Given my writing on Games of Thrones, it should come as no surprise that I’m very happy to hear the news that HBO is considering making a show based on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. One of Gaiman’s signature strengths is an engagement with the meaning and power of belief, a thread that runs through the Sandman comics (perhaps best in Season of Mists, which in its depiction of pantheons competing over the keys to Hell as they seek to regain relevance or retreat from the world, reads in some ways like a draft for American Gods). Most of the time we try to explain faith through its impact on the people who believe, rather than acknowledging the existence of deities and working from that perspective, hurdling over the question of whether faith is verifiable and finding new metaphors for its impact.
Of course, all anyone will take from this development is that HBO is becoming the Nerd Network. Not that I would complain if that was the case, but two fantasy series do not make a Prestige Syfy make. Depending on how Game of Thrones develops George R.R. Martin’s approach to religion, the two shows could actually have religion in common as much as their fantastical elements. Given the way Big Love ended, it would be sort of amazing if HBO was developing a stealth dedication to theology.
On another note, I would love it if the development of American Gods inspired someone to make Michael Chabon’s Summerland into a movie or a television series. Not that Michael Chabon needs more development deals. But I’ve always thought that while it’s overlooked because it’s a children’s book, Summerland has a lovely and rigorous concept of American myth that I’d love to see on-screen. Plus, it might actually be a decent baseball movie.