Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Where's Neil When You Need Him?

The first pencilled art from John Romita Jr has started coming in on The Eternals, and it's quite marvellous. When you're writing comics, for me anyway, the best moments are all where you see the art coming in, and go "Oh, you can do that? Well, then, I can do this, and that, and that..." and that's how this feels. Sequences still to come are already getting bigger in my head, moving around, getting odder.

I read an article in the UK Sunday Times a few weeks ago that ended by announcing that blondes would be extinct very soon, with the final few fair-haired people dying off in Finland two hundred years from now. Which seemed a bit like utter bollocks to me, and I was amused to learn through Snopes that it was rubbish that went back a long way --


I need to do a WHERE'S NEIL update pretty soon. But, as a small holding measure...

On Saturday I'll be talking after WOLVES IN THE WALLS at the Tramway in Glasgow.

I'll be at the Sydney Writers Festival which starts on May 22nd 2006, leave on the 26th, and then, using the power of the International Date Line to put me back a day, I'll somehow be at Balticon on the 26-29th of May. I'm MCing the Science Fiction Museum Hall of Fame awards ( on June 17th, inducting George Lucas, Anne McCaffrey, Frank Herbert and Frank Helly Freas into the Hall of Fame.

Then in the autumn I'm due to be a Guest at Fantasycon and iCon.


Diane Duane wrote to let me know that the first chapter of her online subscription novel (as detailed in is now online at Check out the website and ponder whether this is may become a new viable publishing method (interstingly, of course, it's a return to a very old, subcription-based, get a chapter-when-it-comes-out publishing method).


I love your stuff, but can you tell us dear readers what phone you are using to take pix? I have a handset that takes crap images and would love to take better images like yours in your blog. Thank you!

That's a Nokia 6230i. Very basic and useful. I hesitate to recommend it, as the last time I mentioned it I found myself deluged with "why did you buy that?" messages, like,

why on earth did you get that nokia phone when you could have the Treo 700 Verizon PDA phone? Dude! Where is your head at? Sorry Neil, I really respect you, but do you know an inkling about technology these days? Nokia is so way behind the wire...... I run my entire life on the internet (sad as that sounds, it really isn't) and by FAR the verizon TREO 700 PDA phone is the best thing I have come across - having done business across borders with it. I really hope you take the recommendation seriously, I don't usually recommend electronics ect. of any sort.

To which I'm never sure what to say. It's a tri-band phone, so I can put in a UK SIM card when I'm here for a bit. It fits in my pocket. It makes phone calls and accepts text messages. It has a memory card with too many photos, some Magnetic Fields songs as ring tones, and a couple of Jack Benny episodes. It talks to my car and my computer and it takes decent pictures. I'm not asking it to do anything else. I'm sure it's as good as some other phones, not as good as others, and not as cutting edge technologically as some, but that's always going to be the case. It's hard to watch TV on it, but I don't really want to watch TV on my phone, so having proudly put an episode of Bilko and Tony Hancock's The Blood Donor on it and established that it would play them, I then deleted them. I was given a Blackberry a couple of months ago and I took it happily out of the box, then I stared at it, realised that I really liked not having the kind of job where I had to be able to get to my email wherever I am and wherever I am, and put it back in the box. (As long as my family, and my assistant can find me, I'm good, and they have my phone number.)

I am going to apologize for the absolute stupidity of this question in advance. While others are here to ask you about your writing (which I do enjoy), I'm here to ask you about your Slingbox, of all things.

See, I work at Best Buy, where we have about 40 of the damn things in stock, but no one can sell it, since we can't get straight answers on how well it works. And, since most of us are poor, we are in no position to buy it and try it ourselves.

It doesn't help that the rep that Slingmedia sent to the store had all the charm of a paper bag, with product knowledge to match.

So, really, my question is just "How do you like it," "What's the delay in it's control of the TiVo, cable box, etc.," and "How's the quality?"

Thank you for your time.

-eD! Thomas

I like it. I watched the first ten minutes of The Daily Show on my home Tivo, last night from my hotel room before I went to sleep. The delay is there but minimal -- a couple of seconds, no more. Quality varies a bit depending on internet connection, but so far I've been really impressed. It was easy to set up and it's nice to know it's there. Also, it astonishes people when you show it off, which is sort of fun.


Hi Neil,

I read with interest that you are being unfairly hassled by lawyers.
I am the person they should be hassling - and will remove the link to their, if truth be known, quite uninspiring website. If they don't want the thousands of visitors I get a day to know about them - it's no skin off my nose.

But while we are on the subject of links may we have the permission (ok somewhat belatedly) to link to your remarkable demonic tomato photograph, and therefore your website from Hopefully this will avoid the need for your lawyers to send me a threatening letter.

I was sent the link to your photo by one of my users and felt it too good not to show.

Anyway this whole lawyer business is quite surreal and would have been a great work of art, but to avoid being sued myself I will remove the offending link, but thank you for the publicity you have inadvertently provided – it all helps in the great fight against the evil fruit.

Best wishes and a tomato free lunch

The real owner and webmaster

I told him that of course he could.

Actually it appears you did link to rotten tomatoes not the movie but the web site. Please look at your April 05, 2002 journal entry.

"Rotten Tomatoes has collected some of the reviews over at The Saragossa Manuscript (1965): Zbigniew Cybulski, Iga Cembrznska, Joanna Jedryka, Wojciech Has. You can buy it at any of the Usual Suspect places. Tell people you want it for your birthday. Find out if your local library or video store is going to get it in. You need to see this film. Trust me."

They are real lawyers and you may wnat to take this a bit more seriously.
Mark Brown, Esq.

Rotten Tomatoes is a web site that rates movies. They like it if you link to them. It helps them sell more advertising. doesn't have anything to do with the people who put up an official web site for their silly movie then threatened to sue people who linked to it, which I didn't anyway. (Branfman and Associates and Mark I. Reichenthal may be real lawyers but I fail to see why I should take nonsense like this seriously: it's stupid and it's funny, and it doesn't get any less stupid or funny because they are real lawyers. That just makes it both sadder and funnier.) (For Cory Doctorow's take on it, see