Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Sat 19 Aug 00 00:19
Reg, I don't think you can compare Charteris and Wheatley. Charteris was a good writer, who wrote, at his best, with humour and panache and a sort of cock-eyed brilliance. Wheatley was a lumbering sort of a writer -- the kind you can read best when you're thirteen and you don't care about the words, you just want the story, and the casual racism of his stories is somehow deeper and darker than the (now risible) racism and anti-semitism in "sapper"'s Bulldog Drummond stories. But at least none of them were writing for Posterity, thank heavens. And posterity may turn around in five hundred years, when issues of race have become irrelevant and the holocaust is as much forgotten history as the York Massacre, and proclaim "Sapper" the greatest lost writer of the 20th century. It's not likely. But deciding what Posterity will think of authors who published in the last hundred or so years is a dodgy call anyway. (Think of Melville, or Kipling.) I don't think Wheatley is considered one of the fathers of British occult fiction, except perhaps for the Dennis Wheatley library, where he brought some interesting stuff back into print. The children of Dennis Wheatley are writers like Sean Hutson and Guy N Smith (who both started as imitators of James Herbert -- who, however, has real chops). I think the best solution is to write the best stuff you can and not to worry unduly about posterity -- or even Australian remainder tables. These things sort themselves out in the end.
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Sat 19 Aug 00 12:51
There's a day I'm happy to see over and done. I did a Finncon Guest of Honour Speech. Followed by a signing. Go to the comics con...for the Comic Convention Guest of Honour Interview, making sure I don't repeat myself for the people who were at both. Followed by a signing. About four Hours of signing in all... Dealing with the comics con people is intensely frustrating. I never got to meet Enki Bilal, the other G of H. He's gone now, and it never seemed to occur to the comics people I'd have wanted to meet him. The other american Guest, Mike Diana, doesn't seem to be here, and they weren't sure (I was told) whether he was in Finland or not. They thought not. Gary Groth is here, though, which was a pleasant surprise. Went to the Modern Art Museum afterward, hoping to refill the batteries. It was like going to a university final year show -- a few people that showed promise (and a theremin to play with as part of an art exhibit) but intensely disappointing overall.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Sat 19 Aug 00 22:31
I can't wait until Michael has the time and space to properly set up his theremin. How are you at playing it?
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Sun 20 Aug 00 12:20
How was I? I was... imaginative... An easier day today. Did a little reading (the Essie Tregowan chapter of American Gods which, I learned, takes exactly 30 minutes to read aloud), a panel, an interview, a mini-signing, and some sightseeing. Went on a ferry twice. Met lots of nice people at the Dead Dog party, at which I leanred that I was not leaving at 11:30 am as I had thought but at 7:15, which means a 5.30 am checkout. And so goodnight. Neil in Helsinki signing off. PS: Happy birthday Pekka.
David Gans (tnf) Sun 20 Aug 00 15:20
From: "S. A." <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Neil Gaiman thingie, please Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2000 16:11:40 MDT I am so jealous that you got to play with a theremin! The documentary "Theremin" is a favorite of mine. Have you seen it? If not, I recommend it. Sunny - wisdom tooth + heavy narcotics = something akin to a horror movie about zombie chipmunks PS Do you know anything about you having a cameo in an episode of the Power Puff Girls?
Ron Hogan (grifter) Mon 21 Aug 00 16:14
Sarah Rudek writes: Hmm...Neil as the next Clara Rockmore... : ) Theremins are rad. But anyways, Im afraid Im posting with just a silly little question that contributes very little to the overall highbrow atmosphere of this discussion. : ) *Ahem* Shira and I are both Thingies of the Twin Cities area, and weve decided to converge in merriment for the official purpose of observing Thingiecon 2000. After much careful consideration and contemplation, weve decided: what would be more appropriate than a Neil Gaiman-approved agenda? Probably not much. So, assuming youre somewhat familiar with this area, might you suggest an addition to our as-of-yet-very-blank itinerary? Anything from the oddball to delicious would more than suffice (though I think were both in still in our Close-Minded-Western-Phase of Not Eating Sushi...). So in closing, thank you, and I hope the FinnCons going well; Pekka posted a hello from you to the afng, and I think I can take the liberty to speak for all of us in saying hello back. : ) -Sarah +who rather enjoyed seeing the oh-so-mighty Nightwalker cower at the ferocity of a Minnesota thunderstorm..; )+
Ron Hogan (grifter) Tue 22 Aug 00 07:59
Reg writes again: Yes, it's me again. Sorry. Thanks for your response but I think you missed my point. I used Charteris as a comparison specifically because I was trying to illustrate my point. Wheatley was writing for exactly the same audience at the time and both were presumably equallly popular, and since thirteen year olds now apparently have whole genres devoted to them, why is it that Wheatley's name is remembered in the public consciousness while his work is forgotten, while Charteris' name is largely unknown and yet even Val Kilmer can't destroy his creation? I quite agree with your point about the difference between Wheatley and "Sapper". In the "Bulldog Drummond" stories, there is not a sense of deeply felt racism, or anti-semitism. It is pure and simple period snobbery and ignorance that comes across; much like the glorious Ian Fleming moment when James Bond realises a chap is a bounder because he orders red wine with fish. What disturbed me reading Wheatley was the real sense of hatred of the other. I feel you misinterpreted my question, reading it as "Do you write for posterity?" which was not my intent. I was more interested in what you thought might be fascinations for a contemporary writer, the zietgiest if you wish, which you think might become quickly dated. I only asked because I noticed you hadn't written any really decent legal thrillers lately. I'm sorry. I realise that I'm asking questions that would be better asked in a bar where I could argue my point far more eloquently, and I know you have a lot better things to do than waste time adressing such pointless issues. (You really need a haircut for starters.) So I'll just shut up now.
Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 22 Aug 00 18:40
From the Internet, Shira writes: From Sbstarlet@aol.com Tue Aug 22 18:34:02 2000 Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2000 13:15:13 EDT From: Sbstarlet@aol.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: For the Gaiman discussion... This isn't the most on-topic question in the world, but I'm sure Neil or someone else here will be able to answer it. I'm planning on going to the Minnesota Rennaisance Festival on August 26th - Saturday, I believe - and I was thinking it would be very cool to see The Fabulous Lorraine there. I know she's involved with the RenFaire somehow, and if someone could tell me if she'll be there on that date, and if so, when and where, I would be most grateful. Thanks, Shira
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Tue 22 Aug 00 20:18
Amanda Slack-Smith (ancient-booer) Tue 22 Aug 00 21:01
Strange fact: 84% of Finns aged 14 or over own a mobile phone.
Amanda Slack-Smith (ancient-booer) Tue 22 Aug 00 21:02
Neil - are you back on home turf yet?
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Tue 22 Aug 00 21:31
Amanda -- i'm home, but only for a few hours. Long enough to play with the kids and check on the pumpkin, then I fall off the world for a couple of weeks to try and finish the damned book and get a haircut. (I'll probably be gone from here then too.) And Finland (and Norway, and I assume Sweden) are mobile countries. I was astonished at what they could do with the mobiles -- it was like being issued with a ticket to 5 years in the future.
Amanda Slack-Smith (ancient-booer) Tue 22 Aug 00 22:31
Neil - Good luck with finishing the book. If you do take a break from here I hope you are able to come back. It would be great to talk with you about American God's as we have been subsisting on little bits of information throughout this discussion. I'd don't know where Reg found the secret pile of Stardust books, I had to wait three weeks for mine because they had sold out.
Ron Hogan (grifter) Tue 22 Aug 00 23:32
That wasn't me, Neil. I don't have anything to say, really, I just pass stuff along from the folks who aren't WELL members. *grin*
Martha Soukup (soukup) Wed 23 Aug 00 01:27
A few hours! Hey Neil, I don't know what it's like to be you, by far, but today the Boston Herald and some other people are trying to get hold of me, ever since I became The Person Who Blew The Roof Off Big Brother On Salon.com, or something. It shouldn't've had to be me, but I'm glad the story's working. I didn't mention the story to you, did I?
Ron Hogan (grifter) Wed 23 Aug 00 06:07
Anybody here who hasn't read it yet should definitely go to Salon and do so!
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Wed 23 Aug 00 06:33
(replaces 409) Nope, not seen the Theremin documentary -- have wanted to since I read a martha Soukup review of it, years and years ago. Sarah -- well, Sakkura (around the corner from the Convergence Hotel) is a wonderful japanese restaurant - and they serve things that aren't Sushi. You could try Shabu Shabu, where you cook things in a pot at your table, for example. Or just hang out at Dreamhaven. Or, um, wander around the Walker gallery or something. Have you tried Chiang Mai (spelling probably off), the really REALLY good Thai restaurant? Shira, she plays with a band called BEDLAM, and also does the FEAST with the belly dancers(very expensive and drunken thing -- look through the window in Bad manor). She's there every weekend through Ren Fest. I heartily recommend rereading Sandman 73 before going out there... Ron -- not sure what your point is. Charteris created something that was bigger than he was, and wrote it for 40 years (well, it was ghosted for at least the last decade). The Saint is remembered, and the stories have remained more or less in print since 1920. Whereas Dennis Wheatley wrote several forgettable historical novels, and a number of -- at the time -- bestselling horror novels, most of which, if not all, are out of print today. "why is it that Wheatley's name is remembered in the public consciousness while his work is forgotten, while Charteris' name is largely unknown" ... I think that Wheatley is now almost only remembered as the author of The Devil Rides Out and To The Devil a Daughter, as they were made into movies, and among UK (and commonwealth?) adults of a certain age. I always thought Sandman would date very quickly, and that it was very much of its time. For that matter I'm surprised that Good Omens sells more and more each year. THE HAIRCUT ISSUE: I swore a mighty oath when I started American Gods that I'd not get a haircut until it was finished. The hair and the book are both pretty long now. It's not my fault. I was given the URL of some digital photos that Otto Makela took in Finland. I sometimes explain to people who want to know why I wear sunglasses in photos that my pupils don't close up as they should (which they don't). Looking at the photos, while I'm quite used to having redeye in photos (it's my natural state in flash photos) -- these photos on the other hand are weird as a number of them have, instead of red-eye, a sort of cats-eye phenomenon. And one photo (the URL of which has been removed, at the photographer's request) had both redeye and catseye. You'll have to take my word for it. ....... Martha -- you told me you were watching the web feed for Salon, but I only just went and read the article. It's really good.
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Wed 23 Aug 00 06:38
Amanda - I'll probably not be here for the next week or so, because I plan to disable all internet access while I'm gone. I'll get my e-mail through an old Dos compuserve interface. It's too much of a time sink... and I don't want to do ANYTHING except finish the book.
David Gans (tnf) Wed 23 Aug 00 09:55
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2000 22:05:26 +1000 From: Reg <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Digging in My Heels With Neil Gaiman My point was that Wheatley and Charteris were writing for the same audience, and I'm sure they didn't really care about whether their books would be read or in print seventy years later either, and yet one is still so readable whilst the other is almost painfully unreadable. I don't think one can dismiss the disparity in recognition on the grounds that Wheatley's books were made into films. The Saint has been imortalised on celuloid and videotape so many times as to make any such explanation meaningless. I don't know if it's worth pursuing the original question any further, but I will try to make it clearer. Are there any contemporary issues and attitudes that you prefer not to discuss in your work on the grounds that they are too ephemeral? On the haircut thing, I was aware of your pledge and that was the point of my mentioning it. I am not greatly concerned with your tastes in personal coiffure, but I want to read the book. (Although you do look scarily like Alice Cooper in the picture you liked to.) And Amanda, if you want a spare copy, email me. I will be happy to assist. Reg(not Ron)
Martha Soukup (soukup) Wed 23 Aug 00 09:59
The Theremin documentary is a wonder. I bought a copy of it on laserdisk after I saw it at the San Francisco International Film Festival. If Neil were ever near me and a laserdisk player-- Have fun with the book!
Elise Matthesen (lioness) Wed 23 Aug 00 11:30
<off to read Martha's article at salon.com>
Martha Soukup (soukup) Wed 23 Aug 00 12:13
I've been pre-interviewed by BBC radio! I'm still not very much like Neil, but there you go.
Laurel Krahn (lakrahn) Wed 23 Aug 00 12:41
It's an outstanding article and I'm so very happy about the attention it's getting. And that Martha's getting! Yay!
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Wed 23 Aug 00 16:25
Martha, make sure you mention THE ARBITRARY PLACEMENT OF WALLS , or ask them to mention it. Couldn't hurt. Reg -- but I don't think that what makes Wheatley unreadable now is the attitude: it's the writing. There are other writers out there from his period as bile-filled as he was -- but I'll forgive G.K. Chesterton's (or to keep it pulp, Baroness Orczy's) antisemitism, as I'll forgive Will Eisner his comedic black characters, if their sentences can be read with pleasure, and if the whole is greater than the sum. Charteris and Wheatley both wrote obscenely fast -- I doubt either of them reread, let alone rewrote. But Charteris has a lightness and a deftness of touch which means that he's readable today Even when his themes and characters are utterly dated (Hoppy Uniatz, anyone?, whereas I picked up a Charteris today and didn't even make it through the introduction. My point on the films is that that's the only way Wheatley (once a internationally best-selling novelist) is remembered. I don't think that anything that's about people is ephemeral; anything that's perfectly of its time is of every time. Does that help? n
Martha Soukup (soukup) Wed 23 Aug 00 16:27
That's why I'm not you: it never occurred to me they'd be interested in mentioning something as off-topic as my story collection. I've been letting them call me a "freelance writer for Salon.com" because it was easiest for them.
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