Books by Scott

           

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Unified Norse Mythology Not – How to get from Asgard to Jotunheim

How does a Norse god get around from realm to realm? As I set upon my latest adventure to create fantasy stories set amongst the Norse Myths, the first thing I discover is confusion. Most cursory overviews on the web say simply, Thor traveled to Jotunheim. But how exactly did that occur?

In the story, Thor and Geirrod, first Loki borrows (or steals) a magic set of wings from Freya (or Frigg), and once transformed into a bird of prey (falcon or hawk) he flies to Jotunheim. Later, he must return with Thor. A retelling of this I like is found at thenorsegods.com. I like it because it describes a bit of the journey, and it coincides with what I recall from reading longer works on the subject, such as the one from Gaiman. In this story, Thor and Loki get into Jotunheim directly from Asgard by crossing the river Ifing. 

But there are more ways to get there than that. In the story, Thor’s Journey to Utgard, again according to the story presented at thenorsegods.com, Thor and Loki start off in Thor’s chariot drawn by two goats. They traverse Bifrost to get to Midgard, and from there, they cross a river or ocean to get to the land of the giants. This helps clarify one of my confusions. The source of my confusion came from a graphic novel written for young folks called Gods Of Thunder, which is pretty good despite this and I should review it one of these days, but it states: “They crossed Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge, into Jotunheim.” When I read this, I said, “Wait, Bifrost to Jotunheim? I thought it goes to Midgard.” Does anything make sense? Apparently, they just left out a step in the journey. I’m going with that.

When Thor’s hammer is taken, Thor and Loki once again travel to the land of the giants. This time they take Thor’s goat-drawn chariot, but the travel is quite different. At schmoops.com, the story simply states, “After much thunder and lightning, Loki and Thor arrive in Jotunheim.” And here’s a pretty cool account about their travel as described in a short retelling at fanzone50.com. “Mountains split open, forests burst into flames, and the rumble from the mighty wagon could be heard from a long way off.” This one fits closer to Thor of the Marvel Universe, but that’s an entirely different post for another time.

There are lots of different ways to get around. Over Bifrost to Midgard, with magic falcon wings, by crossing a river, or as a bolt of thunder. I guess, what’s important, is they get there so the story can continue. 

Another thought for another time is the realms are altered states and in some ways not unlike the computerized states of reality presented in the Matrix and more recently, Ready Player One. Or Jumanji, for that matter. In a post-Ragnarok new world, do the gods transcend the realms in 3D helmets? Just food for thought.

Monday, February 5, 2018

How I Discovered Neil Gaiman



I was once illiterate. I’m a little better now.

Being illiterate in the realm of literature has led me some amazing discoveries, which was kind of the point of being purposefully unread (maybe someday I’ll explain.) One example of discovery I wish to talk about now is the actual act of discovering a writer. In this case, Neil Gaiman.

Yes, Neil Gaiman is famous, a literary god among men, a chap who read voraciously as a child and grew up to write great novels and win awards and garner a cult like following. But I knew none of that at one time. I do now, and this is the story of why and how.

One day I spent my lunch in a used book store and was browsing the speculative isle when I picked up an anthology, turned to the middle, looked partway down the page, and read a sentence.

What makes a sentence good? Rhythm, sense and sensibility, word choice? All these things might be considered style, but they go much deeper really. What does the writing convey, and how do I, as the reader, connect?

Instantly, I was like wow. This works. (Mostly things don’t work out so well for me. But this did, and there was almost a sense of joy about it.) I read the rest of the paragraph and several more, and I decided here was a chap that made sense and expressed it succinctly yet personally and eloquently without actually being eloquent. In short, good stuff.

So, I looked to see who the writer was, made note, and returned to the office where I looked him up and came to find out how this guy was sort of a big deal. Cool. But that was that. I had to get back to work.

You see, even after all that, Neil had not made a sale with me. I was busy and tight fisted too.

Here’s what happened next. I got an email from Amazon offering the ten-year anniversary edition of American Gods at a reduced price. I thought to myself, hey, I’ve been meaning to check this guy out and here is my opportunity. Serendipity. And so I bought it and I enjoyed the book quite well – and this without me even knowing that Odin was a thing.

Anyway, the point I’m making is the only way I ever bought a Neil Gaiman novel for the first time was the result of a one-two punch. One was my discovering him in a used book store where his writing stood on its own merit and stood up quite well. The second was Amazon’s marketing, which at the time I thought what an interesting coincidence that they would send me this message when I was interested in the guy to begin with; but now I realize they probably knew I was looking at his works the other day so I’d be a good mark. And I was. They made the sale back when getting a sale from me was difficult, especially since books at the library are free.

The take away from this, if a person wants to sell a book, number one, the writing must be awesome, and number two, you’ve got to get enough of it out there that someday someone will open a book and actually read some of that writing. And then the number three is the right push at an attractive price-point. Easy peasy. If Neil can do it, so can we!
For my next post I should say how the author of Gilgamesh stole my idea. Until then. Read a book, my friends.