If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know “The dog” ate a few of my signed books. One of those was a book signed by Neil Gaiman. I’d gotten that one signed when I met him at World Fantasy Con 2011. I was sad the book was gone.
Neil sent me a personal message after I’d made that blog post. Something I never anticipated nor expected. I shared the message with the boy, whose dog ate the book. He shared the post with is sister. Again, if you’ve read along, she didn’t believe that he’d emailed Mr. Gaiman and laughed at him. She also didn’t believe that Neil had sent me a personal message.
As a joke, she’d gotten me two Neil Gaiman books for Christmas. I share with her the story and the message Neil had sent me and showed that it was from his verified account. She now believed the story, but still thought her little brother was silly for emailing Mr. Gaiman and expecting a response.
Art Matters, because your imagination can change the world, is a collection of 3 essays by Neil. Having heard the Make Good Art speech he’d given (on YouTube) I heard the entire book in his voice and read it with his slow, confident reading style. It was a joy to sit down and enjoy this book, much like the books will tell you to read fiction for enjoyment as it’ll help your imagination and help you understand empathy.
A wonderful book to start off 2022. Let’s see what book I finish next.
Oh, for those wondering about the card, I bought a deck of Star Wars playing cards to use as bookmarks. As I have a tendency to read a LOT of books and sometimes multiple books at the same time, I needed bookmarks. I didn’t want to spend a large chunk of money on several bookmarks, so I bought a deck of playing cards. As I read a book and finish it, I’ll post a picture of the book (be it physical or ebook) and a picture of the playing card bookmark.
I also purchased a steampunk tarot deck that I will use for each short story I read this year. Let’s see how far I can get through both decks, eh?
I’ve met many authors over the years. Most of them are great. Some have disappeared over the years. Others, well, let’s not speak ill of the others.
I posted some time ago on my YouTube channel about the time I met Neil Gaiman. It was a great meeting and I’d gotten a couple of things signed by him. It was a good time.
I’ve also had many books signed by authors I’m close, personal friends with.
Then there’s another category of author I’ve met, they’re friendly, and I support them either by buying their books, following them on Social Media, or I may even support them on Patreon. One author I support there is Tobias Buckell. If you enjoy short fiction, he puts out a short story a month over there and it’s well worth your support.
I’d met Tobias at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego in 2016 when his book, Arctic Rising came out. I’d enjoyed his Crystal Rain series and figured I’d go meet him, buy his new book, and get a few seconds to say hello. He may not remember me, but I do remember him.
Now, I’d never met Tobias before. I’d never seen a picture of him before. I didn’t know who he was. When I got to the store, as I do, I bought a copy of the book. At the register was a many in the floppy had talking with the person behind the register. They stopped talking. I said I was there to see Tobias and I’d like to buy his book to show my support. The man in the floppy hat said “He really likes it when people buy his books.”
I didn’t know who this person was and didn’t respond. I can be awkward in situations like this when someone is making a joke. I looked at the person trying to ascertain his intent. Decided not to respond. Bought the book and went and took a seat in the store.
It wasn’t until Tobias came to stand in front of the crowd to talk that I realized it was the person in the floppy hat. I’d missed an opportunity to speak personally for more than one minute, with Tobias. When you get something signed, you rarely get more than a few seconds or a minute as they’re there to meet as many people as possible and you don’t want to hold up the line. I took a moment to apologize for not recognizing him at the door and he took it well. We joked, he signed my book. I went home happy.
Fast forward a few years.
When we rearranged the living room the last time, I put several of my autographed books on a shelf in the living room. I’m proud to own those books and having met those authors. Why not put them out instead of putting them into a box in the garage? I’m not collecting these to hide away. Right?
When we took our trip to Florida, Hijo (My Favorite Daughter’s boy) house sat for us. He brought over his puppy, Mya. A Heeler, Sheppard mix. Koda was also here. Koda sleeps when no one is in the house. Mya? She’s on the move 90% of the time. Even at night. She’s inside. She’s outside. She’s getting into trouble. When Hijo was in the house, all was well.
I think you know where this is going.
Mya got herself into trouble a few times when Hijo had to go to work. One time she tore up a small section of carpet. Another time she ate the welcome mat at the back door. One time she took a few books off the shelf and proceeded to reduce them to far smaller sections.
One of those titles was Arctic Rising by Tobias Buckell.
Now, I don’t monitor that shelf with any regularity. It did seem there was something missing from that shelf, but we’d rearranged recently and I figured I was missing something. Hijo felt TERRIBLE for signed books getting destroyed and, though he’d told us about all the other mishaps Mya had, he didn’t say anything about the books.
Hijo reached out to the authors to let them know what happened and ask if there was any way he could purchase a replacement copy and have it autographed. Two of the authors I follow on Social Media, but they’ve disappeared some time ago. Another was Neil Gaiman and I doubt a reply will be forthcoming. The last author, if you haven’t guessed, was Tobias Buckell.
One author replied and sent along a signed copy. Hijo had taken a picture of the signature and note in the book, and Tobias signed with the same note.
Thank you Tobias!
Mishaps happen. I’m not angry this happened. I wasn’t angry when a week after we returned, Mya went back to that same shelf and tore the dust jackets off 4 of my GFL novels by Scott Sigler (which Scott and A have generously said they will replace for me. Another awesome author you should be following). Since this happened and given that we’ve a new puppy in the house, we’ve moved things to where the dogs can’t get to them. Though I’m not upset, I’d prefer it not happen again.
Again, Tobias, thank you so much for replacing the book for me. As I said above, you might not remember me, but I do remember you. I wish I’d taken your joke better and spent a few minutes to get to know you. Hopefully there will be another time.
Let me start by saying that I’m way behind on reading Sandman by Neil Gaiman. I’ve read many comics over the years, seen a lot of different styles and stories. My main focus had always been super heroes. I really enjoyed Batman and Spiderman as a kid and as I grew older I was more into Spiderman and the Marvel titles and strayed from the Batman titles. I had read many independent comics over the years such as Stray Bullets, Cerebus, Strangers in Paradise, and the like, but mainly I read superhero comics.
I had read about the Sandman in very early comics so I had assumed when I saw the title with its weird covers that it would be that superhero and had no idea what it was really about. It was from the DC Vertigo realm and I was far behind on the story. From what I’d heard it was basically one long story and I’d need to pick up the back issues to get caught up. My wallet wouldn’t afford that.
That brings us to the world of digital. I now have a copy of all the sandman titles. I’m going to read through them all and post my thoughts. I have read all (I think) of Neil Gaiman’s books and have thoroughly enjoyed them all. I’m trying to go in without any stars in my eyes expecting to love every word on every page.
I’m not sure how often I will be putting this out, but as I finish an issue I’ll write up a review while it’s still fresh in my mind and get it out there.
Let’s jump in, shall we?
Issue 1 is a long comic. The Sleep of the Just is the first story. Knowing Neil’s storying telling style, I was expecting to get the lay of the land before I got any story. I got a lot more than that. I got 70 years worth of story in one comic. A 40+ page comic, but a lot of story to begin with.
We start out in the 1920s with a group that’s trying to summon and trap death so they can achieve immortality. They don’t get death, but instead get someone they weren’t expecting. They strip their captive and lock him away in an unbroken circle and demand things from him that he cannot deliver. He stays stoically in his cell waiting for a time when someone will make a mistake. Over the years people falling into dreamless sleep. It starts out as a mild case of sleeping too much but grows to where people don’t wake except for once or twice a decade. These people are committed to mental institutes, one has a child and sleeps through the entire ordeal. All suffer from this sleep and have no dreams.
The son of the man who summoned the captive grows old and begins to demand the same things his father did. Once he is old and in a wheelchair he makes a mistake and rolls one wheel across the unbroken circle. This is where the story really starts. We now know that the captive is Lord of Dreams. We don’t know his real name, we just know that he controls dreams and nightmares. This is what’s causing people to have dreamless sleep. It’s what’s causing the sleeping sickness. Yet he won’t speak to his captors which only makes them more infuriated.
Over the years the items taken from the Lord of Dreams are bought and sold. I’m sure this will become important in books to come.
The Lord of Dreams escapes and takes his revenge on the son. Rather than curse the man with nightmares he instead curses the man to never allow him to sleep again. His life becomes a living nightmare and he is committed. Dreams then escapes back to his own realm, weakened and nearly powerless.
I can say that this comic was nothing I was expecting. Let’s start with the artwork. Are you can see by the cover of this comic, it’s not your standard comic. There’s no action pose by our hero. There’s no flash or splash. It’s a rather disturbing cover. From what I can tell this continues on in the series.
Inside the comic we don’t find clean lines and standard panels. Instead we find a scenes that flow from one to the next and don’t follow the normal panel to panel I’ve grown to know from a comic. It took me a bit to get used to this, I’ll admit, but it adds to the dreamlike quality of the book. Rather than have a linear flow it feels different as you read it. The art also is reminiscent of the early horror comics like Weird Tales. Things aren’t hard edged in this book at all. The people and faces aren’t handsome or perfect. There are moles, scars, deformities. Even though it’s drawn this way, it’s still very disturbing.
I like that.
Beyond the art, the story, to me, felt a little weak to start with. I know we’re getting a lot of background and we’re still laying things out. I get that. The 41 pages really relied on the images to show us a lot of the story. We get some back story, but we’re still in a realm where I’m not sure what’s going to come up next. Obviously there is a long way to go in the series and I’m anxious to find out what happens next.
Until Next Time!
A while ago I had posted my frustration about the mp3 players on my tablet. Winamp was showing between three and five of each song, Google took over my music player and forgot where all my music was even though all the music was listed twice. I had finally downloaded MixZing and had been happy with it. The main reason for my happiness was because I could select where my music folders lived instead of having everything that was an MP3 show up. Due to the large amount of music I’ve accumulated over the years (endless hours of ripping CDs) has given me a huge library of a couple thousand songs.
Some upgrade happened at some point. Now MixZing doesn’t allow me to select a specific folder, but only a “top level” folder. So it was only playing music from the core memory and not from the SD card. Now Google Music shows only one version of each song and it remembers where those songs are. I still can’t tell it where the music is and where the audio books are so that’s a minor frustration, but I’m back to where I was before. I have a working MP3 player, but I can’t easily set up and manage playlists. I’d like to just add a folder of music to a playlist and set it up rather than add one song at a time. Perhaps I’ll take some time to review playlist generators again and see what I can come up with.
I’m saddened that I cannot count on MixZing to do what it was doing so well before. *pout*
In happier news, I’m writing again. My fingers are still getting used to typing out words, but it’s happy to be back at the keyboard. My current goal is to get back to 50,000 words over my annual goal before the end of the month. I’ve got a lot of writing to do and I need to get working on it. These posts may become shorter in the coming days.
I’ll be doing some new blog posts in the coming days as well. The things I’ll be adding, Daily Duck (This will be a picture of a duck each day until I run out of photos), Daily Writing prompt (this will be a sentence or paragraph to help spur some writing creativity in others), and I’m going to do a read through of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. I’ve never read this before and before you start gasping and sucking all the air out of the room, I was more into superhero comics as a kid and kept reading them through the 90s and into the Naughties. Yes I read things like Stray Bullets and Cerebus, but my main focus was Spiderman and most of the Marvel lineup. I had heard about Neil Gaiman and Sandman, but it was too expensive at the time to pick up all the back issues. So here I am, I have a digital version of the Sandman books and I’ll be reading them and posting my thoughts on each one. Not sure how long it will take me to read through them all, but we’ll see how it goes.
Beyond that I have a short story on submission with Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. It’s a great slush pile process as you can see where you’re at in the list. I’m currently the second in the first round. If you’d like to follow along you can go here (http://www.andromedaspaceways.com/submissions/track-submissions/) and my story is 19174. I’m hopeful this one will move along in the process and we’ll see what happens from there. I’m excited about this story. I’ve submitted to them many times but I don’t think any of my previous submissions was up to the caliber of this story. I honestly think this one has a shot. If it gets rejected, it’s on to the next market.
Last night was a lot of fun as ‘the kids’ I mentioned yesterday surprised us all and came down for the week. Everyone was at the in-law’s house and there was much swimming in the pool and eating. My Favorite Daughter got her surprised returned and it was quite funny.
There is a lot to do. Not only do I have a lot of words to write during my free time, but I’m also writing a large number of technical documents for work this week. It’ll be a lot of writing that I need to do this week so I’d better get at it.