Whilst driving up the motorway last Saturday I received a call from a friend.
“I’ve got two tickets to see Neil Gaiman talking with Philip Pullman about fairy tales on Monday, but can’t go. Do you want them?”
After shouting “Yes!” repeatedly at the hands-free kit, I found myself sat in the audience at the Cambridge Theatre on Monday evening. It was clear that the event was a sell-out – the place was rammed. The theatre normally hosts the excellent musical ‘Matlida’, and I loved the brightly-coloured jumble of letters that formed the stage surround.
The event was introduced by host Rosie Boycott, who announced that Philip Pullman was sadly unable to join us that evening. Apparently he had taken a fall earlier in the day and wasn’t well enough to attend. This was quite disappointing (and I hope he recovers quickly), but in his stead we were introduced to our Philip Pullman ‘impersonator’ for the evening, children’s author Meg Rosoff. In addition, Audrey Niffenegger (of The Time Traveler’s Wife fame) was also hauled out of the audience to do a reading of The Three Snake Leaves from Pullman’s Grimm Tales (a retelling of the classic tales).
Despite Mr Pullman’s absence, the conversation was both interesting and entertaining. It threw up some aspects of fairy tales that I hadn’t considered before, but that I felt were worth sharing. Let me list them in an exciting, bullet-point style for you:
I confess in advance that this review may be a little vague – I listened to George Mann’s The Affinity Bridge about a month ago now and have read The Eyre Affair since then.
The Affinity Bridge is a steampunk book. It is so steampunk, in fact, that it’s as if the author had a little checklist of ‘steampunk things’ beside them as they wrote it, and diligently made sure to tick every single box before the end. But I get ahead of myself.
As you may have already predicted, the story is set in Victorian London. The scene opens with a series of seemingly supernatural murders by a luminescent policeman, which are shortly followed by a mysterious airship crash. There’s also a disease that essentially turns people into nocturnal zombies, which is mentioned frequently so that you don’t forget about it (because it’s important later on).
I’m not very good at blogging frequently – other things just seem to get in the way at the moment (but I’ll address that another day). That’s why I’m writing a quick overview of the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts an entire month after I got back from it. Never mind.
(I’ll try and follow this with ‘The Future of Publishing according to Hay’ in the next week or so, by the way, as it deserves its own post.)
On Tuesday last, I attended an event at Tate Britain about ‘designing for community-powered digital transformations’ (#DigitalTrans). I decided that I would blog about it, but then thought that it might be an interesting idea to wait and compare it with the Creative Exchange launchpad event (#CXHub) that I was attending the next day. I thought similar ideas might come out of both events, that it’d be a good comparison.
On Wednesday I went to the Creative Exchange launchpad event at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. I’ll start by saying that MOSI was a great venue, and looked like a really interesting museum – I was quite disappointed that I didn’t have time to look round it. The event was, in a word, good. I made eight pages of scrawled notes, and I only wrote down things that were interesting.
If you’re not aware of the Creative Exchange, it’s an initiative that aims to “create new products, experiences and business opportunities which empower anyone, anywhere to access, explore and create with the newly accessible collections of media, public information and data trails which form the digital public space”.
It’s a big idea, and one that I feel is very worthwhile. It’s also something that’s very relevant to our work at TIME/IMAGE. Continue reading →
I’ll start by talking about a book that seemed to me, in a number of ways, to be about endings, and how it caught me off guard.
A couple of months ago I read what is currently the latest Discworld novel – ‘Snuff’, by the esteemed Sir Terry Pratchett. It took me considerably longer than I expected, but I think that’s my fault, not the book’s. It was about goblins and tobacco and death, and it was good.
So when I finally did finish it, I was surprised to find that I felt rather bereft. It was initially hard to put my finger on why that was, though. The story had been very enjoyable and entertaining as Pratchett’s works normally are, and the ending was – without meaning to spoil it – pleasing. Yet, closing the book, I felt melancholy. I still feel that way when I think about it, in fact. Continue reading →