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Philip Pullman is set to speak at a a day conference for library user groups in October, hosted by The Library Campaign in association with Voices for the Library.

The day will be “a chance for users to compare notes, find out more about the issues confronting them and produce some proposals for future action both locally and nationally”; according to organisers.

The event will at the University of London Union on Malet Street, London. Registration is £15. (email:librarycam@aol.com).


Last month, we gave YOU a chance to put your questions to Philip Pullman! We got so many questions in, and below are the few that we liked the best, along with Pullman’s answers. Congratulations if your question was asked!

When you were writing His Dark Materials, did you randomly take objects from your environment and make them meaningful, or did you take places that meant something and make them stand out? I have tried to write a novel myself and it just sounded incredibly stilted. - Craig

PP: I don’t think there was anything random about it. Either I chose things because they were meaningful already (such as Iorek Byrnison’s name – it had to be Nordic, of course) or things that just appeared to me turned out to be full of meaningful connections later one (such as the idea of dæmons).

As for finding your writing stilted, don’t worry about that. Just keep going. Your own style will develop the more you write.

Do you have extensive experience in dealing with adolescents/ teens? The ability to connect with that age group is singular and really only found in the best authors. Do you use your own children/ grandchildren as a model or do you actually drop back into that feeling yourself? - Craig

PP: I did teach children of Lyra’s age for twelve years, so I suppose I was familiar with the sort of thing they were interested in. it’s not so easy using your own children for that sort of research, because they grow up so quickly. Teaching is better, because every year there’s a new lot of twelve-year-olds or whatever. And there’s my own memory, which as I grow older becomes more and more important to me.

Why is the name of Lyra’s dæmon “Pantalaimon”? I know, that “Pan” means “all” in greek and “Eleimon” means “merciful”. So is it correct, that the name should be “Allways merciful” – if so, why? It doesn’t seem to me, that Pan is more merciful than the others. Or is it just because you liked the name of St. Panteleimon? – Alex

PP: I didn’t know anything about St Pantaleimon. I just knew that that would be his name. I suppose I just liked the sound of it. Perhaps that’s one of those things that turn out to be meaningful later on (like the answer to the question above).

Clearly parents name a child, but who names the child’s daemon? – Lincoln

PP: The parents’ dæmons, of course.

Exeter College in Oxford is the basis for Jordan College, in Lyra’s Oxford. Exeter has its own logo, does Jordan College have its own logo/coat of arms? If not, what would you consider its logo should represent? – nanaki

PP: Well, firstly, it wouldn’t be called a logo. It would be a coat of arms. If I had to design a coat of arms for Jordan College, I suppose one element of it might be a representation of a river (for the river Jordan). Then I’d have to think about who founded the college, and when, and in what circumstances, and work out how to represent those things, if they were important.

Do you watch Doctor Who, and if so how would you go about writing an episode for it? – Peter

PP: I do sometimes, but I don’t know enough about it to write an episode. Anyway I prefer to work with my own characters than with someone else’s.

Are there any plans for an adaptation of The Tiger in the Well? – Ronni

PP: Not at the moment. There was a script that someone wrote to follow the BBC productions of The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North, but I wasn’t happy with it. Nor did I like the first two enough to be very keen to see them do a third. All in all, I was disappointed. But there we are.

Stay tuned for our October contest, coming soon!

26 September 2011 @ 03:39 pm
Pullman is the guest this week on the BBC’s “Five Minutes With” show. In the video he speaks about the importance of storytelling, whether he believes in God, why he doesn’t think about his audience and his favourite book.
17 September 2011 @ 05:42 pm
There is one day left to enter our September contest, so get your entries in if you haven’t already! This month we’re giving you the chance to ask Philip Pullman a question!

We’re looking for creativity, not a question he’s been asked a million times before. You can send up to three questions to us. We’ll pick our favourite from all of your suggestions, and Pullman will answer it for us!

Send your question(s) in to us at contest@bridgetothestars.net, with the subject line “September Contest” by 11:59pm GMT on the 17th of September. This contest is open to everyone. Good luck!

10 September 2011 @ 12:46 pm
Smart Pop Books is running a series of essays, 'Navigating the Golden Compass', on all aspects of Philip Pullman's trilogy. The latest, 'Dismembered Starlings and Neutered Minds' by Naomi Wood, looks at Pullman's treatment of notions of innocence and experience, especially as these concepts relate to our understanding of childhood.

In The Golden Compass, Pullman subverts our notions of innocence by first showing children’s innocence not as guiltless, but rather as uncouth, even feral—as the absence of knowledge and of culture rather than the presence of purity, love, or virtue. Lyra, the spirited heroine, is described initially as “a coarse and greedy little savage,” a “half-wild cat.” [...] And although adults may see children’s play as “pleasant,” “innocent and charming,” children are actually just as political as their elders: Lyra is part of a “rich seething stew of alliances and enmities and feuds and treaties”; as leader of her own gang of children affiliated with Jordan College, she leads the others in “deadly warfare,” delighting in physical combat and tactical victories. In her leadership ability, her physical courage, and her rhetorical power, Lyra possesses the same qualities as her parents, Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter, and has similar power to influence the people around her for good and ill. Being a child makes her no more inherently moral or immoral than any of the other individuals in the series.

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15 August 2011 @ 02:46 pm
You may have noticed we’ve been giving away the new UK editions of His Dark Materials! Our current August contest gives you the chance to win a signed copy of The Amber Spyglass. Make sure you enter by August 21st! This week, we talked to one of the cover designers of these editions, and we’re asking you to tell us what your favourite His Dark Materials covers are. Our nifty Cover Art Gallery is back up and running, so have a look!

Three Different Covers

Since its publication, His Dark Materials has been published in 39 languages and has had a whole variety of cover designs. From the widely recognised alethiometer, to the somewhat creepy depiction of Will and the golden monkey, to the detailed Croatian The Amber Spyglass (which I can only assume contains Daleks in place of angels) – the cover art of the trilogy has varied widely.  We want you to tell us your favourites: comment on this post, tweet us, facebook us, or post in our forum thread!

Designer Helen Crawford-White of Crush Creative answered BridgeToTheStars.net’s questions about just what it’s like to redesign the covers for such a well-known series of books.



Click here to see what she told us!Collapse )


The Republic of Heaven’s Book Club has decided on its August/September book and it’s going to be… Look Me In The Eye by John Elder Robison! The theme was memoirs and the other nominations were A Life Like Other People’s by Alan Bennett and Moab Is My Washpot by Stephen Fry.

From the time he was three or four years old, John Elder Robison realised that he was different from other people. He was unable to make eye contact or connect with other children, and by the time he was a teenager his odd habits – an inclination to blurt out non-sequiturs, obsessively dismantle radios or dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother in them) – had earned him the label ‘social deviant’. It didn’t help that his mother conversed with light fixtures and his father spent evenings pickling himself in sherry.

Look Me in the Eye is his story of growing up with Asperger’s syndrome at a time when the diagnosis simply didn’t exist. Along the way it also tells the story of two brothers born eight years apart yet devoted to each other: the author and his younger brother Chris, who would grow up to become bestselling author Augusten Burroughs.

This book is a rare fusion of inspiration, dark comedy and insight into the workings of the human mind. For someone who has struggled all his life to connect with other people, Robison proves to be an extraordinary storyteller.

Any member of the forum can see the Book Club sub-forum, but to nominate and vote on future books you have to be a member. To join the book club you can either private message Moderator Bee who runs the Club, or go to User Control Panel > Usergroups tab > select Book Club Members, and click join.

You can buy the book here on amazon.co.uk, here on amazon.com and here on Kindle.
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Philip Pullman has signed a call for a ‘public jury’ in Britain, which would take away the power from the ‘feral’ elite who seem to run the country. The call blames three significant crises of recent times - the MPs’ expenses, the bankers’ bonuses and the phone hacking scandal – on politicians, bankers and media moguls, who, left to their own devices, “could not regulate themselves.”

The group, whose signatories include Greg Dyke, former director general of the BBC, says that 1,000 citizens should be selected at random to sit on a public jury that will propose reforms to banking, politics. The jury, to be funded from the public purse, would examine:

* Media ownership.
* The financial sector’s role in the crash.
* MP selections and accountability.
* Policing and public interest.
* How to apply a “public interest first” test more generally to British political and corporate life.

To support the call for a People’s Jury for the British Public Interest go to www.compassonline.org.uk


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11 August 2011 @ 05:47 pm
It’s Week 4 of The Amber Spyglass (with BTTS)! This week Mark will be reading and reviewing Chapters 16-20 of the third instalment of our favourite trilogy.

Over at
our weekly forum thread we’ll be talking about the human/daemon relationship. Come and join us! Also, be sure to check out this week’s lovely banner (above), and click it to see the image it’s taken from!

contains the final clue for our August Contest, so get entering! The prize is a signed copy of The Amber Spyglass!

If you need some help, you can check out our Mark Reads gallery which contains all of the MarkReads banners to date. Send your entry in to us at contest@bridgetothestars.net, with the subject line “August Contest” by 11:59pm GMT on the 21st of August. The contest is open to everyone. Good luck!

27 July 2011 @ 02:12 am
 Philip Pullman spoke at an event to save the six libraries of Brent, North-West London, on Thursday the 21st of July, to a packed audience of book lovers.

At the event, he read from his newest novel The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, talked with local author Maggie Gee, and answered audience questions.

Pullman has been incredibly outspoken about the library closures in Britain and recently managed a win against his own council of Oxfordshire, who decided to defer their plans to close 20 out of their 40 libraries to save money.

To find out more about the campaign to save Brent’s libraries, visit their website. They have a short interview with Pullman before the event, here.
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