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Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman(1960- )
Besides novels, Neil Gaiman has written numerous graphic novels and contributed to several series, collections, and anthologies. His writing has won the following awards: World Fantasy, Nebula, Hugo, Mythopoeic, Bram Stoker, British Fantasy Society. Find out more about Neil Gaiman’s work at his website.

The Sandman: Surreal, often beautiful, sometimes twisted

THE SANDMAN by Neil Gaiman

THE SANDMAN series was originally released in comic form, later in trade paperback collections (above), and most lately in larger omnibus editions (the first one is shown here). It’s thus rather difficult (and time-consuming) to review the individual volumes, and so I’m going to review the series as a whole, noting as I do so that some volumes were better than others.

Despite some slight ups and downs, I overall found THE SANDMAN a remarkable work, well worthy of the praise it has received over the years. Neil Gaiman has rarely been better. A point I should make directly, though, is that this is in no way an easy-going fantasy read. Viewed as a whole, it’s probably one of the top five graphic novels ever written, and acts like it. Graphic novels are a rather different beast than pure prose, or have become so lately. At higher levels, they t... Read More

Welcome to The Dreaming: An Introduction to THE SANDMAN

THE SANDMAN by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s THE SANDMAN might just be my favorite work of art. To me, it's better than any painting, any album, any symphony, any movie, any poem, any play, and possibly, just possibly, any novel, which to me, as an English Professor, is the greatest art form of them all. I might even like THE SANDMAN better than Pride and Prejudice just for the sheer scope of the thing. If I had to go to that hypothetical island I'm often asked about, I think I'd take the 76-issue SANDMAN instead of Pride and Prejudice. If you've never read THE SANDMAN in its entirety, as far as I'm concerned, you've missed out on one of the greatest pleasures in life.

My goal, then, is to get you to read this great work, or, if you've read it before, to remind you to read it again. In ... Read More

The Sandman (Vol. 1): Preludes and Nocturnes

The Sandman (Vol. 1): Preludes and Nocturnes (Issues 1-8): Neil Gaiman (author), Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III (artists), Todd Klein (letterer), Karen Berger (editor)

[This essay is the second in an ongoing series on THE SANDMAN: This lengthy essay-review is for those who want a more thorough introduction than is offered in our shorter overview of the entire series. I recommend reading that one first, particularly since it contains no spoilers and it gives a good sense of what THE SANDMAN is for those who don't know what it's about. When I can, I avoid giving spoilers, but I can't avoid them altogether since I'm going over every story arc in the series. My main goal is to increase the enjoyment of those who want to tackle this masterpiece by calling attention to significant recurring themes, giving information about some of the allusions, and providing any other relevant information that I've picked up reading literary crit... Read More

The Sandman (Vol. 2): The Doll’s House

The Sandman (Vol 2): The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman (author), Illustrated by Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Chris Bachalo, Michael Zulli, & Steve Parkhouse, Todd Klein (letterer) 

"If you leaf through the series, you'll find either an image of a heart or the word HEART in virtually every issue. Hearts are a major part of what Sandman is about." ~Neil Gaiman (interview with Hy Bender)

Gaiman's words should be kept in mind as one continues to read what is essentially a horror comic. As we peer into the abyss, Gaiman makes sure we know we are not alone. I think Gaiman always offers hope through the possibility of human connection, often established through the power of telling stories. Keep these words of hope in mind as I summarize some stories that sound solely horrific; my overview can be misleading since I'm trying not to give spoilers. Assume the missing spoilers are often the essential moments in the stories when Gaiman surpr... Read More

The Sandman (Vol. 3): Dream Country by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman (Vol. 3): Dream Country by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman's Dream Country, the third volume in his THE SANDMAN series, is a collection of four stand-alone stories. I think it makes for a great introduction to the world of Sandman because each story is incredibly different from the one that precedes it; therefore, this particular volume is more likely to include at least one story that appeals to new readers who may be put off by a volume collecting only a single storyline. In fact, I recommend that readers new to THE SANDMAN start with eit... Read More

The Sandman (Vol. 4): Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman (Vol. 4): Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman

THE SANDMAN (Vol. 4): Season of Mists collections issues 21 through 28 of Neil Gaiman’s masterpiece, and since THE SANDMAN, like most series, was a monthly, we should notice that by issue 21 Gaiman was wrapping up his second year on the title and well into his third year by issue 28. He had gained confidence in his writing, and he was getting comfortable working with different artists. He realized that THE SANDMAN wasn’t going to be taken from him at a moment’s notice. THE SANDMAN was just too successful to be cancelled. With that worry behind him, he could concentrate on making it the best series it could be over a period stretching out for as long as he wanted. The bigger problem would be arranging to have a successful comic stop where he wanted it to stop and to prevent other people from writing the stor... Read More

The Sandman (Vol. 5): A Game of You by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman (Vol. 5): A Game of You by Neil Gaiman

"One of the key points of A Game of You is that nobody is a stereotype, and nobody is what he or she seems on the surface, once you get to know the person. Every single one of us has glorious, weird, majestic, stupid, magical worlds inside us.*" ~Neil Gaiman

The Sandman (Vol. 5): A Game of You collects issues 32 through 37, skipping issues 29-31, which are collected in volume six of THE SANDMAN. A Game of You is a six-issue story arc that is unified in terms of theme and plot, focusing on a handful of characters, all of whom live in the same building in New Y... Read More

The Sandman (Vol. 6): Fables and Reflections by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman (Vol. 6): Fables and Reflections by Neil Gaiman

Sandman: Fables and Reflections is a collection of nine separate stories that originally appeared in two separate groups plus an introductory short story and a lengthy Sandman Special about Orpheus and Eurydice. Basically, this collection is one of the most far-ranging and eclectic volumes available in the SANDMAN trade editions. The first grouping of stories about various emperors across time includes “Thermidor,” “August,” “Three Septembers and a January,” and “Ramadan” (Issues 29-31& 50). The second group of stories — originally issues 38-40 — includes “The Hun... Read More

The Sandman (Vol. 7): Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman (Vol. 7): Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman Volume 7, Brief Lives, offers a nice contrast to Volume 6, Fables and Reflections. Whereas Fables and Reflections offered nine unrelated tales in terms of plot and characters (there are thematic connections, of course), Brief Lives is a single story, an adventure tale, a road trip. Dream goes on a journey with his youngest sister, Delirium.

Their need to go on this journey is set up in previous books. Repeatedly, the family of the Endless mention their elder missing brother, and they do so rarely by name; however, in Fables and Reflections we finally learn a little bit about him — Destruction. We even get a story that takes place in the past, a story about the Sandman’s son Orpheus, in which Destruction is featured. Surprisingly, Destruct... Read More

The Sandman (Vol. 8): Worlds’ End by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman (Vol. 8): Worlds' End by Neil Gaiman

Brief Lives, volume 7 of Sandman, told a single story, a road-trip, about Dream. It was preceded by Fables and Reflections, volume 6, in which nine separate tales were told of varying quality. Volume 8, Worlds’ End, blends the two approaches via Gaiman’s Chaucerian narrative: There are a series of separate stories told in Worlds’ End, but they are unified by a framing device. The framing device is that travellers from different worlds and realms have all been stranded at the Inn ... Read More

The Sandman (Vol. 9): The Kindly Ones by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman (Vol. 9): The Kindly Ones by Neil Gaiman

The Kindly Ones, Volume 9 of THE SANDMAN, is about revenge and repercussions, and at thirteen issues, it explores these topics in the longest story arc in the series. The Kindly Ones refer to the Three Furies, whom we’ve met in previous volumes. These three female entities help a wronged woman seek revenge, enlarging her fury and giving it power beyond all imagination. The object of their combined fury has much to fear, as we see by the close of the arc.

The major plot begins and ends with two people: the young child Daniel and his mother, Lyta Hall, the woman who seems to tip the first domino in this story. Of course, Mo... Read More

The Sandman (Vol. 10): The Wake by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman (Vol. 10): The Wake by Neil Gaiman

Spoilers from the previous nine volumes are included.

The Wake — the final volume collecting the last six issues of THE SANDMAN series — is a difficult book to review because it is both the perfect ending to the series and an anti-climatic closing narrative that I find disappointing. How are these both possible? The first three issues in this volume are a three-part ending to Dream’s story. At the end of that third issue, I am satisfied emotionally and intellectually. The problem for me is that Gaiman wrote three more issues, one of which is mediocre and one of which is disappointing. So, he both succeeds and fails at e... Read More

Death, the Deluxe Edition: A treasure for SANDMAN fans

Death: The Deluxe Edition by Neil Gaiman

Death: The Deluxe Edition, was published by Vertigo in 2012. It’s a handsome book, slightly outsized (7 ¼ by 11 inches), perfect bound with a hard cover, dust jacket and matte black endpapers. The cover has a collage look, filled with shades of black and shell-pink, with Death in profile. The spiral tattoo below her right eye is prominent, and her hair sweeps in a curve like a wing.

All the stories in Death: The Deluxe Edition were written by Neil Gaiman. This collection includes the following stories, most of which are reprints:

"The Sound of her Wings" -- artwork by Mike Dringerberg and Malcolm Jones III
"Façade" -- artwork by Colleen Doran, Malcolm Jones III and Todd Klein
"A Winter’s Tale" -- artwork by Jeffrey Jone... Read More

The Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman

Having just finished the 10-volume epic SANDMAN saga, it’s hard to imagine anything that can top this achievement. In aggregate, it is certainly the most ambitious comic of its time, and having depicted the character arc of Dream, also known as Morpheus and the Sandman, there is isn’t much to add to that. At the same time, since the Endless have lived for the lifetime of the current universe (and perhaps previous iterations), there are an infinite number of side-stories that Gaiman could conceive. So it was inevitable that he would choose to pen some stories that featured each of the Endless — this project itself could be endless, if there’s enough demand from Sandman fans.

Endless Nights has a story about each of the Endless, each penned by different artists whom Gaiman chose to best represent the unique aspects of each Endless sibling a... Read More

The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman & J.H. Williams III

Editor's note: Won the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story

The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman & J.H. Williams III

Most monthly comics come out, well, monthly, but DC decided to drag out The Sandman: Overture and release it every other month, and that seemed reasonable given how long it takes for J. H. Williams III to create his exquisite artwork. However, the comic ended up taking a full year longer than announced — from October 2013 to October 2015. After the first three issues, I quit reading because I just couldn’t stand the anticipation. As of this week, however, nobody needs to wait again. All six issues of The Sandman: Overture... Read More

Good Omens: The harbinger of the apocalypse is an eleven-year-old boy

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

The bad news for the world is this: the apocalypse is nigh and all of humanity will soon face their final judgement. The good news? A Bentley-driving demon and an angel who is ‘gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide’ have decided that they rather like humanity and are going to try and save it.

Good Omens is the result of a collaboration between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, when ‘Neil Gaiman was barely Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett was only just Terry Pratchett.’ The story centres on Crowley, said demon, and the serpent who tempted Eve (originally named Crawly). Throughout history, he has secretly liased with Aziraphale, an antique-loving, rare books enthu... Read More

Neverwhere: A wonderfully fantastical setting

Reposting to include Maron's new essay.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere is a novel that improved dramatically for me on reread, which actually was a surprise to me. I originally read it about six years ago when, in an odd twist worthy of London Below, it mysteriously appeared one day on my clunky Kindle 2, without my having ordered it. About a month later it just as mysteriously disappeared again (luckily I had finished it just in time). I was fascinated by the marvelous and imaginative setting of Neverwhere and London Below, but only mildly entertained by the plot, which ― other than the beginning and the end ― I found quite forgettable.

Still, when I was offered the chance to read a 2016 edition of Neverwhere with the “author’s preferred text” and illustrations by Chris Riddell, whose illustrations make Gaiman’... Read More

Stardust: Full of magic and whimsy

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Go, And Catch a Falling Star...

If you like fantasy stories filled with magic, adventure and romance, but are getting sick and tired of boring, long-winded fantasy epics, then look no further than Stardust. There are no long histories, family trees or endless descriptions of culture, landscapes and back-story. This is just a sweet, simple fairytale told by a great storyteller. Though be warned — the original fairytales were not written for children, and Stardust follows in their literary footsteps, by including several violent, sensual and bittersweet scenes. It might be tempting to read this book aloud to children (particularly if you've seen the recent movie adaptation), but this is something I would strongly advise against!

Set in the Victorian Era out in the English countryside, the town of Wall is n... Read More

Smoke and Mirrors: Gets under your skin

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman's place on my personal "favorite authors list" is cemented firmly by Smoke and Mirrors, a versatile collection of his short stories and narrative poems. There is a wide variety of "types" of story here, from fantasy to horror to mystery to wildly hilarious comedy. I liked almost all of them.

Neil Gaiman's two finest gifts are (1) humor, and (2) truly scary horror that gets under your skin rather than just grossing you out with gore. He flexes his humor muscles with such outstanding fare as "Chivalry" (the story of an old woman who buys the Holy Grail at a thrift shop), "We Can Get Them For You Wholesale" (about hit men with discount rates), "One Life, Furnished in Early Moorcock" (about a young boy and his love for fantasy novels), and "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar" (believe it or not, a funny Cthulhu story, about strange t... Read More

Adventures in the Dream Trade: Rare Neil Gaiman

Adventures in the Dream Trade by Neil Gaiman

When I first saw Adventures in the Dream Trade, I was genuinely surprised because I never knew it existed. I found it in a specialty bookstore, and was going for a relatively high selling price. Still, thinking that it was a rare Neil Gaiman book, I shelled out the cash for it and I did find out it really was a rare Neil Gaiman book due to its small print-run. And anyone who's read it will know why.

Adventures in the Dream Trade collects various introductions and essays by Gaiman, a few poems, songs, really short fiction (the equivalent tern would be fast-food fiction), and several months worth of blog entries tackling the publication of American Gods. Why do I mention this? Because it shows you who should buy this book. Adventures in the Dream Trade doesn't really have a huge, encomp... Read More

American Gods: Mixed opinions

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This is a bad land for Gods... The old gods are ignored. The new gods are as quickly taken up as they are abandoned, cast aside for the next big thing. Either you've been forgotten, or you're scared you're going to be rendered obsolete, or maybe you're just getting tired of existing on the whims of people.

Shadow, just out of prison and with nothing to go home to, is hired to be Mr. Wednesday's bodyguard as he travels around America to warn all the other incarnations of gods, legends, and myths, that “a storm is coming.” There's going to be a battle between the old gods who were brought to melting pot America by their faithful followers generations ago, and the new gods of technology, convenience, and individuality.

That's the premise of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and it's just crackling with promise! But... Read More

Coraline: For brave children who like to squirm

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline’s family has just moved into a new flat. Her parents are always busy with their own work and Coraline (please don’t call her Caroline) has no friends or siblings to play with. She spends her time exploring her new apartment complex and the surrounding grounds. She’s got some eccentric neighbors: two little old ladies who love to reminisce about their time on the stage and an old man who trains mice to sing and dance.

But what’s really strange is the extra door in Coraline’s flat. It doesn’t go anywhere. Coraline’s mom says it used to connect to the vacant flat next door, but now it’s bricked up. Except that it’s not always bricked up... sometimes it does go somewhere…

Coraline is a terrific little heroine. Curious and brave, but appropriately cautious, she sets out to discover what’s in the vacant flat. And though what’s there seems rather wo... Read More

A Study in Emerald: Gaiman pays tribute to Sherlock and Lovecraft

A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman

A Study in Emerald is a Hugo and Locus Award winning short story by Neil Gaiman in which he pays tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.

At first Gaiman’s story appears to be a straight Sherlock Holmes pastiche as a man who appears to be Watson relates how his new friend, a consulting detective who appears to be Holmes, is being asked by Inspector Lestrade to help solve a murder mystery. In fact, it completely parallels Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, which gets its name from Holmes’ comment that the murder scene is “a study in scarlet.”

You probably know where I’m going with this. There are a few clues that Gaiman’s world is not the England we know (e.g., it’s referre... Read More

Neil Gaiman’s Murder Mysteries

Neil Gaiman's Murder Mysteries adapted for comics by P. Craig Russell

P. Craig Russell's artwork is stunning in his adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Murder Mysteries. And since the story has all the other-worldly hallmarks of a Neil Gaiman Sandman story, Russell really gets a chance to show off his talent as he bounces from the angelic Silver City to the cityscapes of our mundane world.

This graphic novel is based on what was originally a short story by Neil Gaiman (and eventually a radio drama in the spirit of The Shadow); I read the comic before see... Read More

Marvel 1602: 10th Anniversary Edition

Marvel 1602: 10th Anniversary Edition by Neil Gaiman (story), Andy Kubert (illustrations), Richard Isanove (color)

In 2001, Marvel gave Neil Gaiman the chance to write in the Marvel universe. Being Gaiman, he didn’t come up with a traditional superhero story at all. There are no tall buildings to be leaped at a single bound, no airplanes or guns, no fancy particle beam weapons. Instead, Gaiman went sideways, developing a story with Marvel characters — many Marvel characters — in Europe and the New World just at the transition from Queen Elizabeth I’s reign to that of James I of England. The result was Marvel 1602.

The collection of the eight chapters of Marvel 1602 is a beautiful book. Gaiman wrote the story, it was illustrated by Andy Kubert and colored by Richard Isanove. Todd Klein’s lettering enhances the illusion of a 17th century book — and still reminds us, at times, that we’re reading a comic... Read More

Anansi Boys: Neil Gaiman + Lenny Henry = Twice the Entertainment

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman+ Lenny Henry = Twice the Entertainment

I like Neil Gaiman's style — his writing is easy, intelligent, well-edited, dryly humorous, and just plain charming.

Anansi Boys is no exception, and it's especially charming in audio format, thanks to Lenny Henry, an English stand-up comedian whose deep rich voice and character comedy is absolutely perfect for this novel which is based on the African/Caribbean mythology of the trickster spider god Anansi (introduced in American Gods). Henry's voices are brilliant (especially the old Caribbean women) and he had me literally smiling nearly all the way through the story. Actually, if it weren't for Lenny Henry, I'd have to say that I probably would only give this novel 3.5 stars instead of 4.

That's because this is not Gaiman's tightest work. It's about... Read More

Fragile Things: Gaiman short stories and poems

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

This collection comes with 31 short stories and poems as well as an introduction that's as compelling as Smoke and Mirrors. Of all of Gaiman's collections, I think this is by far the most superior as it features more of his later work and has a more polished style.

I've also read several of the stories here before in various anthologies but it was great to revisit them as I wasn't the same reader I was several years ago. Reading them today, I enjoyed them more the second time around.

Here's my top three stories: "A Study in Emerald" is a hybrid between Lovecraft and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Gaiman parallels the original Sherlock Holmes story quite well while infusing it with his own unique elements.

"Sunbird," on the other hand, is quite mythic and having read this story th... Read More

M is for Magic: Diverse stories by Gaiman

M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman

M is for Magic's title is an homage to the short story collections of Ray Bradbury and is a worthy successor. (Now if only we had 25 more short story collections to complete the alphabet.) Gaiman's stories in this collection are easy reads that both young readers and adults will enjoy. It has a diverse set of stories, everything from mystery to coming-of-age to horror. There's even a poem that managed to sneak into this collection.

Gaiman’s prose is quite easy to understand yet nonetheless charming. A welcome read for any occasion, although the hefty hardcover price might detract some people from buying it immediately. Personally though, I think it's well worth a hardback purchase.

FanLit thanks Charles Tan from Bibliophile Stalker for contributing this guest review.
... Read More

Interworld: Fun science fiction for kids and teens

Interworld by Neil Gaiman & Michael Reaves

Joey Harker thinks he’s a pretty normal kid except that he’s got a horrible sense of direction. When his social studies teacher makes the kids try to find their way back to school after being dropped off somewhere in town, Joey gets lost. That’s when he discovers there’s a good reason for his deficit — he’s a Walker. In fact, he’s THE Walker. He can travel through all the (heretofore unknown to Joey) alternate earths.

When Joey accidentally walks out of our earth, the InterWorld finds him. This is an organization made up of all the Walkers (i.e., all the Joey Harkers) who exist in all the alternate earths. They form a military unit that keeps their earths safe from the Hex and the Binary, the two groups that are trying to exploit the earths for their own purposes. The Hex, which controls some of the worlds, uses magic, while the Binary, which c... Read More

The Silver Dream: The stakes get even higher

The Silver Dream by Neil Gaiman & Michael Reaves & Mallory Reaves

This review will contain spoilers for the first INTERWORLD book, InterWorld. You should read InterWorld (2007) before beginning The Silver Dream (2013).

Joey Harker, the Walker, is now almost 17 years old and he has so far survived as a member of the InterWorld, the military organization made up of all the Joeys in the altiverses who have come together to protect their earths from the Hex and the Binary. On one of their missions, they somehow manage to bring back a stowaway when they return to their secret base. It’s a girl named Acacia Jones and she has a supernatural power, too. While the Joeys can walk through different spatial dimensions, Acacia can walk through time. She’s a handy ally to have... Read More

Eternity’s Wheel: A nice introduction to SF for tweens

Eternity’s Wheel by Neil Gaiman & Michael Reaves & Mallory Reaves

This review will contain spoilers for the previous two INTERWORLD books, InterWorld and The Silver Dream. You need to read those books before starting Eternity’s Wheel or you'll have no idea what's going on.

After discovering in the last book, The Silver Dream, that Hex and Binary are working together to destroy the universes, Joey finds himself back on Earth and not able to get back to InterWorld because it’s being chased by Hex. Though cut off from his fellow Walkers, Joey is determined to fight for his universe’s future, so he focuses on recruiting new agents and building up an InterWorld base in ... Read More

The Dangerous Alphabet: A ghostly piratical poem

The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has paired up with illustrator Gris Grimly to create The Dangerous Alphabet. This is not an alphabet book for young readers, unless you like staying up with them all night as they stare at shadows in the corner. Rather, Gaiman wrote a ghostly piratical poem in 26 lines, each starting with a letter of the alphabet, and then gave it to Gris Grimly to illustrate.

Grimly’s style is dark and grim — with a name like Gris Grimly, what do you expect? — what I can only describe as a post-apocalyptic Edward Gorey drawing left out in the rain. As much as I love art, I’m not an expert, but I think the illustrations are a combination of pen and ink with watercolor washes, and they show two little children running for their lives as they get sucked into a horrible world in the city sewers. (It’s rumored Gaiman refuses to go underground anymore.)
... Read More

Odd and the Frost Giants: Norse mythology on audio for kids

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

Odd’s childhood has not been easy. His father has died, his leg is crippled, his new stepfather is unpleasant, and the winter just won’t end. So, Odd decides to go off to stay in his father’s old hut in the woods. Soon he’s befriended by a bear, a fox, and an eagle. But these aren’t your normal bear, fox, and eagle — these animals can talk, and they tell Odd that they are the gods Loki, Thor, and Odin. They’ve temporarily lost their powers and their home to the Frost Giants. Bravely, young Odd sets out across a beautifully enchanting winter landscape to help the gods get home.

Odd and the Frost Giants is a short and sweet adventure fantasy for boys and girls which is based on Norse mythology. I listened to the audio version (2 hours long) which was produced by Harper Children’s Audio and read by Neil Gaiman himself. Gaiman’s reading is charming —... Read More

The Graveyard Book: Even the dead characters seem alive

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Ignore the YA label slapped on this one if that gives you pause. Though that won’t be hard to do because The Graveyard Book opens with a hand in the darkness holding a knife wet with the blood of almost an entire family: father, mother, and older child. The knife lacks only the blood of the toddler son to finish its job. Luckily for the reader (and the boy) he escapes into a nearby cemetery where a mothering ghost convinces the cemetery community to protect him. Another reason to ignore the YA label, or better yet, to revel in it, is that Neil Gaiman’s YA-listed material is stronger than his adult work: tighter, more focused, more intense all around. All that holds true here and The Graveyard Book’s clarity and brevity, often seen as constraints in the category, only enhance the book’s impact.

Chapter One sets the premise, introduces the... Read More

Blueberry Girl: A blessing for little girls

Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess have paired up again to produce the breathtaking Blueberry Girl, a fantastical blessing poem or lullaby that Gaiman wrote for his two daughters.

Invoking “Ladies of light and ladies of darkness and ladies of never-you-mind,” Gaiman prays for blessings to be bestowed on his blueberry girl. Reminiscent of fairy godmothers — Gaiman’s prayer for protection and spindles makes that allusion even stronger — the author lists off his wishes for his daughters to be bestowed by the ladies who take different forms throughout the story in Vess’s enchanting drawings.

There is no hint of the creepy or spooky characters that haunt so many of Gaiman’s books. This is just the pure love of a father for his children. The illustrations depict a wide range of girls from various ethnic groups (though I did not see any overtly Asian-... Read More

Instructions: Safely traverse enchanted lands

Instructions by Neil Gaiman

As one might expect from Neil Gaiman, Instructions is an unusual little book, and despite technically being a picture book, isn’t necessarily something you would give to a child. Not that the content is objectionable — just a tad incomprehensible to anyone who isn’t well versed in the rules and patterns of fairytales. With that in mind, a child might be the perfect audience! I think what I’m trying to say is thatInstructions is a story for those who love stories, and the more familiar you are with the tales upon which it’s based, the better you will enjoy it.

First published in A Wolf at the Door, an anthology of retold fairytales edited by Ellen Datlow and Read More

The Urban Fantasy Anthology: Not what I expected it to be

The Urban Fantasy Anthology edited by Peter S. Beagle & Joe R. Lansdale

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of most urban fantasy. I tend to find problems with almost every urban fantasy book I’ve tried to read. When I got this book in the mail, I kind of rolled my eyes and shot it to the top of my “to be read” pile so I could get it over with fast. I didn’t expect to actually enjoy this book. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d open this anthology and think, “hot damn, this is good stuff…” but I did. I cracked open this book, started reading, and shocked myself by enjoying it.

As with every anthology, not every story will be a hit. Where The Urban Fantasy Anthology seems to differ from many other anthologies was the fact that the stories all appealed to me differently due to their plots, not due to their quality, which is the case with many other anthologies. This book is fil... Read More

Fortunately, the Milk: A wacky children’s story read by Neil Gaiman

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

I never pass up a children’s story written and read by Neil Gaiman. The stories he writes for kids are among his best work and they’re even better when he reads them himself. The audiobook version of Fortunately, the Milk (HarperAudio) would make a great gift for parents who travel with children. Fortunately, the Milk will keep the entire family happily entertained for 1 hour.

In this very amusing story, a boy and his little sister are stuck at home with Dad while Mum is out of town at a conference. Mum left instructions for Dad and reminded him that he needed to pick up a carton of milk before breakfast in the morning. Well, he forgot, and the kids are upset about not having milk for their cereal. So Dad puts down his paper and heads off to the corner market for milk. I... Read More

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: An evocative return to childhood

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I’ll start by saying that I’m not hugely familiar with Neil Gaiman’s work. I’ve read Stardust and watched his two Doctor Who episodes… and that’s it. At first I wasn’t sure whether or not to absorb more of his work before tackling The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but decided against it for the sake of a fresh perspective. So consider this a review from someone who has very few preconceptions about Gaiman’s style and themes.

Our middle-aged protagonist (I don’t recall if we ever learn his name) recounts to us his movements after a family funeral. Instead of going to the wake he drives through Sussex to his childhood home where vague memories begin to stir. Going down a little country lane he arrives at the Hempstock family farmhouse, certain that he used to play with the family’s young daughter Lettie. At the back... Read More

Trigger Warning: Some stand-out tales, and some bits and bobs

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Distrubances by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman's latest collection of short fiction and poetry, Trigger Warning, begins, like his other collections, with a long, explanatory introduction. While the reader certainly doesn't have to read this chapter, here entitled "Making a Chair," I really enjoy this practice of Gaiman's. These introductions not only forecast what the stories are about (you know, just in case I'd want to skip anything) but they also provide a window into Gaiman's writerly process. I've always appreciated this about Gaiman in general; his online persona seems very humble, open, and interested in talking about the intersections between his life and his work. This feeling intensifies when he writes so candidly on the page.

As I do with most short story collections I review, I'm only g... Read More

The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection: Four delightful stories read by the author

The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection (The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, The Wolves in the Walls, Cinnamon, Crazy Hair) by Neil Gaiman

The only thing better than one of Neil Gaiman’s children’s stories is one of Neil Gaiman’s children’s stories read to you by Neil Gaiman. Do not pass these up when you see them. I found these four stories in audio format at my library, both individually and as the cleverly titled The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection. If your library doesn’t have them, you can purchase them separately for less than $2 each at Audible, or you can purchase the entire collection, which was released by HarperAudio in January 2015, for $9. (Ummmm.... let’s do the math here... purchasing them separately seems like a better deal, however, the complete collection ends with Maddy Gaiman interviewing her dad... Read More

How the Marquis Got His Coat Back: A delightful return to London Below

How the Marquis Got His Coat Back by Neil Gaiman

Fans of Neverwhere, rejoice. The Marquis of Carabas has returned and is as slippery and smooth-talking as ever. Neil Gaiman takes readers into London Below once more as the Marquis embarks upon an adventure to retrieve his stolen coat. Despite being much smaller in scope and scale than Neverwhere, it is impossible not to be immersed in Gaiman’s fantastical world.

The Marquis has lost his coat. Or, more specifically, it has been stolen. His first port of call is the floating market, at which he is directed towards the Mushroom people. One such Mushroom person agrees to tell the Marquis where his coat is, on the condition that he deliver a love note to his intended lover, Drusilla of Ravens Court. This is all whilst the Mushroom person ... Read More

The Sleeper and the Spindle: Another treat from a favourite storyteller

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman's latest offering defies the conventions of your typical fairy tale not just in content but format as well. You won't be able to sit down and read this to your child in one sitting as despite the multiple illustrations, for the story is lengthy and the font small.

Perhaps then it's better described as a fairy tale for adults, though I've always shied away from putting age restrictions on these types of stories. Let's go with calling it an illustrated short story that will be highly enjoyed by people of all ages with an interest in dark and twisted fairy tales.

The Queen of a faraway land is about to be married, at least until the arrival of three dwarfs bringing her news of events in the neighbouring kingdom. A sleeping curse has been laid upon a fair princess, but rather than the spell remaining confined to the castle in which she slumbers, it ... Read More

Norse Mythology: A master storyteller relays the myths he loves

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman makes no secret of his love of Norse mythology and folklore. It shows up over and over in his fiction (Sandman, American Gods, Odd and the Frost Giants to name a few); and he has mentioned his love of the stories in interviews and essays. In Norse Mythology (2017), Gaiman puts his distinctive narrative voice in service to this mythological cycle and tells us the tales of the beginnings of the Norse gods, all the way through to beyond their ending, the dread battle of Ragnarok.

Norse... Read More

Magazine Monday: Nightmare, May 2013

Nightmare Magazine has been very good from its first issue, but the May 2013 issue, the eighth, is extraordinary.

The magazine opens with “Centipede Heartbeat” by Caspian Gray. Lisa believes that centipedes have invaded the home she shares with Joette, her lover. Worse, she believes that the centipedes have actually invaded Joette: “Each time Lisa rested her head against Joette’s breats, she heard the centipedes. In between heartbeats there was the tiny sound of hundreds of chitinous footsteps against bone, of miniature mandibles tearing at organs.” It’s a horrible situation, especially because Joette refuses to admit what is happening — or is Lisa insane? At any rate, Lisa feels she has to cure Joette of her infestation. Her behavior is logical, from her perspective, though Lisa’s perspective seems warped. But is it? The exterminator she has had in to consult says the place is crawling with the insects, but it d... Read More

Magazine Monday: Uncanny Magazine, Issues One and Two

Uncanny Magazine is a new bimonthly internet publication edited by Lynn M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas. The editors have explained their mission this way:
We chose the name Uncanny because we wanted a publication that has the feel of a contemporary magazine with a history — one that evolved from a fantastic pulp. Uncanny will bring the excitement and possibilities of the past, and the sensibilities and experimentation that the best of the present offers. . . . It’s our goal that Uncanny’s pages will be filled with gorgeous prose, exciting ideas, provocative essays, and contributors from every possible background.
Issue One opens with “If You Were a Tiger, I’d Have to Wear White” by Maria Dahvana Headley, in which the animal stars of movies and television have p... Read More

SHORTS: Gwenda Bond, Neil Gaiman, Kij Johnson

There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about.

“Lois Lane: A Real Work of Art” by Gwenda Bond (2015, free at Amazon)

The first of two prequel stories for Gwenda Bond's Lois Lane: Fallout, “A Real Work of Art,” is a quick story in which pre-Metropolis Lois Lane puts her investigatory skills to use at a new school. She’s been forced to enroll in an art class, despite possessing no art... Read More

SHORTS: Killjoy, Gaiman, Arimah, Tolbert, Bisson

There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. 

“Everything that Isn’t Winter” by Margaret Killjoy (Oct. 2016, free at, 99c Kindle version)

This piece includes a great range of storytelling in few words. “Everything that Isn’t Winter” is set post-apocalypse in a small community that has carved out a comfortable place in the new world. The setting may sound run-of-the-mill, but what Killjoy does with it makes it come to life.

It would be apt to describe “Everything that Isn’t Winter” as ‘gritty’ because... Read More

SHORTS: Wahls, Jemisin, Gaiman, Coen, Pi

Our weekly exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we've read that we wanted you to know about. It's an outstanding group this week!

“Utopia, LOL?” by Jamie Wahls (June 2017, free on Strange Horizons)

Charlie Wilcox, after uncounted centuries of cryogenic frozenness, is decanted in a distant future. He’s cheerfully helped to adjust by an extremely ditzy person named Kit/dinaround, who is the assistant of the AI known as the Allocator, which watches over and guides humanity. Through a temporary upload station, Kit shows Charlie the ropes of their virtual society, which humans (who now number in the trillions) experience solely as digital entities, “uploaded consciousnesses in distributed Matryoshka brains.” It’s an immense, and immensely complex, Matrix type of world.

A... Read More

SHORTS: Howard, Wilde, Gaiman, Ellison, Keller, Dick

Our weekly exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we've read that we wanted you to know about.

“A Recipe for Magic” by Kat Howard and Fran Wilde (2017, free at Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog, free to download for Nook)

“A Recipe for Magic,” co-written by Kat Howard and Fran Wilde, features a curious kind of shop: at the Night and Day Bakery, magic spells are baked directly into pastries and confections, affecting both the baker/spellcraft... Read More

Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears: Excellent anthology despite my twisted gut

Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (eds.)

Ruby Slippers, Golden Tearsis the third in the series of fairy tale anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. It’s a very good collection; in quality it’s probably equal to its immediate predecessor, Black Thorn, White Rose, though I didn’t personally like it as much for reasons I’ll elaborate below.

My favorite of the stories is Ellen Steiber’s stunning novella “The Fox Wife.” Set in nineteenth-century Japan, it concerns a domineering husband and his young wife who shows signs of becoming a kitsune, a fox shapeshifter.

Other favorites include “The Beast,” by Tanith Lee, and the poem “The White Road,” by Read More

Black Heart, Ivory Bones: All that’s best of dark and bright

Black Heart, Ivory Bones edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Black Heart, Ivory Bones is the sixth and final entry in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s series of fairy tale anthologies. Of the six, I’ve read four, and each has its own particular flavor, its own unique mood. While all of the books contain a mix of light and darkness, in this volume there seems to be more of a balance: “all that’s best of dark and bright,” if you will. The mood that Black Heart, Ivory Bones evoked in me was a wistfulness, maybe, or a pensiveness. When I first read the series, Black Thorn, White Rose was my favorite, but I’ve come to a deeper enjoyment of this volume as I’ve grown older. At this point I’d have to say the two are now tied in my mind.

My favorite stories in this collection are:

“Rapunzel... Read More

The Green Man: Read it slowly

The Green Man edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

In fairy tales, whenever someone journeys into the forest, you just know something strange is about to occur and that the protagonist’s life is going to be changed forever. The same is true of the stories and poems featured in The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest. With this collection, editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling kicked off a series of young adult anthologies, each devoted to a particular theme. Here, the theme is wild nature, and most of the stories feature teenage characters who encounter the wilderness and undergo a coming-of-age experience there.

Of course, I have my favorites. Delia Sherman contributes a tale of the Faery Queen of Central Park, and the insecure girl who faces her in a battle of wits. Read More

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Two

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Two edited by Jonathan Strahan

The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Two is one of several anthologies that collects the best science fiction and fantasy of 2007. I've read many of the stories included, yet revisiting them actually made me appreciate them more rather than feel exhausted. One thing I noticed is that there's a stronger science fiction balance in this anthology compared to the previous volume, although that might also be because the lines between science fiction and fantasy easily get blurry.

The opening piece, Ted Chiang's "The Merchant and The Alchemist's Gate," is a good example. This is easily my favorite story and arguably Chiang's most accessible piece. The physics of time travel is narrated with an Arabian Nights flavor and theme, appealing to b... Read More

The Living Dead: Zombies aren’t the point

The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams

I never knew there were so many ways to tell a zombie story. I pretty much thought that the George Romero version was it — dead people wandering around holding their arms out in front of them and calling out “braaaaaaains,” looking to munch on the living. I never did know why they had to hold their arms that way, but they all did — I thought.

John Joseph Adams has chosen his material wisely in The Living Dead, a collection of short stories about zombies by some of the biggest and best names in the horror business, as well as the newest and hottest. I resisted this book for a long time because I’ve never been fond of zombies, but upon diving in, I discovered that the zombies aren’t really the point; the point is to tell a good story. And these authors do that, with a vengeance.

My favorite story is “Almost the Last St... Read More

The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology

The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology by Gordon Van Gelder (ed.)

The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology is an excellent collection of 23 stories picked from the treasure trove of short fiction that's been published in the eponymous magazine over the past 60 years. Editor Gordon Van Gelder — also the editor of the magazine since 1997 — has done an admirable job, picking stories that illustrate the diversity of both the genre and the magazine. As such, this is a great anthology for SF&F fans as well as newcomers looking for a taste.

The line-up of authors in this collection looks like a veritable Who's Who of speculative fiction: Ray Bradbury, Read More

Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance

Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance is the best anthology I’ve ever read. These stories will be enjoyed by any SFF reader, but they’ll be ten times more fun if you’ve read Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth, because they are all written in honor of that fantastic work. Each tale is written in the style of Vance, which is quite amusing in itself, and each takes place on the Dying Earth, that far-future wasteland in which natural selection means survival of the cleverest, nastiest, sneakiest, and most self-serving.

Songs of the Dying Earth was written by “many high-echelon, top-drawer writers” (as Mr.... Read More

Troll’s Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales

Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Fairy tales were my first love when I was a child. My mother introduced me to the joys of stories with The Golden Book of Fairy Tales long before I learned how to read. My early reading included the first three volumes of The Junior Classics and Andrew Lang’s colorful fairy tale books. When Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling started editing anthologies of new takes on the old tales for adults with Snow White, Blood Red, I was delighted. And when Datlow and Windling started editing a series of original fiction for young adults based on fairy tales, I coul... Read More

The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Sherlock in fantasy land

The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes edited by John Joseph Adams

In this collection of stories, compiled by John Joseph Adams, a variety of authors invent cases that Sherlock Holmes might encounter if our world were just a bit different. These are cases in which the “improbable” occurs. Most of the stories involve some sort of fantastical situation in which Holmes is required to go outside of his normal logic-based abilities and enter the realm of fantasy. The array of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi authors is quite extensive. Laurie King, Neil Gaiman, Stephen Baxter and Robert Sawyer are just a few of the names that gr... Read More

Sympathy for the Devil: A collection of bedtime stories

Sympathy for the Devil edited by Tim Pratt

Please allow me to introduce Sympathy for the Devil, a fine new anthology filled entirely with short stories about the devil... who is, as we all know, a man of style and taste. However, you won’t just find the smooth-talking stealer of souls here. In addition to that famous version of His Grand Infernal Majesty, you’ll also find funny devils, monstrous devils, abstract devils and strangely realistic ones. Devils scary and not-so-scary, devils who are after children’s souls and others going after old men. Devils with a surprising amount of business acumen, and devils who try to get what they want, no matter the cost. There’s even one who engages in a competitive eating contest — the prize is, of course, someone’s soul.

Sympathy for the Devil, edited by Tim Pratt, offers up 35 very diverse short stories (and o... Read More

Songs of Love and Death: Tales of star-crossed lovers

Songs of Love and Death edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

Songs of Love and Death is the third anthology that George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois have edited together. Like Warriors and Songs of the Dying EarthSongs of Love and Death brings together some of the biggest names that SFF has to offer and they set these authors to work on a common theme.

Martin and Dozois offer a cross-genre anthology that ranges from Robin Hobb’s epic fantasy “Blue Boots,” which tells the story of a romance between a young serving girl and a silver-tongued minstrel, to  Read More

The Secret History of Fantasy: Stories that redefine the genre

The Secret History of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle

The basic premise of the SECRET HISTORY anthologies (there's also a science fiction one, The Secret History of Science Fiction, which I haven't read) is that there's a type of writing that got missed or buried because other things were more popular, more commercial, or dodged the spec-fic labeling. Certainly that's the thrust of Peter S. Beagle's introduction, and the two other non-fiction pieces by Ursula K. Le Guin and editor David G. Hartwell.

In the case of fantasy, this type of wri... Read More

Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories

Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories edited by John Joseph Adams

Even people who don’t usually read science fiction will often be familiar with a few classic titles in the “dystopian SF” sub-genre. After all, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and of course the famous Aldous Huxley novel Brave New World are some of the few SF titles that have entered the mainstream literary canon to such an extent that they’ve become assigned school reading for many students. However, novel-length dystopian SF didn’t stop with those venerable classics, and can even be said to be thriving at the moment. See, for example, the recent success of Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut The Windup Girl ... Read More

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

I haven’t actually read every page of The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, yet I’m giving it my highest recommendation. Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Master and Mistress of Weird, The Weird is 1126 pages long and should really be considered a textbook of weird fiction. It contains 110 carefully chosen stories spanning more than 100 years of weird fiction. Here’s what you can expect to find in this massive volume:

A “Forweird” by Michael Moorcock gives us a brief history of the weird tale, discusses how it has defied publishers’ attempts to categorize it into neatly-bordered genres, and gives examples of writers who are revered by modern readers but whose weird fiction caused them to be ma... Read More

Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury: Four great stories make it easy to recommend

Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury edited by Sam Weller & Mort Castle

Thanks to our recent book chats here, I’ve reread a bit of Ray Bradbury lately, so I was well primed to pick up the 2012 tribute anthology edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle, entitled Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury, which collects 26 contemporary authors who were asked to write a story inspired or informed by Bradbury. The task was sufficiently non-restrictive that the stories run a gamut of style and type: horror, fantasy, dystopia, science fiction, as well as several with no fantastical element whatsoever, which may surprise those who know Bradbury only through classic novels like Fahrenheit 451 or Something Wicked This Way Comes, or collections suc... Read More

Rogues: A diverse and satisfying collection

Rogues edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

Rogues, a short-story anthology by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, is a marvelously diverse collection of stories and genres, tied together by those scoundrels, those tricksters, those rascals, those rogues that you can't help but love. I listened to it on audiobook and loved the experience, especially because a few of the readers were actors from Game of Thrones.

When I picked this up, I was most excited to hear two stories in particular: "How the Marquis Got His Coat Back," by Neil Gaiman, and "The Lightning Tree," by Patrick Rothfus... Read More

World Fantasy Convention 2011: Day One

“Sailing the Seas of Imagination” is the theme of World Fantasy Convention 2011 here in sunny, temperate San Diego, so you don’t go too long without someone issuing an “Arrrh!” or a panel about what happens under the sea. It’s a great group of people: fans, writers, critics, all people who read with passion and heart. And I'm here and get to blog about it!

Once registered for the convention, I trudged directly over to pick up my goodie bag. World Fantasy is famous for these bags: sturdy canvas totes jammed with enough reading material to last at least a month. I returned a number of the books to the Book Swap table because I already owned them, but I’ve still got 10 new books (and I’ve already tasted A Darkness Forged in Fire by Chris Evans Read More

World Fantasy Convention 2011: Day Two

I'm reporting about Day 2 today. Read about Day One here.

There were lots of interesting panels today, and it was frustrating to try to boil them down into the ones I wanted to see.

My first choice was “Retelling Old Stories: The New Fairy Tales.” I’ve got all the modern fairy tale collections edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow and many other rewritings, so I was eager to hear this discussion, and it didn’t disappoint. The first question addressed by the panel was the obvious one: why rewrite fairy tales? Read More

World Fantasy Convention 2011: Day Three

I spent most of the morning today in the dealers’ room, which was a disaster for my wallet but a boon for my library. As has become my habit of late, I spent more time picking up titles from small presses, like Prime, Night Shade and EDGE, than from the big boys. Some of that was simply because the big boys weren’t there in force; even Tor, which hosted a party last night, didn’t have a table full of books. But mostly it was because I’m of the firm belief that the small presses are where it’s happening these days, with the strangest and most interesting books coming from them. I am very thankful that the USPS is on site with boxes and a guarantee of safe passage for my new acquisitions, because I could never carry all of these onto the plane, not even if I bought a new piece of luggage -- not enough arms! There were also a few jewelers on the premises, with some lovely things, and I confess I committed jewelry (though not the piece pictured here). The jeweler who captured me ... Read More

Library memories

I went to see Neil Gaiman read and sign books in Santa Rosa, California recently. After he read from The Ocean at the End of the Lane, he answered some audience questions. One question was “What did you read as a child, and what influenced you?” The question was not a surprise but the answer was, a bit. Gaiman said that he read “everything. “My parents used to drop me off at the library when I was a child, and they would go off to work,” he said. “I started in the Children’s Library and read everything, starting with the As.” (Gaiman was quick to say that libraries should not be used for child care.)

This got me thinking about the first library I remember, and the one that I have the best childhood memories of. The first library I ever checked out a book from was in a little town north of us. It was a Dale Carnegie library, made of gray marble with a flight of steps and tw... Read More