A final wrap up of the various Edinburgh festival things I’ve been doing.
I also went to the Iain Banks celebration event. It was very bitter sweet because Iain Banks was the reason I started going to the festival in the first place, and I loved seeing him speak there several times over the past few years, so being at the festival and not seeing him was immensely sad. But it was nice to see various fellow authors, including Ken Macleod, Ian Rankin and Neil Gaiman pay tribute to his work and tell stories of him as a person too.
Outside the book festival I also saw a few things, such as the David Sedaris event that again I have already written about.
I was annoyed to miss the Ab Lib events, which were a series of events featuring people such as Neil Gaiman (again!), Terry Pratchett and Steven Moffat. I would have loved to have gone to those but it just wasn’t to be.
Another highlight was the recording of the BBC Radio 4 show The Unbelievable Truth. I love the show and the recording was great. It was really long though, they must cut about 2/3 of it out to edit down to the half hour broadcast. I am really looking forward to hearing it again on the radio and seeing what made the cut!
Overall it was a really good year. There are some downsides to the festival, such as the massive crowds, and the fact that I had to work through most of it in order to afford to go to the few things that I did see! I really enjoyed all of the events that I went to and there were many more things that I would have liked to have gone to were it possible. Next year I’m hoping to save up a bit more, take a few more days off work, and have an even better time! But this year was great.
I had tickets to three Neil Gaiman events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and I’ve now been to all of them. I wrote up the first event here, and this is a wee summary of the second two.
As the first event was focused on the new book The Ocean at the End of the Lane, the second event I went to was themed around The Sandman and comics. There was another event focused on his children’s books but I didn’t go to that one.
I actually read the comics before any of the novels, and while he is my favourite novelist, I also still adore The Sandman. In fact I am planning to reread it very soon as it has been a few years since my last reading of it and I sort of wished I had had time to read it before the event.
It was interesting to hear him talk about comics because at all the other events I’ve been to - both this year and the previous occasions when I’ve seen him at the book festival and elsewhere - the focus has largely been on his other books so I hadn’t really heard him talk about The Sandman. I am very excited to read the new miniseries he’ll be doing - all the more reason to reread the books.
The third and final event I went to was Neil Gaiman in conversation with Margaret Atwood, which was again very interesting. I am not actually familiar with Atwood’s work but my mother and sister love her work, and I am intrigued by the way she has found success both with mainstream and genre readers. Part of the conversation between the two of them focused on their own reading influences and the genre/mainstream divide and it was very insightful and interesting to hear their opinions.
Again I was able to get books signed at all the events - sorry for the lousy picture quality, my camera on my phone has been playing up a bit.
Overall I really enjoyed these events, and the book festival in general. It’s always a great experience and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to attend this year as I have the past few years. It was the 30th anniversary of the book festival, and I hope there will be many more years to come and that I will be able to enjoy visiting the festival and meeting brilliant authors again.
Neil Gaiman is appearing here at Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I have seen him here before on several occasions but I was still thrilled that he was coming back this year. He’s doing four events and I have tickets to three of them! The first one last night was Neil in conversation with psychologist Charles Fernyhough, discussing his newest novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The discussion centred around themes of memory and childhood, in keeping with the subject of the novel. It was a really fascinating discussion. I am actually now planning to read Fernyhough’s own novel too, as he seemed like an interesting writer himself. But as always, seeing Neil Gaiman was a great joy, and he was brilliantly entertaining and thought provoking. I arrived really early for the event, almost 90 minutes beforehand, as past experience at the book festival has taught me to queue up early. This meant that I managed to sit right in the front row, almost directly opposite Neil Gaiman. I also had a nice discussion with some fellow fans that I met in the queue, which was unexpected given my general social anxieties, but they were lovely people to chat to and made the wait much nicer than normal. I also managed to get two more of my books signed - having seen him several times now, almost all of my collection (minus the Sandman books) has been autographed! I also got to admire the really cool Cyberman broach he was wearing. Overall it was a great evening out and I am looking forward to seeing him again over the rest of the weekend.
Portsmouth named a road after the new Neil Gaiman book.
One of the reasons why I’ve been a bit busy lately is that I live in Edinburgh and I have been trying to spend some time seeing things during the Festival period. I haven’t seen as much as I’d like, partly because I have to work full time, and partly because things are actually really expensive.
But so far I’ve seen:
- Susan Calman Fringe stand up show - really funny, and my first comedy show too, I loved hearing about the Orient Express
- Patrick Ness at the book festival - really interesting, although the venue was weird, but he made some good points about writing and fantasy fiction
- Sandi Toksvig at the book festival - utterly brilliant, she was just so funny and interesting and such a nice person
I am going to see:
- a recording of The Unbelievable Truth for BBC Radio 4, I am so excited because I love the show, and David Mitchell, and Radio 4 in general
- David Sedaris who is oddly appearing as part of the Fringe rather than the book festival, but should be good either way
- Neil Gaiman at the book festival, on more than one occasion, and even though I have seen him several times now, I am still really looking forward to this
I am hoping that all of this will make up for how horribly crowded the city is at the moment. It sucks to be stuck in work and then have to battle through the crowds on the way home. But what I have seen so far has been excellent, so I am hoping the rest is great too.
New Sandman cover! It’s lovely. I am really excited this, and it is a good excuse for rereading the whole series.
Neil Gaiman’s hometown of Portsmouth is to rename a road in honour of his writing career. The road leading down to the sea will be renamed The Ocean at the End of the Lane!
I’ve been going to the book festival every year for the past five years or so, and it is always a great experience. Some years there are more authors I want to see than others, largely because they don’t always have a great representation of SF/fantasy genre authors. Last year was particularly good though. This year the absence of Iain Banks will be particularly felt, especially because he was the reason I started going to the book festival in the first place. But Neil Gaiman is doing four events and I’ve booked tickets for three of them, so there will be that to look forward to at any rate.
Earlier in the week I read the highly anticipated new Neil Gaiman novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I had pre-ordered the book from a local Waterstones, so I picked it up on the way home from work and started reading it that evening. I had to force myself to put it down about halfway through to get some sleep, but then the next evening I finished it off. I’m not going to bother writing a big long synopsis because a lot of other people have reviewed the book already and done a much better job of it. Besides, I often find it difficult to write about the books that I’ve loved the most, and this seems to be the case for this book. It was brilliantly magical, beautifully written, utterly absorbing and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was one of those books that I just fell in love with from the start. Whether you’re a long time fan of Neil Gaiman as I am, or you have never read any of his books before, I can heartily recommend this one.
I pre-ordered my copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane from Waterstones. Tomorrow I will be leaving work early to pick it up and in all likelihood staying up late to read it. If I could get away with it I would have taken the next day off work too, but unfortunately that can’t happen. I am really, really excited for this one.
I was in one of those moods where none of the books on my to-read list appealed so I decided to reread an old favourite. In this instance I opted for Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (or the other way around, if you prefer).
(As a side note, I sort of hate the cover of this book. Seriously, Aziraphale looks like David Beckham. Plus it’s one of those odd sized little mass market paperbacks, which I also loathe. I am really tempted to pick up a new copy, because there are some other editions in normal paperback size with lovely covers.)
How to describe this book? It’s got angels and demons, witches and witch-finders, prophecies, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and an eleven-year-old antichrist. And it’s really, really funny.
I haven’t read enough Terry Pratchett books to compare it to (I really need to get around to reading more Discworld novels). I have read all of Neil Gaiman’s books (well I’ve missed a few of the children’s books, but all of his major stuff I’ve read) and this is definitely the most comedic of his books. But this book, being the product of two authors, does not suffer from it at all, it is a brilliant combination.
I’ve read this book several times now, although the last time was probably six or seven years ago. It is still entertaining, it still makes me laugh, and it is still one that I would recommend.
Literary art! My parents were recently redecorating my bedroom back at home and when I went back to visit I put up several bits of art stuff on the walls. My favourite is my signed print of Neil Gaiman’s A Study In Emerald. It’s a brilliant Sherlock Holmes/Cthulhu crossover short story, and this print is the whole story designed to look like an old newspaper. It’s fantastic and I utterly love it. I also have a print of another Neil Gaiman thing, the poem The Day The Saucers Came. It’s a great poem and I really like the art on the poster as well. Finally some new additions to my collection of literary themed art, three posters based on John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars. I loved the book and I really liked these poster designs which feature quotes from the book. They’re also all signed by John Green as well. Overall I think they all look pretty good!