Immersive SFF for Social Distancing

None of us can avoid the C word (not my C word) anymore. I was going to avoid putting any mention of the virus here on my blog but lets be honest that this isn’t possible anymore. I’ve been working from home for nearly a week and as of today, Ireland has recorded another death from Covid-19. But we do need to live and keep our heads somehow. Science fiction and fantasy is my chosen escape.

I’m making this list (for once, more than books will be on it) for anyone who like me, is a big fan of SFF and needs some head space. I’m also doing this since I intend on using my blog to escape a little while also using the extra time at home to develop what I write about here. So in here we will have books, comics, movies, a TV show and even a podcast.

Warning: Some items in here deal with apocalyptic elements and may be triggering to others at this moment in time. Mind yourself and make good choices.

So without further ado;

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: Now, lets get this out of the way. Neil Gaiman is my favourite. Yes. And yes I love all his books equally. But I honestly think this book is a great starting point for anyone who wants to get into his writing while also completely escape from reality. The plot is one massive story that is running from place to place with characters that are vibrant and unique. Its also not a very typical fantasy for anyone new to fantasy.

The Magnus Archives-Rusty Quill: Now this is more of a horror podcast but it is definitely immersive. It is statements recorded to tape that summarise events people have experienced that verge on the paranormal. It has this great Twilight Zone adjacent feel to it at the start. Then a story becomes apparent and suddenly you are scared for all the characters and you’re scared of doors and plugholes. I am planning to do a post on this anyway but I would be lost without the absorption this podcast gives me for commutes as well as remote working.

The Hellboy movies: I would recommend avoiding the dog rough version that was released last year but they original pair of movies made so beautifully by Guillermo Del Toro (and their animated counterpart) These movies are such a happy place for me but they are also incredibly easy to get lost in. The creatures, the characters, right down to the signature Del Toro leaves on anything he makes are so incredible that its hard not to get lost in them.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples: If you somehow avoided what Saga is or how vital it is to comics, now is your time to read it and get caught up. Space Opera about star crossed lovers from warring nations as narrated by their child, with weird creatures, other races and robot royals along their way. That is barely the tip of this very big iceberg.This series is hard on the emotions but has such a well written story with some VERY detailed art that its hard not to get caught up in this world. Also, giant cats and cute seal people.

Good Omens (Book and TV Show) by Neil Gaiman&Terry Pratchett: Warning: This is about the end of the world and the Antichrist which might be far too on the nose and quite triggering for some people at this moment in time.
I don’t think anyone missed the success of this beauty last year but in case you did, it is great, wonderful and ineffable. I recommend the book just as much as the show since both are pieces of art in themselves. Both of these despite the nihilistic subject matter are very comforting (I can’t explain it for some reason) and very easy to get drawn into.

That is only a small list but still, just wanted to rattle off the things that are currently saving my sanity a little bit and in general are comforting for me to return to even when I’m anxious.

I hope everyone who can work from home, is doing so and everyone is safe and sound. If you have any very immersive SFF yourself you would like to recommend, of ANY kind, then please feel free to do so. We all need an escape and we all need a little comfort.

Stay safe everyone and happy reading!

Neverwhere-Neil Gaiman Review

‘ I mean, maybe I am crazy. I mean, maybe. But if this is all there is, then I don’t want to be sane.’

Good evening and apologies for my absence! I have been work busy, a bit exhausted and had an impromptu weekend away which was well needed. This book, is shockingly, the only Neil Gaiman book I have never read. And I dragged reading this book out for an entire week.

Richard Mayhew’s life takes an unexpected turn after a small act of kindness. After saving the life of an injured young woman named Door, Richard is suddenly confronted with the fact that the London he knew is not the only London. There is a London with rat speakers, angels, vicious assasins and train stations that never existed. When Richard is left with very little choice to go to this London Below, he is left with one option. Survive.

The alternate London trope in fantasy is a favourite (a post on this someday) and noone does it better than Neil Gaiman. Neverwhere is the original alternate London story. London Below is a place that belongs to various baronies and duchies and is littered with people, streets, trains and other things that have just been forgotten. It is very interesting that the people of London Above don’t see or remember anyone of London Below. This initially being how Richard ends up in London Below. The relationship between those above and below is so close to the approach people have towards the homeless that I even began to question my own attitude towards this too. Very relevant today I think.

Gaiman can write characters that will both walk with you, comfort you and put you in great danger after you leave the book on the shelf. Richard Mayhew has some very similar traits to Shadow Moon but he does use his voice a lot more and speaks his mind quite often. His development and character arc is very much that of an unlikely hero but there are some questions about him that are never answered that really work in the novels favour.

Door is very interesting but I did much prefer Hunter and of course, the Marquis de Carabas. Hunter is a woman that is known, feared and respected by many of London Below and her past especially that associated with Serpentine is hinted at heavily. I’m hoping it is addressed in the eventual sequel. The Marquis is a man who is two steps ahead at all times an wears a very wonderful coat. An unlikely semi anti hero figure who deals in favours he is fun as he is captivating.

I can’t not mention Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar. They. Scare. Me. Neil Gaiman always manages to brew a character that freaks me out long after I have put the book down. Before it was the Other Mother, Mr World and Tiger. Now I can add this murderous pair.

This book is following a journey. The journey of Door trying to find out who murdered her family while also being that of Richard as he see’s the true nature of London Below. The plot is a constant walk with many stops along the way. Many places are literal translations of the locations within London Above that will delight and frighten many. How many times will you look at Black Friars now and wonder where the friars are?

There was no surprise that I loved this book and that I am always slightly biased toward Gaiman’s work. But I am not lying when I say this book is such a good starting point for reading his books and a great gateway into fantasy. Again, it is getting a sequel which Gaiman doesn’t do so if you do love it stay tuned.

★★★★★/5

Sunday Shorts: 3 Mini Reviews (24.11.19)

Welcome to a new segment on my blog! Short and Shorter is going to be a selection of 3 works of short fiction that I do small quick reviews of so I can discuss them with everyone. I’m going to be including graphic novels some times in here too but I will still continue to review them as standalone works.


At first glance, Phil Pendleton and his son Adam are just an ordinary father and son, no different from any other. They take walks in the park together, visit county fairs, museums, and zoos, and eat together overlooking the lake. Some might say the father is a little too accommodating given the lack of discipline when the child loses his temper in public. Some might say he spoils his son by allowing him to set his own bedtimes and eat candy whenever he wants. Some might say that such leniency is starting to take its toll on the father, given how his health has declined. What no one knows is that Phil is a prisoner, and that up until a few weeks ago and a chance encounter at a grocery store, he had never seen the child before in his life
  • Title: Sour Candy
  • Author: Kealan Patrick Burke
  • Genre: Contemporary Horror

    Mt first time reading Kealan Patrick Burke and wow. Just wow. This is a novella that explores the horrors of sudden parenthood. I read this one morning in bed when my boyfriend went to work and I was blown away by the writing. The sheer creepiness of the story and this child who pulls as full Midwich Cuckoo and shows up makes for a great read. There is also some mild body horror with visceral descriptions of sour candy.

    ★★★★★/5
The coat. It was elegant. It was beautiful. It was so close that he could have reached out and touched it.

And it was unquestionably his.
  • Title: How the Marquis got His Coat Back
  • Author: Neil Gaiman
  • Genre: Fantasy

    I read this directly after finishing Neverwhere. This was a nice way to slowly exit the world after completing the novel and avoid a book hangover. The Marquis de Carabas is my favourite character from the book so it was nice to know he was up to his old tricks. I do think it was a good follow up to Neverwhere but does suffer from the 1.5 book syndrome where it leaves you with more questions than answers. Still I would recommend reading directly after finishing Neverwhere.

    /5
THE SANDMAN: ENDLESS NIGHTS will be a delight to fans of Gaiman’s work and newcomers to the graphic novel. Whether haunting, bittersweet, erotic or nightmarish, the seven stories in this book – one for each of the Endless siblings – reveal strange secrets and surprising truths. Each story is illustrated by some of the greatest comic artists from around the world.
  • Title: The Sandman: Endless Nights
  • Authors: Neil Gaiman, Glen Fabry, Milo Manara, Miguelanxo Prado, Frank Quitely, P. Craig Russell, Bill Sienkiewicz and Barron Storey
  • Genre: Graphic novel, fantasy, horror

    I love the Sandman series very much. So much I have a Sandman tattoo. So this year I reread the entire main series and this is the first volume after the conclusion of the last volume. This is short stories that follow each of the Endless and is illustrated by 7 different artists. The stories were great but the art left me down in places. Especially Manara’s since his art has always made me feel a bit…. ick. But still overall, good read and great to go back to that world.

    /5

So that’s it! This was nice to rattle off some smaller reviews of shorter works. Do you like short reviews? Do you think this is a handy way to talk about recent reads? Please tell me below! That’s all for this week and until next time happy reading!