Ty Johnston: life on the written page

Home to fantasy, horror and literary fiction author Ty Johnston

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

At Nerdarchy.com: Online gaming

Are you a tabletop role-playing gamer who has been wondering how to play Dungeons & Dragons and other RPGs with people online? Wonder no more! Check out weekly article at Nerdarchy.com.

Books read in 2016: No. 41 -- The Sandman, Vol. 10: The Wake

by Neil Gaiman

Started: July 26
Finished: July 26

Notes: So, we come to the end, to The Wake, which here has double meaning. Without any doubt, I can say this is by far my favorite collection of The Sandman. Here we find what happens after Lord Morpheus reaches his ultimate fate, how others deal with it, how Dream (in a manner of speaking) deals with it, how the Dreaming changes, how the world has changed and goes on. This also includes my absolute favorite single issue of The Sandman, the one in which 600-year-old Hob Gaddling goes to a Renaissance Festival. All in all, the tale here is one of grieving, but one ultimately with sparks of hope.

Mini review: This is what it's all about. Technically speaking, this collection is the denouement of The Sandman, but I believe it hits its themes harder than did the actual climax. Love, forgiveness, a few tears, it's all here. For me, this is the best writing and the best art of the entire series. I've compared Gaiman's The Sandman to Shakespeare and Milton, and I stand by that, in no small part due to this collection alone. The Wake, a title with a double meaning, both of which are appropriate here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Books read in 2016: No. 40 -- The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones

by Neil Gaiman

Started: July 24
Finished: July 25

Notes: Though there is another collection after this one, The Kindly Ones really brings to fruition the resolution to Dream's story, or at least the portion of his story presented to readers in The Sandman. It is in many ways heartbreaking, and because of that this is probably The Sandman story line I've read the least. It's simply too painful. However, I know what's coming, so I'm at least prepared somewhat.

Mini review: A lot comes together here, perhaps too much. For the first time, I felt there could have been some story chopping here, that there were too many resolutions for this one tale. Not that things felt forced, but that a little more of the focus should have been upon Dream than upon some of the ancillary characters. However, when the end comes, it does come rather quickly without a lot of maudlin carrying on, though by this point there has already been plenty of build up. I'm not sure what else to say here without giving away anything, which I do not want to do, but ... read this. Despite my grumbles, this is awesome work.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Books read in 2016: No. 39 -- The Sandman, Vol. 8: Worlds' End

by Neil Gaiman

Started: July 23
Finished: July 24

Notes: A storm brings a group of characters together at an inn and they spend their time telling stories to one another. This is a collection of those stories, and they are mainly stories within stories, probably the more complex of the stand-alone issues within The Sandman. As should be obvious, Gaiman usually inserts a handful of shorter tales between each of the longer arcs within this series. There's good stuff to be found here, so I'm ready to dive in.

Mini review: As mentioned, these are stories within stories, and sometimes they are stories within stories within stories within stories. Really. And it makes sense. Some familiar characters are to be found here, as well as plenty of new ones. Again, there are a number of allusions to Dream and the other other ongoing characters and the larger, broader tale. There is even some heavy foreshadowing of events to come towards the end of Worlds' End. There is some fine, short fantasy work to be found here, and I'd recommend to anyone.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Books read in 2016: No. 38 -- The Sandman, Vol. 7: Brief Lives

by Neil Gaiman

Started: July 22
Finished: July 23

Notes: Here Dream goes on a quest with his sister Delirium. There's more to it than that, obviously, but the conclusion comes down to a matter of family, of sacrifice, and perhaps, of fate. This is the beginning of the end for Dream, where he seals his fate through an act of kindness. I'll say no more. Except for my mini review below, that is.

Mini review: Thus the sadness begins, and the inevitability of fate. There is almost always some sadness surrounding the Dream character, though occasionally a sense of aloofness, but here is where it kicks in strongest for the series. For better or ill, it will continue throughout much of the rest of the overall story. At least in Brief Lives Dream got to see some old friends and relatives, but his actions seem ordained at this point.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Books read in 2016: No. 37 -- The Sandman, Vol. 6: Fables & Reflections

by Neil Gaiman

Started: July 19
Finished: July 22

Notes: I've said elsewhere that the short stories, the one-issue tales, are some of my favorite parts of The Sandman series, and here we have another collection of them. These are a bit more thematically related than other similar collections, and here can be found quite a bit more about Dream's history. As always, looking forward to this.

Mini review: As is much of The Sandman, these are almost entirely historical and mythological tales. Some favorites here, such as the story of Emperor Norton, that of Shakespeare, and others, though there isn't a bad tale in the lot. And though these are stories that stand on their own, it's always interesting to see how they tie in with the broader scope of The Sandman.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

At Nerdarchy.com: Blast from the past

My Nerdarchy article this week takes a look back at the John Carpenter movie Big Trouble in Little China, starring Kurt Russell.