Margaret Mahy (OT)

Dorian E. Gray israfel at
Mon May 14 16:06:46 EDT 2001

Neil asked...
> Can anyone comment on Neil Gaiman's books?  I've heard that he's good and
> gets name-checked by many rated fantasy authors, but I haven't looked into
> his work at all.  I noticed that Hexwood is dedicated to him.

He and DWJ are friends, I think; he dedicated "The Books of Magic" to her
(and two or three other female fantasy writers; can't remember who, now.
Jane Yolen might have been one).

Um...sort of spoilerish bit ahead...I think...maybe...

As for his books...I think they're wonderful!  If you don't like comic
books...go get hold of some of the "Sandman" books anyway, and read them.
They're what put me on to comic books (though there are still very few that
I like!).  They're mostly about Dream, one of the seven Endless, and his
siblings (Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium) pop up
fairly often too.  The entire series, and it is a serial story, though there
are many side-stories along the way, is a tragedy, and a wonderful one.  One
of those ones where you hope, every time you read it, that it won't happen
that way *this* time, that maybe someone will make a different choice, and
things could be different...  But it always happens that way, because it
only can happen that way, because for it to happen any other way, the
characters would have to not be who they are.  It's tragic, and it's
inevitable, but at the same time, it's *right*, because a happy outcome
would betray the story.

Hm.  Got a bit carried away there, but damn!  I wish I could write like
that.  Anyway, the "Sandman" books also involve much literary, historical,
mythical, folklorical, legendary, fairytale-ish and other influences.  It's
fun to spot references, but you can never spot them all, and they're not so
"look at me, I'm so clever" as to ruin the story.  Basically, it's fun if
you spot something, but if you don't, you don't even miss it.

Recurring characters (besides Dream and the rest of the Endless) include
Lucifer (yep, the Morningstar, the Lightbringer, First and Fairest of the
Fallen, blah blah blah.  He doesn't like Milton), Cain and Abel (who live
together in the Dreaming - Dream's realm - and don't get on), Abel's
gargoyle, Goldie (which never does anything, but is cute), Destruction's dog
(Barnabas), Queen Titania (yes, *that* one), Wm. Shakespeare (ditto), Nuala
(a fairy), Lucien (librarian in the Library of Dreams, where all the books
that were dreamed of but never written reside)...oh, gods, there are bunches
more, I can't think of all of them - or I'd be here all night!  Go read the
books. :-)

Aside from the comics stuff (hah!  You thought I was finished!), you should
also check out "Neverwhere", which was a TV series on the BBC as well as a
book (both written, pretty much in tandem, by Gaiman); it's set in the
tunnels and sewers and caverns and disused underground lines and so on
beneath London, and is very wonderful.  This is where Knightsbridge belongs
to Night, and is a very dangerous span indeed.  Where there really are Black
Friars, and Shepherds at Shepherd's Bush, and an Angel called Islington...
Wonderful, strange, mythic-echoing literature.

And then there's "Good Omens", written in conjunction with Terry Pratchett,
about the Anti-Christ and the End of the World, and hilariously funny.

And "Stardust", which is a fairy-tale.  And a couple of collections of short
stories, though I have to admit that I only really like one or two of his
shorts.  (If you like Lovecraft, check out "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar", which
is very funny.  And "Troll Bridge" - I think that's what it's called - is a
sweet, sad, take on the troll-under-the-bridge idea.)

I've gone on far too long.  I'm a Gaiman fan.  What can I say?

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian E. Gray
israfel at

"Fashion exists for women with no taste, etiquette for people with no
--Queen Marie of Romania

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