I've just come back from a four-week working vacation with my family in LA, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Mountain View. As is customary on the morning after a long-distance family trip, I dragged my jet-lagged butt into my PO Box, where there was the usual mountain of stuff waiting for me -- bills, books for review, and a heap of junk mail as tall as me. But today, there was also a bubble-wrapped crate, quite heavy. Groaning a little at the thought of dragging this to the office, I peeled back the bubble-wrap...and then hastily jammed it back again, as the crate disintegrated and began to dump green potting soil on the carpet of my mailbox company.
We taped the whole thing back up again and I got it to the office in the back of a taxi. Once here, I grabbed a knife and set the crate down on a revolting, sodden sofa some miscreant dumped in the parking lot, thinking that whatever the box spilled out onto that wreck could only improve it. As I sliced away the bubble-wrap again, the crate completely fell to pieces, revealing an upside-down wooden coffin. I'd opened it from the bottom! Digging through the greenish soil (which was odorless, though it did leave powdery smears on my clothes), I discovered that the top of the box sported some live sod, and under that, a piece of semi-rotted burlap that semi-protected the coffin's lid, which was intricately laser-cut with an 18th-century date and a monstrous icon. Dusting off the coffin, I brought it back into the office, scraping as much of the crate's remnants as I could into the dumpster.
Prising the lid off the coffin, I discovered an absolutely gorgeous soft poseable maquette of a zombie from ParaNorman, the forthcoming Laika film. ParaNorman was clutching a rolled up scroll with a hand-written note telling me about the movie and making some shrewd guesses about how I'd relate to it.
I generally find elaborate PR stuff to be kind of tedious -- like getting torrents of the cheeziest SkyMall tchotchkes in the mail. But the ParaNorman folks really know what they're about. It was pretty gutsy to send me a giant box of dirt with a doll in it, and the doll needed to be extremely cool to overcome the automatic inward groan at the thought of having to deal with a massive MOOP spill when I opened the crate. There are a million ways that this could have misfired, but it didn't. Bravo, seriously.
As for the movie? Hell, I don't know. I was a big fan of Laika's treatment of Neil Gaiman's Coraline, so I would have gone to see this even without the weird-ass, amazing press kit. On the other hand, I probably wouldn't have hyped the movie beforehand, so they're doing something right. I don't know what I would do if every PR pitch came with a package this elaborate -- I'd end up drowning in potting soil, for one thing. But this is the most creative and awesome thing I've ever gotten in the mail, newsworthy in its own right, and they've earned this post. Here's the trailer:
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.