American Gods is proving to be a successful debut series for Starz. The series has generated near universal critical acclaim and has already be picked up for a second season.
American Gods is based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, a bestselling author who is a superstar in the speculative fiction world. This is good news for fans of American Gods because it means that, if they're so inclined, they can find ways to supplement their enjoyment of the American Gods television series by enjoying some of Gaiman's other work.
Obviously, the American Gods novel is a great place to start. Gaiman released the novel, his first writing solo, in 2001 and, like the television series, it follows Shadow Moon and Mr. Wednesday on their road trip through America as they prepare for a war between gods that may or may not be inevitable.
However, some may rightly worry that reading American Gods will spoil some of the excitement of watching the television series. Some may argue that it will enhance that enjoyment instead, but either way, there are plenty of other Gaiman works that touch on similar themes and topics to American Gods.
For those who have never read Gaiman's work before, it may be wise to start with a novella or short story, something short in length as a sample to try before diving in head first with Gaiman's longer work. Smoke and Mirrors, Fragile Things, and Trigger Warning are all excellent collections of Gaiman's prose. Fragile Things features a short sequel to American Gods, while Trigger Warning includes a short Doctor Who story Gaiman wrote (he has also written two episode of the Doctor Who television series). If you're interested in Gaiman's comics work, Midnight Days offers a selection of short works.
Once you're ready to try something meatier from Gaiman, the following works should be on your list.
The American Gods, a novel published in 2005 as a follow-up to American Gods.
Anansi is an African trickster god who appears in American Gods, but Anansi Boys is not a sequel. Instead it a standalone story using a version of the same deity that appears in American Gods. In other words, reading Anansi Boys won't spoil American Gods for anyone.
In Anansi Boys, "Mr. Nancy" dies in Florida. It is only through Anansi's death that his son, "Fat Charlie," learns about his father's true nature. Matters become more unbelievable when Charlie's smooth and dapper brother, Spider, arrives and seems fully possessed of his father's godliness.
Anansi Gods is a mix of fantasy, family drama, and screwball comedy that will lift a reader's spirits after enjoying the grittiness of American Gods.prevnext
Gaiman made his name on the Vertigo Comics series The Sandman, which featured art by many of the greatest comics artists of the era.
Over the course of 75 issues released between 1989 and 1996, The Sandman followed Dream, a member of the Endless, a family of beings that personify abstract aspects of mortal life.
When Morpheus, the lord of Dreams, is captured while in a weakened state, he spends a generation in solitude. When he finally escapes, he returns to his realm, the Dreaming, to find it chaos and the order he worked so hard to preserve in imbalance.
The story begins as a quest for Morpheus to regain his power and set things right but grows into something much, much more. The Sandman remains one fo the greatest comics stories ever written and is essential reading for any Gaiman fan.prevnext
Rather than taking the gods of Norse myths and interpreting as they might exist in our reality, Gaiman's Norse Mythology retells the stories that make up this mythology, which serves as the basis for much of modern fantasy fiction, in his own style.
Gaiman takes the many short, fragmented Norse stories he researched and weaves them into a single, novel-length arc. The story spans the creation of the Nine Realms to their fall in Ragnarok, bringing readers along for an epic and eye-opening journey.prevnext
Gaiman always treats and characters, inspirations, and source materials with respect, but Good Omens, a novel written in collaboration with Terry Pratchett, he puts a truly satirical bend on modern religion.
Good Omens is a comedic novel about the friendship between Aziraphale, the angel who was to guard the eastern gate of Eden, and Crawley, the demon who acted as the snake in the garden.
Having lived on Earth for millennia, the demon and the angel decide that they rather like humanity and don't want the world to end. With the end times approaching, the duo sets about doing what they can to sabotage the apocalypse. When the antichrist is misplaced, hilarity ensues.
As long as your sense of humor matches your sense of religion, Good Omens is sure to make you smile.prevnext
In 2006, Gaiman and acclaimed comics artist John Romita Jr. tackled a different kind of mythology in the Marvel Comics miniseries Eternals.0comments
The Eternals were originally created by the legendary Jack Kirby in the 1970s. Kirby had returned from a run at DC Comics, where he created the New Gods, Darkseid, and the Fourth World, and he was hoping to bring some fo that mythological magic to Marvel. The Eternals were heroic, godlike being left on Earth by the Celestials, cosmic gardeners of the Marvel universe, to defend against their opposites, the Deviants.
The Eternals didn't have quite the staying power of Kirby's DC work, but Gaiman and Romita gave them a new lease on life. The 2006 series finds the Eternals have forgotten about their godly lineage and have been living mundane lives. One of the Eternals, Ikaris, begins having visions of their past glory and seeks to awaken himself and his fellows.prev