Short works

Books : reviews

Neil Gaiman, Kim Newman.
Ghastly Beyond Belief.
Arrow. 1985

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 5 April 1997

A collection of bad lines from SF novels, bad blurbs, bad lines from SF films, and bad advertising slogans. Okay reading while waiting for a train, but done much better, with more wit and acid, in The Silence of the Langford.

Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman.
Good Omens.
Corgi. 1990

(read but not reviewed)

p338. Pollution: '... Say what you like. Plutonium may give you grief for thousands of years, but arsenic is forever.'

Neil Gaiman.
Headline. 1999

Neil Gaiman.
HarperCollins. 2002

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 20 August 2006

Coraline is rather bored. It's the school holidays, and she has nothing to do, and her parents are rather neglectful, busy with their own lives. So she goes exploring their new house, and finds a strange door which leads to a mirror world, where her "other" mother and father promise to love her and make her happy. But she realises there is something wrong, and returns home. There she finds her real parents have disappeared. She discovers that she will have to brave the "other" house to rescue them.

This received rave reviews when it first came out, so I was expecting something very special. It is certainly well written, and conjures up an effective atmosphere of nastiness and childhood fearfulness. But it's all a bit shallow, really. The task is too easy, there are too few setbacks, and there is no loss accompanying the successful rescue, no price paid for the learning experience. And it has that unsatisfactory Wizard of Oz (film) "return without growth" ending, of discovering that "there's no place like home", and that, despite it being as dull and boring a place as it ever was, the heroine suddenly loves it. (Admittedly, there's a tad more justification here, because home is nicer and more interesting than the "other" world.)

Neil Gaiman.
The View from the Cheap Seats: selected non-fictions.
Headline. 2016

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 7 November 2017

‘Literature does not occur in a vacuum. It cannot be a monologue. It has to be a conversation’

Welcome to the conversation. Neil Gaiman fled the land of journalism to find truths through storytelling and sanctuary in not needing to get all the facts right. Of course, the real world continued to make up its own stories around him, and he has responded over the years with a wealth of ideas and introductions, dreams and speeches.

The View from the Cheap Seats will draw you in to these exchanges on making good art and Syrian refugees, the power of a single word and playing the kazoo with Stephen King, writing about books, comics and the imagination of friends, being sad at the Oscars and telling lies for a living. Here ‘we can meet the writer full on’ (Stephen Fry) as he opens our minds to the people he admires and the things he believes might just mean something – and makes room for us to join the conversation too.

This is a collection of essays by Gaiman, gathered from a variety of speeches, book introductions, film reviews, music reviews, comics, and more. They cover many person recollections and opinions, overlapping and occasionally contradicting. The overall result is a collage of passionate calls for Good Art.

Neil Gaiman.
Norse Mythology.
Bloomsbury. 2017

Before the beginning there was nothing – no earth, no heavens, no stars, no sky: only the mist world, formless and shapeless, and the fire world, always burning.

The great Norse Myths, which have inspired so much modem fiction, are dazzlingly retold by Neil Gaiman. Tales of dwarfs and frost giants, of treasure and magic, and of Asgard, home to the gods: Odin the all-father, highest and oldest of the Aesir; his mighty son Thor, Whose hammer Mjollnir makes the mountain giants tremble; Loki, wily and handsome, reliably unreliable in his lusts; and Freya, more beautiful than the sun or the moon, who spurns those who seek to control her.

From the dawn of the world to the twilight of the gods, this is a thrilling, vivid retelling of the Norse myths from the award-winning, bestselling Neil Gaiman.

Neil Gaiman.
Day of the Dead.
DreamHaven. 1998

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 17 April 1999

The annotated script of the wonderful Babylon 5 episode. The annotations add a little (mainly noting where the script as written differs from the show as aired), but not a lot. But it's good just to have a copy of the script. I'm not sure how much someone who hasn't seen the episode would get from it, but if you have, and so can supply the visuals, it's good fun, and also has some of those great "foreshadowings" that made B5 such a great show.

Neil Gaiman.
BBC. 1996

[novelisation of his BBC TV fantasy series]

Neil Gaiman.
How the Marquis Got His Coat Back.
Headline. 2014

The coat. It was elegant. It was beautiful. It was so close that he could have reached out and touched it.

And it was unquestionably his.