“God told me to do it.”

Some of the best news out of yesterday was that Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, has a new book coming out…

It is: The Good Man Jesus And The Scoundrel Christ. What a gorgeous title. Apparently the plot is a bit of what if (folks, your entire religion is based on wizards and magic and questions of “what if,” as you know) Mary had given birth to two sons, Jesus and Christ. The one who is Jesus is the good son, the one told about in the gospels. And the one called Christ? What if he was Jesus’ evil twin?

Ah, glorious. You know we love EVIL TWINS here at Counterforce.

Also, we love Philip Pullman. The His Dark Materials trilogy, if you’ve yet to read it, is brilliant and fun. Yes, it’s a bit (well, maybe more than a bit) of an attack on the catholic church, but it’s hardly just that. It’s some of the finest literature for children (and adults) in years, imaginative in it’s scope and smart in the design of it’s characters, and a beautiful reminder that the box you’re thrust into by those who claim to know better than you isn’t necessarily the world you have to accept, and the world you want is the one you have to create all around you…

They adapted the first novel in the series, The Golden Compass (as it was titled here in the US, but it’s called Northern Lights in Pullman’s native UK), was adapted as a movie a few years ago, and it’s not terrible, but it’s also not terribly fantastic either, despite strong casting. Really, it just suffers from poor execution and from what I would classify as a serious lack of balls on those who sought to bring it to life.

Sorry, I could really go on forever about that but I was too busy fantasizing about all the wacky shenanigans I could get into with my evil twin…

Writing through time and space.

So, in my talking about the works of Russell T. Davies, especially on Doctor Who and “The End Of Time,” parts one and two the other day, I totally neglected to mention this:

The Writer’s Tale, a compilation of emails sent back and forth between Davies and journalist Benjamin Cook over the course of one year in the production and creation of the show, from the “Voyage Of The Damned” Christmas special and thru the fourth series to the following Christmas special, “The Next Doctor.”

This is quite an amazing book, more than the usual fluff that might be put out to cash in on the show’s fame, but more of an in depth and beautifully honest discussion by two people. And Davies is quite the figure, ever the “real” writer, primarily existing in the lonely twilight, chain smoking and pounding away on a keyboard, ironing out frustrations and finding the mad joy in the stories he’s making. Now, no book can truly capture the spark of creation that exists in a writer’s mind just the same as no science text can really tell you about the Big Bang, but this is a fascinating attempt.

Somehow Cook is both silent in the tale, letting Davies assume the full spotlight as he should, letting him become amazing candid, and also conjuring up the landscape to prompt more from the screenwriter. You eavesdrop on these men for something like 500 pages and it’s brilliant, sometimes cheeky and sometimes guilt-ridden and scared, letting the media personages fade away. You’d think this would something solely for the Doctor Who nuts out there, but it’d make a lovely gift for a writer who understands what it’s like pull shapes out of the ether, and Davies gives the craft the size and the majesty it deserves. And somehow, the book just doesn’t feel long enough.

…which lead to good news, I discovered quite by accident, since they’re revising and expanding the book for it’s upcoming paperback release, retitled to The Writer’s Tale: The Final Chapter, and presumably covering the creation of the last specials to feature David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor before Steven Moffat and Matt Smith take over. I can say that, without a doubt, I’ll be getting that as soon as it comes out.

Should be exciting. And I can only hope that Steven Moffat would do a similar project someday. As good as Davies is at these big crowd-pleasing and sweet, sometimes metaphysical, romps of adventure and romance, Moffat is just the same, but simpler, more tragic, more dark, and more human. He falls into the same category, for me, along with writers like Charlie Kaufman or Darin Morgan or Joss Whedon or Amy Hempel or Don Delillo or even Grant Morrison, creators whom I’d love to dissect the inner workings of their creative impulses, the way they move and think. And ultimately steal some inspiration from too, of course.

I’d possibly through Neil Gaiman on that list too, who I mentioned briefly and in passing here, because, while I don’t love everything he puts out, I admire his relentless entries into the creative. Not that Gaiman isn’t famous enough, but he really deserves the empire we’ve handed so easily to Stephen King. Of course, in my mind, the persistent rumors that Gaiman (and also possibly His Dark Materials‘ Phillip Pullman as well) might pen an episode of Doctor Who under Moffat’s tenure don’t exactly hurt either.

by Ape Lad, from here.

Speaking of writers…

How To Talk To Girls At Parties” by Neil Gaiman.

A short film based on Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama.

Picasso’s Guernica and Roberto Bolaño’s 2666.

Tk’tk’tk” by David D. Levine.

A Study In Emerald” by Neil Gaiman, a brilliant combination of the world of Sherlock Holmes intertwined with the Cthulhu mythos. As good as this story is, I should warn you that it’s really for those “hardcore” fans of the Holmes stories.

Warren Ellis talking about hauntology.

Bruce Sterling on the state of the world here in 2010.

The Nine Billion Names Of God” by Arthur C. Clarke.

I, Cthulhu” by Neil Gaiman. Is it Cthulhu Cthursday, right?

Oliver Wetter’s The Call Of Cthulhu, from here.