Tuesday, February 12, 2008
A Little Bit Of A Split Personality
After I finished reading Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves, I stumbled upon their Afterword. In it, they explain how they originally tried to "sell" their idea for a story about a teenage boy who is part of an organization trying to protect multiple Earths (none of which are aware of the others' existence) from being overrun by two different empires--one technical, one magical--to television producers. They then put it in novel form, hoping to make those same TV producers understand their concept. Interworld never did make it to television and was released as a novel.
That was one of the most enlightening afterwards I've ever read, because after reading it I realized that Interworld does, indeed, read very much like a kids' television show. A sophisticated cartoon, perhaps. You've got a young boy who is bullied and can't get the girl but who becomes a hero in an alternate world. A pet-like creature attaches itself to him. He develops a group of diverse friends. (In science fiction, diversity means something different then it does in other kinds of fiction.) The group is under the guidance of an older, male authority figure. The ending sets us up for next week's episode.
Now some of you are probably thinking, Oh, Gail compared Neil Gaiman's book to a cartoon. Slam. Not at all. A book that helps cartoon fans make the transition to reading is a neat idea. I think in this one some kids might find themselves struggling at some points because our everyman main character will frequently begin spouting heavy science (or science-like) technospeak that seems alien to him in other parts of the book. But they may find the basic story to have enough drive that they can just skip over those parts. (I did.)
Note: Michael Reaves used to write for an animated show called Gargoyles, which caught my attention a number of times as I walked through the living room while a younger family member watched it. I never had time to watch a whole episode, but I used to sit down to see what was happening every now and then.