The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
THE SANDMAN series was originally released in comic form, later in trade paperback collections (above), and most lately in larger omnibus editions (the first one is shown here). It’s thus rather difficult (and time-consuming) to review the individual volumes, and so I’m going to review the series as a whole, noting as I do so that some volumes were better than others.
Despite some slight ups and downs, I overall found THE SANDMAN a remarkable work, well worthy of the praise it has received over the years. Neil Gaiman has rarely been better. A point I should make directly, though, is that this is in no way an easy-going fantasy read. Viewed as a whole, it’s probably one of the top five graphic novels ever written, and acts like it. Graphic novels are a rather different beast than pure prose, or have become so lately. At higher levels, they t... Read More
Neil Gaiman(1960- )
Besides novels, Neil Gaiman has written numerous graphic novels and contributed to several series, collections, and anthologies. His writing has won the following awards: World Fantasy, Nebula, Hugo, Mythopoeic, Bram Stoker, British Fantasy Society. Find out more about Neil Gaiman’s work at his website.
The Sandman — (1991-2003) Dream Hunters and the anthology Endless Nights are additions to the original 10 volume series. Publisher: New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision. In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman. This book also includes the story “The Sound of Her Wings,” which introduces us to the pragmatic and perky goth girl Death.
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
Death, the Deluxe Edition by Neil Gaiman
Death, the Deluxe Edition, was published by Vertigo in 2012. It’s a handsome book, slightly outsized (7 ¼ by 11 inches), perfect bound with a hard cover, dust jacket and matte black endpapers. The cover has a collage look, filled with shades of black and shell-pink, with Death in profile. The spiral tattoo below her right eye is prominent, and her hair sweeps in a curve like a wing.
All the stories in Death, the Deluxe Edition were written by Neil Gaiman. This collection includes the following stories, most of which are reprints:
"The Sound of her Wings" -- artwork by Mike Dringerberg and Malcolm Jones III
"Façade" -- artwork by Colleen Doran, Malcolm Jones III and Todd Klein
"A Winter’s Tale" -- artwork by Jeffrey Jones and Jon J Muth Read More
InterWorld — (2007-2013) Publisher: An astounding tale of adventure, danger, magic, science, friendship, spaceships, and, oh yeah, the battle to save all the people in all the worlds in all possible dimensions. Joey Harker isn’t a hero. In fact, he’s the kind of guy who gets lost in his own house. But one day, Joey gets really lost. He walks straight out of his world and into another dimension. Joey’s walk between worlds makes him prey to armies of magic and science, both determined to harness Joey’s power to travel between the dimensions. The only thing standing in their way is Joey — or, more precisely, an army of Joeys, all from different dimensions and all determined to save the worlds. Now Joey must make a choice: return to the life he knows or join the battle to the end.
Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
In Interworld, Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves manage to tell a story that's full of science-fiction elements and concepts but is yet quite accessible to any reader, young or old.
The premise is simple and isn't anything new as far as sci-fi tropes are concerned: a kid with no sense of direction discovers he can travel the multiverse.
Of course during this short novel, various themes and issues are tackled without detracting from the story.
The strength of Interworld, I think, are the characters. Joey Harker, the protagonist, is quite sympathetic and compelling, yet he's not the only interesting character. There's the mysterious Jay, the wise Mr. Dimas, and the various cast of villains.
If there's anything lac... Read More
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Richard Mayhew has a life that most men would envy: He’s got a good job, a nice apartment in London, and he’s about to be married to a beautiful wealthy woman. But when he stops to help a girl (named Door) in the street, Richard soon finds that he’s slipped through the cracks into Neverwhere: a magical and frightening underground London that people like Richard never knew existed. How could he have known that his Random Act of Kindness would ruin everything? And, most importantly, how can he get his old life back?
Neil Gaiman rarely fails to amuse me with his creative concepts, quirky humor, and over-the-top villains, and Neverwhere, the novelization of his BBC television program of the same name, has all that. What it doesn’t have is a tight and gripping plot or exciting and well-developed heroes. Richard is an average guy who’s mostly along for the ride and Door and h... Read More
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Go, And Catch a Falling Star...
If you like fantasy stories filled with magic, adventure and romance, but are getting sick and tired of boring, long-winded fantasy epics, then look no further than Stardust. There are no long histories, family trees or endless descriptions of culture, landscapes and back-story. This is just a sweet, simple fairytale told by a great storyteller. Though be warned — the original fairytales were not written for children, and Stardust follows in their literary footsteps, by including several violent, sensual and bittersweet scenes. It might be tempting to read this book aloud to children (particularly if you've seen the recent movie adaptation), but this is something I would strongly advise against!
Set in the Victorian Era out in the English countrysid... Read More
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Stardust is a charming novel and beautifully written. The language is simple, concise, and to-the-point (I appreciate not having to re-read convoluted sentences). If you're looking for a deep, dark epic that's heavy on description, characterization, political intrigue, and plot twists, this isn't it. This is a light break from the heavy stuff. It's fun and entertaining. The plot is quick and has a bit of the Princess Bride feel in that it's purposely a bit silly in places.
I listened to Stardust in audiobook format, which I highly recommend because Neil Gaiman himself is the reader, and he does an excellent job. His voice is smooth and pleasant and there are none of those little problems where... Read More
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman's Stardust chronicles the origin and life of the young Englishman Tristran Thorn, in particular his quest to retrieve, for the woman he fancies, a star that has fallen in the land of Faerie, which begins just beyond his village of Wall. But Tristran isn't the only one who seeks the star, and the star itself is much more than he imagined ...
Gaiman weaves a quickly paced, beautifully structured adult fairy tale — 'adult' because it doesn't neglect the human experiences of sex, death and time. His language is that of the gifted storyteller — clear, concise and lyrical, resonant with mythic lore and archetypes. I highly recommend this book (even as a new purchase) for fans of fantasy, fairy tales, mythology, and/or romance, as well as for those who simply enjoy a well-told tale.
It would be a disservice to an interested reader to make th... Read More
Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman's place on my personal "favorite authors list" is cemented firmly by Smoke and Mirrors, a versatile collection of his short stories and narrative poems. There is a wide variety of "types" of story here, from fantasy to horror to mystery to wildly hilarious comedy. I liked almost all of them.
Neil Gaiman's two finest gifts are (1) humor, and (2) truly scary horror that gets under your skin rather than just grossing you out with gore. He flexes his humor muscles with such outstanding fare as "Chivalry" (the story of an old woman who buys the Holy Grail at a thrift shop), "We Can Get Them For You Wholesale" (about hit men with discount rates), "One Life, Furnished in Early Moorcock" (about a young boy and his love for fantasy novels), and "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar" (believe it or not, a funny Cthulhu story, abo... Read More
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
This is a bad land for Gods... The old gods are ignored. The new gods are as quickly taken up as they are abandoned, cast aside for the next big thing. Either you've been forgotten, or you're scared you're going to be rendered obsolete, or maybe you're just getting tired of existing on the whims of people.
Shadow, just out of prison and with nothing to go home to, is hired to be Mr. Wednesday's bodyguard as he travels around America to warn all the other incarnations of gods, legends, and myths, that “a storm is coming.” There's going to be a battle between the old gods who were brought to melting pot America by their faithful followers generations ago, and the new gods of technology, convenience, and individuality.
That's the premise of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and it's... Read More
Adventures in the Dream Trade by Neil Gaiman
When I first saw Adventures in the Dream Trade, I was genuinely surprised because I never knew it existed. I found it in a specialty bookstore, and was going for a relatively high selling price. Still, thinking that it was a rare Neil Gaiman book, I shelled out the cash for it and I did find out it really was a rare Neil Gaiman book due to its small print-run. And anyone who's read it will know why.
Adventures in the Dream Trade collects various introductions and essays by Gaiman, a few poems, songs, really short fiction (the equivalent tern would be fast-food fiction), and several months worth of blog entries tackling the publication of American Gods. Why do I mention this? Because it shows you who should buy this book. Adventures in the Dream Trade doesn't really have a huge, encomp... Read More
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Coraline’s family has just moved into a new flat. Her parents are always busy with their own work and Coraline (please don’t call her Caroline) has no friends or siblings to play with. She spends her time exploring her new apartment complex and the surrounding grounds. She’s got some eccentric neighbors: two little old ladies who love to reminisce about their time on the stage and an old man who trains mice to sing and dance.
But what’s really strange is the extra door in Coraline’s flat. It doesn’t go anywhere. Coraline’s mom says it used to connect to the vacant flat next door, but now it’s bricked up. Except that it’s not always bricked up... sometimes it does go somewhere…
Coraline is a terrific little heroine. Curious and brave, but appropriately cautious, she sets out to discover what’s in the vacant flat. And though what’s there seems rather wo... Read More
Neil Gaiman's Murder Mysteries adapted for comics by P. Craig Russell
P. Craig Russell's artwork is stunning in his adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Murder Mysteries. And since the story has all the other-worldly hallmarks of a Neil Gaiman Sandman story, Russell really gets a chance to show off his talent as he bounces from the angelic Silver City to the cityscapes of our mundane world.
This graphic novel is based on what was originally a short story by Neil Gaiman (and eventually a radio drama in the spirit of The Shadow); I read the comic befo... Read More
A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman
A Study in Emerald is a Hugo and Locus Award winning short story by Neil Gaiman in which he pays tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.
At first Gaiman’s story appears to be a straight Sherlock Holmes pastiche as a man who appears to be Watson relates how his new friend, a consulting detective who appears to be Holmes, is being asked by Inspector Lestrade to help solve a murder mystery. In fact, it completely parallels Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet,which gets its name from Holmes’ comment that the murder scene is “a study in scarlet.”
You probably know where I’m going with this. There are a few clues that Gaiman’s world is not the England we know (e.g., it’s refer... Read More
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman+ Lenny Henry = Twice the Entertainment
I love Neil Gaiman. You know that old 1960s footage of the all the American girls jumping up and down screaming hysterically when the Beatles visited the US? That's how I feel about Neil Gaiman. (Okay, maybe I wouldn't scream or pass out, but I sure think he's cool.) I like his style — his writing is easy, intelligent, well-edited, dryly humorous, and just plain charming.
Anansi Boys is no exception, and it's especially charming in audio format, thanks to Lenny Henry, an English stand-up comedian whose deep rich voice and character comedy is absolutely perfect for this novel which is based on the African/Caribbean mythology of the trickster spider god Anansi (introduced in American Gods). Henry's voices are brilliant (especially the... Read More
Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
This collection comes with 31 short stories and poems as well as an introduction that's as compelling as Smoke and Mirrors. Of all of Gaiman's collections, I think this is by far the most superior as it features more of his later work and has a more polished style.
I've also read several of the stories here before in various anthologies but it was great to revisit them as I wasn't the same reader I was several years ago. Reading them today, I enjoyed them more the second time around.
Here's my top three stories: "A Study in Emerald" is a hybrid between Lovecraft and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Gaiman parallels the original Sherlock Holmes story quite well while infusing it with his own unique elements.
"Sunbird," on the other hand, is quite mythic and having rea... Read More
M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman
M is for Magic's title is an homage to the short story collections of Ray Bradbury and is a worthy successor. (Now if only we had 25 more short story collections to complete the alphabet.) Gaiman's stories in this collection are easy reads that both young readers and adults will enjoy. It has a diverse set of stories, everything from mystery to coming-of-age to horror. There's even a poem that managed to sneak into this collection.
Gaiman’s prose is quite easy to understand yet nonetheless charming. A welcome read for any occasion, although the hefty hardcover price might detract some people from buying it immediately. Personally though, I think it's well worth a hardback purchase.
FanLit thanks Charles Tan from Bibliophile Stalker for contributing this guest review.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.
With those words, Neil Gaiman plunges the reader into a shadowy tale. The Graveyard Book opens with Jack, a member of a secret association that has been tasked with killing the entire Owens family, stalking through the Owens house, knife in hand, seeking the last member of the family. But Nobody Owens, a toddler, has a fondness for climbing out of his crib and going exploring. On this night, his midnight ramble takes him to the cemetery up the street, and a ghostly couple takes custody of him, along with Silas, a mysterious figure who lives in the crypt. Silas is just one of many interesting characters that either live in, or are part of, the family Nobody creates for himself in the graveyard.
The Graveyard Book is str... Read More
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Ignore the YA label slapped on this one if that gives you pause. Though that won’t be hard to do because The Graveyard Book opens with a hand in the darkness holding a knife wet with the blood of almost an entire family: father, mother, and older child. The knife lacks only the blood of the toddler son to finish its job. Luckily for the reader (and the boy) he escapes into a nearby cemetery where a mothering ghost convinces the cemetery community to protect him. Another reason to ignore the YA label, or better yet, to revel in it, is that Neil Gaiman’s YA-listed material is stronger than his adult work: tighter, more focused, more intense all around. All that holds true here and The Graveyard Book’s clarity and brevity, often seen as constraints in the category, only enhance the book’s impact.
Chapter... Read More
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
In many of his books Neil Gaiman delivers a fantasy version of the type of story that is usually known as a “coming of age” work of literature. His children’s book Coraline is an obvious example, but so in a unique way are his adult works American Gods and its companion Anansi Boys. In each of those novels, the main character is initially naïve and ignorant of their own personal abilities as well as the motives and agendas of many of those they meet or encounter, and their adventures through the story lead to their own awareness of the world and their rightful place in it. The Graveyard Book was marketed as a young adult novel, and went on to win the Newbery Medal for that category, but it also won the Hugo Award, and I think it’s safe to say that it isn’t “just” a young adult ... Read More
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
Odd’s childhood has not been easy. His father has died, his leg is crippled, his new stepfather is unpleasant, and the winter just won’t end. So, Odd decides to go off to stay in his father’s old hut in the woods. Soon he’s befriended by a bear, a fox, and an eagle. But these aren’t your normal bear, fox, and eagle — these animals can talk, and they tell Odd that they are the gods Loki, Thor, and Odin. They’ve temporarily lost their powers and their home to the Frost Giants. Bravely, young Odd sets out across a beautifully enchanting winter landscape to help the gods get home.
Odd and the Frost Giants is a short and sweet adventure fantasy for boys and girls which is based on Norse mythology. I listened to the audio version (2 hours long) which was produced by Harper Children’s Audio and read by Neil Gaiman himself. Gaiman’s reading is charming —... Read More
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
There was a boy called Odd, and there was nothing strange or unusual about that, not in that time or place. Odd meant tip of a blade, and it was a lucky name.
Neil Gaiman’s charming children’s story, Odd and the Frost Giants, opens with that bit of information. In spite of his name, Odd has not been very lucky lately. His father, a woodcutter, died during one of the village’s sea-raids. Later, Odd, trying to cut wood himself, badly injured his leg. Now he walks with a limp. His mother is remarried to a village man with many other children who does not care for Odd, and winter shows no signs of abating this year. One night, Odd slips out of the great hall, takes a side of salmon and one of his father’s axes, and runs away to his father’s woodcutting cottage in the wintery forest — and here, his adventure begins.
Gaiman introduces Norse my... Read More
The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman has paired up with illustrator Gris Grimly to create The Dangerous Alphabet. This is not an alphabet book for young readers, unless you like staying up with them all night as they stare at shadows in the corner. Rather, Gaiman wrote a ghostly piratical poem in 26 lines, each starting with a letter of the alphabet, and then gave it to Gris Grimly to illustrate.
Grimly’s style is dark and grim — with a name like Gris Grimly, what do you expect? — what I can only describe as a post-apocalyptic Edward Gorey drawing left out in the rain. As much as I love art, I’m not an expert, but I think the illustrations are a combination of pen and ink with watercolor washes, and they show two little children running for their lives as they get sucked into a horrible world in the city sewers. (It’s rumored Gaiman refuses to go underground anymore.)
... Read More
Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess have paired up again to produce the breathtaking Blueberry Girl, a fantastical blessing poem or lullaby that Gaiman wrote for his two daughters.
Invoking “Ladies of light and ladies of darkness and ladies of never-you-mind,” Gaiman prays for blessings to be bestowed on his blueberry girl. Reminiscent of fairy godmothers — Gaiman’s prayer for protection and spindles makes that allusion even stronger — the author lists off his wishes for his daughters to be bestowed by the ladies who take different forms throughout the story in Vess’s enchanting drawings.
There is no hint of the creepy or spooky characters that haunt so many of Gaiman’s books. This is just the pure love of a father for his children. The illustrations depict a wide range of girls from various ethnic groups (though I did not see any overtly Asian-... Read More
Instructions by Neil Gaiman
As one might expect from Neil Gaiman, Instructions is an unusual little book, and despite technically being a picture book, isn't necessarily something you would give to a child. Not that the content is objectionable — just a tad incomprehensible to anyone who isn't well versed in the rules and patterns of fairytales. With that in mind, a child might be the perfect audience! I think what I'm trying to say is that Instructions is a story for those who love stories, and the more familiar you are with the tales upon which it’s based, the better you will enjoy it.
First published in A Wolf at the Door, an anthology of retold fairytales edited by Ellen Datlow and Read More
Instructions by Neil Gaiman
I am a sucker for illustrated children’s books. I get quite attached to specific editions and consider it a tragedy when some of my favorite tales are reillustrated. It’s the cinematic equivalent of colorizing Casablanca. Imagine my joy to discover that Neil Gaiman, who I love, had paired up with Charles Vess on children’s books.
The two geniuses came together to create Instructions, a short tale for a reader of any age who wants to safely traverse enchanted lands. Like a fairy tale version of Where’s Waldo?, the story and illustrations cover at least three dozen fairy tales and other stories. Every time you go back to this book, the illustrations will reveal another hidden figure tucked away in the branch of a tree, or peeking out from behind a building. I had the fancy upon reading this that Cimorene... Read More
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
I’ll start by saying that I’m not hugely familiar with Neil Gaiman’s work. I’ve read Stardust and watched his two Doctor Who episodes… and that’s it. At first I wasn’t sure whether or not to absorb more of his work before tackling The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but decided against it for the sake of a fresh perspective. So consider this a review from someone who has very few preconceptions about Gaiman’s style and themes.
Our middle-aged protagonist (I don’t recall if we ever learn his name) recounts to us his movements after a family funeral. Instead of going to the wake he drives through Sussex to his childhood home where vague memories begin to stir. Going down a little country lane he arrives at the Hempstock family farmhouse, certain that he used to play with the family’s young daughter Lettie. At the back... Read More
Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (eds.)
Ruby Slippers, Golden Tearsis the third in the series of fairy tale anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. It’s a very good collection; in quality it’s probably equal to its immediate predecessor, Black Thorn, White Rose, though I didn’t personally like it as much for reasons I’ll elaborate below.
My favorite of the stories is Ellen Steiber’s stunning novella “The Fox Wife.” Set in nineteenth-century Japan, it concerns a domineering husband and his young wife who shows signs of becoming a kitsune, a fox shapeshifter.
Other favorites include “The Beast,” by Tanith Lee, and the poem “The White Road,” by Read More
Black Heart, Ivory Bones edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Black Heart, Ivory Bones is the sixth and final entry in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s series of fairy tale anthologies. Of the six, I’ve read four, and each has its own particular flavor, its own unique mood. While all of the books contain a mix of light and darkness, in this volume there seems to be more of a balance: “all that’s best of dark and bright,” if you will. The mood that Black Heart, Ivory Bones evoked in me was a wistfulness, maybe, or a pensiveness. When I first read the series, Black Thorn, White Rose was my favorite, but I’ve come to a deeper enjoyment of this volume as I’ve grown older. At this point I’d have to say the two are now tied in my mind.
My favorite stories in this collection are:
“Rapunzel... Read More
The Green Man edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
In fairy tales, whenever someone journeys into the forest, you just know something strange is about to occur and that the protagonist’s life is going to be changed forever. The same is true of the stories and poems featured in The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest. With this collection, editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling kicked off a series of young adult anthologies, each devoted to a particular theme. Here, the theme is wild nature, and most of the stories feature teenage characters who encounter the wilderness and undergo a coming-of-age experience there.
Of course, I have my favorites. Delia Sherman contributes a tale of the Faery Queen of Central Park, and the insecure girl who faces her in a battle of wits. ... Read More
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Two edited by Jonathan Strahan
The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Two is one of several anthologies that collects the best science fiction and fantasy of 2007. I've read many of the stories included, yet revisiting them actually made me appreciate them more rather than feel exhausted. One thing I noticed is that there's a stronger science fiction balance in this anthology compared to the previous volume, although that might also be because the lines between science fiction and fantasy easily get blurry.
The opening piece, Ted Chiang's "The Merchant and The Alchemist's Gate," is a good example. This is easily my favorite story and arguably Chiang's most accessible piece. The physics of time travel is narrated with an Arabian Nights flavor and theme, appealing t... Read More
The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams
I never knew there were so many ways to tell a zombie story. I pretty much thought that the George Romero version was it — dead people wandering around holding their arms out in front of them and calling out “braaaaaaains,” looking to munch on the living. I never did know why they had to hold their arms that way, but they all did — I thought.
John Joseph Adams has chosen his material wisely in The Living Dead, a collection of short stories about zombies by some of the biggest and best names in the horror business, as well as the newest and hottest. I resisted this book for a long time because I’ve never been fond of zombies, but upon diving in, I discovered that the zombies aren’t really the point; the point is to tell a good story. And these authors do that, with a vengeance.
My favorite story is “Almost the Last St... Read More
The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology by Gordon Van Gelder (ed.)
The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology is an excellent collection of 23 stories picked from the treasure trove of short fiction that's been published in the eponymous magazine over the past 60 years. Editor Gordon Van Gelder — also the editor of the magazine since 1997 — has done an admirable job, picking stories that illustrate the diversity of both the genre and the magazine. As such, this is a great anthology for SF&F fans as well as newcomers looking for a taste.
The line-up of authors in this collection looks like a veritable Who's Who of speculative fiction: Ray Bradbury, Read More
Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance is the best anthology I’ve ever read. These stories will be enjoyed by any SFF reader, but they’ll be ten times more fun if you’ve read Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth, because they are all written in honor of that fantastic work. Each tale is written in the style of Vance, which is quite amusing in itself, and each takes place on the Dying Earth, that far-future wasteland in which natural selection means survival of the cleverest, nastiest, sneakiest, and most self-serving.
Songs of the Dying Earth was written by “many high-echelon, top-drawer writers” (as Mr. Vance says in the preface):... Read More
Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Fairy tales were my first love when I was a child. My mother introduced me to the joys of stories with The Golden Book of Fairy Tales long before I learned how to read. My early reading included the first three volumes of The Junior Classics and Andrew Lang’s colorful fairy tale books. When Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling started editing anthologies of new takes on the old tales for adults with Snow White, Blood Red, I was delighted. And when Datlow and Windling started editing a series of original fiction for young adults based on fairy tales, I couldn’t resist t... Read More
The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes edited by John Joseph Adams
In this collection of stories, compiled by John Joseph Adams, a variety of authors invent cases that Sherlock Holmes might encounter if our world were just a bit different. These are cases in which the “improbable” occurs. Most of the stories involve some sort of fantastical situation in which Holmes is required to go outside of his normal logic-based abilities and enter the realm of fantasy. The array of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi authors is quite extensive. Laurie King, Neil Gaiman, Stephen Baxter and Robert Sawyer are just a few of the names that grace this anthology.
I enjoyed the premise of the book ver... Read More
Sympathy for the Devil edited by Tim Pratt
Please allow me to introduce Sympathy for the Devil, a fine new anthology filled entirely with short stories about the devil... who is, as we all know, a man of style and taste. However, you won’t just find the smooth-talking stealer of souls here. In addition to that famous version of His Grand Infernal Majesty, you’ll also find funny devils, monstrous devils, abstract devils and strangely realistic ones. Devils scary and not-so-scary, devils who are after children’s souls and others going after old men. Devils with a surprising amount of business acumen, and devils who try to get what they want, no matter the cost. There’s even one who engages in a competitive eating contest — the prize is, of course, someone’s soul.
Sympathy for the Devil, edited by Tim Pratt, offers up 35 very diverse short stories (and o... Read More
Songs of Love and Death edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Songs of Love and Death is the third anthology that George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois have edited together. Like Warriors and Songs of the Dying Earth, Songs of Love and Death brings together some of the biggest names that SFF has to offer and they set these authors to work on a common theme.
Martin and Dozois offer a cross-genre anthology that ranges from Robin Hobb’s epic fantasy “Blue Boots,” which tells the story of a romance between a young serving girl and a silver-tongued minstrel, to Read More
Songs of Love and Death by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (editors)
George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois have collected a nice batch of all-new stories from an all-star cast in Songs of Love and Death. The theme is “star-crossed lovers,” and as you might guess from the title, each tale is a love story, and many are death stories, too. Some are sad, some are sexy, and one or two are slightly sappy. Overall, I enjoyed the collection. Here’s what you’ll find in Songs of Love and Death:
“Love Hurts” by Jim Butcher may be the story Harry Dresden’s fans have been waiting for because it looks like Harry and Murphy will finally get together... or will they?
In “The Marrying Maid,” historical romance author Jo Beverley provides a Regency romanc... Read More
Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories edited by John Joseph Adams
Even people who don’t usually read science fiction will often be familiar with a few classic titles in the “dystopian SF” sub-genre. After all, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and of course the famous Aldous Huxley novel Brave New World are some of the few SF titles that have entered the mainstream literary canon to such an extent that they’ve become assigned school reading for many students. However, novel-length dystopian SF didn’t stop with those venerable classics, and can even be said to be thriving at the moment. See, for example, the recent success of Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut The Windup Girl Read More
The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
I haven’t actually read every page of The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, yet I’m giving it my highest recommendation. Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Master and Mistress of Weird, The Weird is 1126 pages long and should really be considered a textbook of weird fiction. It contains 110 carefully chosen stories spanning more than 100 years of weird fiction. Here’s what you can expect to find in this massive volume:
A “Forweird” by Michael Moorcock gives us a brief history of the weird tale, discusses how it has defied publishers’ attempts to categorize it into neatly-bordered genres, and gives examples of writers who are revered by modern readers but whose weird fiction caused them to be... Read More
Brave New Worlds (second edition) edited by John Joseph Adams
This anthology of dystopian fiction, edited by John Joseph Adams, contains stories from some of the greatest names in fantasy and science fiction, including Ursula K. LeGuin, Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow and Kim Stanley Robinson. The first edition was reviewed by Stefan Raets and earned a five-star rating. I picked up the second edition to see what the new volume added.
What I found was that the entire first edition was intact. Three stories were added, along with a study guide featuring questions for some of the stories if you wanted to use this in a book club (I w... Read More
Stories: All-New Tales — (2010) Edited with Al Sarrantonio. Publisher: “The joy of fiction is the joy of the imagination… ” The best stories pull readers in and keep them turning the pages, eager to discover more — to find the answer to the question: “And then what happened?” The true hallmark of great literature is great imagination, and as Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio prove with this outstanding collection, when it comes to great fiction, all genres are equal. Stories is a groundbreaking anthology that reinvigorates, expands, and redefines the limits of imaginative fiction and affords some of the best writers in the world — from Peter Straub and Chuck Palahniuk to Roddy Doyle and Diana Wynne Jones, Stewart O’Nan and Joyce Carol Oates to Walter Mosley and Jodi Picoult — the opportunity to work together, defend their craft, and realign misconceptions. Gaiman, a literary magician whose acclaimed work defies easy categorization and transcends all boundaries, and “master anthologist” (Booklist) Sarrantonio personally invited, read, and selected all the stories in this collection, and their standard for this “new literature of the imagination” is high. “We wanted to read stories that used a lightning-flash of magic as a way of showing us something we have already seen a thousand times as if we have never seen it at all.” Joe Hill boldly aligns theme and form in his disturbing tale of a man’s descent into evil in “Devil on the Staircase.” In “Catch and Release,” Lawrence Block tells of a seasoned fisherman with a talent for catching a bite of another sort. Carolyn Parkhurst adds a dark twist to sibling rivalry in “Unwell.” Joanne Harris weaves a tale of ancient gods in modern New York in “Wildfire in Manhattan.” Vengeance is the heart of Richard Adams’s “The Knife.” Jeffery Deaver introduces a dedicated psychologist whose mission in life is to save people in “The Therapist.” A chilling punishment befitting an unspeakable crime is at the dark heart of Neil Gaiman’s novelette “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains.” As it transforms your view of the world, this brilliant and visionary volume — sure to become a classic — will ignite a new appreciation for the limitless realm of exceptional fiction.er the Big Bang.
Fortunately, the Milk — (2013) Publisher: You know what it’s like when your mum goes away on a business trip and Dad’s in charge. She leaves a really, really long list of what he’s got to do. And the most important thing is DON’T FORGET TO GET THE MILK. Unfortunately, Dad forgets. So the next morning, before breakfast, he has to go to the corner shop, and this is the story of why it takes him a very, very long time to get back. Featuring: Professor Steg (a time-travelling dinosaur), some green globby things, the Queen of the Pirates, the famed jewel that is the Eye of Splod, some wumpires, and a perfectly normal but very important carton of milk.
More story collections by Neil Gaiman:
Good Omens — (1990) Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman. Publisher: According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter — the world’s only totally reliable guide to the future — the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just after tea. Which means that Armageddon will happen on a Saturday night. There will be seas of fire, rains of fish, the moon turning to blood and the massed armies of Heaven and Hell will sort it outonce and for all. Which is a major problem for Crowley, Hell’s most approachable demon and former serpent, and his opposite number and old friend Aziraphale, genuine angel and Soho bookshop owner. They like it down here (or, in Crowley’s case, up here). So they’ve got no alternative but to stop the Four Motorcyclists of the Apocalypse, defeat the marching ranks of the Witchfinder’s army and — somehow — stop it all happening. Above all (or, in Aziraphale’s case, below all) they need to find and kill the Antichrist, currently the most powerful creature on Earth. This is a shame. Because he’s eleven years old, loves his dog even though it’s really a Satanic hellhound under all that hair, really cares about the environment and is the sort of boy anyone would be proud to have as a son. He’s also totally invulnerable, and a nice kid. And if that isn’t enough, they’ve still got Sunday to deal with… All two of them.
Nightmare Magazine has been very good from its first issue, but the May 2013 issue, the eighth, is extraordinary.
The magazine opens with “Centipede Heartbeat” by Caspian Gray. Lisa believes that centipedes have invaded the home she shares with Joette, her lover. Worse, she believes that the centipedes have actually invaded Joette: “Each time Lisa rested her head against Joette’s breats, she heard the centipedes. In between heartbeats there was the tiny sound of hundreds of chitinous footsteps against bone, of miniature mandibles tearing at organs.” It’s a horrible situation, especially because Joette refuses to admit what is happening — or is Lisa insane? At any rate, Lisa feels she has to cure Joette of her infestation. Her behavior is logical, from her perspective, though Lisa’s perspective seems warped. But is it? The exterminator she has had in to consult says the place is crawling with the insects, but it d... Read More