13. Okt. 2014
posted by Neil
I have a small gold owl on the lapel of my jacket, with the
e underneath it, and people often ask me what it represents.
I tell them it's from the Bookend Trust, and then explain that,
despite the name, it's not a reading organization. It's an
environmental charity, and I'm one of its patrons. (The owl is a
Tasmanian Masked Owl, an endangered species.)
I love Tasmania. Really love it, and I first visited it, along
with George R R Martin, as guests of honour when the Australian
National Science Fiction Convention was held in Hobart, long before
Tasmania had become a cool place to go.
During that first visit I met some of the people who would go on
to found the Bookend Trust. When they asked me to become part of
it, I was more than happy to agree.
Since being a part of Bookend, I have, with Amanda, hand-fed
Tasmanian Devils and echidnas. (The echidnas were both called Eric.
Baby echidnas are called Puggles. THIS IS TRUE.)
Because of the Bookend Trust, I've sailed under some of the
tallest and sheerest sea cliffs in the southern hemisphere. And
I've had close encounters with rescued Kangaroos.
Bookend grew from a small education support program funded by
the people involved in it, to, as they explain, "a major initiative
assisting students and teachers at all ages within the education
system. From high achievers to disadvantaged students, Bookend has
developed clever interactive and online projects that engage
students with scientists and explorers on the ground. It's also
provided students with opportunities to directly visit and learn
from these experts in the deep wildernesses of south-west Tasmania,
Antarctica, Lord Howe Island, Thailand and other fascinating
locations." You can see a great snapshot of their projects here:
When I visited Tasmania in January 2013, we had plans to run a
Bookend fundraiser to help support this work, but the nightmarish
wildfires broke out just before I got there. (Bookend helped me and
my publishers at Hachette Australia and Bloomsbury to deliver
materials to rebuild the libraries for the wonderful Dunalley
School and community.) You can
read about it and see photos here.
and Polly Adams presenting a copy of Chu's Day to Dunalley.
Bookend has continued to grow. The people who are growing it
need help to expand their work to more schools across the
And they are making a film...
Here's the trailer.
It's a creepily fantastic natural history story called SIXTEEN
www.sixteenlegs.com). It's yer normal
run-of-the-mill never-before-filmed story of still-living, giant
prehistoric spiders the size of dinner-plates trying to find love
in the dark.
This project is gloriously mad: they've just launched a touring
public exhibition, complete with Izzy von Lichtan's giant replica
spiders 18 feet across. Although the main documentary won't be
finished until next year, a shorter 'making-of' piece on the
filming to date (called 16 LEGS: SPIDER LOVE) will have its world
premiere on November 9 at both the Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film
Festival in Australia and the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival
On top of all of that, I am pleased to announce publicly that
Australian singing star Kate Miller-Heidke (I once compared her
voice to having sex with butterflies) (and two weeks ago I sang a
chorus on her cover of Pogues song for Christmas) will be singing
on the soundtrack, in collaboration with the superb spidery music
of composer Dean Stevenson.
And SIXTEEN LEGS
really needs your help.
Public support for this project will allow Bookend to complete
filming, editing and distribution of the documentary and allow them
to expand and tour the SIXTEEN LEGS exhibition to other locations
around Australia and off around the globe. (It will also help
support scholarships and research throughout all of Bookend's
educational and environmental work.)
Rewards for donors include postcards, posters, and books of
production art and photos. There's a book with the dark fantasy
storyline that weaves through the documentary, with Production Art
by Jodee Taylah. There's also a photographic collection on the
science behind the project. The books are available as standard, or
signed Limited Deluxe Editions with your name in them. For donors
with more money or time, there are expert-guided tours of Tasmania
and visits from the film-makers, as well as the option to simply
Whatever size contribution you make, you not only get the items
you purchase, but (provided the total fundraising exceeds
AUD$100,000) then with every dollar you contribute (excluding
postage) you get a a chance to win a trip to Tasmania with me, from
anywhere around the globe, when I return there to film for the
project next year. You'll get to see the Tasmanian Devils,
wilderness landscapes and tourist attractions of Tasmania (which is
about the coolest place there is).
You can order fundraising items and find out more about the
http://www.sixteenlegs.com, and there are
photos and video links to some of the Tasmanian places
Fundraising will be running until late November. And you should
do it. Because there is nothing like handfeeding echidna. Or being
the catering department for a bunch of hungry young Tasmanian