Monday, August 15, 2005

Probably the Tommies...

A couple of BEOWULF FAQs. Well, sort of...

Will Beowulf in the upcoming movie with the same name have a helmet with horns or wings? Since the real vikings never had such helmets, will this be a movie about how they really looked or about the look the populare culture have created about them?

I don't believe that there will be any horned or winged helmets in Beowulf, but that's not up to the writers, that's up to the designers and the director.

The whole horned helmet thing actually seems ever-so-slightly less cut and dried than "the real vikings didn't have such helmets", though. There were horned helmets -- probably not in Viking times, but earlier (but then, Beowulf is itself set earlier than Viking times) -- take a look at, for example -- although they are more likely to be ceremonial or religious than they are battle helmets, mostly because I suspect that if you've got a horned helmet on during a fight the bloke you're fighting with would grab a horn and pull the helmet in question either (a) down over your face, or (b) off entirely before hitting you over the head with something sharp.

Which brings me to current Beowulf FAQ #1, which is, paraphrased, because it's different every time, Will my favourite but honestly rather obscure bit of the poem be in the movie?

And the easiest answer is, probably not, no. It may be, of course, you might get lucky, but I wouldn't put money on it. Books aren't films, and poems aren't films even more than books aren't films. When Roger Avary and I wrote it originally we decided that anything that was actually reported as happening in the original poem happened like that, but that anything where we only have someone in the story's word for it what happened might -- or might not -- have happened like that. But we still didn't try to put everything in the poem onto the screen. When Bob Zemeckis bought the script and assumed the director's mantle, he wanted some small changes from the narrative of the poem and one big change, which, because we understood why he wanted them made, we were willing to make. And then there was some trimming to do before the film gets shot. (It's not an epic. It's really a story about how the choices we make when we're young can affect us when we're old, and even that's probably saying too much.)

Yes, there is still some Old English in it.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,I was wondering if you wouldn't mind helping me choose which event to see you at in September. I'm currently deciding between the interview with Susannah Clarke, the book signing at B&N in NY, and the National Book Festival in D.C. I haven't been to anything like these events before and I'm not really sure what to expect. I guess basically my question is: both the interview and the festival sound very interesting (I loved Jonathan Norrell as well), but I'd also like to be able to ask you to sign a book or two if possible. Will either event allow that? Thank you so much for your time.Sincerely,Carmela from New Jersey

Well, I don't believe there will be signing at the Susanna Clarke interview (and Anansi Boys won't be out on the Monday even if there is). There will be a signing and a reading at the Barnes and Noble signing, and they've promised this time not to send over half of the people who turn up away. There will be a reading, a talk, and a signing at the National Book Festival -- BUT I cannot guarantee that everyone there will get stuff signed. Last year I did two signings, in order to get at least the majority of the people there a signature, but it depends totally on the goodwill (and available signing space) of people running the Book Festival. (And, of course, on the vagaries of the airlines who will be getting me there from Boston on Saturday morning...) The National Book Festival will probably be a more fun event than the B&N one, though, or at least contain rather more of me talking...


I just heard that my problematic story "The Problem of Susan" has been nominated for a British Fantasy Award. I may put it up online for a while -- it seemed a popular thing when we put the Hugo nominees up online. At least people knew what they were voting for. Then again, I may not.

(Which reminds me -- thank you to all of you who voted for this weblog in the Hugo Award nominating process. has the nomination statistics, for the curious.)

And, because I don't remember if I put this up before or not, here is the cover to the US mass market (ie small, pocket-sized) edition of Smoke and Mirrors, which comes out in about two weeks from now...


And finally, from today and for the next month, you can vote on the Quill Awards. Now books will have their Oscars. Their Emmies. Their (whatever the name of the award for Best Criminal that the Batman villains competed for in Batman Versus the Three Villains of Doom novel I read when I was eight) (hah! for once the much-vaunted Google search engine has failed me utterly) (hang on. It was a gold-plated tommy gun, which means it was almost definitely the Tommies) . Their Tommies.

Go to and follow the instructions.

(Still, I really hope that in future years they replace the word "consumers" with the word "readers".)