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Posted on Friday 22 March 2013 at 4:21 pm

Neverwhere and a Gaiman story

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There is a new Neil Gaiman short story at the Guardian website today. It is Gaiman therefore it almost goes without saying that it is creepy.

Today was the last episode of Neverwhere. I'll save my general thoughts on the whole thing for my weekly BBC Radio post, but I have a specific question. It is a very spoilery question about the last episode, specifically a comparison between the book and radio program, so I'll put it behind a spoiler tag. If you've experienced both the book and radio program, your thoughts would be most appreciated. If you've only experienced one, especially if you've only heard the radio program, this won't really spoil anything for the book as the important bit is in both and your interpretation of the radio program without the information from the book would be rather helpful.

[This is a mega spoiler! You've been warned. Only click if you know or don't mind being spoiled on THE BIG end reveal for Neverwhere]When the Angel Islington reveals that he is the big baddie behind everything because he wants out of his prison, why was he imprisoned? I think the book and radio program give very slightly different explanations for this and it bugs me. The answer is Atlantis in both cases but what exactly about Atlantis differs. I think the radio program makes it seem like he did nothing to save Atlantis while I think the book very heavily implies but doesn't quite state that he actively sank Atlantis. There are only two lines of relevant dialogue in the book not in the radio program (I checked), but I think it really changes the feel of it and I infinitely prefer the book. So...

If you've read the book: Did you get the sense he sank Atlantis from that or not?
If you've heard the radio program only: Ditto?
If you've done both: Did you see the same difference and do you care about it or am I crazy?

EDIT: Be sure to watch out for spoilers in the comments as well!!


eanor at 8:29 pm on 22 March 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Huh, that's interesting. I haven't read the book and only from the radio play it didn't occur to me that Islington might have actually sunken Atlantis. I mean, I did wonder why he was punished so severely for not helping out as much as he could, but then I thought it just may have been cut a bit for brevity. So, you're not crazy - if the book implies he sank Atlantis, the radio version most definitely doesn't...
bratty_jedi at 8:44 pm on 22 March 2013 (UTC) (Link)
There really are only two lines of dialogue, and a chunk of description, in the book not in the radio program, but I think it is pretty clear that Islington sank Atlantis in the novel.

Here's the relevant section:
The angle licked its lips. "They told me it was my punishment for Atlantis. I told them there was nothing more I could have done. The whole affair was..." it paused, as if it were hunting for the correct word. And then it said with regret, "Unfortunate."

"But millions were killed," said Door.

Islington clasped its hands in front of its chest, as if it were posing for a Christmas card. "These things happen," it explained, reasonably.

"Of course they do," said the marquis, mildly, the irony implicit in his words, not in his voice. "Cities sink every day. And you had nothing to do with it?"

It was as if the lid had been pulled off something dark and writhing: a place of derangement and fury and utter viciousness; and, in a time of scary things, it was the most frightening thing Richard has seen. The angel's serene beauty cracked; its eyes flashed; and it screamed at them, crazy-scary and uncontrolled, utterly certain in its righteousness, "They deserved it."

There was a moment of silence. And then the angel lowered its head, and sighed, and raised its head, and said, very quietly and with deep regret, "Just one of those things."

Then in both the book and radio program it is on to discussing Door's family being openers and the three things Islington needs to get out.
eanor at 9:31 pm on 22 March 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wow. Thanks for sharing. Yes, it seems quite obvious in the book version that he sank Atlantis. I wonder why they made it more ambiguous for the radio play.
Unsentimental Fool
unsentimentalf at 2:36 pm on 24 March 2013 (UTC) (Link)
It didn't particularly bother me, I have to say. I must have remembered from the book because I assumed it was implicit from the lines that were there.

Possibly they tried it and couldn't get the crazy-scary lines to sound right?
bratty_jedi at 4:58 pm on 24 March 2013 (UTC) (Link)
If you got the sense of him sinking Atlantis from the radio, I'm really interested in this now. I have some friends coming over next Sunday to listen to the whole thing and build a puzzle. I think of the ones currently definitely coming, one has read the book and two haven't so I'll have to quiz them when it is over and see what they think about it.
bowl_of_glow at 7:19 pm on 29 March 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I finished listening to Neverwhere today. I have to say that - without having read the book - it didn't occur to me that Islington might have sunken Atlantis himself. (In fact I did wonder what he had actually done to be imprisoned in London Below but I thought I probably missed something since English isn't my first language, I was planning to listen to it again).

As for the plot twist I didn't see it coming, or to be exact I did see it only a few seconds before the big moment of revelation and then felt stupid for not having thought about it.

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