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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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SF in London

My SF experience in London started with a Neil Gaimen event last week, to promote his new short story collection Fragile Things, which he started off by reading one very short poem, and one medium length short story from. Then we moved right to the Q&A.

He started off with his FAQ, which these days consists almost entirely of movie news. Beowulf will be out next year. It's computer generated using the same process used on Polar Express, only a generation or two more advanced (he hasn't seem any of the final renderings yet). Neil said it was great fun watching Anthony Hopkins in a motion capture suit. And Angeline Jolie is Grendal's mother.

Corilane is being done as a stop-motion film. Neil hasn't been to the set of that on as it would involve standing around all day while an arm is moved.

He's started working on a movie project with Penn (of Penn and Teller) about a Welshmen called Jones who, while in a Turkish prison camp during WWI, started a stage magician act with an Australian magician. When the Turks became convinced they had actual spiritual powers and could help them locate a lost Armenian treasure, they played along so they could use it to escape. It'll be based on the book Jones wrote about the whole episode, the title of which I've forgotten. Neil said it took them some time to track down who currently has the film rights (David Lean had them at one point) but they finally found that it was  Jones'  grand-daughter, so they are talking with her and things are moving ahead.

Finally, Terry Gilliam is the first and only choice by Neil and Terry Pratchett for the Good Omens movie, so they decided to  sell him the rights for one groat.  They chose a groat because 10% of it (for the agent) is a farthing. But Gilliam is going around saying he's doing Good Omens and Neil and Pratchett are still groatless, even after sending Gilliam helpful eBay links.

And he's considering what to do to celebrate the 20th anniversary of  Sandman, which is coming up in 2008/2009 depending on how you do the counting.

A few days after that was the monthly meeting for the British Science Fiction Association, which is held in a pub oddly enough. The format is that they have a SF guest who is interviewed by another SF person. This month it was the artist Judith Clute being interviewed by FarahMendlesohn with John Clute throwing out some asides and being told to shut up. A raffle is held at the end of the meeting to pay for buying the guest dinner (see next paragraph). I purchased a strip of tickets for myself and one for owlfish and let her pick which strip she wanted. Of course, she won both a hardcover and a paperback with that strip. She says she only ever wins raffles when I'm around (which last happened at a Kung-Fu Friday showing we went to together). As the paperback looked too scary for her, she let me have that one.

Afterwards, people went to an Italian restaurant who's claim to fame was that it was the site of a hostage taking in 1975 (the newspapers detailing the event are all over the walls). Got to talk to Farah for a while about the sad business of running cons, and how the national British SF con, Eastercon, is likely not to do well in Liverpool next year (the con floats around different cities). The hotel being used for it accounts for 80% of all the hotel crime in the entire city, and the last time the con was there, things like laptops vanishing from locked guests rooms happened. the BBc event did a piece on how the hotel staff was in league with the local fences. Of the few people there who said they were going to go, they will be staying in different hotels.

A few nights ago was the Terry Pratchett event to promote the third Tiffany Aching / Wee Free Men book Wintersmith. He was interviewed first, and that didn't go so well. Both owlfish and I thought that the interviewer did too much talking herself, and Terry's answers were sort of rambling. The Q&A was much better and ran about 20 minutes longer than scheduled. The fourth (and very likely last) Tiffany Aching book will be called Wearing Midnight and Terry claims he has no idea what it's about yet, he just likes the title. The next standard Diskworld will be Making Money and will be the return of Moist Von Lipwig and his girlfriend, Adora Belle Dearhart. Terry's also concerned with the amount of Lord Vetinari fandom that was evident in the questions (he calls them "Dark Clerks"), because the man is a tyrant after all.

Alan Moore is reading in this series on Oct. 12, and I'm going to miss that one. Darn.

Finally, visited Forbidden Planet, the biggest SF bookstore in the city today. It certainly has it all. Books, DVDs, manga, anime, comics, loads of Doctor Who, action figures galore on two floors.

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Beowulf will be out next year. It's computer generated using the same process used on Polar Express

The tech isn't good enough yet for them to be able to climb out of the Uncanny Valley on the "realistic" side yet, so hopefully "a generation or two more advanced" means they're going for a more stylized look.

Was there any explanation for why the con would choose such a corrupt hotel?

Was there any explanation for why the con would choose such a corrupt hotel?

Not one I heard, but no one from the Liverpool group was at that meeting to defend it.

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