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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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Miracle and Other Christmas Stories (Bantam Spectra Book) Hardcover – November 2, 1999

4.2 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Connie Willis loves Christmas. "I even like the parts most people hate--shopping in crowded malls and reading Christmas newsletters and seeing relatives and standing in baggage check-in lines at the airport. Okay, I lied. Nobody likes standing in baggage check-in lines," she writes. Willis knows it's hard to write good Christmas stories: the subject matter is limited, the writer has to balance between sentiment and skepticism, and too many fall into the Victorian habit of killing off saintly children and poor people. Here she presents eight marvelous Christmas tales, two of which appear for the first time.

The stories range from "The Pony," about a psychotherapist who doesn't believe that Christmas gifts can answer our deepest longings, and "Inn," in which a choir member rehearsing for the Christmas pageant becomes part of the original Christmas story, to "Newsletter," where an invasion of parasitic creatures causes unusually good behavior in their hosts, and "Epiphany," a story of three unlikely Magi following signs through a North American winter toward the returned Jesus Christ. "Miracle" is a comic romance echoing Willis's favorite Yuletide movie, Miracle on 34th Street, and "Catspaw" is a homage to the traditional Christmas murder mystery with a sly, science-fictional twist. The collection also includes "In Coppelius' Toyshop," in which a bad guy is trapped in Toyland, and "Adaptation," a Dickensian story about what it means to keep Christmas in your heart.

Those who want only SF stories may find this collection lacking, but anyone who enjoys complex tales with true Christmas spirit will treasure it. --Nona Vero

From Publishers Weekly

The witty, literate Willis offers a wonderfully enjoyable ode to Christmas with this collection of eight fantastic seasonal tales. In "Inn," Willis turns what could have been a maudlin church choir story into a poignant tale with a time-travel twist. The title piece, "Miracle," is a screwball office comedy in which It's a Wonderful Life is soundly trounced in favor of Miracle on 34th Street, and the spirit of an ecologically aware surfer appears to give a reluctant heroine her heart's desire. A world-class jerk gets a Twilight Zone-like comeuppance in "In Coppelius's Toy Shop," while in the ominous "The Pony," the characters find exactly what they truly want under the tree. "Adaptation" blends literary and paternal love as two characters from Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" and a modern-day Scrooge become part of a lonely bibliophile's holiday. Throughout the book, Willis's well-crafted stories fuse traditional holiday plots with SF and fantasy elements to good effect. For example, her take on the British country-house Christmas mystery, "Cat's Paw," stars a world-famous sleuth and his slightly foggy assistant Abut it's set in a futuristic steel-and-glass manor and involves a plot that pivots around primate-rights activism. This is a collection that will entertain readers both in and out of season; and as a stocking-stuffer for SF fans, it's a merry delight. (Nov.) FYI: Willis's To Say Nothing of the Dog has won the 1999 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Bantam Spectra Book
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (November 2, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553111116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553111118
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #576,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have just finished "Miracle and Other Christmas Stories" today and I must say that "Epiphany" is one of the best short stories I have read by Ms. Willis (and that's saying a lot!). I find this story, along with my other favorite Willis story "Samaritan" found in the collection "Fire Watch", confirm that faith/spirituality and speculative fiction do mix, and quite well at that.
Sure, some of the stories are predictable ("Inn" and "In Coppelius's Toyshop") but "Adaptation" was a fresh approach to an old and well-told story. Ms. Willis has the ability to create characters that live and breathe. By the end of the stories, you feel you know the characters because they are us, or our neighbors, or co-workers, or family...or someone we wish we knew.
I have to dismiss someone's previous review of this collection as "shallow". On the contrary, there is a richness and depth to Ms. Willis and her work, which continues to grow with each new book and story.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Connie Willis is, without a doubt, one of the finest writers of sci fi short stories out there right now. Almost every short story by her is really a delight to read, and this collection doesn't fail to meet that standard. What kind of stories can you expect here? A take off on the movie Miracle on 34th Street, a view of Revelation coming as a carnival, and many more. The only story in this collection that was not a perfect 10 from my point of view was Cat's Paw. I just could not get fully into the story and it was a little long for this collection. Willis speaks in the introduction of her love of the Christmas season and this really shines through in all of these stories. My favorite story in the collection is the final story about Revelation. It was one of the most insightful touching stories I have read this year.
In addition, if you normally read sci fi and would like to expose friends and family to sci fi, this is an excellent and gentle introductory collection and makes a convenient Christmas gift. No really bizarre aliens, no "hard" sci fi edge, just enjoyable reading. Great for sci fi aficionados and those new to sci fi as well!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While I've only just received up my copy of MIRACLE, I've read many of the stories in it, in Willis' yearly Asimov's stories. Let me just say this: Connie Willis deserves much more fame than she currently recieves, and the Christmas tales she has produced over the past few years are proof of why. The woman is a master of character, a great humorist, and a wonderful writer. Read this book, then go on and read her spectacular BELLWETHER.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Connie Willis offers readers an early holiday gift with this wonderful short story collection. I admit that I found this book in the sci-fi section, but I honestly think it transcends that. Yes, it's got some stories that deal with themes common to science-fiction and have sci-fi elements, but it's more than that. There is a holiday themed mystery, an examination of the original Christmas story and even a story that sets out to prove why Willis thinks "Miracle on 34th Street" is a superior holiday film to "It's A Wonderful Life." But what sets the collection apart from being just a collection of sci-fi stories with a Christmas theme is that Willis offers stories that must take place at Christmas. As she states in her introduction, it's hard to re-invent the wheel when it comes to holiday stories and she doesn't attempt to do so. Instead, she takes the convential stories and gives them her own unique twist making them entertaining and magical at the same time.
I sat down to read this collection not feeling very much in the spirit of the season. But in reading these engaging and intelligent stories, I soon found myself feeling a bit more Christmas-y. If you're feeling a bit burned out by the holiday season, pick up this collection and give any of the stories a try. I guarantee they'll have you whistling a Christmas tune in no time.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first read a Connie Willis story in the late-70's SF magazine Galileo. Now, some twenty years later, when asked to name my favorite author I answer Connie Willis. The Christmas stories in "Miracle.." give me eight more examples to support this answer. These stories are entertaining (fun!) and thought-provoking. Connie has it right! I know that if the "second coming" were to occur at my church, the congregation down the street would cry either foul or fraud.
The only problem I have after finishing a Connie Willis book is deciding what to read next. After finishing "Miracle..." I took Connie's advice and started re-reading some of the Broadway stories of Damon Runyon.
Thanks for the present, Connie.
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I've never read any of Connie Wllis' Christmas stories before I bought this book. In fact, the only other book of hers that I have read is "To Say Nothing of the Dog." I enjoyed that so much that I thought I might enjoy "Miracle and Other Christmas Stories." And I did. Immensely! I particularly liked "Miracle" and "Newsletter." If only I could write a newsletter as off-the-wall as the one in this book! Of course, as soon as I read the term "pod people" - and knew exactly what the author was talking about - I began to wonder if I've seen one two many science fiction movies. And she also just happened to have placed three of my favorite Christmas movies on her list. Talk about good taste.
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