Neil Gaiman, American Gods, and Geek Nirvana
I am going into Neil Gaiman overload. This week, William Morrow of Harper Collins publishing is reissuing the bestselling novel, American Gods, in hardcover, with all kinds of expansions and updates. As if that weren’t enough, Hollywood Reporter confirmed that HBO will produce six seasons of a live-action American Gods adaptation. This prompted Neil Gaiman to tweet that he’ll need to write more of the American Gods novels to coincide with the seasons. To top it all off—I’m going to see Neil live and in person at an event this Friday.
Keep reading for more information on Neil Gaiman and all his various goings-on.
American Gods was originally published in 2001 and eventually became a New York Times bestseller. It won Hugo and Nebula awards, and is regarded as Gaiman’s most significant literary work. It is the story of a man named Shadow who is searching for guidance after being released from prison and discovering his wife and best friend are mysteriously killed in a car accident. Shadow takes a job working for the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday, who hires Shadow as his chauffeur and bodyguard. Mr. Wednesday constantly puts Shadow in situations that slowly unravel the mysteries of myth, religion, and legend that have shaped the world for centuries—and are now at war with each other. The premise is “If no one believes in you, are you still a god?”
To tell you more about this wonderful book would probably ruin it. And, truthfully, I lack the words to praise it justly. It is a modern classic, sure to be relevant for a long time. The fact that it is being reissued in hardback to commemorate its 10th anniversary is a testament to its hype, demand, and quality. It is all justified, and I cannot wait to read the updates and new additions in the reissue.
As if the book alone wasn’t enough to secure its relevance in the geek stratosphere, it has also been optioned for a live-action adaptation by HBO. Earlier in the year, it was revealed that HBO, the producer of such great adaptations as Game of Thrones and True Blood, were in negotiations with Gaiman to produce American Gods. The project has now been confirmed, and is set to unravel over at least six seasons.
This is great news to anyone who has seen any programming on HBO, because they rarely skimp on production value. If you’ve read the book, then you know there are several key scenarios that will have to be mostly digital or CGI animation. HBO does a good job of allocating necessary money for budgeting these kinds of shots. Also, the fact that they are committed to six seasons means that most, if not all, of the American Gods storyline will be fleshed out. The series is set to debut in 2013.
Either because of the deal struck with HBO, or just the fact that Neil has more stories to tell, he has also announced that he will be writing more novels to further the American Gods storyline. Anansi Boys, published in 2006, was a storyline that branched off of the American Gods novel. It can be best classified as a “story behind the story”, as it focuses on Fat Charlie and his experiences in dealing with the realms and powers of the gods. It is a great read, but is only a taste of the various side roads and dark-twisted alleyways that Gaiman can take us down with the world and characters he introduces in American Gods.
Finally, Neil has been touring constantly, attending various fundraisers, book signings and general glad-handing around the nation. You’d think the man was running for President or something (he’d get my vote). Lucky me, he is attending a live radio show at The Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN this Friday at 8 p.m. The program is called Wits, and it combines storytellers, comedians, and musicians on stage to talk about and pontificate on things they are interested in. When I saw that Neil was coming, I knew I had to go. With all he has going on, I hope to secure some time or at least a question or two before he’s off somewhere else.