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Old 3rd Sep 2003, 14:10   #11
pandop
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ok - so you didnt like it then Amner :)

a couple of wider questions:

1: have you ever read anything by Neil before?

2: do you like fantasy?


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Old 3rd Sep 2003, 14:18   #12
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I have to say that I agree with a great deal of what Amner said, but I still enjoyed it because at least as fantasy I wasn't left trying to remember the names of all the characters (which is my main bugbear about fantasy - you end up having to learn new animals/creatures/placenames/weird character names and I really can't be bothered to put the effort in each time). We could have done with fewer characters being more delineated (but I did like Wednesday and was more on his side than Shadow's at various points). My RL bookgroup is going to do Good Omens this month so I'm already a little concerned how I'm going to like it (I am not a Terry P fan). But I can't say it enough - the battle was a huge let-down and a wasted denouement.
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Old 3rd Sep 2003, 14:22   #13
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ok - so you didnt like it then Amner
how could you tell? :D

Quote:
1: have you ever read anything by Neil before?
Whilst waiting for AG to be returned to the library I borrowed a graphic novel of his that I just can't remember the title of. It seemed to have a Baron Samedi character in it (the top hat, etc). Couldn't tell you what it was called, sorry.

I picked Neverwhere off the shelf, too. But the blurb didn't inspire me to go any further with it.

Quote:
2: do you like fantasy?
Honestly? No. I was willing to put my prejudices to one side for this, but I remain steadfastly unconvinced of the genre's merits. One of my shorts - if you'll forgive the plug, but I think it illustrates how I feel - in the Features section is a direct result of how plain silly I find it all. I'll read M.R. James until the cows come home, and I've been known to dip into Aldiss and a few others but a find the fantastical stuff just cannot be stretched beyond a 10-page short story.
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Old 3rd Sep 2003, 15:40   #14
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Quote:
library I borrowed a graphic novel of his that I just can't remember the title of. It seemed to have a Baron Samedi character in it (the top hat, etc). Couldn't tell you what it was called, sorry.
no need to aplogise - but this is probably an indication of why you didn't like AG, it is very much in the vein of Sandman, and written with a similar audience in mind

I am afraid I cant identify which one from that either, as there are a lot of top hats! I dont think it was Baron Samedi though ... I don't recall him



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Honestly? No. I was willing to put my prejudices to one side for this, but I remain steadfastly unconvinced of the genre's merits
Each to their own (warning one of the possible titles I am considering - if we ever get to 'H' in the turns - is a fantasy novel, but something very different from this), but again it does suggest that you werent going to love from the word go (or the word shadow for that matter)

If you prefer fantasy as a short story might I recommend Smoke and Mirrors if you want to give Gaiman another go (warning - some are icky )

As I said in another post - we can't all like the same thing

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Old 3rd Sep 2003, 20:31   #15
Clem Feeney
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Colyngbourne
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My RL bookgroup is going to do Good Omens this month so I'm already a little concerned how I'm going to like it (I am not a Terry P fan).
I don't know how aware you are of the extent of Pratchett and Gaiman's mutual fandom. I mentioned that the material and themes of "American Gods" were a re-tread of a Sandman story called "Brief Lives" (several gods find their lives in danger, not getting enough worshippers to sustain their existence etc, lead character sleeps with Bast, the cat goddess). Pratchett fans will recognise these themes from "Small God's" and "Hogfather" (apart from the Bast sub-plot). You may have the advantage of being able to identify the joins between the Pratchett and Gaiman contributions.

Back to the book.

This book was just too big, and I don't think Gaiman has the talent to sustain a story for this long, particularly using such a weak main character. I was a big fan of "The Sandman", partly because of the enigmatic characterisation - every bit part player was well drawn - literally, mainly I loved it because of the way an epic story was built up from litttle stories which varied greatly in style, aided by a set of great artists, also with a wide range of styles. Apart from the interludes penned by Mr Ibis, this book suffered from a monotonous narrative style which didn't do justice to the range of characters / cultures explored - unless Gaiman is trying to make a point about American culture homogenising the worlds religions (apart from Christianity of course - something else it has in common with "The Sandman"), but I seriously doubt this is the case.

Anyone who isn't a fantasy fan, I would recommend Gaiman's collaborations with Dave McKean -"Violent Cases", "Signal to Noise" and "Mr Punch" (I haven't read their children's books). They are very concise and very moving stories and demonstrate just why graphic novels were considered "grown-up" in the late eighties/early nineties.
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Old 4th Sep 2003, 8:53   #16
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... it does suggest that you werent going to love from the word go (or the word shadow for that matter)


I suppose it probably does, though I was willing to give the thing a chance and persevered. The first half of the book, specifically the first 100 pages, were the most accomplished (despite the continued frustration at not being able to engage with Mr S) and I was keen to see how it all developed. But as soon as they got on that carousel...
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Old 4th Sep 2003, 9:23   #17
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Others seem to like it:

Quote:
Second Hugo for Gaiman

Michelle Pauli
Tuesday September 2, 2003


Crossover success: Neil Gaiman
*Neil Gaiman has won a prestigious Hugo award for Coraline, his unnerving children's book. Published last year to wide acclaim, it is about a lonely young girl who discovers a sinister "other mother" hiding in a flat she discovers behind a door in her house.

The prize, for best novella, follows Gaiman's win last year in the best novel category for American Gods.

It is not the first time a "crossover" children's/adult book has won a Hugo - the best novel prize in 2001 went to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

This year's best novel prize was taken by Robert J Sawyer with Hominids, the first in his Neanderthal Parallax trilogy. The book opens with the discovery of a portal into a parallel world in which, 40,000 years ago, the Neanderthals survived instead of our ancestors, the Cro-Magnons, and developed a technologically advanced and environmentally friendly society. The novel explores the differences between the two worlds through the adventures of a geneticist and a Neanderthal who has become displaced from his world.

The best short story prize was won by Geoffrey Landis with Falling Onto Mars, a grim tale of the use of space travel to get rid of criminals from earth which was published in Analog magazine.

The Hugo awards, also known as the Science Fiction Achievement Awards, are conferred based on nominations and votes from members of the World Science Fiction Society. The award is named in honour of Hugo Gernsback, founder of the pioneering SF magazine Amazin' Stories.
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Old 4th Sep 2003, 10:58   #18
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I am glad you persevered Amner, it is better than I managed with The Man Who Was Thursday (I see a theme here, is there a tuesday in TGOST

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Old 4th Sep 2003, 11:00   #19
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There's only one way to find out, Hazel :)
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Old 4th Sep 2003, 15:32   #20
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Anyway, back to the book. It reminded me in one respect of Norman Mailer's Ancient Evenings, similarly drawing upon the Egyptian pantheon, but actually taking part in Egypt at the time of the pharoahs. Mailer's work has been getting steadily more erratic over the years, and I know that there are a lot of people who dislike the book. It's massive, for a start, and there are great meandering passages of fantastical prose where the hero dies and is reincarnated (several times), experiencing all manner of metaphysical turmoil before, again and again, being belched out into the sunny world, all shiny and new.

Indeed, (in)famously, the book's very first words describe the re-birth of the main character Menenhetet: a fiery, confusing, ethereal and mystical explosion of images that it is very difficult to forget.

I picked it off the shelf last night and read some segments and remembered just how exhilarating it was to read it for the first time. It ends with this wonderful tribute to all things eternal:

Quote:
We sail across dominions barely seen, washed by the swells of time. We plow through fields of magnetism. Past and future come together on thunderheads and our dead hearts live with lightning in the wounds of Gods
I'm still struck by the immediacy of that, even now, ten years after reading it. AG, although reminiscent in terms of the subject matter, is miles away in every other regard, but if it makes me re-read AE again then it will have been worth it.
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