Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Two Blue Ribbons.

I'm in Montreal for Worldcon. The convention starts tomorrow, and all sorts of excitement is undoubtedly happening, but I am in my room writing a blog entry and when I have done that I will go to sleep. This is because I am old and boring.

Twenty two years ago, at my first Worldcon, I was not old and boring. As I remember I hardly slept at all, because I was 26 and fairly certain that Something Interesting Might Happen at any moment and I did not want to Miss a Second Of It, and actually, something interesting happened most of the time, and I didn't miss any of It, until Sunday evening when I missed the Hugo Ceremonies because I had fallen asleep, and was woken by the after-Hugo Fireworks, which I dreamed were the bombs falling in the trenches of World War I. And even then, I could not believe the idea that there were people who pootered off to their rooms and slept, just because it was, you know, night. Didn't they know it was Worldcon?

And now I'm one of the ones who go and sleep. I hope there are a new crop of sleepless 26 year olds downstairs, and they can make sure that they don't miss It, if It happens. (The ConReporter, at, a sort of aggregator of the people who are here and blogging, might have been a useful tool for that.)

So. Award news. And listen, this one is big.

We (and by we, I mean the Birdchick and Lorraine and Woodsman Hans and the Birdchick's long-suffering husband Bill and me of course and any of our passing guests who have been persuaded to put on a white bee suit and come and hold the smoker, but most of all the amazing 60,000 bees in the Yellow Hive and the just as amazing 60,000 bees in the Green Hive) took two Blue Ribbons in the county fair, for Extracted Honey and for Comb Honey (a Ross Round). We are, of course, over the moon.

The extracted honey is from the yellow hive, and it tastes of mint and wildflowers. It's a very light yellow (as is all our honey this time of year). The comb honey is from the green hive. I have no idea what it tastes like, but it looks beautiful.

(I moved the bell-jar from the red hive, where they ignored it, to the green hive, where they immediately headed in, began investigating, and appear to have already started doing comb-in-the-jar things. Will report further when I get home.)

Next to that news, everything pales, but the word that I was nominated for two World Fantasy Awards was pretty thrilling. (I hope Margo Lanagan gets best novel for Tender Morsels, by the way. Even if it does make the Guardian tut a bit.) Congratulations to all the nominees -- especially to Elise Matthesen.

World Fantasy Con is Hallowe'en Weekend (in San Jose website is I won't be there as I'm going to be in Singapore for the literary festival. But I will miss it.

and get a motley, and interesting, bunch of answers.

Puzzled that what I thought was a fairly innocuous and uncontroversial thing to point out (that the current Vampire fiction thing has crested, and that it might be a good idea if it died back for a while) seems to have somehow become news of a sort, making the Guardian Blog and then getting repeated and linked to a lot, becoming Neil Hates Vampires in the process.

Oh well.

Spent a glorious day with Dave McKean meeting the people behind the scenes at the Cirque Du Soleil, who are based out here. I love creative, smart people who follow their dreams, and they are that. (Dave has photos up at

I signed up for a Google Voice invite last week, and it came through a couple of days ago. I signed up for a number with lots of memorable sixes in it, and have been playing with it ever since. It's marvellous so far. Will report back in a few weeks whether I still think it's marvellous.

On the Tor website, Teresa Nielsen Hayden is going to be rereading Sandman and writing about it. She introduces the project at You should be able to follow it at and the metacommentary has begun as well.

There is a giveaway on the Mythic Delirium website, where you can get the 20th Anniversary Edition (with my trout heart poem in it). Learn what it is here.

Okay. It is time for a few mailbag questions...

Dear Neil -- Forgive me if you've addressed this already, I searched and didn't see an answer. Do you know if the Stephin Merrit's music from the Coraline musical will be recorded and made available sometime? I'd love to hear it!

Definitely. I'm not sure when, but I know they recorded it, on the stage of the Lortel theatre (as that was where the pianos were).

A recent NY Times Magazine article discussed the influence of the work of Jack Vance, and it included you as a contributor to a collection of stories based on his work "Dying Earth." I've been reading speculative fiction for decades and have made three separate attempts to read some of his writing without getting very far. Can you offer some insight into your thoughts about Vance's work--what facets of storytellign does he excel at? And where do you feel someone who wants to appreciate him should start?

I think the New York Times was astonishingly perceptive in its description of Jack Vance's writing, and why people like it (and why writers like it). Where to start? The Dying Earth stories hooked me. There's a short story called 'The Moon Moth' that's pretty much perfect. The three books that make up Lyonesse are big and delightful and have a lot for a reader to sink his or her teeth into.


I'm a huge fan, and have been for a while. Keep up the good work!

I do have a question, though, that I haven't found anywhere (yet...), and was wondering if you could enlighten me.

How do you know when your story is ready to be told?

I am currently in the editing process before publishing, and as the due date draws near, I find myself in somewhat of a panic, asking myself: What if there's eventually more to tell that I can't quite think of just yet? What if, somewhere down the line, something X in this novel doesn't make sense with something Y in a future novel? What if this novel really isn't ready? Do I write another one? Is there time for another one? What would Neil Gaiman do?

I thought you would be the best person to ask. If I'm overreacting and over-thinking for no apparent reason, too, let me know.

Thank you for your time.


I tend to know that a story is done when I find I'm more interested in the next thing.

But it will never be perfect. And...

Hang on. I've answered this before, haven't I? (Does a few second hunt, and finds longish replies at and Yup. Read those over.

Dear Neil-

As a librarian I want to say thank you so much for your continuing support of libraries. You helped bring a lot of awareness to the lead testing issue earlier this year, as well as different censorship issues in libraries.

I'm writing to ask if you can help bring awareness to the fact that a month ago the Governor of Michigan signed an executive order abolishing the Department of Histories Arts and Libraries. This includes the Library of Michigan who provides electronic databases as well as the Michigan Electronic Library, without which many small local libraries around the state will barely be able to function.

this link has information about a protest of the decision being held at the capitol as well as links to the executive order that abolished the department.

Thank you for helping if you can

Consider it posted. And now I sleep.

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