Only time will tell if I have turned over a new leaf and will continue to update regularly. It will be easier for a while - I have a few months of material stored up - so it may take some time to see if my interest wanes.
The rest of the summer was mostly uneventful (as far as I can remember, anyway). After Comiccon, the wife and I loaded up the kids and drove to Utah/Idaho for a week to participate, briefly, in the festivities of the 2005 family reunion. Remarkably, I didn't take a single picture on the entire vacation, so I'm not going to say anything more about that.
The next "event" worth mentioning would probably be the book signings I attended...
Terry Pratchett Thud! signing
I, once again, saw Terry Pratchett at the Mysterious Galaxy book store (in San Diego) on his Thud! book signing tour.
I was, as before, greatly impressed by Terry's knowledge (especially in regards to historical matters). He spoke conversationally, from behind a table/podium to the large group of people tightly packed into the small shop, about many things relating to Discworld, and many things not. He mentioned a new game (aptly entitled Thud!) based on the battle of Koom Valley (chronicled in Thud!), and mentioned the upcoming Tiffany Aching books (the next is entitled WinterSmith, or possibly WinterSmythe - I only heard it spoken, so I can't be sure). He also mentioned that he would be cutting back on his writing to allow him more time to spend with his family. Impressively, he spoke with no notes of any kind or any references - this is a vastly, mind-bogglingly smart man.
Next, Terry fielded question from the crowd. The questions ranged from the pronunciation of Discworld character names ("Angua" was one) to Terry's knowledge of quantum physics - which he equated to a "carpenter's knowledge of trees." After entertaining the crowd with his impressive wit and knowledge, we were all led from the store to line up for the signing. A good half hour later, I reached the front of the line and, after having my photo snapped with Terry, had about 20 seconds to talk with him as he signed my copy of Thud! and my comic book adaptations (from the early 90s) of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic (asking, as he signed, if they were worth anything. I responded that I didn't know, but they were worth a great deal to me).
The companion book to Thud!, entitled Where's My Cow, was available for a very brief time on the morning of the signing, but had completely sold out before I arrived. Terry mentioned that there were only 300 copies printed for the U.S. and 50 of them had been for sale there. I did manage to buy a copy of the book from the Science Fiction Book Club for around $10, but it hasn't arrived yet (and will not be singed...sigh).
My conversation with Terry was much more brief than the one we shared on his previous book tour (for Monstrous Regiment - we chatted about the great loss of Douglas Adams and Terry impressed me with his knowledge of the Betelguesian drinking song).
I have read Thud!, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I'll talk about that in a few days.
Neil Gaiman Anansi Boys signing
I saw Neil Gaiman briefly (also at the Mysterious Galaxy bookshop on Saturday, October 1) on his Anansi Boys signing tour. He arrived right on time (noon) and his appearance varied very little from the many book jacket photos I have seen. He had longish unkempt hair, wore a black leather jacket over a black t-shirt and looked quite jet-lagged. He quickly accepted a Starbucks cup from one of the bookshop employees, wasting no time to explain that it was tea, not coffee, lest we think he was being broken by the cruel American coffee machine (that was my guess for the explanation, anyway).
He talked briefly about Anansi Boys and mentioned that this book was intentionally written to be less serious than American Gods because he felt that he was being pigeonholed as a "serious" writer. He even mentioned Good Omens briefly, talking about how the common belief was that he wrote it and then Terry Pratchett made it funny (not true). He also mentioned the dedication of the book, saying it was dedicated to yours truly. Oh yeah, and everyone else there.
YOU KNOW HOW IT IS. YOU pick up a book, flip to the dedication, and find that, once again, the author has dedicated a book to someone else and not to you.
Not this time.
Because we haven't yet met/have only a glancing acquaintance/are just crazy about each other/haven't seen each other in much too long/are in some way related/will never meet, but will, I trust, despite that, always think fondly of each other...
This one's for you.
With you know what, any you probably know why.
Something in this train of thought directed his mind to a specific passage, so he found it and read a page to the crowd (every bit as big as the Terry Pratchett conglomeration). I had only read the first 13 pages thus far, so it was new to me (and it was very interesting to hear the prose spoken in Gaiman's own voice).
When he finished reading from the novel, he answered several questions from the slavering horde of fans. One asked about future collaborations with Terry Pratchett, to which Gaiman responded that he and Terry had recently spoken (at an awards ceremony for audio books) about the current status of the characters from Good Omens. But that was not, in any way, to be construed as an "affirmative" to the question. He was open to the idea, but no wheels had been set in motion by the suit and thin-gold-watch wearing middlemen who were now responsible for putting things like this into motion. He also went into some detail on how things had changed now that both he and Pratchett are well-known, sought-after authors (much different from the periods in each of their careers during which Good Omens was written).
Another question inquired about how he found time to write with responsibility for so many varied projects. He told us of his writing "rituals" and said that he used one of Tori Amos' many homes (this one in Ireland) to write Anansi Boys (they're close friends, apparently). Another question dealt with a sequel to Neverwhere. Gaiman admitted the possibility of a sequel and told the crowd about a story he began, but stopped due to technical difficulties with the pen/fancy notebook combination he was using, entitled "How the Marquis Lost His Cloak" (or maybe it was "cape" - this is all coming from a rather faulty memory). Unfortunately, when he changed media, he also started writing in a new direction, so no more than three pages were ever written.
At this point, everyone was marched out into the hot sun and lined up in the order that their novels were purchased (each receipt was numbered - I was #102) for entrance into the store. An hour later, I was inside and face-to-face with Neil Gaiman with absolutely nothing intelligent or interesting to say. I dumbly handed my book to him, which he graciously signed (personalizing with my name when I asked), and I was out. The swedish girl with the large, unencumbered breasts standing in line before me had a good three minute conversation with Neil about Mythology and his sources, but I had nothing. Not my proudest moment, but I'll treasure the memory anyway. The people behind me in line offered to snap a photo of me with Neil and promised to e-mail it, but it has not arrived. So no pictures of the geek-boy with Neil.
Here is an interview Neil did for Time magazine that's quite interesting. Reading this article reminded me of a few of the other things Neil spoke about before the signing phase of his visit began.
Neil was asked how he felt about other writers taking characters of his creation and making them do and say things outside of his direct control. He responded that most often it wasn't a nice thing to experience, but there were times - as with the recent Vertigo Lucifer comic book - that he is astounded by how closely a writer's vision is to his own.
Very nearly this exact same thing was also said about the Books of Magic scripts in development:
I just get to see, mostly from a distance, things going through awful adaptations. Books of Magic óWarner has done seven scripts on that, and it's now got to the point where my only response is, why don't you just change the lead character's name and not call it Books of Magic? You've now created something that that will do nothing but irritate anyone who thinks they're going to see a Books of Magic movie. But it's probably a perfectly decent movie, so just take the name off it.
He mentioned that one character will never escape his control: Death (from the Death: the High Cost of Living comic series). He remarked that she is too close to his heart to relinquish control of.
I did Death: the High Cost of Living, which New Line are meant to be doing next year. They're going to call it Death and Me. I did that mostly because it was one of the things I'd done that was small enough and short enough and actually had a story shape and I could expand it into a movie rather than looking gloomily at something huge and trying to work at what to throw away. I liked that.
The following wasn't said, verbatim, at the signing, but similar sentiments were expressed about the corporate types pulling the strings:
Yes. It really is this thing of executives loving the smell of their own urine and urinating on things. And then more execs come in, and they urinate. And then the next round. By the end, they have this thing which just smells like pee, and nobody likes it.
I have also finished reading Anansi Boys, but I'll get to that in a few days.