Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Secret Master Of Science Fiction Responds....

Mark Askwith emailed after seeing the YouTube clip in the last post...

Dear Neil-

Thanks for posting the Youtube stuff. I had forgotten about this episode. It was never one of my favorites, but it is fascinating to look at it now. My gawd, Harlan’s clip is still relevant, and Garth looks like he’s a teenager. And you... dammit man, you must have a picture in your attic.

As I recall this interview almost didn’t happen.

You called me from Boston to say that a) you’d signed for a 180 people the night before and b) the flight had been delayed, so what should we do?

I suggested that I interview you in the limo because I knew… (although didn’t tell you) that the line at the Silver Snail was already over 180 people, and I knew if I delayed you the fans, the fine folks at the Silver Snail, and you, would not be happy.

So I came up with the plan to shoot you in the limo. This meant that I had to throw out all my carefully prepared questions, and replace them with questions about topics that would make sense visually. You just try coming up with questions where the back of a limo actually makes sense! As it turned out I got lucky- we got this stuff on fans, but my favorite part of the interview was all about The Quest and Sandman: Brief Lives, which you’d just started writing. Perhaps that episode will also surface.

BTW- The Mystery Person beside you in the limo is Silver Snail Manager Sherri Moyer who came along to ensure that I didn’t kidnap you.

I remember the moment when we all saw the line-up on Queen St.

A gasp from all of us… it was over 600 (mostly) black clad fans.

I interviewed some of the fans, shot the signing, and then wrapped the crew. A very well fed Dave Sim showed up later in the signing, torturing you with his description of his dinner (a story that he later chronicled in a story for your Chicago Guest of Honour Booklet).

At some point I succumbed and had dinner without you. I returned an hour later and the line seemed just as daunting. As I recall, you never did get dinner that night.

I think that this signing was the first time that I realized that you and Prisoners of Gravity were actually having a real impact, and it was a strange to have both revelations in the same moment. Countless fans thanked me for introducing them to your work, and that’s probably the best praise any ‘book person’ can hear. It was a sea change moment.

(Really, though, in retrospect I should not have been surprised, you’d won the ‘Favorite PoG Guest’ the year previously, somehow beating out Alan Moore, Anne Rice, Clive Barker and hundreds of other creators). Still, actually seeing the excitement in the fans as they met you was so much more palpable than a vote.



A note for booksellers -- there's a Children's Book Author Breakfast this year at Book Expo America, at which you'll hear from (and possibly meet) me, Judy Blume, Eoin Colfer and Sherman Alexie. It's hosted by Jon Scieszka.

FRIDAY, May 30, 2008 8:00AM - 9:30AM CHILDREN'S BOOK & AUTHOR BREAKFAST (Concourse Hall)

Tickets go on sale on Wednesday. (More details over at Lance's blog.)

Press release here.


Having initially pointed out on this blog that Steve Moffat's "Blink" would get the Hugo award for short form dramatic presentations, I then, following a mysterious email from a man I can only identify here by the initials P.C., shifted my support in this blog, superdelegate-like, to Paul Cornell's "Human Nature" two parter. No large sums of money have exchanged hands, yet.

I'm not sure that I can officially change my support again without seeming like some sort of strange human weathervane.

Luckily, you can nominate up to five things in each Hugo category. So here's an email from Marc Zicree, and here's me pointing out that Hugo voters should also nominate "World Enough and Time", by Marc and Michael Reaves, and that you can watch it on the web...

Wanted to let you know it's just been officially announced that STAR TREK NEW VOYAGES "World Enough and Time" starring George Takei and written by Michael Reaves and myself has been nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Script by the Science Fiction Writers of America, the first time an Internet production has been so honored.

I've also just been informed that March 1 is the deadline to nominate "World Enough" for the Hugo Award in Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form. The Hugo is the other big science fiction award, bestowed by the World Science Fiction Convention -- in 1968 the classic STAR TREK episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" won it.

So if you know anyone who's voting or nominating for the Hugo (and it only takes $50 for a supporting membership), send out the word. It only took 22 votes to get on the ballot last year in this category (and just 187 votes to win).

(For those who want to see it, you can watch "World Enough and Time" in its entirety in real-time streaming at And they also have a section on the NEW VOYAGES' homepage where one can click through to sign up for a supporting membership to Worldcon, to make the process that much easier.)

Also, I don't know if you heard, but Michael Reaves just had brain surgery relating to his advanced Parkinson's and is scheduled for another brain surgery immediately. At this stage, he can't type (though hopefully he will be able to soon, with the equipment many of us helped buy him at Christmas) and he's having great difficulty speaking. So a big part of my laboring so hard regarding the Nebula and Hugo is to help give him a boost right now. Even after 500 script sales and 30 books, he's feeling pretty isolated and down; these badges of recognition help him know how appreciated he and his work are, and go a long way toward making a hard time just a bit better.

(And good luck, Michael...)


The snow started in November. It's still on the ground. I crave Spring, dammit...

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