Thursday, June 28, 2007

Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves's New Book Is Out Of This World--And Into Several Others!

Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves are both award winning writers. They also both rose to prominence outside the novel arena. Gaiman scripted the Sandman comic series that lasted 75 issues plus specials. Since that time he’s gone on to script many other things, including novels, television shows, short stories, movie scripts, and continued working in the comics arena. His work for Marvel Comics to create the 1602 universe when heroes similar to the present-day Spiderman, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, etc rose at 300 years ago has rightfully garnered a lot of attention. He also helped flesh out the mythos of the comics industry’s best-selling title, Spawn.

Michael Reaves has written many television cartoon scripts, including Batman the Animated Series, Ghostbusters, and others. He’s also written short stories and novels.

According to the notes in the latest book they have out together, InterWorld, they got the idea for the book about ten years ago. Reaves joined Gaiman at his house and they sat down and wrote the book together. The idea had originally started out as a pitch for the television people. Since they had trouble explaining the concept to television executives, they came up with the idea of writing a short novel about it. Even after the novels written, television wasn’t prepared to make a series.

Last year, the manuscript was given fresh life when it was shown around to some prospective publishers. Almost immediately, the book was greenlit for publication.

I enjoy a lot of Neil Gaiman’s work. His comics are great, his short stories haunt, and his novels are generally burst out loud laughing or truly epic. Sometimes both.

I’ve read some of Reaves’s books, but I’m not as familiar with his work. He seems to create some interesting worlds and some interesting characters.

When I heard about InterWorld, the premise sounded truly exciting. Imagine a boy, Joey Harker, who could literally run into several of his alternate selves on parallel worlds. I figured immediately that the book had kind of a Sliders or Marvel Comics Exiles feel. I had a lot of hopes for the book.

After getting the book in the mail today, I sat down and read it. It’s an easy read. The prose just sails right along. And the story is simple. In fact, it’s a little too simple compared to what I was expecting. Granted that the book was written with a nine to twelve year old audience in mind, there was a lot of concentration on the architecture of the nothingness that stretched between the worlds. And not enough focus on real character development or even a plot. Both of those turn out simple as well.

I know the juvenile crowd will probably appreciate that, but this is the same market that has been reading Harry Potter books that were 1000 pages long with convoluted and heavily articulated plots.

Still, this is Gaiman and there are flashes of brilliance as well as true emotion throughout. When he talks about his teacher Dimas, he sounds so true I couldn’t help but wonder if Gaiman or Reaves really had a teacher like that. The “class assignments” were terrific, and found myself wishing for more of those.

The book moves at high speed once it gets up and going, which is really very quickly. However Joey tends to be left on his own through much of the book. He always seems to be leaving people behind and not making any true and lasting friendships for a long time. In fact, the story was depressing there for awhile because everybody he met seem to die. Including himself.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the book. I wish there had been more. But it felt like an interesting cross between a Heinlein juvenile, an early Andre Norton adventure, and Roger Zelazny’s Amber series. InterWorld is a quick read with plenty of zip and provides a host of ideas with lots of action.

No comments: