Tag: His Dark Materials

What the Blog Intends

“The intentions of a tool are what it does. A hammer intends to strike, a vise intends to hold fast, a lever intends to lift. They are what it is made for. But sometimes a tool may have other uses that you don’t know. Sometimes in doing what you intend, you also do what the knife intends, without knowing it.”

— Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass

I’m reminded of this passage when I think of this blog, surprisingly enough. Havealittletalk, I’ve discovered, has its own intentions.

(more…)

Public Domain Images: Polar Bears and Blue Angels, Submarines and Ships of the US Navy

Polar bears attract my attention these days since I am a big fan of Iorek Byrnison, king of the armoured bears of Svalbard, and one of the few admirable adults in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Once Upon a Time in the North. Now, armoured bears aren’t polar bears — after all, they wear armour and talk, for starters — but in our world polar bears resemble them in a few ways: both are left-handed and both are formidable and intimidating, in or out of armour.

I was hastily scrolling through one of those Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: emails of unusual pictures, when I stopped at  an image of a polar bear and what was identified as a — submarine!

Read more here.

How Rough Is It? Or, Philip Nicholas Pullman Has Always Been Philip Nicholas Pullman.

I understand the concept of the Rough Guides’ travel series. It is intended for those whose desire to travel is greater than their disposable income.  Rough then is used as an antonym for Luxury. Fine.

But why would anyone want their reference book rough? Rough as opposed to what? Fact-checked?

I haven’t ever used a Rough Guides travel book, and I never will. If the same fact-checking standards apply to the travel and reference series, I wouldn’t trust one to help me find my way out of a paper bag.

I’ve been blogging about Paul Simpson’s The Rough Guide to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials this week. Simpson is identified as the author and he owns the copyright (in my American edition). But he had help, so to speak. There’s a masthead on the copyright page. Let’s look at this:

  • Text Editor: Paul Simpson
  • [designers]
  • Proofreading: Lesley Turner, Martin Rosser, Ian Cranna
  • Writing: Paul Simpson, Tom Bullough

First of all, I  know from painful experience that a writer should not be his or her own editor.  We’ll leave that for now and look at the other list: 

  • Series Editor: Mark Ellingham [not any longer: Andrew Lockett is the Man] 
  • Editors: Peter Buckley, Duncan Clark, Tracy Hopkins, Sean Mahoney, Matt Milton, Joe Staines, Ruth Tidball
  • Director: Andrew Lockett

Now I know we all make mistakes. But couldn’t one of these 13 people have checked the name of the author of their book’s subject? Is that expecting too much?

From page 14 of The Rough Guide:

On his website (www.philippullman.com [sic]), Philip Nicholas Outram (as he was born–he became Pullman later in honour of his stepfather) sums up his early life with the dry observation that “I was born in Norwich…”

In pages 14 to 17, Pullman’s father is identified four times as Alfred Outram.

Boy, do we need to have a little talk.  Philip Pullman is Philip Pullman. He was never Philip Outram.His father’s name was Alfred Outram Pullman. The story about Philip abandoning his father’s name to honor his step-father is balderdash, poppycock, or whatever you want to call it. It just plain isn’t true.

(more…)

Not All Balloons Come from Oz…Rough Guide Saga continued

Back in the late summer of 2007, before the release of The Rough Guide to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and the movie The Golden Compass, I remarked to Pullman in an email note that I thought the best cinematic portrayl of the bond between a dæmon and its person was the relationship between Toto and Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

I was flabbergasted when he responded that although he knew some of the songs from the movie, he had not seen it, nor had he read Baum’s novel. I had assumed that every child in the English-speaking world during the 1960s watched The Wizard of Oz annually, just as so many American kids did, that it was as much a shared cultural experience as Beatlemania.

But a little research revealed that the BBC aired the movie infrequently at best (which raises all kinds of questions about The Dark Side of the Moon).

Imagine my surprise the first time I picked up  The Rough Guide to flip through to a half-page still from The Wizard of Oz and then to read:

The story of Oz–in celluloid and literary form–has had a significant influence on Pullman’s imagination. As the fantasy writer J.L. Bell has shown, Pullman’s The Scarecrow And The [sic] Servant is directly influenced by Oz, paying homage to specific scenes and character names. 92

Oh really? I tracked down the Bell essay, a post on his blog ozandends from May 2006. In fact, Bell stops far short of claiming that Pullman was directly influenced by movie or book.

(more…)

Rights and Wrongs: a little talk about publishers and authors

Publisher to Author: You do the work. We pay you nothing. You relinquish all rights to your work forevermore. Oh, and about that word “commissioned” in the Guidelines. It means nothing.

 

You’re thinking, she’s kidding, right?

 

You are wrong. Let me tell you a little story.

 

I am the author of a book about Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. You’ll be hearing more about that later.

 

I was asked by a press, founded in 1887, which I will call – wait while I pull something out of the blue here, don’t want any litigation in my life —  “Closed Session” to write an essay for a book about His Dark Materials, a forthcoming volume in a series. By the way, there are 37 titles in this series.

 

The Guidelines sent by the editor included this statement: “4. This is a commissioned essay. Be prepared to revise your essay several times in cooperation with the volume editor and the series editor. Even the very best essays require some revision.”

 

Commissioned=money, right?

 

As the deadline approached I started fretting. If this is a “commissioned” work, does that mean it is a “work for hire.” Won’t that mean I’m selling my rights? And why haven’t I gotten a contract or agreement or something of that ilk? Shouldn’t that come before I’ve done the work and sent it off?

 

So I asked for clarification. The volume editor told me that there is no payment for the work (but I would get 10 copies of the book! If I had 9 kids, I might have some use for these.). And he included a clause from previous contracts to indicate what I could expect:

 

You hereby grant all right, title, and interest in the Work of every
kind, nature, and description to us, including, but not limited to (a)
the right to use, print, publish, license, exploit, sell or otherwise
dispose of the Work and any translation thereof in such form as we may
at any time see fit; (b) all subsidiary rights therein, such as internet
or intranet on-line network rights, electronic database, CD-ROM,
mechanical, or other electronic storage system (video or audio) rights,
including without limitation, e-book rights, and stage, radio,
television, and commercial exploitation rights, and the like; (c) all
publication rights therein, whether in book form or in magazines or
newspapers or electronic form, or otherwise; and (d) the right to secure
copyright in the Work in our or the Publisher*s own name and for us or
its own benefit in any country throughout the world and in any language
and to secure any renewal of copyrights.  Without limiting the
foregoing, you agree that we may transfer all grant of rights hereunder
to the Publisher.”

 

Reader, I bristled. Time to have a little talk…

(more…)