Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology (2017)

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This year, before American Gods hit the TVs as probably one of the most anticipated series of the year, the readers were treated to a new Gaiman’s book. At least things look like this if you judge the book by the cover 😉 But Gaiman’s name on the front page is more than a bit misleading – because he’s in no way the author of the collected myths; he himself presents his role in the introduction as that of a humble narrator, a storyteller refreshing ancient and beloved tales. I guess that his name on the cover serves as a selling device – and probably serves quite well. But even though I can understand this approach from a mercantile point of view, it still smacks of hubris to me. How can one present oneself as an author of mythology? That is a minor point, though – if this way more people will learn of Norse myths, I will only applaud and cheer.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t start with the cover. The English version of the cover, presented above, is IMO simply beautiful. A detailed rendering of Thor’s hammer, gold and grey on dark background, accompanied by simple, elegant lettering that in no way distracts from the graphics – what’s not to admire? It’s just perfect. I only wish Polish version were the same… Alas, you can’t always get what you wish for, and in most cases that’s a good thing 😉

As for what’s inside – it’s Norse mythology and no mistake. Gaiman openly states in the introduction that he’s just retelling the old myths, giving them simpler, more digestible form suitable for modern readers who are not necessarily mythology buffs. There is nothing new or unusual in there – for those who know Norse mythology. Those who got acquainted with Nordic myths through Marvel comics or movies might be in for a surprise ;).

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Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert, Marvel 1602 (2003)

1602 cover

In the wake of last night’s match (Poland vs. Portugal in EURO2016, for those who didn’t watch, it was 1:1 and Poland lost in the penalties) I decided it was high time to take a closer look at certain aspects of alternative reality. Let’s indulge into a bit of “what-if”, shall we? 😉

Neil Gaiman is known mostly as an author of very popular and critically acclaimed fantasy/horror novels, such as American Gods, the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards winner, but he’s also a great comic book writer. His series The Sandman, an imprint of DC’s Vertigo, had been one of the most influential – and popular graphic novels of late 90’s and 00’s. But this post is not about The Sandman ;), besides I’m sure Piotrek has much more to say about it than I ever will. No, this post is about a one-off job Gaiman did for Marvel in 2003, a few years after The Sandman ended.

Marvel 1602 is a traditional, albeit a bit tongue-in-the-cheek, what-if story. In an alternative reality, Marvel superheroes live in the Elizabethan times, fighting against threats from this and other worlds. The main story arc revolves around the discovery that their sole existence, which happened 400 years too early, is inseparably linked to a lethal threat to their whole world.

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No time for writing, Santa came to town…

Ola: We wish you a very bookish Christmas! 🙂 It’s a family time in Poland, but there’s to hope you’ll also find some time to rest, read and enjoy the spring weather! 🙂 If you don’t celebrate Christmas, then happy Sol Invictus, or any other great festival on the occasion of the season change!

Piotrek: Merry Christmas to everyone it applies to 😉 Have fun, be with your family, enjoy some books and/or other genre media. To everyone else – all the best for your seasonal occasions. The crucial thing is – share the spirit of goodwill, don’t take anything too seriously, if liberal atheists like us can enjoy traditional Christmas, I hope everyone else can at least benevolently ignore it…

There is some Christmas cheer in everybody:

Video-quote from excellent Batman: The Animated Series, Christmas is a great time for a sentimental re-watch, and this is a great series!

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To be read, to be bought…

Ok, so here it is, and I will wait with the Temeraire review, maybe till I finish the first trilogy. It’s late, but recent Paris bombings occupied my mind most of the weekend. I’ve even spent lots of time arguing about politics on the internet, never a good idea and something I’ve tried to avoid for a long time. But I had an unusually emotional reaction and needed to rant a bit 😉

First – both my TBR (To Be Read) and TBB (To Be Both) lists measure in hundreds. I’d like to read everything and I’d love to have a hardback copy of most of the fantasy & s/f books ever published.

The End.

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Czy fantasy to literatura?

W cyklu “wyszperane” link do wideo – krótka rozmowa Neila Gaimana i Kazuo Ishiguro. Istnieje duże prawdopodobieństwo, że kojarzycie tylko jedno z tych nazwisk. Które? Odpowiedź na to pytanie szufladkuje Was, jako wielbicieli literatury gatunkowej albo “literatury literackiej” (“literary fiction”), lub, jak powiedziałby przeciętny snob, “literatury prawdziwej”.

W języku polskim istnieje pojęcie literatury pięknej, które nie najlepiej pokrywa się z dyskutowanym tu tematem, wg Wikipedii i szkolnych słowników z mojej półki oznaczając głównie przeciwieństwo literatury faktu. Prawdopodobnie dla tego, że w czasach, kiedy ktokolwiek się jeszcze rozróżnieniami literaturoznawców przejmował, nikomu nie przychodziło do głowy, żeby się fantastyką i s/f zająć na poważnie, a nawet kryminały pisywano po cichu, pod pseudonimem (Joe Alex). Literatura gatunkowa, jeszcze bardziej niż na rynku anglojęzycznym, to książki czytane masowo przez publiczność nie zwracającą uwagi na dyskusje specjalistów o arcydziełach wydawanych w nakładach tysiąca egzemplarzy 😉

Wracając jednak do pretekstu do dzisiejszego postu – tutaj wideo, a tutaj dyskusja na r/fantasy.

Dwa smakowite cytaty:

You are Neil Gaiman. You don’t write comics, you write graphic novels” – zdanie wypowiedziane przez pewnego krytyka literackiego, który próbował pogodzić swoją (zrozumiałą! Komiksy Gaimana są świetne! i niewątpliwie są wyrafinowanym dziełem sztuki) fascynację „Sandmanem” ze swoim poczuciem wyższości wobec czytelników „zwykłych komiksów”. „Powieści graficzne” są taką próbą stworzenia kategorii „lepszych” komiksów, które można czytać bez uszczerbku na honorze.

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You write one bloody dragon and they call you a fantasy writer” Terry Pratchett

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