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Archive for the ‘Neil Gaiman’ Category

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

published January 2017

where i got it: borrowed from a friend










I’d thought this book came out way more than two years go?  I got quite the surprise when I flipped to the copyright page and saw that Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology came out in 2017.  When the book came out, I remember seeing tons and tons of hype, gorgeous cover art, and being so buried in Marvel Thor movies that the last thing i wanted was more Thor fiction.


When my friend lent me his copy of Norse Mythology, I ran my hands over the embossed cover, tried (and failed) to find constellations in the scattering of stars, and thought to myself “yeah, I’m finally ready for some Thor fiction”.  Thing is, and and I’m so pleased to say it, this is not “Thor fiction”. This book is literally what is says on the tin – this is not reimagining of Norse myths, or retellings, or modern takes on them.  Gaiman studied the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, read the commentaries, and dug into the dusty, cobwebby corners.  He sought to understand where these stories may have come from, how they may have evolved over the centuries, he mourned what has been lost because it was slowly forgotten through the oral tradition and never written down. This volume is a selection of Norse myths, told in Gaiman’s signature style of deceptively simple prose that pulls you in, and just keeps pulling.  His introduction alone is a brilliant piece of writing.


If you have ever read Edith Hamilton’s famous Mythology (ok, so it isn’t Norse), and wished for something a little easier on the eyes, something that didn’t assume you had already studied for years, something that was a joy to read, Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology is for you.


Told as short stories, Gaiman starts you with the birth of the Gods and Goddesses, and takes you all the way to Ragnarok. The stories happen chronologically, so once Thor is gifted with his hammer, he has it in future stories. Once Frey gives up his sword in payment, he never has it again. Once Balder is dead, he’s dead.    Once it becomes known that Loki has other children that Odin didn’t previously know about, those children become part of the mythology for the rest of time. Once Loki loses the trust of his fellow immortals for the last time, there is no escape for him. And Thor is . . . nowhere near as smart as certain movies would have you believe.


This was the perfect bedtime book.  None of the entries are very long, they functioned perfectly as something to read to calm my brain down. Keep in mind tho, that due to the stories being in general chronological order, it’s best if you read them in order.  Treat this book like a mosaic novel made up of various smaller, interlinked stories (wait a minute, is this a fix up novel? lol!).

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Neil Gaiman, how do I love thee? let me count the ways.

My not nerdy friends have heard of you, so we can easily discuss your books without them thinking I’m too weird.

You allowed yourself to be Simpsonized!

You wrote one of my most favorite novels, American Gods. Also, I loved Coraline, Stardust and The Graveyard Book.

you refuse to be shoe horned into any specific genre. You write what you want, when you want it, and I can’t wait to read it.

you’re friends with Tori Amos and Terry Pratchett.

And my adoration for you started with a little book called Neverwhere. One of your earlier works, and certainly not your best, it was within it’s pages that I became first hooked on other worlds, on magical realism and urban fantasy, on the worlds that existed beyond the door, on a modern and more scary version of Narnia.   Poor Richard Mayhew, he never knew what hit him. She was young and in trouble, so he decided to help a young woman named Door.  What was Door running from, and how can bumbling Richard possibly help her? Her world is London Below, and his is the real world. Or is it? More exists in London than Richard could possibly imagine, and he’s about to meet it head on.

If you’ve read Neverwhere, you know of the magic that lives in these pages.

And if you haven’t?  get thee to a bookstore!  and then head over to Stainless Steel Droppings, where a read along of Neverwhere will be starting in a few weeks.

Are you ready for a spring of magical realism, urban fantasy, and London Below?

doctors wife

I’m pressed for time today, but here are a few quick thoughts on last night’s Doctor Who episode, “The Doctor’s Wife”, written by the wonderful Neil Gaiman:

  •  Idris, I think her name was?  LOVED  everything about her! her verbal mannerisms, a little mad, a little doctor-y, and right when she first meets The Doctor, she’s talking all funny and fast, sounding a little like when the Doctor regenerates and has to get used to his new body.  Even her name sounds a little like the name of the big blue box.  You think you stole a doctor and ran away? adorable! brilliant!
  • Anyone else think she looked just like Helena Bonham Carter? And damn am I thankful that she wasn’t dressed in Tardis Blue.
  • Do you think River would be jealous of Idris or do you think they would get along?  They both know the Doctor’s real name (or at least I assume Idris does), yet The Doctor calls Idris sexy, and just calls River sweetheart.  Speaking of River, what was it that Idris said? The only water in the forest is in the river? or something like that? And then the poor woman was just so thirsty at the end, desperate for water. interesting. . .
  • The voice of The House (brillaint freaky scary character, btw), is it just me, or did he sound just like the Cat from Coraline?
  • Idris and the Doctor flying through space and time in a half-assed, barely put together, nearly walless,  partially floorless, roofless and doorless TARDIS?  the freakingest awesomest thing EVAR! (at least this season).
  • End of the episode was a bit of a dues ex machine cop-out.  Neil Gaiman I love you to pieces, but sometimes your endings are less than awesome.

And lastly,  number 10, I miss you so much.  number 11, you’ve got the wacky, you’ve got the adventurous, you’ve got the “I’m the madman with the box” down.  But you’re missing what made this show for me: the tragedy. the dark. the rage.  Number 10, you knew the universe burned so bright as to be blinding, and yet you never stopped staring at it with eyes wide open.  And you knew that brilliance was only possible because between the stars lied the darkness, where your regrets and your sorrow and your family called to you from the depths of your memories, of who you are, and what you chose to do.  That darkness and regret and tragedy and rage that you carry with you Number 10, that is what drew me into this show. And I miss you. I miss you like the bluest daytime sky misses the star light, like the desert cries for the rain,  like the dark side of a lonesome planet misses the warmth of the sun.   Matt Smith, I find you a fine actor, but sir, you are not my Doctor.

seriously, who scheduled me to work on a Friday!?  Raise your hand, I want to glare at you!

however, for those of you who are not raising your hand, here are some goodies for you.

Filed under Totally Awesome, we’ve got

Doctor Who premiers on BBC America on April 23rd at, umm, check your local listings. Or you can attempt to navigate the annoyingly flash heavy and painfully photoshopped BBC America website. That site’s got a lot of weird mumbly jumbly time travelly floaty stuff going on. (now read that paragraph out loud in your best Amy Pond voice, you know you want to)

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Just so you know, this is a super long post with a funny at the end.  Not unlike an epic quest. . . .

I describe this website as offering Science Fiction & Fantasy reviews.  But going through my list of reviews, I’m seeing far more fantasy than science.  Maybe I should just describe it as a fantasy review site?  Or a gateway to fantasy review site?

When I was a kid, I was an adamant SF fan. Much of my youth was spent building spaceships out of legos and watching PBS shows about astronomy.  I craved scientific explanations for everything.  I wanted to know how everything worked

While my friends were reading Lloyd Alexander, I was reading Interstellar Pig.  As they moved onto Tolkien and Raymond Feist and Katherine Kurtz, I moved onto David Brin and Robert Heinlein and Frank Herbert.

To me, Fantasy was wizards with long beards, royals who went on quests where their soldiers and magical armor protected them, and elves and dwarves who spent the first half of the conversation telling you their lineages, and embarassingly rediculous cover art. really nothing else. I had no understanding that “high fantasy” was only the tip of the iceberg of the genre.  My limited experiences with high fantasy let me know quickly that I didn’t care for it.

And then I started reading manga, a form famous for mixing genres. Cyborg mechas using laser guns against a castle and fighting flesh and blood dragons that guarded hoards of treasure? no problem. Kids who get wisked away from their regular life to fight demons and spirits and collect magical shards? piece of cake.  Vampires, martians, aliens, dragons, time travel, often in the same series. And it worked, like magic.

Wait, wasn’t this, um, fantasy?  It sure was fantastical, and it sure wasn’t hard scifi. Read the rest of this entry »

Graphic Novel November continues with more of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman! I should really do two volumes per post, but each one has so much that I want to talk about!

Somewhere in Volume II, The Dolls House, you start to realize the titles of the volumes aren’t random. The first volume was most certainly an introduction, a prelude, and the second volume, well, it’s not about Dolls, possibly more like marionettes.

Some readers never get past the first volume because of the rough style of the artwork and the seemingly unconnected chapters. The artwork in volume II is much tighter, and nearly everything does come together at the end, which is nice.

Remember Nada from hell? You’ll find out how she got there. Maybe Morpheus has learned something in the ten thousand years since, and maybe he hasn’t. Even the Endless are proud, fickle creatures. But Dream is no where near as proud and fickle as Desire, another sibling. Desire is a mess unto him/herself, and perhaps the most dangerous of all the Endless, for is there anyone who can look into the eyes of the one they desire, and walk away?

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Welcome to Graphic Novel November!  A month of graphic novels, manga, and other illustrated fun! Check the main Graphic Novels / Manga page for the full list of reviews and other fun stuff.

The first installation in Graphic Novel November is the opening volume of a series many of you are familiar with: Neil Gaiman’s  The Sandman.

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If I had to name the best thing that’s ever happened to comics, it would have to be Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series.  When I first got into graphic novels a number of years ago, at first I was very intimidated. Who are all these characters populating all these shared universes? How far back would I need to go to know who everyone was? All the library had was  superhero stuff, was that all there was? I had no idea where to start.  Luckily, I found Gaiman’s The Sandman series.  It does take place in a shared universe of sorts, and with just about zero graphic novel experience, I still knew who just about everyone was.  It was comforting. And the story was excellent.  

If you’re not so sure about comics, and not sure where to start, Gaiman’s The Sandman is a sure thing and a perfect place to start.  This review only covers the first volume.    

The early 1900’s, Roderick Burgess and his group of cultists decide the time is ripe to cheat Death. They will capture death, imprison death, perhaps even torture and destroy death, until they get what they want – immortality. The stage is set, the incantations spoken, the blood spilt. But it is not Death they capture, it is Dream. If an imprisoned Death means a world without dying, without losing the people you love, what would a world without Dream look like?

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american gods
Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is unlike any novel I have read before. I’ve read this book a few times, and what’s nice about reading it again is since I know what the main plot line is, I can focus on all the little details. American Gods is a book of illusions, and as any illusionist will tell you the trick to the perfect illusion is misdirection.

Shadow is about to get out of jail. He’s a good guy who made a bad decision, and after three years behind bars he’s ready to keep his head down and live the cleanest life anyone has ever seen. The day he gets out, he learns that his wife, Laura, has been killed in a car accident. On the airplane trip home, Shadow meets a Mr. Wednesday, an old grizzled man who knows way too much about him, his wife, his time behind bars, everything.

At Laura’s funeral, he learns she was sleeping with his best friend.

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Are you a YA fan who is looking for something a little grittier, a little meatier, a little SF-ier?

Are you an adult SF/F fan looking for something a little lighter, but still with the grit and humor you’ve come to enjoy from your favorite writers?

If you answered “why yes! Yes I am!” to either of those questions, allow me to introduce you to some great SF/F YA reads by authors who are known for writing for adults.  

For the Win, by Cory Doctorow – American kids enjoy online games for fun. Asian and Indian kids play online games for money, more than just what gold farming can give them. When the undertrod, underpaid, undervalued child workers are taught the word union, only good can come of it. right?

Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow – big brother might be watching, but what happens when little brother watches back? Of every book on this list, this was the hardest book for me to read, and I don’t mean hard intellectually. I believe  Little Brother should be required reading in every high school government class, but I’m sure once it got some attention it would be banned.

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville – Part Wizard of Oz, part Alice in Wonderland, and very punny.  You just can’t not like this book!

The WWW series by Robert Sawyer – the first book in the series didn’t do much for me, but as far as YA reads go, this is a contemporary SF winner.  Blind teenager Caitlin can “see” the world wide web, and there is something there that can see her.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman – what can I say about this that hasn’t been said before? if you haven’t read it, you owe it to yourself to enjoy this book!

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Ender’s Game as YA? really? hey, it’s what all the cool kids were reading when I was a teenager. It’s a SF classic.

Which of these have you read? Which of these look most promising?

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.