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January 15th, 2003


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06:42 pm - Force four, northeast, improving, good
Thanks for the responses to the Friends-only post. Please keep 'em coming. Despite odd dreams overnight, today has indeed been a better day than yesterday already.

It's been quite a cloudless day here in Middlesbrough, so I had a nice head-clearing walk into town and back, under my woolly hat, minded of the protagonist from π. Lots of thoughts, but no conclusions. En route, I saw and nodeed at one gentleman I knew from the Cleveland Speakers Club. Incidentally, I managed to completely forget about the first meeting of the year of said club due to Christmas celebrations; accordingly, I learnt through the post two days ago that I'll be speaking for 5-8 minutes at the second meeting on Monday coming about Colourful Gardens, a topic which is ever so me. Thanks, lads.

Anyway, while in town, I tried to solve one little problem. I have a washkit which I take away with me on my travels. It consists of a canvas bag with a stick of deodorant, a hairbrush, some hotel travel shampoos and a tube of toothpaste within. Also inside this washkit is a second canvas bag containing a sponge, a toothbrush and a soapdish with soap in - that is, the things which might get wet.

The problem with this is that the contents of the second bag always start to stink very quickly. I guess that this is a result of the sponge retaining water even once you try to wring it out. Even swapping the contents of the bag for new ones, washing the inside of the bag and starting again does not stop the problem from reoccurring very quickly. It's a problem to the extent that even once I've showered in the morning I can't be sure that I'm still not smelly simply because the sponge and the soap reek.

So what I have done is purchased a new inner canvas bag, a new soapdish, a new toothbrush and - instead of a sponge - an old-fashioned flannel. (All dangerously co-ordinated in baby blue, naturally.) I will see whether this starts to stink nearly as quickly as the sponge did and will report back.

The odd thing is that I've never heard of this being an issue for anyone else before, though surely it must be an issue which people must have solved - it could well be that the original solution is theoretically correct but that I'm just doing something wrong. Is it really that rare to have a standby travel washkit ready at all times? Tips welcome!

As you've doubtless already heard - and I'm looking forward to see to what extent this is mentioned on the mainstream news - the fifth Harry Potter novel will be released on June 21st and it will be very long. 156 days and counting; far enough in the future that it's something to look forward to, near enough that it's tangible. I have no Friends born on the Summer Solstice and the fandom's pregnant ladies should have unloaded long by then. Quick checks: the date doesn't clash with anything like a games convention and the only important sporting event that day is the athletics European Cup. Forget this weekend, let's start planning OotPCon!

The length of the book will cause logistical problems; OotP is set to be over 255,000 words long. By way of comparison, Philosopher's Stone is a shade under 87,000, about a third of the length; Goblet of Fire is about 191,000 words, so OotP is roughly a third as long again; uber-fanfic Harry Potter and the Psychic Serpent is of the order of 330,000 words, so that's the comparison. Incidentally, the British edition of Goblet spreads its 191,000 words over 630 pages; fitting 255,000 words into 768 pages is going to necessitate either larger pages (unlikely) or more tightly packed pages with smaller text (more likely, but not desirable). Not so good.

There's also the issue of whether it'll be "any good" in the first place or not. With 255,000 words, some parts of it are inevitably going to be seen as weaker than others; heck, people pick apart parts of Goblet of Fire as being extraneous to the plot already. I think that the Harry Potter bandwagon is so strong that OotP doesn't need to be outstanding - it just needs not to be much worse than the rest of the series to date. It'll be interesting to know how the publishers' editors approach OotP - whether they suggest the removal of any major sections altogether. Would the editors dare to say "Look, this just isn't as good as what you've written in the past, it isn't as good as you think it is - go back, have another go and we'll change the release date from June 21st?"

Incidentally, I would love to have been a fly on the wall at Warner Brothers when they first heard how long book five will be. People have speculated that Goblet of Fire is so long that any Goblet movie would be released in two parts a month or two apart - what are they going to do for an OotP movie? A trilogy? A pay-per-view TV mini-series? Perhaps the difficulties of filming might rule movies of Goblet and OotP out altogether. Going back to print, I look forward to the cartoons where people joke about the length of books six and seven already. Although book six being longer still again seems unthinkable, would it be wise to consider the possibility of a Harry Potter book being released in two halves?

I still regard myself as a fiction reader with less confidence and ability than most. I read reasonably quickly, self-taught as a child from an article in Reader's Digest, which got me into trouble with the teachers for a while. I estimate that I read at about 500-700 wpm, so 30,000-40,000 words per hour. (By comparison, the speed reading courses tell you that most people read at 200-400 wpm and that most speed reading courses can get you up to about 600 wpm. They also suggest that speed reading can improve your reading comprehension, which is why I've idly considered them in the past.) Accordingly, I'm expecting OotP to take up most of a day. (I raced through Goblet in a four-hour train journey, though I knew that I wasn't really taking it in first time. Indeed, I remember that I cheated and jumped to the end of it at one point.)

With this in mind, I've been mulling ideas to try to get the most out of my first read through OotP. Starting to sell the book at midnight strikes me as a bit of a recipe for disaster - people will try to read the book overnight, partly in order to be the first to finish and discuss, partly so that they can't be spoiled, but they'll miss out on a night's sleep to do so, and that really doesn't seem like the best way to enjoy the book. Incidentally, I suppose the "All time zones preceding the UK are embargoed until 00:01 am BST (British Summer Time) on Saturday 21 June 2003." comment means that Australian folk will receive the book at a sensible time of day. It also wouldn't be bad at all for the folks in PST to get the book at 4pm PST on the 20th, but I don't think that's the implication.

I've long liked the idea of getting a group of fans together in order to read OotP for the first time and share the experience chapter by chapter, much like we currently do with episodic fan fiction. (Read a chapter, discuss the chapter we've all read. Read a chapter, discuss the chapter we've all read. Repeat until end.) Would it be possible in a single day, though? Not sure, but I like the idea of finding out. (Splitting it over two days seems unnecessarily chancy - perhaps we'd have to lock up the books half-way through overnight.)

There's also the possibility of hearing the story for the first time rather than reading it - that is, getting a group of fans together and reading the story out word by word so we can share the thrills. As Stephen Fry's reading of Goblet takes (I think) 21 hours, a reading of OotP might take somewhere around 28 - so a very, very long weekend. Somehow still quite a tempting proposition, though. Incidentally, I love the thought of booking out Wembley Stadium, or many huge stadia around the world, on the release day for book seven and having tens or hundreds of thousands of fans all being exposed to book seven for the first time through a celebrity reading. That strikes me as the best possible way to enjoy the end of the story - a shared experience for the ages, a Live Aid for the 21st century. I know I'd pay very heavily for a ticket to be there - and just think how much the TV and radio rights would go for...

Got to do something very cool and friendly and fannish to celebrate the solstice and the release, though! The planning starts here!
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
Current Music: Commodore 64 game mp3 of Neverending Story...

(17 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:rialtus
Date:January 15th, 2003 11:06 am (UTC)
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the fifth Harry Potter novel will be released on June 21st and it will be very long.

Jen will be quite happy to hear this, so much so that I just called her at home to tell her. Shame about the answering machine though...
[User Picture]
From:ericklendl
Date:January 15th, 2003 11:08 am (UTC)

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Re: Colourful Gardens - just talk hollyhocks for five minutes. ;-)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:January 15th, 2003 11:12 am (UTC)
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Do you think that I could get away with talking Hollyoaks for five minutes?

If so, please could you point me at someone who watches it?
[User Picture]
From:ericklendl
Date:January 15th, 2003 11:21 am (UTC)

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Umm, no. And, umm, no... is there anybody? At all?

The whole theme of the evening is probably subjects that don't really suit the speaker. The chap you nodded to is probably even now preparing notes for an extensive discussion of Potterslash.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:January 15th, 2003 02:13 pm (UTC)
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Theme of the evening: Summertime Pursuits
Exercise: Word Pictures
...apparently.
[User Picture]
From:missingdonut
Date:January 15th, 2003 12:34 pm (UTC)
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Tips welcome!

Okay, but 15% of nothing is still nothing.

The worst thing is that you're keeping the toothbrush with your soap and flannel. Remove the toothbrush and keep it with your toothpaste, although it will get wet, it won't get very wet. Plus, there's the fact that you don't want soap on your teeth... or do you?

Replacing the sponge is going to help very much so. Sponges are nothing but homes for bacteria.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:January 15th, 2003 01:06 pm (UTC)
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FWIW, the toothbrush is a "travel" type which splits into two parts - an inner part and an outer part. The bristles are on the inner part; you can slide the inner part within the outer part for safety and sanitation or place the inner part backwards onto the outer part in order to get a normal-length brush.

I bet you have exactly the same things in the US, though.
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From:missingdonut
Date:January 15th, 2003 09:36 pm (UTC)
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Interesting. I'm sure we have them in the US. I just haven't much use for a travel toothbrush; full-sized is the way to go.
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From:picklepuss
Date:January 15th, 2003 12:38 pm (UTC)
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In regards to the movie version of GoF and possibly OotP. Unless I'm mistaken doesn't the Quidditch World Cup take up something like 200 pages at the start of GoF? You can probably kiss all or almost all of that goodbye; you'll probably get the high points i.e. an introduction to Krum and the Crouch family and that's about it. Still with everything paired down, you're looking at 3 hours of movie. SO expect almost all of the time eaten up by the 3 tasks, the ball, and the ending. GoF actually lends itself fairly well to filming (that's an unbelievably relative statement) in that it's very episodic throughout. Plus there is a decreasing need for exposition with each subsequent film. I wouldn't be surprised if we end up with the following screenplay treatment (based on the first two installments):

Dursleys/Quidditch/Percy works for Crouch - 15 min
Return to Hogwarts/Doomspell Tournament/Harry is the 4th Champion? - 10 min
Rita Skeeter - 5 min
First task - 15 min
Second Task - 15 min
Pensieve - 10 min
Oh Harry likes Cho/Hermione gets pretty/Ron's a boob - 5 min
Yule ball - 15 min
Third task - 20 min
Harry vs Voldemort - 15 minutes
Aftermath: Barty Crouch revealed/Ode to Cedric/Finals are canceled - 55 minutes

With this Cuaron fella though who knows what'll happen? I'm willing to bet that there are entirely too many fandom girls crossing their fingers.

It's been an ongoing discussion between me and the wife as to whether or not to buy 2 copies so that no one is left out. She's not as big a fan as me; she said she's willing to wait until I finish it first. My turn around time isn't long though.

I love the idea of a massive celebrity reading of the last book. I would definitely pay to hear it. But the first time that reader needs a bathroom break, all hell's gonna break loose.
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From:zorac
Date:January 15th, 2003 03:13 pm (UTC)
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The continual rumours have GoF being done as two movies, released a month apart. According to Chris Columbus (who's still exec producing), the absolute minimum they reckon they can get it down to is five hours. The studio will probably want to see how the two Matrix movies go this summer before green-lighting the split, but if it does work, we get more movie and the studio gets (theoretically) double the box-office take.

Re: the celebrity reading, that would be cool. The two obvious choices would be JKR herself, or Stephen Fry who does the highly acclaimed audio books.
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From:picklepuss
Date:January 16th, 2003 06:33 am (UTC)
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Ah. I was under the impression that they were talking about shooting PoA and GoF at the same time and releasing them like 6 months apart a la the Matrix sequels. Splitting GoF in two seems like a much more fitting way to do things and I hope that's the way they go. If they do go that way I'm afraid there is a very good chance that the principal actors will not be in OotP. Hope I'm wrong.
(Deleted comment)
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:January 16th, 2003 06:25 pm (UTC)
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I do omit the sponge sometimes. The soap tends to get consumed rather more quickly when I apply it straight to my body.

Insert your own "wears the soap" gag here.
From:philonightmare
Date:January 16th, 2003 10:49 am (UTC)

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I really like this idea of yours...getting the fandom together to discuss after each chapter. Brilliant idea, but I only wish I lived near most of the fandomers (I live near three, but we haven't really gotten close yet).

The fact that the next three books (5-7) being so long, seems highly unlikely to be made a movie --that I must agree on. However, I pray they don't quit at book 3. I would love to see their version of a GoF and OoTP on screen.

With this in mind, I've been mulling ideas to try to get the most out of my first read through OotP. Starting to sell the book at midnight strikes me as a bit of a recipe for disaster - people will try to read the book overnight, partly in order to be the first to finish and discuss, partly so that they can't be spoiled, but they'll miss out on a night's sleep to do so, and that really doesn't seem like the best way to enjoy the book.

I know! Dangit, why must the competition ruin the feeling you get after reading this wonderful series? I for one am doing as you are...and sitting back, with a cup of tea in one hand and lounging by the fire, reading book 5. I mean, didn't we all get into HP before fandom? Then it should be easy to revert ourselves back into that "mode".

And Barb's series being 330,000 words!?! Jeesh, I guess that's why I took me two days to read everything again (I re-read it). But honestly, if half the fandom can get away with fiction that long, then so shall JKR. She's got the guns and the power to do it, who's gunna stop her? Creative license indeed, WB will just have to deal with the repercussions of such long stories. I for one can learn to love all the little details, all the most insignificant things JKR puts in her books...I mean, isn't that what makes it her world?

The fact alone, that she can still come up with plot ideas to surprise, shock, and dismay us is a trait not found in all authors except the best. Perhaps, many people will not like all the detail, but to me, it appeals.

Although book six being longer still again seems unthinkable, would it be wise to consider the possibility of a Harry Potter book being released in two halves?

*laughs* I would SO be laughing if that was going to be the case. But just imagine...a lengthy Harry Potter Tome! I mean, the people who are Anti-Harry will have a field day with this...the fact that the Harry Potter books are longer than the Bible, the Quran, the Testament, the Torah...and all those other religious books, put together! *shakes head* ;)

I truly wonder, if she would do that though. I've seen horrendously long books before, and they were by no means for children, and I'm supposing that she will up the antee so to speak (the rating) for the last two books. The murder, the snogging (I hope!), and the story alone should most definitely be rated higher if she (JKR) is going to make Harry grow up.

When I say grow up, I'm saying that Harry will have to get his first kiss...
Harry will keep on crushing on girls/boys/whatever...
Harry will be a *cough* boy...

And the list goes on. I mean, don't all Sixteen/Seventeen year old boys and girls have a sex drive that could rival Voldemort's obsession with Harry's death? I pray JKR doesn't turn this into porno-rama or anything too racy, but still, the kids that follow this series are growing up, as are we (fandom folks), and thus Harry must grow up too.

This turned out quite long now, didn't it? ;)

--Eram

[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:January 16th, 2003 12:09 pm (UTC)
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Um, Psychic Serpent alone is 330,000 words. Not sure how long Time of Good Intentions was, but I'd guess it was on the high side of 200K and that the trilogy plus Lost Generation (once they're finished) will come to somewhere around - and this needs the Dr. Evil for full effect -

one meeeeeeeeeeeellion words.

Ahem, I'm being silly. I'm guessing that books five onwards will have a greater emphasis on mid- and late- teenage issues, but probably not as much as most older readers would like. (Until book seven, when anything goes.) It does seem unlikely that JKR could try to make a policy of, say, "minimum of four years younger than Harry before you should read it" stick.

I also think it's more likely than not that there will be at least some sort of Encyclopedia Potteranica at some point, even if it's just another schoolbook or two.
From:philonightmare
Date:January 16th, 2003 12:14 pm (UTC)

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one meeeeeeeeeeeellion words.

Oh dear... *can't help but laugh, imagining this*

Wow, I thought you were talking about the series as a whole! 0_0 Barb sure is a wonderful author to be able to write that much and still stick through it!

(Until book seven, when anything goes.) It does seem unlikely that JKR could try to make a policy of, say, "minimum of four years younger than Harry before you should read it" stick.

I hope so. I'd really love to see how she writes her stories with a bit 'o innocent love in it. You do know that her first two novels were romance, right?

I also think it's more likely than not that there will be at least some sort of Encyclopedia Potteranica at some point, even if it's just another schoolbook or two.

There already is one! Online! ;)



[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:January 16th, 2003 12:26 pm (UTC)
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June 21st means that there is a pretty negligible chance of either the Draco Trilogy or Triangle Prophecy being finished "in time" - really, I wouldn't like to see Cassie or Barb deliberately try a rush job. Can't help feeling that somehow it's vaguely not going to be the same, though.

We'll see!
[User Picture]
From:primroseburrows
Date:January 16th, 2003 01:35 pm (UTC)
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The Trilogy is set in seventh year, so there probably won't be too much worry over it. I've never read Triangle Prophecy.

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