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Issue Number : 53 - Web Site, Giants Series Movie?, Mind Matters, U.S. Convention Attendances, Current Novel, Bulletin Board, Heretics Books, Mad Goat Attack
TO: JAMES P. HOGAN MAILING LIST -- March 16, 2009
I realized somewhat belatedly that we've been overdue for another newsletter for some time. A sign of an unstressed life, I guess, is when your
calendar is still showing February when it's halfway through March. (Unstressed after the goat story, that is. More of which below.)
GIANTS SERIES MOVIE?
I've been getting a lot of mail asking about progress on the MGM option for movie and TV rights on the Giants series. I suppose anything that isn't
about something collapsing, being terminated, or needing to be bailed out by governments qualifies as good news these days. So the good news in this
instance is that, while no decision has been forthcoming for a definite go-ahead, MGM have indicated their intention to renew the option for a further
18 month period when it expires in June. I don't imagine that anyone who wasn't serious would want to do this. So the gods may still smile eventually.
But I'm not changing my lifestyle or putting down any extravagant down payments in anticipation.
Because of the publisher's being taken over by a conglomerate after release of the hardback, the mass-market paperback edition that many readers
had been waiting for never appeared. A number of readers have asked if there's any chance of a downloadable version-including a couple of teachers of
Artificial Intelligence classes who consider that it would be ideal course material. So we have commenced converting the book to an electronic format,
to be offered from the web site. More of which, anon.
TWO U.S. CONVENTION ATTENDANCES
So far I've accepted two invitations to conventions in the U.S. this year:
May 22-24, 2009, "ConQuest 40," Kansas City, MO. Guest Author
ConQuest is run by the same people who used to be in Tulsa, OK, and put
on "OKon," that I used to attend every year when I lived in California in the 80s. It was a great convention in all respects then--fun panels,
interesting people, and great partying--and the tradition hasn't changed. The convention mascot and icon was always a penguin. When asking why this
was, the answer one got was, "What else would you expect in Oklahoma in July?"
August 28-30, 2009, "Context 22," Columbus, OH. Guest of Honor
Once again, the Columbus, Ohio, crew are old friends, and I expect to
have a good time there saying hello to many familiar faces.
Further details on both the above here.
We're behind time on the current novel, tentatively entitled The Migration. There was a dead
period in the middle of last year when I hit a wall on it and spent two or three months attending to outside work around the farm instead. I'd say
that after more than 30 years of continual output, it's not really surprising that one needs this kind of break. I don't think it's what people call
writer's block. In my experience, that term has more often been claimed by comparatively new writers who are impatient to see things down on paper but
haven't got them sufficiently figured out in their head yet to put anything coherent together. It does take thought, effort, work, research, and all
the other things that don't seem to occur to those who ask writers "Where do you get your ideas from?" I think books are a bit like babies. The doctor
might tell you that the baby's due on June 27 or whatever, but I suspect it's all largely guesswork with fingers crossed behind the back. They've got
an authority image to live up to, after all. I believe that baby knows best, and when the time's right to make the debut, nothing will stop it. When
new writers tell me they've got writer's block, and what should they do about it, I tell them don't worry about it. You're five months gone and trying
to push, and nothing's happening. But if you really are a born writer, then, just like the baby, when the book is ready to be written it will be, and
nothing will stop it.
Anyway, The Migration has been moving along smoothly in recent months, and I'd say we're into the last easy straight. Things have departed
significantly from the original outline, which to me is the sign of a book that's going well. It means that the characters have taken over and are
doing things that the author would never have thought of. If they just stand there like dummies, waiting for directions, the book hasn't come to
Not a lot of activity in this department--mainly because of the above. We have:
News Unworthy?--Some cogent reporting by Sheila Casey and Matt Sullivan the
independent newspaper Rock Creek Free Press on shortcomings of the mainline position regarding AIDS.
What Consensus?--I've said several times that I'd lay off on global warming
alarmism because there's really nothing more that can be said. But the escalating foolishness and hysteria continues to reach levels that you can't
just let by. Some pointers here to sources demolishing the popularly dispensed fiction that the scientific consensus supports the claims. Science
isn't decided by consensus, but if this is the measure to be used for this subject, the reality appears to be more the other way around. But who asks
what the real scientists think?
Fusion in Your Garage--An updated online version of Eric Lignon's article.
Again, not a busy month.
Red Hot Lies by Christopher C. Horner. A revealing exposé of how
intimidation, threats, and outright lies are used to silence politically incorrect views. And still we're told it's science.
And two by Dwardu Cardona, who has put monumental effort into a study of the intriguing theory that Earth was originally a companion of a brown
dwarf star, the post-nova remnant of which we today call Saturn. God Star begins
the series, followed by Flare Star, the first two volumes of a projected 6-part
MAD GOAT ATTACK
In the last newsletter I described the lines of defenses being erected to secure the farm against invasion by stray cattle loose on the lane and a
squadron of swallows that had moved into the workshop area of the Zeppelin Shed. I was also rash enough to state that after I blocked the entrance
hole high near the hay roof that the latter were using, we would be impregnable when they return from their winter migration. But I hadn't counted on
We're on the side of a mountain with lakes and trees falling down to the village of Dromahair and Loch Gill on this side, and rising for several
miles behind before falling again to the old coal mines at Arigna (popular tourist attraction) and the town of Drumkeeran. There's all kinds of
wildlife up there, including a mix of hardy breed of wild goat that normally don't come down to inhabited levels. But this has been a severe winter
(global warming), and quite possibly the shortage of food higher up prompted some descent to more favorable climes.
Sheryl was away in the States, visiting her daughters, and as I stood in the kitchen first thing in the morning waiting for the coffee to brew
before going through to the office to get on with the book, I saw it across in the open-sided hay-barn part of the Z. Shed, nuzzling its face up
into the clothes hanging on the line. MY God! I thought. It's going to eat the laundry! So I went out to take the laundry in, figuring that the thing
would go away when a human appeared. No at all, at all. On the contrary, it came up and started pushing me with its nose, and then followed me back to
the house. And when I entered the kitchen door, it tried to follow me in. (We have a German neighbor called Michael who has kept goats and told me
later, yes, goats will do that.)
So now I'm grabbing its horns and wrestling with it in the doorway, trying to force it back out. But it has made its mind up that it doesn't want
to go out, and we're having quite a tussle of it. Now, be aware here that we're not talking about some little nanny of a thing that you see in
kiddies' petting zoos. This has shoulders not far short of a moose (at least, seemingly, when you're fighting with it), and horns like a Harley
Davidson--you go here for a picture of what I mean. And
the rancid stench of a male goat is indescribable. I've lived in the South and in the West in the USA, and I'll take eau de skunk anytime.
Things are getting desperate. But fortunately there's a coal shovel just inside the kitchen door, which I use to beat it over the head, at the same
time delivering some hefty kicks to the snout--Horatio on the bridge--which forces it back sufficiently for me to get the door closed and turn the
key. Phew! Cheeky bugger, I think to myself. I'm just about to return to my coffee making, when CRASH! An impact like a battering ram hits the door
and glass explodes all over the room. CRASH! The f***ing thing is trying to break the door down! CRASH! And the door is buckling. I think, if it gets
into the house there won't be any house left inside. So I have to go out to it. Seizing the shovel again, I march out to do or die in battle, and it's
touch and go until I scoop a shovel full of turf ash (very fine, clingy) from the bucket inside the door and deliver it full in the goat's face,
followed by several more. Having eyes, nose, and ears full of turf ash can't be pleasant, and the goat backs off long enough for me to grab the phone
just inside the door and call Tommy John, the next neighbor along the lane. The goat has retreated to the Z. shed to contemplate its next plan of
attack, when Tommy's car turns into the driveway and disgorges Tommy, armed with a hefty stick. Tommy uses his cell phone to call Michael, the German,
and between the three of us we manage to get a rope around its horns and tie it to a steel pillar supporting the hay loft. Michael then departs to
bring a trailer, which he'll use to haul the problem away.
However, when Michael returns and we manhandle the beast into the trailer, it promptly begins demolishing it from the inside. So there was no
option but shoot it there and then outside the kitchen door. There was something of an upside to it all, nevertheless. Not far away, just outside the
town of Ballymote, they have a wild bird sanctuary with eagles, vultures, and various other avians that aren't caged in at all but know the staff and
fly away and come back again when they feel like it. Well, the regulars there had a rare wintertime feast that must have lasted for about a week.
When the guy from Sligo came to fit a new door, it turned out that every one of the five security bolts down the edge of the original one had been
broken. When I asked him if he had ever seen the likes of that before, he replied, "Well, yes--on houses that have been broken into. But on those
occasions it had been done with a sledgehammer."
Anyhow, the upshot was that the goat came off getting the worst of it, and I guess the moral is that taking on humans isn't very smart. And the new
novel, it seems, will be finished after all. There is also a downside, I regret to have to tell. When I related the above account to those whom I had
believed to be friends, their reaction was universally weak-kneed laughter to the verge of collapse, with not a dry eye among the lot of them. So much
for my faith in human nature, and my fond belief in the reality of such stern qualities as compassion, sympathy, or concern for the possible demise of
one of their number. So let's hope that this will be the last such story I have to tell for a while.
With thanks again to all