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Showing posts from April, 2021

The Supreme Lie

The mind of Geraldine McCaughrean is one of the great natural wonders of our universe. Ever since I first discovered her books in the early 1990s I have been eagerly awaiting each new one, like an astronomer watching for radio bursts from a distant nebula, eager for clues about what’s going on in there. In her previous novel, the Carnegie Medal winning Where the World Ends , Geraldine restricted herself to a small cast and a single location - not even an island, just a storm-scoured sea stack where her characters were marooned. The Supreme Lie takes the opposite approach, creating a whole imaginary country and cramming it with people and animals.  We are in Afalia, which I visualise as being somewhere in South America (there are snakes, fire ants, and mighty rivers) and somewhere in the Twentieth Century (there are cars, planes, and telephones ). The charismatic ruler, Madam Suprema, is somewhere on the Eva Peron/Servalan border, but even she is unable to cope when terri

Lord God

"I know they say 'God is an Englishman' - but I never thought He'd be quite this English..." Last summer, in the gap between Lockdowns, Brian Mitchell and I finally sat down and wrote Lord God , a musical comedy we'd been talking about doing ever since we finished The Ministry of Biscuits, twenty years ago. And on June 10th this year it will have its premiere at Brighton Open Air Theatre , with a tour to follow as soon as things settle down a bit and venues become available again. Poster by Sarah McIntyre When the Lord God is persuaded by His retainer and chief-cook-and-bottle-washer Gabriel to take an incognito holiday to a Devonshire seaside hotel (largely to get Him out from under His angels’ feet), He looks forward to a fortnight of u ninterrupted tennis, billiards, tea on the terrace and the latest Agatha Christie. But the presence of campaigning atheist Professor ‘Minty’ Tweddle and her fiance, notoriously hard-to-please theatre critic Rex Addis

Space Oddity

Often when I'm doing events I get asked, 'What was the first thing you wrote?', and I always talk about Spike & Spook , a story about a spaceman and his dog which I remember writing when I was little. As I recalled it, it just went, 'One day Spike and Spook went to the moon, but they met a monster, so they came home again THE END.' But last week my dad was going through some old boxes and he came across the ORIGINAL STORY! It turns out to be a lot more complex than I'd remembered, and part of a whole series - the cover of the notebook bears the proud boast 'Spike and Spook for 5 and a harf pagis' . Here's the first story. It's quite hard to decipher, so I've added a slightly corrected version below. Spike and Spook: The Spaceman Who Saw A Thing Wuns a spaceman went to the moon with his dog and he saw a thing so he went out in his rocet to see wat it was but everetim he got ner it floo of. So he told the uthur spaceman who was with him and

The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy (2)

After the cult success of its first series, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy returned to Radio 4 on Christmas Eve 1979. I remember listening to it when it went out, and I've always thought of that episode as the Christmas Special. Actually there's nothing Christmassy about it, it's the same length as all the other episodes, and it picks up pretty much where the first series ended. Nowadays, it's just bundled in as the first episode of Season Two, which was broadcast a couple of weeks later in January 1980. It’s a sign of how big HHG had become that it made the cover of that week's Radio Times... The fact that Douglas Adams jettisoned or repurposed so much of the Series Two material in the later books suggests he wasn’t happy with it, but at the time I thought it was great, and it still contains some of my favourite sequences. It opens with Zaphod  arriving on Alpha Centauri to visit the headquarters of Megadodo Publications, publishers of the eponymous