Friday, November 04, 2005

London Calling

I'm in the UK now, in a hotel that charges 20 quid a day for an internet connection, which is I think the most expensive daily internet rate I've run into so far, anywhere on the planet. It seems that the posher the hotel the more they charge you to get online. Oh well.

It would seem patenting storylines will become possible in the future, if I've understood this article correctly --
Any thoughts on this from you as an author?
Regards, Patrik Roos

Well, "could in some way become possible" as in, we are putting up on the web someone's press release about how he is trying to patent a story idea (why?) and hopes he may get it, and "will become possible in the future" are a long way apart, and I don't see any indication it's actually happening, and can't figure out why it would possibly be a good thing if it did. Following the link at the end of the article over to ("THE FIRST AND BEST IN STORYLINE PATENTS" TM) my initial reaction is that one could easily find oneself leaping to the conclusion that this is simply another way to try and separate the gullible or the hopeful from their money (A sort of Patent your story idea -- even if you can't write good! Then when someone uses Your Story Idea, they have to give you money!).

We learn from the plotpatents website, Recognizing that fierce competition for publication and financial reward focused on the quality of storytelling, as opposed to the quality of the underlying storyline itself, and further recognizing that even the world�s most skilled storytellers (of which he is clearly not) rarely turn a profit, his unique fictional storylines have matured into pending patent applications instead of novels or screenplays. He thus seeks reward on the true value of his innovations�the underlying storylines�instead of forced, sub-par expressions of these underlying storylines.

Which gives me a vision of the kind of people who come up to me at parties and tell me that they have a Unique Idea for a Novel and it's a Doozy, and if I write the novel for them they'll cut me in for 50% of the millions a publisher will pay, now actually being gulled into paying money for a patent application and then waiting, breath bated, for someone to publish a novel in which "Someone goes back in time and kills his own grandfather and now doesn't exist" or "Two people who are the only survivors of a spaceship crash turn out to be Adam and Eve" happens so they can sue for patent infringement.

I may, of course, completely have the wrong end of the stick, am not a lawyer, and would love to know what thinks about it all.


There's a lovely interview by the very brilliant Roz Kaveney of the just-as-brilliant-but-a-bit-hairier Alan Moore at the Independent -- Not sure how long it'll stay up for people to read. (To read the Independent article on the 2.5 million unsold Harry Potter books I had to go to New Zealand -- Still pondering what Mr Robinson told book-trade analysts he had no plans for accepting large numbers of returned books means -- he doesn't think the books will be returned, or he won't accept them if they are. Probably the former, which seems a tad optimistic. Thank heavens Bloomsbury are wiser at numbers than Scholastic.)

And there's a bit of an interview with Dave McKean about MirrorMask, and Terry Gilliam about stuff at


And a reminder that all the UK events up to November 14th are up at Where's Neil and at There are still a few tickets left for the London Reading and Talk and Signing on Tuesday -- I've chatted to Lenny Henry and I think we're both going to be doing readings from the book, mostly because I want to hear him read live. Now we just need to decide what bits we're doing.


And the final word on No Alibis in Belfast is...

Neil Gaiman - 16th November 6:30PM - UPDATE

UPDATE: The venue for this event has now been confirmed as:

Ormeau Baths Gallery
18a Ormeau Avenue

Tickets, costing �2.50 each, must be purchased from No Alibis Bookstore at 83 Botanic Avenue.

IMPORTANT Neil will sign unlimited New material PLUS a few other items


Neil, I just gotta make a small confession that there is no reason for you to care about. So here goes.
I love your stuff. I have a ton of stuff by you in my bookshelf not four feet from where I'm sitting right now. But I did not like Anansi Boys. I hear people talk about how great it is, and describe it in ways that make me think "did we read the same book? I didn't see any of that". Near as I can tell, I'm the only one.
Which is perfectly understandable, since my reasons are entirely personal. The real reason I didn't like it is probably that I myself have a brother who is the bane of my existence, so to speak, and whose behavior throughout the years has played a significant part in turning me into the sad, wretched excuse for a human being I am today. So, in the book, when Spider shows up and proceeds to make Fat Charlie's life a living hell, I was forever after utterly unable to forgive him, and desired nothing more than for him to die a slow, horrible death. And I still do.
I suspect this may have impeded upon my ability to enjoy the book.

Phew. Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest.

Not a problem. I've never minded when people don't like stories of mine (or the flip side -- I've never been able to understand why some people feel the need to apologise for liking some story or other best of all. Of course you'll have favourites, and they may not be the favourites of the person standing next to you).

I hope most people will by now assume that the next story I tell will probably be different all over again, and pick it up to see if they like it or not, but I'll not take it personally if they don't.