If you like fantasy fiction and you haven’t read Neil Gaiman then I question your devotion to the genre. In fact, scratch that. If you like a good story full stop and you haven’t read Gaiman, then you’re missing out.
He’s an English author who spends most of his time in the States and a lot of his time on Twitter. He’s most well known for The Sandman series of graphic novels as well as the prose novels American Gods, Stardust and Coraline but he’s written so much in his ever-expanding career that it really would be surprising if you haven’t touched on his work in some form. For instance, he wrote the amazing recent Doctor Who episode entitled The Doctor’s Wife.
Why do I like him? Well, I could go on for a while, but my favourite thing about Gaiman and his writing is that he clearly loves stories. He has such a wealth of knowledge about myths, legends, fantasy and just pure story that his own work is infused with a sense of magic that you don’t find from many other authors. He is not just a great fantasy writer; he is the greatest living storyteller we have today. So rather than waffle on anymore I thought I’d just pick out a few of my favourite examples of his work…
This was a series of comics that DC had for years. It was pretty standard superhero fare. Nothing to get excited over. Then Neil Gaiman rebooted the story completely and changed graphic novels forever. He introduced us to the Endless, a dysfunctional family of anthropomorphic entities who oversee the Dreaming, Death, Destiny and so on. While Dream, the main character, is this serious Robert Smith lookalike, his sister Death is this perky, fun-loving goth teenager. Along the way we meet such great characters as the Corinthian, (a nightmare figure with tiny mouths instead of eyes, complete with chomping teeth!), the Cuckoo, Lucifer and even Loki. Lord of the Rings isn’t the greatest fantasy ever written. This is.
A young girl who’s sick of the ordinary world, finds a doorway into a different and apparently better other world. It’s all very Alice in Wonderland. Except that this is Neil Gaiman and his Wonderland is full of Other Mothers with buttons for eyes, dancing mice and wise-cracking cats. Read and love the book; then read and love the brilliant film.
Co-written with Terry Pratchett, this is the funniest story you will ever read about the end of the world. They’ve been saying for years they’ll make a film of it. They still haven’t. They should.
This is a short story available in the Smoke and Mirrors collection. If you ever get the pleasure of seeing Gaiman read in person (as I have), more than likely he’ll read this one. It’s the funny, sad and wonderful tale of an old woman who finds the Holy Grail in a charity shop. As soon as she brings it home there’s a knock on the door. It’s one of King Arthur’s knights, still in search of the Grail…