January 2015: What are you reading?

Boreas

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#81
Neverwhere and American Gods. Enjoyed Neverwhere, but struggled a bit with American Gods.
I haven't read "Neverwhere", but "American Gods" was a bit of a disappointment. I expected so much better. The writing was choppy, and I was dissatisfied with the recycling and repackaging of fundamental themes and motifs already covered in "The Sandman". It wasn't a bad book, per se, but "Stardust" had a much smoother flow to it.

Neil Gaiman is a writer skilled at rearranging and reinventing, and whose narratives can be characterised as whimsical (both in its more commonplace, 'playful' characteristic, and the broader meaning that can encompass the full range of human emotions), and I really like that. His stories contain threats that are culturally referential and, sometimes, so cleverly so as to reach the point of pastiche, where one doesn't feel that tight tension. I found this especially true for many of his short stories (but also in "The Sandman" and "American Gods"). He must be hugely influenced by Joseph Campbell's examination of the monomyth (this would be hindsight, after having read some Campbell recently). His Sandman stories were very whimsical and reinvented stories from wide swathe of cultures, and they were brilliantly polished (in part because he tied them up so well into one another, and also because the last two volumes (9 & 10) make up one of the best, most sophisticated and tender/heartfelt denouements I've ever read). I really recommend "The Sandman". It's unfortunate that he couldn't keep up the same level of polish that he displayed in his comics for his first, more serious prose novel.

P.s.: Since he does whimsy so well, I'd actually like to see him tackle a short story/novella in Banks' Culture universe dealing with Minds as some of the principal characters, who are akin to those Gods with the same kind of whimsical (sometimes capricious) nature that Gaiman already has experience writing about.
 

Hand of Fear

Journeyed there and back again
#82
but "American Gods" was a bit of a disappointment.
I didn't get on with that book either, Neverwhere is a good book though so worth reading. I will read another one of his books but he maybe on my hit list to remove if I don't like the next book I read by him.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#83
I haven't read "Neverwhere", but "American Gods" was a bit of a disappointment. I expected so much better. The writing was choppy, and I was dissatisfied with the recycling and repackaging of fundamental themes and motifs already covered in "The Sandman". It wasn't a bad book, per se, but "Stardust" had a much smoother flow to it.

Neil Gaiman is a writer skilled at rearranging and reinventing, and whose narratives can be characterised as whimsical (both in its more commonplace, 'playful' characteristic, and the broader meaning that can encompass the full range of human emotions), and I really like that. His stories contain threats that are culturally referential and, sometimes, so cleverly so as to reach the point of pastiche, where one doesn't feel that tight tension. I found this especially true for many of his short stories (but also in "The Sandman" and "American Gods"). He must be hugely influenced by Joseph Campbell's examination of the monomyth (this would be hindsight, after having read some Campbell recently). His Sandman stories were very whimsical and reinvented stories from wide swathe of cultures, and they were brilliantly polished (in part because he tied them up so well into one another, and also because the last two volumes (9 & 10) make up one of the best, most sophisticated and tender/heartfelt denouements I've ever read). I really recommend "The Sandman". It's unfortunate that he couldn't keep up the same level of polish that he displayed in his comics for his first, more serious prose novel.

P.s.: Since he does whimsy so well, I'd actually like to see him tackle a short story/novella in Banks' Culture universe dealing with Minds as some of the principal characters, who are akin to those Gods with the same kind of whimsical (sometimes capricious) nature that Gaiman already has experience writing about.
I thought "he stole this idea from Pratchett" when I read American Gods. It's Small Gods in the American suburbs with a twist here and there. And not funny like Small Gods. Neverwhere seemed original.

Anyway I'm finally trying to read Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover. I started with The Planet Savers, but Darkover Landfall is giving me deja vu so I must have tried it before. I'm getting the feeling it's about the people not the science and that bores me. Her characters aren't that interesting.

I'll probably go to Golden Son soon.
 
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TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#84
Started Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles Book #1).

Only 20% in, but like it so far! It's, erm, very similar to, erm ... Dresden Files. Very!
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#85
Only 20% in, but like it so far! It's, erm, very similar to, erm ... Dresden Files. Very!
Good to know because Ammy keeps telling me I'll like that series.
 

ofer

Journeyed there and back again
#86
I thought "he stole this idea from Pratchett" when I read American Gods. It's Small Gods in the American suburbs with a twist here and there. And not funny like Small Gods. Neverwhere seemed original.
I agree that Small Gods is funnier (hell, it's one of the funnier books I've read) but I think a more accurate description will be that both Small Gods and American Gods approach a similar issue from different perspectives. Small Gods is a brilliant satire about institutional religion, Spanish inquisition, etc, while American Gods is more about the evolution of gods and beliefs. It's true that they both share similar basic assupmtions, though.

Pratchett and Gaiman were pretty close for a while - they wrote a book together, toured the US together, so there was probably a lot of information flowing between them. In fact, the villains in Neverwhere are very similar in character to the villains in The Truth. Have no idea which one of them came up with the idea first or if they both developed it together.
 

tom.pace.315

Philosophizes with Kellhus
#87
Just picked up my copy of Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley. The first book was great. First however, I have to finish assassins apprentice by robin hobb
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#88
Good to know because Ammy keeps telling me I'll like that series.
It's extremely fair to assume that if you enjoy Dresden, you'll enjoy Iron Druid. Only half way through the book but I can tell already that this is a series I'll stick with!
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#94
I agree that Small Gods is funnier (hell, it's one of the funnier books I've read) but I think a more accurate description will be that both Small Gods and American Gods approach a similar issue from different perspectives. Small Gods is a brilliant satire about institutional religion, Spanish inquisition, etc, while American Gods is more about the evolution of gods and beliefs. It's true that they both share similar basic assupmtions, though.

Pratchett and Gaiman were pretty close for a while - they wrote a book together, toured the US together, so there was probably a lot of information flowing between them. In fact, the villains in Neverwhere are very similar in character to the villains in The Truth. Have no idea which one of them came up with the idea first or if they both developed it together.
Thanks ofer. I prefer your take on it.
 

atheling

A Poet of the Khaiem
#95
Pratchett and Gaiman were pretty close for a while - they wrote a book together, toured the US together, so there was probably a lot of information flowing between them. In fact, the villains in Neverwhere are very similar in character to the villains in The Truth. Have no idea which one of them came up with the idea first or if they both developed it together.
If I'm following what you're saying here... Small Gods looks like it was published in 1992, American Gods was 2001. So Terry Pratchett definitely came first by a few years. Or were you thinking of Good Omens? Haven't read it, btw.

I've read American Gods, I thought it was alright. I'm working my way through Discworld, still a few books away from Small Gods.
 

atheling

A Poet of the Khaiem
#96
started Blackdog by K. V. Johansen. I liked chapter 1 anyway :)
 

Griffin

Journeyed there and back again
#97
I've been reading The Waking Engine by David Edison for a couple of days. The story is quite alright, but it has been a very slow read. I don't really know why.

When I'm done I'll have a hard time choosing my next book, doubting between Firefight, Golden Son and The Providence of Fire. I will probably read them in that exact order.
 

ofer

Journeyed there and back again
#98
If I'm following what you're saying here... Small Gods looks like it was published in 1992, American Gods was 2001. So Terry Pratchett definitely came first by a few years. Or were you thinking of Good Omens? Haven't read it, btw.
Nah, what I meant is that they both knew each other, worked together for a period, so they might have been bouncing ideas of each other and then each of them developed the ideas to fit into his writing. As Kenubrion pointed out, there are some themes that are very much alike between American Gods and Small Gods, although when I read American Gods - which was some 15 years after reading Small Gods - I never felt like I was reading something similar. I have no idea which one of them developed the original idea nor do I care - I like them both. :)

I'm working my way through Discworld, still a few books away from Small Gods.
Damn I envy you for the moment you'll reach both Witches Abroad and Small Gods - There are some serious bladder-control required scenes and lines there.
 

atheling

A Poet of the Khaiem
#99
Damn I envy you for the moment you'll reach both Witches Abroad and Small Gods - There are some serious bladder-control required scenes and lines there.
I don't know how I made it this many years without reading discworld! Shame!
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
Started Golden Son. I think I actually am reading at a faster rate this year than I did last year. Also started The Traders' War by Charles Stross. (First one in Kindle format, second in paper. I try not to have much more than that going at the same time.)