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Science Fiction Writers Share Their Work

By Adam Brown

Neil Gaiman and Craig Shaw Gardner spoke in Rm. 10-250 last Thursday as part of the Readings in Science Fiction lecture series sponsored by the Media In Transition project and the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies.

Gardner, known for his fantasies Revenge of the Fluffy Bunnies and The Changeling War, which he described as “The movie Pulp Fiction meets Lord of the Rings”, read a short story titled “Good Repair”, about a man seemingly mugged by a computer repairman who is testing a simulation.

Gaiman, famous for his work on the Sandman series of comic books published by DC Comics, mentioned that noted horror writer H.P. Lovecraft based his setting Miskatonic University on MIT, and read a parody of Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” entitled “Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar” from his anthology Smoke and Mirrors.

The story involved an American tourist named Ben Lasseter taking a walking tour of the British coastline, which he would not recognize if it were to “dance through his bedroom at the head of a marching band singing ‘I’m the British coastline’ while accompanying itself on the kazoo,” Gaiman said.

Speakers address questions

After the stories, the audience asked the speakers a variety of questions. Both guests were asked about the fans who use characters from their work as divine images. Both authors expressed the sentiment that it was out of their hands once the words were on the page, and Gaiman went on to relate the story of a murder that appeared to be related to or inspired by his work on the Sandman comics.

When asked what advice he had for prospective writers, Gardner recommended that stubbornness and stupidity served him well in trying to find publication. Gaiman said that journalism was a good place to start, as it taught one to write to a deadline. Quoting Ray Bradbury, he said that “you have a million words of garbage in you” and that journalism was as good a way as any to release them.

Neil Gaiman also told stories relating to his being asked to write a script for a translation of a Japanese animÉ movie, which he seemed to find both wonderful and frustrating. He also related an incident during the British Broadcasting Company production of a miniseries based on his novel Neverwhere, when the budget at the BBC forced them to use a cow named Albert for “The Great Beast of London.”

Gardner is continuing his series The Changeling War under a pseudonym, and Gaiman is working on a movie version of Neverwhere, as well as a movie based on the Sandman series.