Fantasy author Neil Gaiman: on how stories last across the ages.

June 21, 2015 | By | Reply More

“Do stories grow? Pretty obviously – anybody who has ever heard a joke being passed on from one person to another knows that they can grow, they can change. Can stories reproduce? Well, yes. Not spontaneously, obviously – they tend to need people as vectors. We are the media in which they reproduce; we are their petri dishes… Stories grow, sometimes they shrink. And they reproduce – they inspire other stories. And, of course, if they do not change, stories die.”

“Pictures, I think, may have been a way of transmitting stories. The drawings on cave walls that we assume are acts of worship or of sympathetic magic, intended to bring hunters luck and good kills. I keep wondering if, actually, they’re just ways of telling stories: “We came over that bridge and we saw a herd of wooly bisons.” And I wonder that because people tell stories – it’s an enormous part of what makes us human.

We will do an awful lot for stories – we will endure an awful lot for stories. And stories, in their turn – like some kind of symbiote – help us endure and make sense of our lives.

A lot of stories do appear to begin as intrinsic to religions and belief systems – a lot of the ones we have have gods or goddesses in them; they teach us how the world exists; they teach us the rules of living in the world. But they also have to come in an attractive enough package that we take pleasure from them and we want to help them propagate.”

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About the Author ()

I have been working as a full-time author publishing fantasy and science fiction novels for HarperCollins for the last seven years.

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