Posts Tagged ‘Neil Gaiman’

And here is his explanation why, filmed in GLORIOUS YOUTUBE-O-VISION:

Ah, the writer’s life.

It just goes to inspire me: someday, if I work hard enough and hone my craft, I too can be covered in frosting on Neil Gaiman’s front lawn.

Big dreams, Ian, big dreams…

~ Ian

 

As of today, The Lotus Imperiate (my current pet project) is 45,811 words long. Which makes me feel pretty good, actually.

I mean, I’ve written things of that length before. But usually I give up after I’ve written about thirty thousand words of the novel, scrapping it and moving on to something else.

I don’t really know what’s different with tLI. I have a feeling about what makes it different, though. For the first time when I’m writing a novel, I know that the idea isn’t bad from the start. I’m aware that my ideas aren’t complete ass to begin with, and so I know that whether I succeed or fail, whether I write a publishable first novel or tLI goes to the graveyard of the poorly-executed first drafts (which I really hope it doesn’t– I like the story, like the characters, and feel like it’s something that people will want to read) is all up to me.

But I think I know some of what’s different. I’ve been blogging. Having people read and comment on my writing hasn’t been a pipe dream for a while now. I’ve been doing it. And people have been liking what I write, which feels good. In a lot of ways, Axolotl Ceviche has allowed me to feel more… I dunno, confident as a writer. Even if I only have a few readers, the idea that I’m not a writer sitting alone in a vacuum is heartening. And energizing. And all other kinds of ing.

Plus, I would really put my foot in my ass if I talked all about the stuff I’ve been writing and failed to deliver. That would really cement my wannabe status. Since I’ve promised that someday I would have a novel for you guys to read, I’m doing everything I can to deliver that promise. And I’m going to do the best I can to make it really, really good.

I really like The Lotus Imperiate. It’s all rough, unshaped potential right now, but that’ll change. All I have to do is make with the writings.

~ Ian

PS: The title has nothing to do with tLI or writing or anything. It’s a quote from “Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot”, a Neil Gaiman short story that I have a weird affection for.

PPS: 150 posts on Axolotl Ceviche! WOOOOO!

Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong. In life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: make good art. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Do what only you can do best: make good art.

– Neil Gaiman

 

This quote has been going around the internet for the last few weeks, and it’s something that I really should take to heart.

In a lot of ways, this last year has been one of the hardest years of my life. I’ve felt isolated and angry for much of the time, and a lot of the times I wanted fall off the world and disappear. The few times when I’ve felt truly happy have been when I’m writing.

So I’m going to write more. And I’m going to work at becoming the best writer I can be.

will finish a novel. I will get “Cassandra” published. I will constantly strive to be better than the day I was before, and I will write.

And write.

And write.

~ Ian

Okay. The slate of nominees for this year’s Hugo Awards was just announced. (For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s a link to the list of nominees.)

Since I’m a SFF fan and aspiring SFF writer (and I won’t lie; it would be REALLY cool to win a Hugo one of these days), I thought I might share some of my thoughts on the nominees.

 

Best Novel: Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor), A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra), Deadline by Mira Grant (Orbit), Embassytown by China Miéville (Macmillan / Del Rey), Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (Orbit)

Okay. My first impression of this Best Novel slate is that it’s lacking Wise Man’s Fear. Which makes me rage. It makes me burn with the fire of a thousand suns deep within, because WMF is such an incredibly beautiful book. But maybe that’s me.

Now, for the other nominees: I haven’t read DeadlineEmbassytown, or Leviathan Wakes. (I’ve heard nothing but good things about the last two, though, so maybe I should check them out.) There was a kerfuffle last year about Mira Grant’s novel Feed, which was a zombie apocalypse novel. A lot of Hugo voters last year seemingly thought that a zombie apocalypse novel was too, you know, undignified to be on the ballot for Best Novel. (Again, I will say something that is my fervent belief: there are no bad genres; only bad stories.) So many people had problems with that novel. Now, I haven’t read either Feed or Deadline. But I do think that zombie novels, even if they are overdone, aren’t completely exhausted of their potential. There’s still a lot to be done with the genre, and from what I’ve heard, Feed and Deadline do interesting things with the conception (they’re about political bloggers in a zombie-ridden future, and are more about what humanity does after the zombie apocalypse, rather than surviving it.)

Now, about the books I have read…

Among Others: YES. This book was one of my favorites that I’ve read from the last year. Beautifully written, an interesting main character, magic, faeries, and a lots and lots of SF… PURE CANDY. (For those of you who want it, here’s a link to my review of Among Others.)

As for A Dance With Dragons… meh. It’s not one of the best in the series, and it feels more like this nomination for ADwD is sort of a “lifetime achievement” for  GRRM. Maybe it’s an acknowledgement of how long it took to bring out Book Five of ASoIaF. Maybe it’s a consolation prize for A Storm of Swords getting robbed of the Hugo by Goblet of Fire in 2001. I don’t really know. Whatever the reason, I’m guessing that ADwD will win the Hugo, even if it’s not Martin’s best work.

(I’m really going to have to put the other three books on my reading list…)

 

Short Fiction: It’s cool seeing “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City” on the Hugo ballots. For one thing, the whole story originated as an April Fool’s joke on Tor.com. For two thing, it’s funny, and funny fiction is uncommon on the Hugo ballots. For three thing, it’s by Scalzi. And Scalzi’s books are basically candy.

Other than that, I have no thoughts on the fiction.

 

Best Related Work: I LOVE the Science Fiction Encyclopedia, Third Edition. I read through the online edition all the time. And I really should check out Writing Excuses sometime: I love Sanderson’s books.

 

Best Graphic Story: I’m really glad that the irrepressible Foglio duo have stepped down for a year to let another graphic story other than Girl Genius win. Not only are the Foglios some of the most creative webcomic creators around, they also have a lot of class. Which makes them even more awesome.

 

Best Dramatic Presentation: GAME OF THRONES!!!!!!1!!111!!!!eleven!!one!!!!!

Ahem.

Anyway, the Hugo nominators chose an interesting tactic here: nominating Game of Thrones‘ first season in one gigantic lump, letting it fall under the category of Long Form Dramatic Presentation, and freeing up the Short Form category to let Doctor Who dominate. As usual– since 2006 the Short Form category has pretty much been “Best Doctor Who“.

That being said, I think it would be really cool to see Gaiman’s episode win the Hugo. I know– Gaiman has been awarded the Hugo enough for several lifetimes. But you know what? He deserves it. And “The Doctor’s Wife” is honestly an incredible episode. He should be incredibly proud.

Of course, he’s Neil Fucking Gaiman. That should be enough of an excuse for pride in its own right.

 

Best Professional Artist: I hope John Picacio wins this award. He’s an incredible illustrator, and there’s been a case of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” with him at the Hugos so far.

 

Best Fan Artist: Randall Munroe!

There was, again, a debate at the last Hugo Awards, because Munroe does, in fact, make a living from his work (he’s the creator of xkcd) and thus some people thought that he shouldn’t qualify for the Hugos. But, you know, Frederik Pohl and John Scalzi have both won Best Fan Writer Hugos, and they’re hardly amateurs. So I think it’s fine that Munroe has been nominated for a Best Fan Artist Hugo.

Of course, last year, he was defeated by one vote. So let’s see what happens this year. At the very least, it should be interesting.

 

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: I haven’t heard of any of these people. So I don’t have any comment.

But I will admit, if you want to see where the future of SFF is going, then looking at the Campbell isn’t a bad place to start…

 

So yeah. Those are my thoughts. Now let’s see how many of you disagree with me!

(Like always, comments are encouraged.)

~ Ian

…Why yes. In case you were wondering, I did turn Patrick Rothfuss into a lolcat.

I am just as shocked and horrified at myself as the rest of you are.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!

(The technical term for pictures of this sort is called a lolpat, by the way.)

 

And finally, because I am a Browncoat until death, here’s a picture of Pat’s son with a 100% genuine Grade-A Firefly quote below it…

 

 

Either I am a genius or I am completely insane.

In any case, I think we all win in the end.

~ Ian

My favorite authors consistently fall into two categories:

  1. They have a consistent mastery of language, and use that language to achieve a specific effect, such as humor or poeticness. (Is that a word? Meh. It is now.)
  2. They write in a LOT of different genres and mediums.

Because of this, it’s no surprise that I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman.

Gaiman’s writing is consistently deep, beautiful, and mythic. There are a lot of fantasy writers out there, but I guarantee you– none of them are quite like Gaiman. Trust me on this.

So when I say to people that one of my favorite writers is Neil Gaiman, I mainly get one response: “Oh. I’ve never heard of him. What book of his should I start out with?

This is not an easy question to answer. Because Gaiman’s writings are so varied, varying between humor and horror, children’s picture books and deeply adult graphic novels, I think that it’s a little bit hard to answer. Sometimes I’ll say one thing, sometimes another, but in any case, the right Starting Gaiman Book is kind of hard to decide. It varies from person to person.

Therefore, I have compiled this list of Neil Gaiman books to start you off on reading some of the most imaginative, well-written, and frankly insane fantasy you’ll ever encounter.

 

If You Are A Child, Or A Person Who Likes To Hang Out In Graveyards: The Graveyard Book

This children’s book adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book is probably destined to become just as much a classic as the work that inspired it. Essentially, The Graveyard Book is a collection of linked short stories that charts the adventures of young Nobody “Bod” Owens as he learns to grow up living in a graveyard in a small English city. (Please note, this book does start out with Bod’s family being murdered, and there are some particularly scary scenes that might frighten some sensitive adult readers. But it’s still really freaking good.)

Also note that this book won both the Newbery Award and the Hugo Award.

 

If You Sometimes Go Walking In The Woods, Hoping To Catch A Glimpse Of An Elf Or Dwarf: Stardust

Do you like The Princess Bride? Are you a person who never really outgrew faerie tales?

Well then, this book is for you. It’s a fun, romantic, smart fantasy novel that evokes the traditions of Olde-Schoole Faerie Tayles™.

I’d also go so far as to say that this book would be perfect for early teens and precocious tweens as an introduction to Gaiman’s oeuvre. However, parents be warned: there is a (very short) sex scene in the first chapter, and later on in the book is an uncensored F-bomb. It’s very unlikely that your kids will care, but you know: parents are a little weird about stuff like that. So I’m just warning you guys.

 

If You Wander Around In Cities, Exploring Interesting Abandoned Houses And Opening Unmarked Doors: Neverwhere

I’ve heard this book described as “a Goth Alice in Wonderland”. While there are definitely influences from both Goth culture and Lewis Carroll, this book is really a hodgepodge of all sorts of things.

Richard Mayhew, a young office drone, saves the life of a homeless girl on the streets of London, and journeys into a hidden underworld beneath the streets of the city, a world only known about by the homeless population of London, a world of magic and miracles. The book is filled with fascinating characters, from the flamboyant Marquis de Carabas; to the warrior woman Hunter, most skilled bodyguard alive; to Islington, the Angel with A Secret.

This book is also notable for its villains, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar, who are both hilariously funny and utterly terrifying at the same time– which is a delicate balance to walk.

 

If You Just Want A Quick Weekend Read: Anansi Boys

The follow-up to the brilliant American Gods (about which, more below), Anansi Boys is the only work of Gaiman’s that I’d consider a “romp”. Fat Charlie Nancy, at his father’s funeral, learns that his father was the African trickster god Anansi. He also learns that he has a long-lost twin brother who inherited his father’s powers. Hijinks and shenanigans (and, dare I say it, monkey shines?) ensue.

Side note: This is the only book about black people by a white author that I’ve ever read that doesn’t manage to be oversentimental or racist. It’s also a lot of fun.

 

If You Have A Short Attention Span: Fragile Things

This is a collection of short stories that spans the gamut (I know! A whole gamut!) of genres, with fantasy, horror, SF, and realism represented in abundance. There’s a few love stories, and a few funny stories, and a few erotic stories, and much more besides. There’s not much to go wrong with in this collection. It’s brilliant, and an excellent gateway drug.

 

If You Enjoy Humor, And Are Not Too Put Off By Blasphemy: Good Omens: The Nice And Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Good Omens reads like the Book of Revelations written by Douglas Adams.

I’ll let that just sink in for a second.

Side Note: The coauthor of this book is Terry Pratchett, British humorist, knight, and creator of the Discworld series. Sir Terry is also one of my favorite authors, and if you want to read some of the smartest, funniest fiction of the last fifty years, you should try to pick him up.

Hmm… I might actually have to write a Gateway to Discworld blog post sometime.

Let’s put that on the shelf for now.

~ Ian

 

P.S. One final note…

If You Are Starting To Read Neil Gaiman, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AVOID THESE BOOKS:

American Gods:

This book isn’t bad. In fact, it’s brilliant.

But the problem is, it’s not a good book to read if you’re new to reading Neil Gaiman.

I’ve been known to describe this book as a hybrid of Jack Kerouac and Stephen King, with a little bit of Beowulf thrown in for good measure. But that doesn’t begin to sum up the bizarre madness of this book, which is a kind of road-novel ghost-story fantasy-epic, with all the gods of both the old world and the new running around America and engaged in a psychic war that threatens to engulf reality.

It’s really bloody good. But it’s not for new readers. The sheer amount of strangeness that eminates from the pages of this book is probably enough to put most people off.

Sandman:

The Sandman series of graphic novels is one of the best, most imaginative works of fantasy since Lord of the Rings.

It’s also two thousand pages long.

So yeah. I’d recommend staying away from it until you have enough time (and money) to make the commitment.