Gaiman Q&A
November 3, 2003 3:56 PM   Subscribe

Neil Gaiman Q&A on Slashdot. Another on Sequential Tart. If you loved the books find out about the author (who has a blog and has been mentioned here a few times).
posted by srboisvert (18 comments total)
damn - screwed the linkage up. Here is the sequential tart link.
posted by srboisvert at 3:57 PM on November 3, 2003

the man has an interesting reading list -- you gotta respect somebody who's into Szymborska.
I don't have a Gaiman fetish but I just finished The Wolves In the Walls and that was very good

plus, I used to be a Duran Duran fan, too, just like NG

posted by matteo at 4:05 PM on November 3, 2003

great stuff, thanks. i've fallen behind on gaiman's blog and haven't really been keeping up on anything current going on with his life (well except for the latest sandman release).

i particularly liked this from the sequential tart link:

What do you have in your pockets?

Ultra violet invisible ink pen with attached ultra violet light for reading invisible writing with.

oh, another well known site for anything gaiman: the dreaming
posted by poopy at 4:35 PM on November 3, 2003

I went to the bookstore tonight and bought Neverwhere and American Gods because I enjoyed the slashdot interview so much.
posted by djeo at 4:37 PM on November 3, 2003

The book that was up against American Gods for the Hugo Award is in my opinion (worthless as it is) much better than American Gods.

It's called Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, best book I've read in a long, long time
posted by zeoslap at 4:43 PM on November 3, 2003

American Gods wasn't a bad book, but I liked it better when Tim Powers wrote it (as Last Call, Expiration Date, and Earthquake Weather).
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:57 PM on November 3, 2003

Took me forever to get through Perdido Street Station. It wasn't bad. I could tell it was even probably good, but I just couldn't get into it. By contrast, I loved American Gods. I blased through that one and came out the otherside wanting a lot more.

Neverwhere didn't do much for me. It just seemed like a novelization of a Dr. Who episode or something.
posted by willnot at 7:16 PM on November 3, 2003

I second the Tim Powers comparison. There's a certain I-don't-know-what about Powers' writing, an ability to effortlessly conjure up stunning, surrealistic, colourful set pieces that crystallize so vividly and memorably in your head, even when the prose is at times a little pulpy. Gaiman comes close a few times in American Gods, but in general I find he lacks the magic touch -- pretty important when you're writing fantasy or so-called magical realism.
posted by gentle at 8:48 PM on November 3, 2003

There's a certain I-don't-know-what about Powers' writing, an ability to effortlessly conjure up stunning, surrealistic, colourful set pieces that crystallize so vividly and memorably in your head

Powers has one trick, which he uses over and over again. It's a very good trick, but it's still just one trick. The trick is this: he writes matter-of-factly about things that don't make sense as if they make perfect sense to him, and it's not his fault that they don't make sense to you -- they'd surely make more sense to you if you just thought about it a little more. It challenges you to fit things together yourself, and the details you imagine are always more vivid than anything Powers could provide. Like I said, a good trick. But once you start noticing it, it gets a little... tiring.

For all that Gaiman has failed to engage me on occasion (e.g. Neverwhere) his storytelling techniques have never felt quite that transparent.
posted by kindall at 9:26 PM on November 3, 2003

I don't have a the_gaiman fetish either, but it's surely a damned shame that the tv treatment of neverwhere never made it to us television -- one of the few things where I've ever felt that subsequent video was true to the original writing.

mmmm, cerebus #147.
posted by dorian at 9:43 PM on November 3, 2003

The BBC version of Neverwhere was pretty bad. It was filmed on some form of crappy videotape, that sucked the atmosphere out of every scene. I didn't enjoy it much.

The only really good thing about it was the Brian Eno theme.
posted by Blue Stone at 9:50 PM on November 3, 2003

some form of crappy videotape, that sucked the atmosphere out of every scene

hrm, that was actually one of the reasons that I enjoyed it...I mean, so much of the sandman art can be pretty eccentric and ill-defined, guess I'm just used to that sort of thing by now. doesn't have to be beautiful to be good.

lotr cinematography (er, the little that I've actually seen of't), for example, was absolutely amazing -- but the first 10 minutes made me so ill wrt. storyline bastardization that I was totally turned off and never watched the rest of the first film, and never will watch any of the other films.

different people, different priorities, and all that.
posted by dorian at 10:16 PM on November 3, 2003

I don't like Neil Gaiman's comics - I think he's extemely careless in choosing his visual artists - but I've met him twice very casually, and he's such a nice guy that he makes me feel like a big asshole. He's just that nice.
posted by interrobang at 11:44 PM on November 3, 2003

That alterslash link is already dead. Here's the original Slashdot page.
posted by rory at 1:24 AM on November 4, 2003

He really is that nice. I was scheduled to meet him in Charlotte last month for an interview. He was suffering from a sore throat at the time, something he'd brought back from Europe, so when I arrived at the hotel restaurant, the hostess told me the interview had been cancelled. She then said that Neil had asked her to ring his room should anyone show up, so she did. "Mr Gaiman will be right back down to apologize."


And he did, telling me that the actual interview would have to be rescheduled. He then invited us to sit down, have a couple of cups of hot tea and chat about nothing in particular for 45 minutes.
posted by grabbingsand at 5:26 AM on November 4, 2003

From what I understand, the Neverwhere mini-series came BEFORE the book. He wrote the book because he wasn't happy with the way the TV series turned out.
posted by kcalder at 9:37 AM on November 4, 2003

Yes, kcalder, you're right on. Gaiman hated the way the finished Neverwhere series came out and wanted to show his version. I read the scripts before the series was made and they were fantastic. Imagine my disappointment when the series came out and it just plain sucked. It was horrible - the worst BBC production value you can imagine. (And that's saying a lot.) A Neverwhere DVD just came out and there's a Gaiman comment track option. Haven't heard it myself, but it's supposed to be very cool.

And to echo interrobang and grabbingsand, yes, he is a really nice guy. Many years ago when I first became enamored with Sandman I went to see him at a signing and gave him a mix tape I'd made inspired by the series. He not only sent me a postcard to say thank you - and how cool is that? - but also thanked me for it each subsequent time I met him.

I've said several times before in previous MeFi Gaiman discussions that I prefer his comic work to his novels. However, for those who are interested, he also has written a fair amount of short stories for voices, and the ones I've heard are wonderful. Snow Glass Apples, an alternate and much darker version of Snow White, is read by Bebe Neuwirth (of Cheers) and is available for free here. It is one of my favorite pieces.
posted by widdershins at 11:01 AM on November 4, 2003

I just picked up Sandman: Endless Nights and while I'm not sorry I bought it (his stuff is that good) it seems pretty hit and miss in regards to his short comic fiction. I've always felt that Gaiman is at is best with the one-issue stories as opposed to the extended story arcs. One of his major influences (as evidenced by the characters of Cain and Abel) were the short-short horror anthology comics like House of Mystery
and House of Secrets. Sandman: Worlds End is probably one of the best sets of short stories put together in comic form with stories within stories within stories. (For a cinematic analog, watch The Saragasso Manuscript a Polish surrealist masterpiece of a shaggy dog horror story.)

But anyway, Endless Nights is a bit disappointing as a set of stories. There are some high points. "15 Portraits of Despair" for example is one of those works that fit but could never appear in the serial form on its own. Delirium's story is nice. Death's story and Desire's story seem to be overly telegraphed, and too highly dependent on monologue. And perhaps I'm getting a bit jaded, but none of the stories had the same impact on me as "Dream of a Thousand Cats", or "Calliope", the stories that sucked me into the Sandman.

I actually like his choice of artists in most cases. In this case he
was able to match the artist with the story in a way that made them both stronger. As I said, it's a good anthology to pick up. The worst Gaiman is still worth reading. But if you gotta pick one recent Gaiman to buy, Wolves in the Walls, another great collaboration with McKean is better.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:19 PM on November 4, 2003

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