Our digital era

The advent of the e-reader has brought the world of books to an interesting place. I’ve gone back and forth myself, though I was never firmly in one camp or another. I enjoy the convenience of the e-reader: I can carry a series, better yet an entire library, in my bag with minimal bulk and weight. I can download new titles anywhere, their size makes it painless to set up a wifi hotspot on my phone and use my cellular data plan. I get recommendations directly on my home screen.

That said, nothing beats the feel of a paper book. There’s something reassuring about its heft, the feel as you turn pages, the smell of a new book or that more usual scent that comes with time. They look nicer lined up on a bookshelf, they add personality to your home. When you get excited after finishing something new, you can pass it on to a friend without considering whether their device is compatible with yours, or how to transfer the file.

In younger days, I foolishly got rid of a substantial portion of my physical collection because I was enamored with my Kobo. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it, but now that I’m no longer commuting two hours or more a day, I’ve mostly gone back to paper copies. I find myself in the position of purchasing copies of novels I’ve given away, taking particular care to dig through precarious stacks in used bookstores. My bookshelf is starting to look a bit disheveled, and I don’t really have space in my current home to get a second one, but I’m not letting that stop me.

The e-reader still has certain advantages. I expect when I finally have money to travel, I’ll want to load my Kobo up with enough reading material to keep me busy. I’ll just have to make sure to bring the appropriate cable to charge it; I’ve upgraded my cell phone, so it’s no longer the same USB plug. Maybe a few paperbacks and a graphic novel or two aren’t too heavy for my luggage, after all.

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Responsibility of the Endless

I made some progress with the Sandman, completing the ninth volume, the Kindly Ones.

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I wanted more, somehow. I suppose, then, it’s good that there’s another volume for me to read.

I enjoyed how many loose threads finally get tied off in this volume, things left dangling since nearly the beginning, it seems. I’m actually rereading the whole thing since it’s been so long and I’ve read it in leaps and shudders. I also like to go back and look for clues I missed, foreshadowing, etc.

“Responsibility” seems to be the word for this installment. Not so much in the sense of one fulfilling duties expected of them, but in one owning up to one’s actions and facing the consequences. Even anthropomorphic representations of concepts make mistakes, and it’s important to set things right again. That sense of responsibility.

“We make choices. No one else can live our lives for us. And we must confront and accept the consequences of our actions.”

– Neil Gaiman, the Kindly Ones, volume 9 of the Sandman

Looking back, I believe I see I transformation of Dream from callous and disinterested to truly appreciative for the many whims and quirks of humanity and, at last, a sense of responsibility for his actions. It seems he had this all along, though. In an early conversation between Dream and Desire, Dream says to his sisterbrother:

“We of the endless are the servants of the living–we are NOT their masters. WE exist because they know, deep in their hearts, that we exist. . . . We do not manipulate them. If anything, they manipulate us.”

This is a bit at odds with the way Dream acts at times, but it does reveal that he accepts that he has responsibility to the living. He is not above reproach. He can be an arrogant, brooding bastard at times, but he does seem to have his head on straight for the most part.

Now I am eager to read the final volume, which as I understand it is a sort of epilogue.

Worlds’ End

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Is there any person in the world who does not dream? Who does not contain within them worlds unimagined?

– Neil Gaiman, Worlds’ End

Another volume consisting of several stories, this one takes place in a tavern at the end of the worlds where several folk have been stranded thanks to a reality storm. It is their wish to share their tales until such a time as they can return to the worlds from whence they came. We have a story of a boy upon a ship at sea, a tale of an alternate United States in which a boy name Prez becomes president, and a tale of a city concerned with proper treatment of the dead and the rituals surrounding death, among others.

This volume ends similarly to the previous one; we know that something momentous is occurring, but we know not what. As one of our human characters gets a glimpse of Death, he thinks the following:

I think I fell in love with her, a little bit. Isn’t that dumb? But it was like I knew her. Like she was my oldest, dearest friend. The kind of person you can tell anything to, no matter how bad, and they’ll still love you, because they know you. I wanted to go with her. I wanted her to notice me. And then she stopped walking. Under the moon, she stopped. And looked at us. She looked at me. Maybe she was trying to tell me something; I don’t know. She probably didn’t even know I was there. But I’ll always love her. All my life.

– Neil Gaiman, Worlds’ End

I am eager to procure the final two volumes and learn what is to become of Dream and the rest of the Endless.

Duality in Brief Lives

I finally finished a new volume of the Sandman. I only got as far as volume six when I was reading them in high school, and I have been slowly acquiring the trade paperbacks one volume at a time (sometimes two). This Christmas, I treated myself to volumes seven and eight.

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I finished Brief Lives last week on a train ride home from work. I thoroughly enjoyed Dream’s journey with Delirium; I had always found her interesting, but we never really got a chance to know her before this volume. We also finally learn more about Destruction, gone away on his own these past 300 years.

The concept of duality is mentioned in this volume, though it’s something I had always kind of known about the Endless. Isn’t it true of all things? Death is intrinsically connected to life, chaos to order, fate to choice. The best deities and mythological figures are like coins, opposites on either side. The two halves define one another and cannot exist on their own, like good and evil.

The volume ended with a dramatic event that had me eager to read the next, but volume eight seems to be similar to volume six in that it doesn’t advance Dream’s story. I enjoy these little vignettes, of course, but I have to restrain myself and not rush through Worlds’ End on my way to the next volume. I want to enjoy the tales instead of obsessing over what comes next for Lord Morpheus.

So far, so good. I’ll write more on Worlds’ End once I’ve finished it.

Presents and memories

For the past few years, my husband’s family has held a Secret Santa in addition to most everyone getting everyone else gifts anyway. The site we use asks each person to put up suggestions for the gifter; I had written a nice journal, a gift card to Indigo/Chapters, and a glass paperweight (you know, the kind with the colored bubbles inside). My gifter cheated and got me two of the three; he was supposed to stay under $20, but Christmas is the time to give too much if you can, right?

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The journal is very nice indeed, bound in leather with an elastic band and ribbon bookmark. I used the gift card to cover part of an order for the next two volumes of the Sandman, which I eagerly await.

It must be said that I also received lovely gifts having nothing to do with books or writing. From my sister-in-law, I got a cutting board and tools for cheese, complete with a ceramic dish for crackers or fruits and individual little forks for guests. She also gave us a cute ornament and gift bag that our adorable two-year-old nephew put together. From my mother-in-law I received an electric mixer, something that I feel I’m missing in my house when I am forced to spend too much time whipping or whisking by hand whatever latest dessert I’m making. From my father-in-law, my husband together received lovely commemorative coins from the Royal Canadian Mint. I’m not sure which of my parents-in-law got me the chocolate orange, but Christmas just isn’t Christmas without one.

Of course, it is not the quality nor the quantity of the gifts that makes Christmas so special. One of the best parts was a picture slideshow showing old family photos. It’s always amusing and nice to see the people you know as they were when they were younger, especially with 20-year-old pictures showing old fashions in clothing and hair. It always makes me wonder if in twenty years I’ll look back on my fashion choices today and wonder what the hell I was thinking.

More adventures in the Dreaming

I finished Fables & Reflections last weekend and thought yesterday would be a prime opportunity to pick up the next volume at a bookstore downtown. Yes, the second-to-last shopping day before Christmas. Great idea. The bookstore was packed and alas, only copies of the first volume of the Sandman remained on the shelves. I left without purchasing anything, despite the many tempting journals on the ground floor.

I believe this is as far as I’ve ever gotten in the Sandman. In high school, I asked the local library to borrow the volumes from other libraries. It always took weeks before the next volume arrived, so eventually I grew discouraged and stopped. Then the summer after my senior year when I had no bills but a nice cashflow from working 20 hours a week at Subway, I didn’t think to finish the series.

Fables & Reflections was an interesting journey through the pages of history. It didn’t really advance Dream’s story at all, but it was filled with gorgeous imagery and interesting characters and scenarios. I especially enjoyed seeing all of the Endless in one place for the first time; I believe in the main narrative that I’ve yet to see Destruction.

One of my favorite things about Dream is that he’s flawed, he often lets his stupid pride get in the way of acting as he should. I relate to that, despite my mortal limitations. I also enjoy seeing him as envisioned by different artists, or by different characters with different religious views and so he fits differently into each of their pantheons. I think it’s a fine metaphor for the way each of us looks different and is something different to each of the people we interact with.

That said, Merry Christmas Eve. Happy writing and reading!

Sandman confusion

I was pretty well confused when I went to buy the next volume of the Sandman from Chapters a couple weeks back. The cover of the new, remastered version of volume six is remarkably similar to that of volume one of the previous version. See here:

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While I was certain that volume six was the next one to buy, the cover threw me for a minute and it wasn’t until I was in the train reading it that I was sure I’d bought the right book.

David S. Goyer, Neil Gaiman and… Joseph Gordon-Levitt are Working on a Sandman Movie

Joseph Gordon-Levitt announced last night that he is honored to be working with Warner Bros., David Goyer, and Neil Gaiman to bring The Sandman to life as film. There’s a lot to unpack here, so lets get started.

As with any talk of a film adaptation of a literary work, I am equal parts excited and fearful. I am also 100% interested in seeing how this progresses.

Dream of the Endless

I have been working on reading the Sandman from beginning to end. By “working on”, I mean that every few months or so I purchase the next trade volume at Chapters and proceed to devour it in a couple hours. I tried to finish them back in high school, ordering them at the library and waiting weeks between volumes, but the waiting became tedious. I had downloaded them and got a comic reader for my computer, but I quickly learned that I dislike reading for extended periods on a computer screen. I prefer to pay for them anyhow.

I love the way Neil Gaiman weaves a narrative through mythologies and literature. I feel proud for the references and subtle nods that I pick up on, knowing there are many more that fly right past me. I love the art, especially the sweeping vistas of the realm of dreams. I especially adore the personifications that are the Endless, each with their own quirks and personality flaws.

I am midway through Fables & Reflections now, using the security device as a bookmark. I had meant to slip it into my bag before work on Friday, but alas I forgot. I’m half tempted to dive into it right now, but I haven’t gotten any writing done for Project: OBSIDIAN this weekend and I really ought to put some effort toward that before I feel like a complete and utter failure.

To the stars it is, then.

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