emphasis on the subject only encourages them even more.
Angels Gordon

Sorry you found the scene in question to be descriptive and vulgar, Angie; you're probably right about the vulgarity (at least in the sense of vulgar that refers to the things that common people do), but I'm not actually convinced that the scene in question is as descriptive as you think it is. At least, when I wrote it I was certainly doing my best to write a scene that would mean one thing if you understood the mechanics of sex (from an "insert tab A into slot B" point of view) and would mean rather less if you didn't. But either way I really didn't see it as being irrelevant: if it weren't for that one act of sex there wouldn't be a book. For a start, nine months later, the book's hero wouldn't have been born.

(I suspect that if I'd set out to write a children's book, I probably would have written that scene even less explicitly. Instead Stardust sort of made it into schools and the YA shelves unintentionally -- after it came out it was awarded the 2000 Y.A.L.S.A. ALEX Award as one of the "top ten adult books" published in 1999 that young adults picked up on and enjoyed, and it's become popular in schools because people in the schools like the story.)

I'm not convinced that putting "extra emphasis" on sex "only encourages them"; the point about Dunstan and the fairy girl having sex is that it has consequences, lots of them, consequences which go on to affect pretty much everyone in the book. I tend to think (as an author) that's not a bad thing to tell people: not that sexual activity is enjoyable (which most people find themselves figuring out on their own, one way or another, around the time they hit puberty) but, much more importantly, that it has consequences.

Does that help?


(Oddly enough, Anansi Boys, appears to have no sex or swearing in it, althought it's ostensibly an adult novel. Probably the next children's book will make up for it.)

Lots of people writing to ask what I think about Hunter Thompson's suicide, and whether I knew him. I didn't.

I knew Jack Chalker, though, so here's a link to his (John Clute-written) obituary in the Independent.