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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby blob » Thu Dec 06, 2007 9:16 am UTC

JayDee wrote:Yeah, American Gods has very odd pacing. It was something I enjoyed about the book though, it was kinda rambling an unfocused.

I found Anansi Boys to be the opposite, I had a sense while reading it that it was moving along at a very deliberate pace to a very specific destination.

I think that's partly due to Anansi Boys' being a sequel. The ideas from American Gods have had time to stew, steep, even ferment, before being served up as the smoothly written, smoothly paced Anansi Boys.

I think the same is true of Pratchett's work. The Colour of Magic is fun, but not nearly as well organised as his later Discworld books.

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The horror! People talking about Neil Gaiman on a thread about Neil Gaiman!
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby JayDee » Thu Dec 06, 2007 11:26 pm UTC

blob wrote:
JayDee wrote:Yeah, American Gods has very odd pacing. It was something I enjoyed about the book though, it was kinda rambling an unfocused.

I found Anansi Boys to be the opposite, I had a sense while reading it that it was moving along at a very deliberate pace to a very specific destination.
I think that's partly due to Anansi Boys' being a sequel. The ideas from American Gods have had time to stew, steep, even ferment, before being served up as the smoothly written, smoothly paced Anansi Boys.
Anansi Boys is barely a sequel. More of a spin off. If you read Anansi Boys without reading American Gods, you'll miss out on what, one or two references? They are rather different books - I think Neil mentions the style he was going for in the intro or dedication or whatnot for Anansi Boys.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Malice » Fri Dec 07, 2007 12:51 am UTC

blob wrote:
Malice wrote:Oh, for fuck's sake. You'd think he invented fantasy.

The horror! People talking about Neil Gaiman on a thread about Neil Gaiman!


The horror is people talking about Neil Gaiman like he's Tinker Bell and you're not clapping hard enough, are you?
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Flying Betty » Sun Dec 09, 2007 12:05 am UTC

blob wrote:
Malice wrote:Oh, for fuck's sake. You'd think he invented fantasy.

The horror! People talking about Neil Gaiman on a thread about Neil Gaiman!


Incorrect. This is quite clearly a thread on Neil Gaimen.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby william » Sun Dec 09, 2007 1:06 am UTC

Is that like Neil Gaiman but there's mroe than one of him?
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Minchandre » Thu Dec 13, 2007 4:19 am UTC

william wrote:Is that like Neil Gaiman but there's mroe than one of him?


Wow...it would be like a teenage goth girl's fantasy!

Seriously, though, Gaiman is (in my opinion, of course - everything needs to be qualified on the Internet) one of the better writers out there. Is his source material original? Not at all! And even skipping arguments about "It's all the better for tapping the collective unconscious &c.," it's his ability to put those things together and be an awesome writer that makes him awesome.

It might be telling that I especially like his pastiches (especially A Study in Emerald).

Also: Gaiman books that are advertised as children's book are false. I read Coraline when I was 13 and I still had nightmares that night. Stardust is hardly better, what with the evil witch who wants to cut out the star's heart, though the thing that disturbed me most there was the description of reanimating the unicorn and making it move to a more convenient spot for blood-letting.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Jessica » Thu Dec 13, 2007 5:32 pm UTC

A study in Emerald was freaking awesome.
As was the... damn which story was that. The one in hell with the demon.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Jesse » Thu Dec 13, 2007 7:19 pm UTC

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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby JayDee » Sun Mar 09, 2008 5:33 am UTC

I meant to post this a couple days ago:
Neil Gaiman's Blog wrote:To celebrate the seventh birthday of the blog, we held an online poll to find out which book you thought we should put up for free.

The overwhelming winner was AMERICAN GODS. It will be up for a month.
read it here.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Malice » Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:04 am UTC

I'm almost through with "Fragile Things" right now. His poetry hasn't much improved (I was not surprised to find him mention that one of them was also published elsewhere as prose--most of his poetry is just lyrical prose with line breaks), but the ratio of actually-really-good stuff to gimmicky-crud seems to have increased somewhat from "Smoke and Mirrors", so that's good.

I decided while reading it is that Gaiman bothers me because of his postmodernism--he writes stories which are really only about stories, things which name-drop fictional creatures and classic literary figures but don't care to actually engage them on anything but a facile level. There's a vampire story in here that had me comparing it to "Interview with a Vampire"; Rice's novel actually has some depth to it, while Gaiman seems to be going, "Look, ain't vampires cool? We should tell more stories about vampires," and the closest he comes to actually tapping into the emotional power of a good vampire story is "Gee, I'd hate not to be able to see the sun for such a long time."

It just seems, so, I don't know, bankrupt to proclaim such a deep love for stories and storytelling and then not actually telling stories that are good on their own sake outside of "Hey, I recognize that reference." There's a particularly odious form which he tends to repeat that starts with a vaguely-described character/situation and then the twist is it's something supernatural/mythological/literary, the end.

When he breaks away from that formula, he can actually do some pretty cool things, like the meandering narrative of "Bitter Grounds", or the study in desire and criminality of "Keepsakes and Treasures", or the experiment in the unreliable narrator in "Diseasemaker's Croup"... and I rather like the way he attaches meaning and emotion to the formula in "How to Talk to Girls at Parties."

But most of them are to be used and forgotten, like hand-crafted Kleenex.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Jesse » Mon Mar 10, 2008 8:20 pm UTC

Ahhh, see it's his postmodernism that I adore, the constant reminders that these are stories, often told through raming narratives and suchlike. I'm a big fan of that kind of stuff, and I am a total sucker for name-dropping of mythological shit.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby TheAmazingRando » Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:08 pm UTC

JayDee wrote:I meant to post this a couple days ago:
Neil Gaiman's Blog wrote:To celebrate the seventh birthday of the blog, we held an online poll to find out which book you thought we should put up for free.

The overwhelming winner was AMERICAN GODS. It will be up for a month.
read it here.


I started a topic on that several days ago here.

His work is hit and miss, but there are enough hits that I think he's worth reading. Murder Mysteries, for example, is astoundingly good. I haven't read Fragile Things yet but, aside from Sandman, I think I like Smoke and Mirrors best of his books that I've read, he really seems to work best with the short story.

His strengths in all his writing are the same as the strengths in Sandman. Excellent characterization, intriguing concepts, stuff that lingers with you not because it's ripe with hidden meaning but because it's just a really interesting idea, and occasional bursts of incredible prose (the first thing that comes to mind is The Soft Places, though that's an issue of Sandman and not purely prose). The closest comparison I can think of is Ender's Game. Card is not a master of prose, the themes of the novel aren't particularly original, but he has ideas that stay with you (who has read it and NOT been mildly obsessed with the idea of a battle room?)

And I'm by no means making a direct comparison, but part of why I like Neil Gaiman is why I also like the films of David Lynch: the idea of some sort of hidden world just below the surface. For Gaiman it's magic or gods for Lynch it's dark and surreal depravity. I find the idea of the strange and unordinary just outside of our perception to be intriguing. Gaiman didn't invent it, nor did Lynch, but they both do it very well.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby JayDee » Mon Mar 10, 2008 11:45 pm UTC

Oops. I think I even read your thread and meant to reply. :oops:

I have to agree with Malice and Jesse. I hadn't thought much about it until reading this thread, but what you (Malice) say rings true. It is shallow. But I really enjoy it anyway, as a fun read. (or re-read, for that matter.)
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Jorpho » Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:45 am UTC

Minchandre wrote:
william wrote:Is that like Neil Gaiman but there's mroe than one of him?


Wow...it would be like a teenage goth girl's fantasy!


Oh my, that's almost sig worthy.

I for one thought American Gods was terrible. Whatever fragments of a good book might have been in there got bulldozed under by the rambling meaningless segues, pointless sex scenes (okay, the first one was kinda cool :P ), and boring descriptions of boring places.

Anansi Boys just made up for it entirely though! All the colorful little descriptions just somehow mesh up perfectly, and even if the ending is filled with thriller cliches, I daresay they wouldn't be cliches if they didn't work so well. Neverwhere was kind of similar, but not quite as well-constructed.

There also seems to be a distinct lack of Good Omens in this thread, though of course he did not write that on his own. Come to think of it, I guess that also falls into the unifying theme: extraordinary descriptions of ordinary things, ordinary descriptions of extraordinary things, all neatly juxtaposed.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Belial » Thu Mar 13, 2008 9:50 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:I for one thought American Gods was terrible. Whatever fragments of a good book might have been in there got bulldozed under by the rambling meaningless segues, pointless sex scenes (okay, the first one was kinda cool ), and boring descriptions of boring places.


I....you are strange and alien to me. I loved all of those things. The random scenes with various gods in a modern setting. The little side-trips to places of wonder and strangeness within america. Good stuff, all of it. A+, would read again.

There also seems to be a distinct lack of Good Omens in this thread, though of course he did not write that on his own.


I can't support this at all, but I'm pretty sure he only wrote the last chapter or two. The writing style seems to change from Pratchett's to his at that point.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby TheAmazingRando » Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:11 pm UTC

It seems like Pratchett got the last word as far as written word goes, but plenty of the ideas (and especially the characters) in the book seem to be more Gaiman's style than Pratchett's. Though, I suppose this is a thread on Gaiman's writing style...

Either way, I thought it was quite good, better than the few Discworld books I've read, though I enjoyed them a good deal.

Anyway, back to Gaiman, I quite like the way he seems to just straddle the edge of post-modernism. He has a strong sense of self-irony, and a respect for and acknowledgement of fiction and storytelling within his own works.

It's author-conscious storytelling that is both incredibly old in a campfire sort of way and quite modern in terms of literary trends.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby JayDee » Fri Mar 14, 2008 1:56 am UTC

Belial wrote:
Jorpho wrote:I for one thought American Gods was terrible. Whatever fragments of a good book might have been in there got bulldozed under by the rambling meaningless segues, pointless sex scenes (okay, the first one was kinda cool ), and boring descriptions of boring places.
I....you are strange and alien to me. I loved all of those things. The random scenes with various gods in a modern setting. The little side-trips to places of wonder and strangeness within america. Good stuff, all of it. A+, would read again.
Yeah, same. I may have mentioned earlier in this thread that the ramblingness of it was what I enjoyed the most. Although I'd have used the word meandering.

Belial wrote:I can't support this at all, but I'm pretty sure he only wrote the last chapter or two. The writing style seems to change from Pratchett's to his at that point.

I remember both of them as having described it as a fairly equal collaboration. I hadn't read any Gaiman when I read Good Omens, personally, so I can't give my impression.
In answer to a question regarding the Good Omens Wikipedia page:
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I'm not familiar enough with Terry Pratchett's site to quickly find a quote from him.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Midnight » Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:35 am UTC

finished book II of sandman (the doll's house, it's called)

and damn.

i mean
DAMN.

i thoguht american gods was good. strike that, i thought it was GREAT.

but sandman is better.
uhhhh fuck.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Mar 14, 2008 3:14 am UTC

Yes it is. And you're 1/5th through it. Enjoy.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Malice » Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:54 am UTC

My favorite moment in all of Gaiman comes in The Doll's House, when the rotund fellow tells the murderously dark version of Little Red Riding Hood, and then, says, "Listen to the wind." Something about the timing and the look of it and the placing of it in the narrative (foreshadowing the arrival of the serial killer)... it's so wonderfully awesome. It's too bad that's the one Sandman book that I lent out and never got back. :(
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Quixotess » Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:26 pm UTC

Oh, man. I started with The Doll's House.

It was a pretty weird experience for me because I LOVED The Doll's House. Then, every book I got after that was a little disappointing on first read, like I had expected more somehow. But with each subsequent reading I loved them more and more. I just read The Kindly Ones for about the fifth time, and now it's my favorite one. I love everything about that book.

I read some of his books--American Gods, Neverwhere--and thought they were pretty good, but Sandman consumes my soul.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby TheAmazingRando » Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:05 pm UTC

I'm quite partial to Seasons of Mist, personally.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Belial » Sat Mar 15, 2008 8:42 am UTC

I just read The Kindly Ones for about the fifth time, and now it's my favorite one. I love everything about that book.


I am still so. damn. angry. that they got some of the *worst* art in the entire series into arguably the most important book in the entire series. It's the climax, where it all comes together, and they got this flat, cartoonish artist to illustrate all of it and almost ruined the whole thing.

So angry. I would love it if they'd remake that book with someone more appropriate to the genre.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby JayDee » Sat Mar 15, 2008 8:50 am UTC

Really? I loved the art in the Kindly Ones. It bought to mind stained glass windows.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby SecondTalon » Sat Mar 15, 2008 4:06 pm UTC

... I still think the best throw-away joke in the entire series was in The Wake.

Spoiler:
And I'm going from memory, so this isn't exactly what they say...
Superman:Ah, man.. I just had that dream again. Where my entire life takes place on a stage with cameras and horrible dialog, like a crappy TV show. Am I the only one who has that one?
Batman:I think everyone does.
Martian Manhunter: .... I don't....


That being said, I know where Belial is coming from, but.... I dunno.. yes, comics are a graphic medium and the art has to be acceptable, but .. I can get by with acceptable. I don't need spectacular. That being said.. yeah, it did seem to be a noticeable reduction in quality... the others, while different, seemed to be maintaining a coherent idea of design.. like the other artists were looking over prior work and emulating that style while putting their own spin on it... The Kindly One's artist seem to kinda glance over it to get the basics down and then do everything on his own.

Which is perfectly acceptable, but kinda strange given that the other artists maintained a similar but distinct style.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby pooteeweet » Mon Mar 17, 2008 12:12 am UTC

I've never read most of his novels or short stories. I didn't discover Sandman till freshman year of college (back when I could do this sort of thing and not feel guilty): I spent about 3 days doing nothing but smoking weed and reading all the Sandman I could get my hands on. It was probably one of the best times I've ever had in my life.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Belial » Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:18 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:That being said, I know where Belial is coming from, but.... I dunno.. yes, comics are a graphic medium and the art has to be acceptable, but .. I can get by with acceptable. I don't need spectacular.


I would have settled for being able to recognize characters I was clearly supposed to recognize, but who were unidentifiable due to the drastic change in art.

I think that same artist did a short spell on Lucifer, too. It was not a happy time for me, because I had the same problem all over again, and the cast of lucifer is pretty wide-spanning.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby JayDee » Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:50 am UTC

By that point in Sandman I was accustomed to changing artists, and changing styles. On reflection, it probably was a more drastic change that the others, but the style changing at that point wasn't all that surprising.

The artwork in Lucifer has grown on me. I really didn't like Dean Ormstrom's art at first. By the end of the series, I loved it.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Malice » Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:59 am UTC

I just finished reading Sandman for the first time (well, the main 1-10 Sandman, none of the little side-books yet). I reiterate that, in total, it's the best thing Gaiman has ever done (by far), although at first it was hard to think of why. I eventually decided that, aside from the old reason (pretty art is better than his workmanlike prose would have been, had Sandman been a novel), Gaiman balances his post-modernism with real emotional stories, characters I like (particular Morpheus) and who are original, and an epic scope which, matched here with an epic length (2000 pages or so), gives his wonderful breadth some much-needed depth.

All of which didn't stop me from calling Gaiman a bastard at the end of Kindly Ones and being in mourning for quite some time afterwards. It's one of the marks of a great work, I think, that you race toward the climax and then feel sorrowful that there is no more...
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Belial » Mon Mar 24, 2008 12:39 am UTC

Malice wrote:characters I like (particular Morpheus)


You still liked Morpheus by the end? One of the things I liked about the series is that, by the end, I couldn't really feel anything but contempt for the main character, and yet it remained interesting.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Malice » Mon Mar 24, 2008 2:25 am UTC

I thought Morpheus was awesome. The way his character was written... Most of the really shitty things he did were in the past. I felt sorry for him when he was imprisoned, rooted for him when he was weak, and watched his character struggle and, I felt, grow to be both smarter and kinder. Had he had the ability to run with that, he would have been a great man (if that's the right word).
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Midnight » Mon Mar 24, 2008 6:25 am UTC

on the grounds that I haven't got enough money to pay 20$ a damn book whenever I want a new sandman, I still haven't gotten past the Doll's house.. except the first 3 stories in the third one. Which, by the way, I can TOTALLY see why A Midsummer Night's Dream got a world fantasy award, because it was amazing.
Probably because I read it in a comic shop in ashland, oregon at the world famous oregon shakespeare festival where i watched a midsummer night's dream.

yeah. good stuff, but I need to find a cheaper way to buy the books..
uhhhh fuck.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Belial » Tue Mar 25, 2008 6:45 am UTC

Malice wrote:I thought Morpheus was awesome. The way his character was written... Most of the really shitty things he did were in the past. I felt sorry for him when he was imprisoned, rooted for him when he was weak, and watched his character struggle and, I felt, grow to be both smarter and kinder. Had he had the ability to run with that, he would have been a great man (if that's the right word).


Spoiler:
I dunno. The fact that the entire series was just a long, contrived, super-complicated plan to kill himself so he could be reborn as someone who didn't suck as much....

It just made me really pity him, more than anything.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:06 pm UTC

I didn't get that from the story at all. Granted, I tore through it, and read it about 5 years ago...

Spoiler:
I remember the point of the story being Morpheus struggling with changing times and eventually making the decision that death was the needed choice. How is his eventual and final decision to be found throughout the series?
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Belial » Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:25 pm UTC

I'll look it up in The Kindly Ones when I get home, but...

Spoiler:
There's a point in his last conversation with Death where she basically says "This was your plan all along, wasn't it? You've been setting this up since your escape, haven't you?" and Dream just shrugs and changes the subject.

It made me look back through the series and realize that every event that led up to his death was at some point triggered or at least allowed by him. He set it up so that he could abandon his duties in the only way he would allow himself to, the only way he'd be blameless.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Quixotess » Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:41 pm UTC

*Magically appears*

Belial is right:

Spoiler:
I'm pretty sure that was the point of the last chapter, the one with Shakespeare. Morpheus says he wanted a story about a magician who gets to put down his wand and books and just leave--because he'll never be able to do that. This series was about him finally finding a way to put down his books.


I still really liked him as a character, though. He just seemed like someone I would trust with my life.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:48 pm UTC

Oh. Wow. Cool. I definitely missed that, although, to be honest, am not entirely surprised that Morpheus would do such a thing.

Thanks for the point out!

I felt one of the draws to the series was, and similar to Transmet in this regard, the beauty isn't so much the central storyline, but the tangents and arcs and tie ins. The main story arcs which kick in about halfway through both series seemed more a means for the authors to end the line with a bang, and I found myself in love with the sidelines more then the main vein.

But yes, I agree wholeheartedly (and even more so now) that Morpheus was a whiny mopey child.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby JayDee » Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:46 am UTC

Do I even need spoiler tags for this? Why not!
Spoiler:
I remember the conversation you guys are talking about, with Death commenting that this was your plan all along. But the impression I got was that it was something Morpheus had only realised recently. That he'd been setting himself up for this situation throughout the entire series but subconsciously. Or something. In any case, knowing that didn't lead me to think any less of the character.
But then, I think I tend to like protagonists simply because they are protagonists. It really takes a lot before I start not liking the main character in anything.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby Malice » Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:20 am UTC

Spoiler:
I definitely felt that Morpheus didn't make the conscious decision to kill himself until at least after he talked to his brother in Brief Lives. The elements which combined to kill him had their genesis in earlier events, but few of them seemed planned--for example, the escape into the world of Robin Goodfellow, the few words spoken in prior volumes between Dream and Lyta, etc... At the outward edge, it is possible that he killed his son knowing full-well it would lead to his death, but I don't think any such plan existed before that. At least not on a conscious level. And after all, it's not as if Morpheus acted like a man who was going to die--the first thing he did was start up a new relationship with Thessaly.
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Re: I want to write like Neil Gaimen

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:33 pm UTC

What JayDee and Malice said.

Spoiler:
Given the nature of the Endless, though, I think Suicide isn't the right way of looking at it. More of everything changed too much and he could no longer continue doing his job to the level of quality he demanded of himself while faced with the surrounding evidence - that is, Destruction abandoned his post, and everything was still running like clockwork. Morpheus could not accept that as being acceptable despite the evidence staring him in the face, so the only option left for him is destruction and replacement by a form that can accept that as being acceptable yet continue to do the job. Now, whether or not you want to consider that a form of suicide is one of those debatable but no one's right things. I can't really see a personification of an elemental force that knows that if destroyed will be replaced by something with it's memories but slightly different outlook as capable of suicide.


But I still giggle at that Bigger than Cheeses comic.
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