A beautiful story. Neil Gaiman is truly a unique storyteller. I did a combo of reading and listening to this story, and Neil is great at reading as weA beautiful story. Neil Gaiman is truly a unique storyteller. I did a combo of reading and listening to this story, and Neil is great at reading as well. I got interested in this book after seeing the movie, which I really enjoyed. The book is similar - maybe a bit more poetic - but I think the plot in the movie is a bit improved (not much, but a bit).
I imagine this book came about because Neil read the below poem that he includes in the beginning, and then he invented a plot around it. The result is the book reads like a epic poem - it's creative, magical, and really, just right.
Go and catch a falling star, Get with child a mandrake root, Tell me where all past years are, Or who cleft the devil's foot, Teach me to hear mermaids singing, Or to keep off envy's stinging, And find What wind Serves to advance an honest mind.
If thou be'st born to strange sights, Things invisible to see, Ride ten thousand days and nights, Till age snow white hairs on thee, Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me, All strange wonders that befell thee, And swear, No where Lives a woman true, and fair.
If thou find'st one, let me know, Such a pilgrimage were sweet; Yet do not, I would not go, Though at next door we might meet; Though she were true, when you met her, And last, till you write your letter, Yet she Will be False, ere I come, to two, or three.
I couldn't put this book down. It was well written - even elegant in a way, as well as though provoking. I love post apocalyptic books as they are greI couldn't put this book down. It was well written - even elegant in a way, as well as though provoking. I love post apocalyptic books as they are great canvas's for humanity, and what matters. In Station Eleven an Ebola-esque virus (the Georgia Flu) knocks out over 99% of the worlds population. This story is told half right before the collapse, and half afterwards, and has several threads that tie together nicely.
Reading how civilization and infrastructure all die after the collapse is fascinating. One by one, cable tv, the internet, water, and power all eventually stop working. Nobody is alive to maintain them - or who even knows how. Other infrastructure like gasoline to power cars and airplanes, groceries, guns, and even clothing all become rarer and rarer commodities. Really makes you realize how much we are standing on the shoulder of hundreds of years of progress and knowledge, and how far into the middle ages we could easily fall. We really know nothing individually - our civilization is based upon the collective knowledge of billions.
If there is a motto of the book, it's probably this quote: "Because survival is insufficient". Humanity craves for more than survival - we crave for something more out of life. The story follows a caravan of actors and musicians who travel from town to town to play Shakespeare, and bring some art and a shared experience. Interesting that of all the artists from the past 400 years, Shakespeare is the one that survives and still resonates.
The storyline pre-collapse that follows Arthur and his three wives is interesting. I won't say much about it, other than Arthur, his wives, and the paparazzi-turned-jounalist-turned-paramedic-turned-doctor Jeevan, seem to all be searching for meaning in their lives. And ironically Jeevan seems to find the most, becoming a doctor after the collapse. Also, I'm glad I'm not a Hollywood celebrity. The conversation between Arthur and Jeevan where Arthur just wants to talk about anything but himself stuck with me - sometimes we are all sick of talking about ourselves.
Regardless of what you think about this book, one thing is for sure - after you put it down and walk around the world, you are full of a newfound appreciation and gratitude for everything. Hopefully that appreciation and gratitude will stick around a little - though I know it will fade as months and years go by.
Recommend this highly for anyone who works in a technology or creative field. Pixars track records is unparalleled - 14 movies and all of them have beRecommend this highly for anyone who works in a technology or creative field. Pixars track records is unparalleled - 14 movies and all of them have been massive hits. I had two important takeaways from this book: how to build a great, lasting culture, and how to build a creative company.
Catmull's philosophy both around creating movies and managing his company, is to be relentless about remembering that he doesn't know what he doesn't know. In creating a movie, you don't know what it will be when you start. In creating a company, you similarly don't know what it will be, especially at first. But equally importantly when you are scaling it, you don't know the dynamics of what is happening throughout the company - you will have a filtered view based on the (always) incomplete picture you can see. So you have to relentlessly have the mindset to remember that there are dynamics at play that you don't know, and look for them.
So how did Pixar build 14 hits in a row? They created a highly leveraged feedback loop. They created a culture of open feedback, and encourage anyone in the room - regardless of rank - to have an equal voice. They have lots of ways to get feedback on the film and iterate on it: from daily standup every morning to review scenes, up to braintrust meetings with all the best directors and creative minds to review the story. They spend a lot of time - years - iterating on and nailing the story before putting it into production - and even then they keep iterating. Nothing trumps good story.
The stories about Steve Jobs were great. Made you respect him even more. For taking a huge financial risk to spin Pixar out of Lucasfilms and then personally float it for a long time, taking even more risk. I loved hearing about how much foresight he had with regards to Disney and negotiating that deal. I also loved the story about the wide screen - basically how Steve responds to passion, and pushes people until he finds where it is. This quote explains it well: