Hot on the heels of the “wonderland of new writing by J. K. Rowling” being released over at Pottermore, I’ve got good Philip Pullman news and bad Philip Pullman news for you. All we need now is for Suzanne Collins to unveil an exclusive new tale about The Hunger Games’ Gale and this Christmas will be complete.
We’re going to begin today with the bad, because that way we can conclude on the good: the long-awaited companion piece to His Dark Materials, The Book of Dust, isn’t even nearly here.
Pullman explains the situation:
My work on this has been interrupted over the past couple of years, but [The Book of Dust] is growing slowly and before long I shall take it up again full-time. What can I tell you about it? Nothing, except that it’s by far the most important thing I’m doing, and I intend to do it as well as I possibly can. When it’s finished, you’ll hear about it, I guarantee.
The author is “aiming” to complete The Book of Dust next year, but even if its composition proceeds apace, Pullman warns that the piece isn’t likely to be released until 2016. Happily, however, a new short story set in the series’ alt-Oxford was made available today… albeit only to members of Amazon’s audiobook arm, Audible.
Laurence Howell, director of editorial and merchandising at Audible, was chuffed to bits about this:
We are delighted to be able to offer our listeners another glimpse into the spellbinding world of the His Dark Materials trilogy. The Collectors is a perfect story for the Christmas season, written by a master of storytelling and narrated by the mellifluous voice of Bill Nighy. We love it and can’t wait to share it with our listeners.
“Set nearly 50 years ago,” The Collectors gives listeners an opportunity to learn more about “the mother of all evil,” Mrs Coulter, whose villainy evidently intrigued the author: “I thought it would be nice to show her as a younger woman, in a different sort of context,” Pullman put it. “And the idea of collectors and collecting things, of being greedy, is a fascinating psychological state.”
Now it’s not The Book of Dust, but The Collectors will do, to be sure. For the moment, the only way to hear it is by being or becoming one of Audible’s several million members, but if you don’t fancy that, The Bookseller has your back: Charlotte Eyre says that The Collectors “will be made available to Audible non-members in the New Year.”
Editor’s note: The Collectors will be available in the US on January 12th!
Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He’s been known to tweet, twoo.