If you're a fan of science fiction and fantasy books, this has been a good week for you. Along with Philip Pullman finally giving the follow-up to His Dark Materials a release date, Neil Gaiman has announced that his next work will be a sequel to Neverwhere.
Image: Cast from the recent radio adaptation, BBC
The original Neverwhere was a BBC Two series that aired in 1996, with Gaiman's novelisation of his own scripts released the same year. In it, the perfectly normal young businessman Richard Mayhew makes the classic mythological mistake of helping a stranger. In this case, it's a bloodied girl named Door, and helping her causes him to disappear from the regular world and start having adventures in a magical one parallel to ours. Gaiman's been mentioning the sequel for a while now, with the name popping up on his website's FAQ page.
Neverwhere is really notable for how Gaiman turned London landmarks into actual people, like Old Bailey, the Black Friars and the Angel, Islington. (The last one was played by a pre-Thick of It, pre-Doctor Who Peter Capaldi in the series.) The sequel's title, The Seven Sisters, probably refers to that aspect of the world Gaiman created, since the Seven Sisters is the name of a place in London named for the seven elm trees planted there.
At London's Southbank Centre this week, Gaiman revealed that he was a "solid three chapters" into the sequel and that it would be his next book. He also described what's inspired him to go back to it, 21 years after it was originally published:
When Lenny Henry and I came up with the original idea for Neverwhere almost 25 years ago, what attracted us was the idea that we could talk about the homeless, talk about the dispossessed, talk about the people who fall through the cracks, and do it in a way that was exciting and fun and interesting and also relevant and might change people's heads.
Neverwhere for me was this glorious vehicle where I could talk about huge serious things and have a ridiculous amount of fun on the way. The giant wheel has turned over the last few years and looking around the work I have been doing for UNHCR for refugees, the kind of shape … London is in now, the kind of ways [it] is different to how it was 20 years ago, meant that I decided that it actually was time to do something.
Now I had things I was angry about. I cared about things I wanted to put in and I'm now a solid three chapters in to a book called The Seven Sisters.
Hopefully it comes out quickly — we're all waiting.