Sunday, May 17, 2009

The #StemCellResearch Post and Her Majesty's Armoured Novelists

This one is, I think, important:

Hello, Neil. I intern at a lab that deals with stem cell research, and recently was forwarded the following attached message from the head of our lab. The document linked will explain everything, but the gist of it is that there is currently some regulatory legislation in the works to replace the repealed guidelines on embryonic stem cell research from the Bush administration. The National Institutes of Health are currently running an online comment form which allows US citizens to have their opinions on the matter heard, and such opinions are being heavily considered. If you would prefer not to get involved in a controversial issue like this, I would completely understand. But if it is something that you would be willing to get behind, it would be greatly appreciated if someone of your influence could get this message out. Thank you so much for your time.

-Joshua Turner

I think stem cell research is important. (You out there reading this in internet-land do not have to think as I do. You can actively want to ban it if you like.) But having learned that,
*"The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) launched a new
"Oppose Destructive Stem Cell Research" campaign today, equipping citizens
to contact Congress and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to oppose
embryonic stem cell research ." -- WASHINGTON, May 6
and that
". ..of the 6000 plus comments that NIH
has received concerning the draft guidelines, 99% were from people who
opposed embryonic stem cell research."-Carecure Forum
and given that I do not believe that 99% of the people out there believe that stem-cell research should be banned, I thought, well, my opinion is at least as valid as that of any Conference of Bishops. And I bet I can reach at least 6,000 people...

So, look over the document. If you have an opinion on stem cell research, and would like it expressed, go to:

and let them know what it is.

And please, if you care about this and if you have a blog or LJ or method of reaching other people, pass it along -- link to this blog post, or link to the googledoc above. You've got until May 26th to make your opinions heard.

How do you feel about the huge price being charged for "Absolute Death"? This book is only 360 pages long but retails at $99.99. All of the Absolute Sandman volumes each have a page count over 600 but are priced the exact same as this book. How is that supposed to be rationalized? Don't you think a retail price of between $39.99-$59.99 would be a lot more reasonable for a book of this length? I ask because you blog on Amazon a decent bit, and this is your creation.

I wonder if the product itself will get the same kinds of reviews that "Absolute League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier (Hardcover)" understandably got on Amazon: one star. Only one person gave it two stars, and 15 people gave it one star, due to this pricing issue.

What are your thoughts?

I'm a bit surprised -- I'd been told that it was going to be retailing for about $75, which with an Amazon discount would put it solidly into the area you suggest. but I also know there are a bunch of extra expenses that have turned up on this book, including having to reletter the whole of Death The High Cost of Living, which weren't originally planned or budgeted for.

The Amazon complaints on Black Dossier (which is over 150 pages shorter than Death will be) aren't about the 'pricing issue', but that it's a complete and utter rip off, as you aren't getting anything extra for your money above what you'd get if you just order the normal hardback of the Black Dossier -- the Absolute edition just has just slightly bigger pages and a slipcase. Absolute Death is filled with stuff that's never been seen, never been reprinted, or never been printed in the form it's going to be seen in, and has definitely never been collected anywhere before. Whetherpeople feel it's it's going to be value for money if you're paying the full $100 (as the Absolute Sandmans probably are) remains to be seen but I do know a ridiculous amount of work is going to making it as wonderful as we can.

Right now it's up on Amazon for $62.99 (the same price they're doing the Absolute Sandmans at, although they've gone up and down to full price a few times), with a guarantee that if they drop the price between now and publication you'll get it at the lowest price they offer, and you have from here to November. So it's $63 or less.

Dear Storyteller Gaiman,

I'm not sure your personal opinions on tattoos, but if I were compelled to get a piece of Sandman art on my body forever. What would you recommend? Haha I know dumb question right? But I'm sure you wish your story to be represented as awesomely as possible.

Tanner Hunt

I think tattoos are personal enough that it should be your choice. Find a Sandman drawing that speaks to you, and that you'd want to live with for the rest of your life. Make it that one.

This next is, I assume, in reference to my comments on authors from a few days ago.

If you are writing (or doing anything else) for the sheer fun of it, and may sell it and may not, then you are on your own time, and can go throw popcorn at the TV all you want to.

If you have taken an advance or a contract, YOU ARE WORKING FOR SOMEONE ELSE, and you have the same obligation to produce quality work, ON TIME, as a soldier in Iraq does.

If you didn't know that all cats can levitate, and that it's already been studied exhaustively, then you are an idiot, and your cat thinks so too.

Mm. You were doing okay until you threw in the bit about Iraq. (I assume the flip side is, "Soldiering. Well, it's just a job. What are they complaining about? Why are they nipping off to hospitals and complaining about the facilities and treatment? Soldiers in Iraq have the same obligation not to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and not to put themselves in harm's way that a novelist in a rose-trellised cottage in Devon does.") (And I keep having fantasies about a trained platoon of Her Majesty's Armoured Novelists being put through their paces by an irascible RSM "... on the double - wait for it wait for it, what do you think you're doing, you horrible little man, contemplating litotes? -on the double, quiiiiiiiiick PLOT!")

Normally, I'm the one marching up and down trying to explain to the world that writing is a job, and it's not romantic and it's not clever and it's not special. For the most part, that's what this blog is about.

But writing fiction isn't the same as say, carpentry, patrolling a border or animal husbandry. You're making stuff up. It's a kind of weird confidence trick you play on yourself, like the Roadrunner running across the air between two peaks, where if you stop and look down you can plummet like Coyote. And getting stuff done on time isn't the same as getting it right.

I'm not sure when The Graveyard Book was meant to have been delivered, under the original contract. I do know that I had a $50,000 delivery bonus, if I handed it in by the end of December 2007, which I definitely didn't collect even a penny of, what with finishing it in March 2008. I'm pretty sure that I could have bashed something out in 2007 and got it in on time and collected the money; I am also certain that that book wouldn't have won the Newbery, and probably wouldn't have been very good. And I suspect that people who read the book would have complained that I was just churning it out for the money, and they would most definitely have been right.

But, yes. The person or organisation the writer has a contract with definitely has every right to complain, and trust me, they do. The writer is, after all, working for them, if there is a contract.

Often, with a long series, there isn't. I suspect that Stephen King's deal on the Dark Tower was that he did them as and when he was ready. It took him 34 years. Readers died, not knowing how it ended. If Steve had been killed by that minivan in 1999, nobody would have known how it ended. It would have been a tragedy, for many reasons, but contract violation would not be one of them.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I can't tell you how much I adored the movie Coraline, and the film's score is no exception.

Bruno Coulais' pieces were haunting and beautiful, and the TMBG's "Other Father Song" was terrific, but sadly, the song which stood out to me the most I can't find!

It's the tune played when Coraline and her mother (real of course) are shopping. It was also featured in one of the TV commercials for the film. (See it here )

In all my searching all I've found is that I think it's called “Nellie Jean”, by Kent Melton (who may also have been a sculptor for the movie as well).

I know it's a long shot, but I was wondering if you had any information to pass along about the song. I downloaded the movie soundtrack from iTunes, and it's not there. I guess at worst I'll keep listening to it on YouTube, though I'd really like to download it!

Thank's, and keep it up!

Jason B

I asked Henry Selick, who said,

It is not "Nellie Jean" by Kent Melton – that is the 5 to 7 seconds of ukulele played by the small character in front of the garden store where Dad is dropped off. I think we just called it "shopping music" and I'm surprised it's not on the soundtrack CD. I've asked Bruno Coulais if he'd mind sending me an MP3 to share with Jason.

And then, because Henry is a remarkable man, he sent me an MP3 of the track in question, and the mighty webgoblin has put it up at

(The high voice singing is actually Bruno himself.)


The house internet died, and Sunday is a day when you learn that 24/7 Tech support means that someone agrees with you that, yes, the Internet certainly does sound broken, and that they'll let people know when they get in to work on Monday. So I am saving this to a flash drive and then walking off into the world to find a wireless connection and, with luck, posting it. But once that is done I may be offline until things get fixed.

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