Bewildering Stories

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Book Review:
Neil Gaiman, Smoke And Mirrors

by Jerry Wright

Smoke And Mirrors
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: Avon (Sept 2005)
Hardcover: 368 pages
ISBN: 0380789027
Price: $7.99

There is a lot to enjoy in this, the first collection of Neil Gaiman's short stories. First published in 1998, this new version from Avon includes an excerpt from "Anasazi Boys", and I understand, a slightly re-written intro.

Neil is a great writer, and certainly worthy of winning awards, although I don't see how the World Science Fiction Award (aka the Hugo) keeps going to Fantasy books... But that's whine for a different year. Needless to say, this collection is first rate, except for the parts that are second rate. But that's MY problem, not Neil's.

Many of the stories are wonderful, such as "Chivalry" which begins, "Mrs. Whitaker found the Holy Grail. It was under a fur coat." At a second hand shop. Her interactions with the Grail, and with Sir Galahad who has come through time to find it, are just great.

I had no idea Neil was a poet. And one for the long forms, as well. He has both a story and an epic poem about Larry Talbot, the wolfman of Movie fame. Now a detective, more or less. Great fun.

Lots of playing around with Lovecraft and Cthulhu. "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar" was also fun. But sometimes the fun ends. Neil also wrote for some English skin mags like "Penthouse" which I guess are nothing like the American versions, but none-the-less, I found some of the stories just not for me. That's alright, though. Neil, in his introduction calls "Tastings" pornographic. And I suppose it is. I didn't read it.

I suppose I read about 3/4 of the book, and didn't bother with the rest, but as I say, that's alright. I got a lot of enjoyment out of the stories I did read, and Neil was kind enough in his introduction (an extremely long one at that) to introduce and explain each of the stories and poems in the book.

So why did I review this book? Well probably because I found it at the Airport and needed something to read, and I have thoroughly enjoyed Neil Gaiman in times past, but also if you are bothered by some of the stuff I'm bothered by, a gentle warning should be sufficient.

Nothing personal, Neil, but a PG version of this book would be great!

Copyright © 2005 Jerry Wright and Bewildering Stories

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