Tag Archives: neil gaiman

Gardening and Gaiman

Just a few quick notes today.

First, I’m part of a monthly book club on Twitter. This month we’re reading Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which has just come out in paperback. (In previous months we’ve read Patricia C. Wrede’s Thirteenth Child and Diana Wynne Jones’ Fire and Hemlock.) We start the read-along and discussion on June 20, and you’re invited — just use the hashtag #20reads!

Second, I’m over at Turtleduck Press talking about my latest “ooh, shiny” obsession. Last year, you may remember, it was vegetable gardening. Well, that’s still there, but now I’ve added…drumroll please…flowers. A snippet:

I have to admit I didn’t anticipate this when the subject of buying a house first came up between my life partner and me. At the time we were living in a generic high-rise apartment building. I envisioned purchasing a lovely old house with history and personality, with enough space for us each to claim a separate office room. Location was important. Public transit was important.

A garden didn’t really enter into our priorities, or even our thoughts, beyond “oh yeah, we’ll have to mow our lawn.”

We ended up with all those things, PLUS a large urban yard with nothing in it. 1250 square feet of fertile soil*, almost twice the size of the one-bedroom apartment we’d lived in for years. Blank slate, wheeeeeee!

Read the rest at Turtleduck Press.

Editorial note: And then it became a giant field of weeds until two weeks ago when we finally caved and put down sod over most of it, but never mind that. We still have more garden than we know what to do with….

Your turn! What’s up with you?

 

If You Liked… Neil Gaiman

US cover

US cover

If you’re an SF&F reader, you just might have heard that Neil Gaiman has a new book out. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is being given critical acclaim, both from reviewers and from Gaiman himself.

Sadly, I haven’t read it yet. But to celebrate its release, here’s my (personalized, human-driven) version of Amazon’s “If You Liked…” algorithm.

If your favourite Neil Gaiman book is…

  • Neverwhere. Urban British fantasy featuring a parallel “pocket universe” that exists close to our own? Try China Miéville’s debut novel, King Rat. If you’ve read other Miéville novels, you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s weirder than Neverwhere, focusing on London’s rave scene, but the vibe is similar.
  • Stardust. The land of Faerie reimagined, with its dark and dangerous undercurrent intact? Try Elizabeth Bear’s Blood and Iron. It’s set in the present day, whereas Stardust is period fantasy, but it features changelings and Dark and Light faerie courts and human mages. Bonus? There are sequels.
  • American Gods and Anansi Boys. Contemporary fantasy exploring the nature of mythology and mythical beings in a North American setting? Try pretty much anything by Charles de Lint. I’ve read Mulengro (horror-ish) and Someplace to Be Flying (more urban fantasy) and recommend them both.
  • Coraline. YA portal fantasy that plays on the fear of losing one’s parents and dares to be creepy? Try Half World by Canadian author Hiromi Goto. This one has a sequel too.
  • The Graveyard Book. YA episodic fantasy about a young boy far out of his element and being raised by strange beings? Well, The Graveyard Book is an homage to Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. You may have seen the Disney movie, but have you read the original?
  • Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things. Short story collections featuring a wide variety of dark and thoughtful and sometimes creepy stories? Try The Hair Wreath by Canadian author Halli Villegas.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Big disclaimer: as mentioned, I haven’t read this yet. But some of the reviews I’ve read make me think that Jo Walton’s Among Others might be a good companion book.

Your turn! Have you read, or are you planning to read, The Ocean at the End of the Lane? What books/authors do you recommend for fans of Neil Gaiman?

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy If You Liked… A Game of Thrones.

Friday Link: Ghosts in the Machines by Neil Gaiman

Happy Friday-before-Halloween!

I have mixed feelings about Neil Gaiman’s writing. I like it, enough that I’ve read all of his novels and many of his short stories, but I don’t love everything about it. One thing I do love, though, is that he writes like an oral storyteller. If you’ve heard him read (which he does beautifully — see end of post!), then go and find something else he’s written, you can hear his literal voice behind the words. The language, the rhythms…well, here:

We are gathered here at the final end of what Bradbury called the October Country: a state of mind as much as it is a time. All the harvests are in, the frost is on the ground, there’s mist in the crisp night air and it’s time to tell ghost stories.

When I was growing up in England, Halloween was no time for celebration. It was the night when, we were assured, the dead walked, when all the things of night were loosed, and, sensibly, believing this, we children stayed at home, closed our windows, barred our doors, listened to the twigs rake and patter at the window-glass, shivered, and were content.

That’s from an article of his, recently posted at Tor.com. Read the rest.

If you haven’t heard him read, that’s easily remedied. You can listen to him read his Newbery Award-winning novel The Graveyard Book, chapter by chapter, here.

Okay, I’m out for the weekend. See you back here on Monday!

 

Friday Links: RIP Ray Bradbury

You’ve probably already heard the news that Ray Bradbury passed away this week. To me, he was a master of the twist ending, of combining science fictional ideas with beautiful prose. I remember being shaken by “The Veldt” and “All Summer in a Day” and “There Will Come Soft Rains” — I thought the endings were horribly sad, but I also never forgot them. Fahrenheit 451 also made a great impression on me, with its mingled dystopia and destruction and hope and sense of wonder. He was truly a giant.

Here’s a collection of remembrances and other related things from around the ‘net this week.

Neil Gaiman posted two tributes, one on his blog and one in the British newspaper The Guardian.

Gaiman also posted an audio file of himself reading a beautiful short story called “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”. This is what finally made me cry. (Side note: even if you’re not big on audiobooks, if you haven’t heard Gaiman reading, go listen! He’s brilliant at it.)

SF author John Scalzi posted a tribute on his blog.

The New Yorker published a piece by Bradbury himself (via Better Know a Book).

Long may he be remembered.