Neil Gaiman’s Witch’s Headstone…

I was out noodling around on youtube.com yesterday and, for reasons I can’t really explain, decided to search on Neil Gaiman, just to see what’s there. Well, as it turns out, there’s quite a bit. Neil, who’s a really entertaining speaker, travels the world talking here and there. While he’s there, perfectly nice people seem to quietly hold up their mobile phones, video what he says, and post it to youtube.com. Nothing wrong with that, I guess. You can see him being interviewed, answering questions, and even reading stories. If you search carefully, you’ll see him reading “How to Talk to Girls at Parties”, which is in my new year’s best.

There are a bunch of other readings, including one of Neil’s new story “The Witch’s Headstone”, which I think ranks amongst the best stories he’s done in the past few years. As he explains in his Q&A, the story grew out of a time when he and his young family used to live across the road from a cemetery. They had no garden of their own, so Neil would take his then infant son across to the cemetery, where they’d play amongst the headstones. That led to him imagining the tale of boy raised by ghosts in a graveyard, which would eventually evolve into the book he’s now working on, The Graveyard Book. As it turns out, “The Witch’s Headstone” is one of the early chapters of The Graveyard Book, and is really quite delightful. It’s sort of Charles Addams in Bradbury’s October Country, but in England instead.

I don’t really want to say much more about it, but the best (and first) place to read it is in Jack and Gardner’s new anthology Wizards, which contains tons of other cool stuff as well. Garth Nix has a lovely story in it, one of his best, as do  Gene Wolfe, Andy Duncan, Terry Dowling and a bunch of other people. I’ve not finished the book yet, but what I have read is good. You need to check it out.

Locus Recommended Reading list

So, the Locus Recommended Reading List has hit the stands. I’ve been involved it compiling the list for a few years now, and this one was kind of different from previous years. Normally, CHARLES has hopped a plane from the icy climes of California and headed Down Under, and we have sat on the shores of the Indian Ocean, quaffed an ale or two, and worked together on turning recommendations, reviews, thoughts, and notes into what I think is the best annual overview of the genre published anywhere in the field. Unfortunately, health is making it harder and harder for CHARLES to fly to the other side of the world, and my commitments make it difficult for me to travel to California more than once a year, so this one was done via email and telephone. And, because I’m reading an insane amount of short fiction, the book list was largely assembled by CHARLES with the help of Amelia, while I co-ordinated the short fiction list. This is good, and bad. I LOVE the recommended reading list, and love being involved in it all. I also love needing to know about the field to have to read everything. This year I’d probably read fewer recommended novels than at any other time in the past twenty years or so, and I doubt this year’ll be much different. That said, I’m getting to know short fiction pretty well, I guess.  So, check out the list, vote in the poll, and subscribe. I know I’m biassed, but I think Locus is a pretty good ‘zine.