Episode 14 - Sandman with Tade Thompson

Dan Jones

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We're joined today by Tade Thompson, the multi award-winning author of such books as Rosewater, Making Wolf, Far From the Light of Heaven, and the Molly Southbourne novellas. He is also a self-confessed comics junkie, which he proved when he joined us last year to delve into the great WATCHMEN. This year Tade talks with us about Sandman, arguably Neil Gaiman's greatest piece of work, and another example of the comic book medium bursting free from its pulpy roots and demonstrating that it can stand up as art and literature. Sandman's mantelpiece, groaning under the weight of a World Fantasy Award (the only comic to have achieved this), a Bram Stoker Award, and no fewer than 26 Eisner awards, attests to this. The recent and long-awaited Netflix adaptation of Sandman starring Tom Sturridge has also been a worldwide success.

Be warned! This show comes with huge spoilers not just for the first couple of volumes of Sandman, which have been adapted by Netflix, but for the whole comic book series, and we will be discussing the final ending. You have been advised!

@Phyrebrat and I talk with Tade about the psychoanalytic and mythological structures that form the foundation of Sandman, and particularly the characters of Dream and his siblings. We discuss our capacity as humans to use our dreams to simulate strategies in the waking world, and why dreams rub up against desires. Tade walks us through the history of the Sandman IP, and we pontificate on whether a piece of work such as this can be fully formed in the mind of the author, or whether it was discovered as Gaiman progressed through the telling.

We also discuss horror more generally, reflecting some recent conversations on the Chrons boards, and how to best define that slippery genre. In particular we talk about Tade's most recent novella Jackdaw, a magnificent exploration into obsession, art, the creative act, and its relationship to science.

Elsewhere @The Judge wraps up the topic of plagiarism, with some advice to authors on how we can protect ourselves against copyright infringement, or having your work stolen. Important stuff for all writers, so take note. Our winner from January's 75-word challenge is @Ashleyne and, staying with our topic of dreams, we see what happens when Captain Halkmilkcarton from Mars Radio 14 attempts to stay awake for three weeks straight, courtesy of @AnRoinnUltra.

Listener Poll
Lastly, please fill out our very short poll (see your podcast platform), which is going to inform some future content we're bringing to the show.

Next Month
Next month we'll be joined by none other than @HareBrain, author of the Fire Stealers series, including The Goddess Project and The Empyreus Proof, to talk about John Boorman's 1981 cinematic take on the Arthurian myth, Excalibur.

Index
[0:00:00 - 0:51:23] Tade Thompson talk part 1
[0:51:24 - 54:53] Skit 1
[0:54:54 - 1:08:18] - The Judge's Corner
[1:08:19 - 1:09:51] - 75-word challenge winner
[1:09:52 - 1:12:25] - Skit 2
[1:12:25 - 2:01:46] - Tade Thompson talk part 2
[2:01:46 - 2:03:43] - Credits and close

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Best one so far IMO. Tade is a really interesting and wildly enthusiastic guest and the conversation in both halves ripped along (and though I have some familiarity with Sandman, I'm by no means a fan). I love the Mars Radio stuff too, and TJ's plagiarism round-up was really good.

I've always found it a bit difficult to listen to whole podcasts of this length because I don't have the patience to just sit and listen, and I can't listen and do something else, so in the past I've tended to dip in and out. BUT! I've now found I can do the number puzzles in the daily paper and not miss a word, somehow. They must use different areas of the brain.
 
I thoroughly enjoyed the Watchmen Chronscast last year. Tade's enthusiasm is infectious, and his knowledge and insight are thrilling. All participants in the episode were stellar.
I have many 'casts to catch up on, this year; Rosewater, also, is in my TBA (To Be Audibled) pile.
Greatly looking forward to HB's appearance next month.
 
The only thing I have a problem with in listening to Tade Thompson is that I'm intimidated by his breadth of knowledge...on seemingly everything! That said, he is one of the most brilliant people to listen to in discussion, probably for that same knowledge base.

A brilliant episode, on something I only have limited experience with, graphic novels. I'm now considering buying Sandman, as well as bringing Rosewater further up my TBR pile.

Like Harebrain, I sometimes struggle with listening to long podcasts, but I've found that I can manage to listen on a long walk into town, or while I'm working on walls of spreadsheet data for the day job. Not if I'm having to proper sentences, though.
 
So glad they’re going down well

I think if Dan and I had our way, Tade would be involved in every episode! He’s so easy-going, too.

Re length of podcasts, I think we’re starting to train you lot on the flexibility of podcasts. There are fifteen minute ones and there are three hour ones. The way to digest them isn’t necessarily in one go but in bits and pieces as you wish.

Don’t forget that Dan is careful to put the content timings for the episodes in the show notes so listeners can dip in and out to the sections they only want to hear. Eg I know someone who only listens to TJ’s bits!

I say this as someone who loves podcasts: as a freelancer working in over twelve schools all over the capital I commute around 3-5 hours per day (more than I’m actually teaching, often). Podcasts are a great companion for me. I love music but I teach hip hop and pan-African dance all day so the lady thing I want to listen to when traveling is music!
 
Somewhat belatedly, I've finally got around to producing a bullet-point version of my talk about trying to protect oneself from plagiarism claims which I've now posted in the Toolbox The Toolbox -- The Important Bits

As always there is no detail and little context, so it's best to listen to the talk and just use the Toolbox post as an aide-memoire.
 
A judgement which has some bearing on the issue of copyright infringement has today been published which, had it come just a few weeks ealier, I'd have immediately pounced upon so as to include it in my talk about protecting ourselves from plagiarism claims. https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content...nd-Anor-FINAL-Judgment-IP-2021-000111-003.pdf

The judgement relates to the 2019 John Lewis/Waitrose Christmas advert and subsequent book about an excitable dragon who couldn't control his fire so eg melted snowmen; the Claimant's case being that her own story about a dragon with the same tendencies had been copied.

This comment by the Judge sets out the issue of access to the earlier work::

There is no direct evidence that [anyone involved in the advert or subsequent book had access to the Claimant's work] so the question is whether I can properly draw an inference that it was both seen and copied, as the Claimant asks me to do.​
I do not consider that I am able to do so. This is not a case where the work said to be copied is so ubiquitous or well-known that it is more likely than not that it has been accessed, or the similarities are so numerous and such a large part has been taken, that coincidence is a less likely explanation than copying, or that there is something common to the allegedly infringing work and the work said to be copied which can only be explained by copying (such as a printing error or other mistake, for example).​

Of more practical help, the advertising agency behind the advert had actually undertaken a search for dragon-themed books after the main work on the advert was done but before its launch in order to check if there were any that had similarities to what they proposed. They could produce a list of some 90 children's books involving dragons and confirmed they'd obtained copies of some of them to check them thoroughly, keeping notes of dates and what was found. The Claimant's book wasn't one of them.

So that's another path to consider for self-protection -- doing a search for books with the same themes/ideas and checking how close or otherwise they are to your own concept. Do that after the main work on your story is complete, but before publication, and keep dated notes of what you find.
 

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