on October 26, 2010
There are two reasons for reading this book. The first is that all the previous Harry Dresden short stories are gathered together in one place, including the first, apparently unpublished short story that comes before Storm Front and whose relatively lesser qualities betray its status as one of Butcher's first stories. And yet it also contains some very good sections and passages. Putting this story first gives a real feel for how Butcher has grown as a writer, and would probably be inspiring to any novice writers out there. But you have "Vignette," "Something Borrowed" (in which Harry for once is intentionally, and quite effectively, rude to a wicked stepmother), "It's my birthday too," "Heorot," "Day off" (the only genuinely comedic Dresden work), "Backup," "The Warrior," (perhaps the most philosophical of the Dresden works), "Last Call," and "Love Hurts." Each is marked by the books which bracket it and they come in chronological order. Along the way it's not hard to be reminded of Butcher's penchant for homage to his favorite stories, films, and TV shows, as well as his gift for creating effective scenes of tension between main characters. Pretty much everyone in Dresden's Chicago appears at one time or another, and some side plots and characters get fleshed out in these stories in ways that would be hard to duplicate in the main novels.
The second reason for reading this book is, of course, the final story in the book. "Aftermath" takes place shortly after the end of "Changes," a book certain to win the World Fantasy Award for Most Apt Title. There are no spoilers in this review, but it is probably influenced by the peculiar fact pattern: due to a death in the family of a close friend, I had taken Monday off from work, and somebody at the post office screwed up and delivered my copy one day early. Perhaps the coincidence between external loss and Harry Dresden's situation at the end of "Changes" colored my appreciation, but I was actually kind of grateful for this story. It's at one and the same time unusually interesting and deeply unsatisfying, a change of pace and a coy hinting at future directions -- much in the manner of a funeral, I realize. Butcher carries on the narrative from a wholly unexpected point of view, which I found both refreshing and convincing. He answers few of my questions - well, none, actually - while raising still more. What I valued about this little intermezzo was the way it deepened some of the characters in the Dresden universe, central and peripheral, hero and villain. It doesn't really satify my hunger for the next novel, yet it's a healthy dissatisfaction after a worthwhile read. These are all fun stories, sometimes comedic, sometimes thoughtful, and at the end rather wistful.
Thanks, Mr. Butcher. You made one rather bad day a little better.
First things first: if you're picking this up because you're hoping that the included novella, _Aftermath_, will answer the huge cliffhanger at the end of Changes: it doesn't, not clearly. No big answers here (though many of the stories, including Aftermath, will include plenty of small details to please and tease dedicated fans).
Instead, this collection is a set of alternate perspectives: stories from the viewpoint of Thomas or Murphy, a story that shows us Harry when he was just starting out as a detective, a story that focuses on Harry when he's *not* working on a case and just trying to take a day off, a story that focuses on the Carpenter family, so forth. Butcher includes a paragraph or two of commentary at the head of each story, so we get to find out what *his* perspective is on each of the stories, too. A fair number of them were initially written for theme anthologies, so there's a certain amount of "Harry Dresden Does a Wedding Story" or "Harry Dresden Does a Birthday Story" going on, but each stands on its own merits, and fans of the series will be very satisfied with what they get here (as long as they aren't looking for answers to major plot arcs).
In fact, I'd go so far as to call this a "must read" for dedicated fans of the Dresden books: not only does each story have plenty of the action, comedy, and "Crowning Moments of Awesome" that have made the series so successful to date, but dedicated fans will find answers too all kinds of minor side puzzles that Butcher hasn't necessarily addressed head-on in the novels (like more information about Gard's true nature). That said, if you've read all the other stories in here already and are picking this up just for _Aftermath_ because you want answers to what happened after _Changes_, you won't get clear ones; _Aftermath_ is told from Murphy's perspective, not Harry's, and it's more about how Murphy personally processes the, well, aftermath of the events in that book. While we do get a few more pieces of the puzzle, it looks like we'll have to wait for the next full novel, Ghost Story, before we see the whole picture.
I would not recommend this anthology as a starting place for new readers to the series; instead, start with either Storm Front, the first full novel, or Welcome to the Jungle, a graphic novel set before the events of Storm Front. Reading this collection first would spoil pretty much every major surprise in the series to date, so yeah, don't do that.
Alternatively, you could pick this collection up and then flip back and forth between it and the novels, reading in proper sequence. If you want to do that, here's a list of the stories in this volume, in chronological order:
A Restoration of Faith...(before the first book, Storm Front)
Vignette.......................Between Death Masks (5) and Blood Rites (6)
Something Borrowed.......Between Dead Beat (7) and Proven Guilty (8)
It's My Birthday, Too.....Between White Knight (9) and Small Favor (10)
Heorot..........................Between White Knight (9) and Small Favor (10)
Day Off.........................Between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11)
Backup..........................Between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11)
The Warrior...................Between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11)
Last Call.....................Between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11)
Love Hurts....................Between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11)
on October 29, 2010
If you think Harry Dresden is hot and you are dying for a fix before the next book comes out, then this collection of short stories is four star fun.
If you've never read Jim Butcher before, put the book down and get out of the bookstore, please. SIDE JOBS only illustrates that short stories are not where Butcher's main talent lies. This isn't a a critique of one of my favorite fantasy series writers. Butcher has produced 12 stellar books in the Dresden Files series, each one fresh and fun and more riveting than the next. Once an artist has shown himself capable of painting the Sistine Chapel, so what if he can't do Victorian miniatures for watch fobs?
Most of these stories feel like bits broken off of a Dresden Files novel, or odd events happening between the books. They don't have strong independent narratives or interesting short story twists.
But because I love Harry Dresden (and miss him terribly) I liked most of the stories in this book. The first seems to be the weakest, having interest because its the first Dresden story Butcher wrote. The last "AFTERMATH" is a poignant but action-packed novella focusing on Karin Murphy as she and Harry's other friends react to events that follow the stunning conclusion to CHANGES, the 12th book of the series.
It's not a bad story but don't buy the book thinking it will give you clues to the next full length book. It doesn't. This collection also contains "BACKUP", a story narrated by Thomas, Harry's vampire brother. I found it fun to step back from Harry's point of view in these stories, but they also illustrate that while Karin and Thomas are fun supporting characters, they don't have either the wit or the gravitas of our favorite fire-slinging wizard, Harry Dresden. Recommended only to fans of the Dresden Files who are twitching for a fix until Book # 13.
on July 5, 2011
Dresden fans will like these short stories because they'll help fill-in the "Dresden-verse," but the truth is that these aren't great short stories, especially for those stories where Butcher attempts a different narrator/voice, such as "Aftermath" and "Backup." These stories, told through the perspective of Karren Murphy and Thomas Wraith, respectively, *should* be (and to some degree are) the most intriguing in the book, and yet they are also the most disappointing as well. They're disappointing simply because Butcher doesn't convincingly pull-off the new "voice" of the characters. And also because the stories themselves really aren't all that great. I'm not saying this to slam Butcher, but merely to point out two things:
1) Anyone who has read The Dresden Files from Storm Front through to Changes can clearly see how much Jim Butcher's prose, plotting, and emotional storytelling chops have improved over the years/novels. He's gone from being good with some flaws to just plain incredibly good in the space of those novels. In short, he's mastered the novel. I don't think Jim has put anywhere near the effort or time into mastering the short story and it shows.
2) I believe that there's a lot of Butcher, the personality, in Dresden, in terms of life philosophy, perspective, sense of humor, cultural references, thought patterns, etc. And over 12+ novels, Jim has further honed and perfected the narrative voice of Dresden. Unfortunately, this makes moving to a new narrator extremely difficult because you can't help compare the flawlessly produced voice of Dresden to the very shaky efforts at calling up the thoughts and voice of Murphy and Thomas. Moreover, there's enough of Butcher in Dresden to make it feel as if too much Dresden gets slipped into the other characters, leaving them feeling not nearly distinct enough.
So... bottom line is, if you're simply looking to get more Dresden and more Dresden-verse info, these are a good bet. If you're hoping to get it at the same level of excellence of the novels (especially the later novels), you'll be disappointed.
Harry came for an extra visit this year. Which makes me very happy. I miss my friend while awaiting his yearly arrival. But this year, he was able to sneak in an extra one. Andw hy not? He IS a wizard after all...
The new Harry Dresden collection of short stories, SIDE JOBS, is a must for all Dresden fans. Over the years, Jim Butcher has been sprinkling Harry shorts into various compendiums or posting them on his website, albeit less frequently than we would like. But we fans of Harry will most definitely take what we can get. SIDE JOBS pulls all these little extras together in one convenient, complete package, and adds a special treat: "Aftermath". "Aftermath" is a novella which takes place immediately following the end of the most recent Dresden novel, CHANGES. It does not answer any of the big questions, but it does show us how grim the situation actually is.
In total, SIDE JOB contains 11 stories, in the following chronological order:
"A Restoration of Faith," before the first book, Storm Front (1). The first Harry story Jim Butcher ever wrote. It isn't perfect, but it does give us some insights into Harry, and it shows us how some beloved characters first met.
"Vignette," between Death Masks (5) and Blood Rites (6). A conversation between Harry and Bob.
"Something Borrowed," between Dead Beat (7) and Proven Guilty (8). Harry is rude to an evil stepmother, but still makes sure that everyone gets to the church on time.
"It's My Birthday, Too," between White Knight (9) and Small Favor (10). It's Thomas's birthday, and Harry is determined to celebrate it with him. But vampires of the Black Court have other ideas.
"Heorot," between White Knight (9) and Small Favor (10). Mac asks for Harry's help. Harry teams with Miss Gard, and we learn more about this mysterious woman.
"Day Off," between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11). This is Jim and Harry's first attempt at a comic story. All Harry wants is a day off with Anastasia. But the magical realm, from disciples of Slytherin to psychic fleas, will not leave Harry alone.
"Backup," between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11). Thomas works hard to protect his little brother, without Harry ever knowing about it.
"The Warrior," between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11). Michael may still be retired, but that does not mean he isn't in danger.
"Last Call," between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11). Mac's beer is suddenly starting riots, and Harry must thwart the supernatural cause.
"Love Hurts," between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11). Couples are literally loving each other to death. Will Harry and Murphy survive the effects?
"Aftermath," after Changes (13). With Harry gone, Karin Murphy must save the day.
I found all of the stories in SIDE JOBS to be fun and entertaining, but you must be a Dresden fan to appreciate them. This is not a book that you can pick up cold; you need to at least be familiar with the Dresden-verse to appreciate them. But if you are a die-hard Dresden fan, then this book is for you. Most of what we love about Jim and Harry is here: the great stories, the droll, acerbic wit, the fast-paced action. SIDE JOBS also gives us some one on one time with other favorite characters - Thomas, Michael, Karin, the Alphas, Mac, Miss Gard are each featured prominently in at least one of these tales. A few are even told from perspectives other than Harry's. We get to see more of what makes these characters tick, and that adds to the enjoyment.
Overall, if you love Harry Dresden and Jim Butcher, then run, don't walk, to get a copy of SIDE JOBS. It will help fill the gap while awaiting Harry's next visit in April 2011. MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Like most successful urban fantasy authors, Jim Butcher has written a number of short stories and novellas over the years. And at long last, they're collected in "Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files" -- all the short stories and novellas that Butcher has penned about his wisecracking wizard, plus some new material.
The stories include "A Restoration of Faith," a prequel story in which Harry tries to rescue a little girl (named Faith -- get it?); "Vignette," which is basically a conversation between Harry and Bob the Skull; "Something Borrowed," in which Billy and Georgia's true-love wedding is turned upside-down by a malevolent fairy; and "It's My Birthday Too," in which Harry follows his brother Thomas to a rather unusual gathering, and immediately runs into vampiric trouble.
"Heorot": a young woman is abducted right before her honeymoon, and Harry has to join forces with Miss Gard to find her. "Day Off": Harry's attempts to relax are thwarted by Slytherin wannabes, supernatural fleas and other problems. "Last Call": Beer starts inexplicably causing riots, and Harry suspects a supernatural cause. "Love Hurts": people are dying after falling madly, passionately in love/lust, which sends Harry and Murphy to a state fair. And "The Warrior," in which Harry confronts some of the religiously-based problems in his life -- including a certain archangel.
Additionally, there's Butcher's brilliant novella from Thomas Raith's point of view, "Backup," which was previously published by Subterranean Press. Basically Thomas is called on to do some heroic behind-the-scenes stuff against an old enemy, hopefully without his little brother knowing about it.
And then... there's the new, previously unpublished story. "Aftermath" is from Murphy's perspective just after the end of "Changes," as she grapples with the loss of Harry Dresden and a supernatural threat attacking the Alphas. No, we don't really get answers about what happened.
I've honestly been waiting years for Jim Butcher to put together a collection of his short stories, some of which were put straight on his website and never included in a book. These stories are like the icing on the cake -- if you've read and enjoyed Butcher's full-length novels, then these mini-adventures will really entertain you.
And most of them have the well-rounded Dresden formula: grotesque supernatural baddies, snappy writing ("The Dim Lord tried for his dramatic dialogue again"), slam-bang magic, and lots of fun genre-savvy jokes (Thomas has "some awfully nerdy hobbies"). But Butcher also inserts some darker stories into the mix -- "Aftermath" is bittersweet and a little painful, and "Backup" has some darker parts when Thomas wrestles with his inner demon.
Butcher also contributes a new foreword to each story, which explains a little about why he wrote it ("Vignette" was something he knocked out for promotion) and for what. F'rinstance, Charlaine Harris is so nice that "I can't even bring myself to be jealous. She's that nice."
Collecting all of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files novellas and short stories (including those not formally published), "Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files" is a must-have for anyone who adores the Chicago wizard.
on April 19, 2016
I had to do an average of the stories I read here which came to 4.5 stars, which is pretty darn great for me. I am a total Dresden junky, love me some Harry! Each story gave me another side of Harry, in some instances a side I may not have had a chance to see before since the situation occurred outside the main novels. There was not one story I would give less than a three and most were at at least a four. The writing was always tight, even if the first story was a little less detailed, it was still well worth the time. Each story seamlessly flowed into the next advancing and opening the story along with the characters.
There were three stories which I enjoyed more than others and gave five stars. The first story was It's My Birthday, Too which revolved around Harry's half brother and the fact that Harry really does not know how to deal with family issues. I liked this one because it shows how close Thomas and Harry have grown since finding out about each other. It's not every day you discover the only other family you have is a vampire. Thomas is helping one of his employees with a LARPing group at the mall, Harry is delivering his gift, and something very bad is about to happen.
My second favorite story was The Warrior, which had the retired knight Michael in it. When Michael and the knights were first introduced I was very happy to see them. Here was something I had never seen before and some very interesting people. Someone seems to be targeting Michael and his family, sending pictures of them to Harry as a warning. While Harry tries to find out who is after the ex-knight, Michael does not fear for himself but his family. What this person wants could cause more trouble than solve it.
The final favorite in this anthology of good stories was Last Call. Finally a chance to get a closer look at Mac. A psychic compulsion is placed on the crates containing his beer which of course transfers to the beer itself. Harry was just planning on having a beer and a steak sandwich but finds utter chaos and a plot that needs to be solved before all hell breaks lose.
All I can really say is that it is Harry Dresden and I love Harry in all his sarcastic, gloomy, sad sack, wizardly ways. If you have enjoyed the Dresden Files in the past this will only make you want more.
on February 26, 2016
This was a great way to get back into this series after taking a few months off (needed to catch my breath after Changes).
For those who may not know - Side Jobs is NOT a full-length Dresden Files book, it's an accumulation of all of the short stories and novellas Butcher had written in the Dresdenverse up to this point.
I'm not going to review each story (some were as short as 5-6 pages), but suffice it to say I really enjoyed them all. If you've come this far (13 books), then I assume you are a huge fan of everything that makes this series great, which means you'll enjoy them too.
I do want to call attention to a few of the stories that stood out to me, though.
'Restoration of Faith' was great, simply because we finally get our 'When Harry met Murphy' moment. You know you wanted it.
'Backup' was enjoyable, because we finally got a story from the perspective of someone other than Harry - his brother Thomas. It was very interesting/hilarious to see Harry from someone else's perspective. This story also stands out because it details much more about the Oblivion War, something I expect to come much more into play in the following novels.
'The Warrior' was probably my favorite story of them all, but then again I am openly biased towards the Carpenter family. I had been impatiently waiting to find out what happened to Michael following the events of Small Favors, and this story did not disappoint. Many people point to Harry and Thomas's friendship as the best in the series, but my money is always on Harry and Michael. This story was everything that makes Dresden Files my favorite series.
Finally, we have 'Aftermath', which is exactly what it sounds like. It is the story of the first couple of hours after the events at the end of 'Changes', from the perspective of Karrin Murphy. The best part of this story was getting inside Karrin's head (didn't think I could love her more - I was wrong), but honestly the story didn't do much for me. Maybe it will be better once I get Harry's side of things in 'Ghost Story'.
Either way, I would encourage any new reader to NOT skip this book on your way to 'Ghost Story', tempting as it may be. There are some great stories here, and more than anything it justs so nice to enjoy things the way they were before 'Changes', because you know nothing will ever be the same now.
This book (and series) get my highest recommendation.
on May 21, 2015
Read this while waiting for another Dresden book to come out. Not into graphic novels, so I wish Jim Butcher would focus back on the main Dresden series, and put out the next book in the series.
The writing is definitely great Young Adult Level material. It creates a fun place to visit and leave the world behind for several can't-put-it-down hours.
There are several books in this series, and so far the main character has managed to (sometimes just) miss becoming a caricature of himself. As long as Dresden keeps his human fallibility, the Dresden files books will always be a top notch YA read.
Overall the series keeps readers interested without needing to leave off each book on a _huge_ cliffhanger. There was that one time when things were definitely completely up in the air at one of the series book's ending. That kind of thing seems kind of cheap, and finding it in a Dresden book was irritating, but with that one exception the author has kept his readers involved without excessive reliance on "Perils of Pauline" endings.
The characters are all well developed and enjoyable, and the background is logically consistent (given that it IS about a magical universe). Each book stands on its own merits and builds a unique challenge for the plot to play out against.
on February 3, 2011
Side Jobs (2010) is a collection of Fantasy stories in the Dresden Files series. It contains eight short stories, two novelettes and an original novella. Each story has a prologue explaining the origin and background.
- "A Restoration of Faith" (2002) was the first Dresden story and has not been previously published. It precedes Storm Front. Jim is trying to get his PI license by working for Ragged Angel Investigations. They are looking for a runaway girl and Harry has just found her. He calls Nick while avoiding her kicks.
- "Vignette" (2002) was written for a promotional booklet to give away at conventions. It takes place between Death Masks and Blood Rites. Jim and Bob the Skull argue about Harry's ad in the yellow pages.
- "Something Borrowed" (2006) was previously published in My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding. It takes place between Dead Beat and Proved Guilty. Billy is getting married to Georgia and Harry is the best man. Then the female werewolf vanishes.
- "It's My Birthday, Too" (2007) was previously published in Many Bloody Returns. It takes place between White Night and Small Favor. Molly figures out that Thomas is Harry's brother.
- "Heorot" (2007) was previously published in My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon. It takes place between White Night and Small Favor. Mac needs the help of an investigator to find a wife abducted at the Night of the Living Brew.
- "Day Off" (2008) was first published in Blood Lite. It takes place between Small Favor and Turn Coat. Harry has nothing to do before his date with Anastasia that evening, but things keep coming up.
- Backup (2008) was first published as a chapbook from Subterranean Press. It takes place between Small Favor and Turn Coat. Thomas learns that the Ladies of the Dark River are after Harry, but he can't tell Harry anything about the opposition. So he tells Bob instead.
- The Warrior (2009) was first published as a novelette in Mean Streets. It takes place between Small Favor and Turn Coat, but before "Last Call". Harry receives some photos of Michael and believes him to be in danger. So he takes the sword Amoracchius to the retired Knight of the Cross.
- "Last Call" (2009) was first published in Strong Brew. It takes place between Small Favor and Turn Coat, but after The Warrior. Harry drops by McAnally's Pub for a beer and finds the place looking like a riot had occurred. Mac thinks it was something in the beer.
- "Love Hurts" (2010) was first published in Songs of Love and Death. It takes place between Turn Coat and Changes. Murphy is investigating a series of suicides and calls Harry into the case as a consultant.
- Aftermath (2010) is an original novella first published in this volume. It takes place an hour or two after the end of Changes. A CPD crime scene team are checking out the Water Beetle and all indications show that Harry had been shot and fell into the water. Murphy has trouble believing Harry is dead, but then Will comes to her with a problem. Georgia is missing and Harry is not there to help. So Murphy asks herself what Harry would do.
These stories flesh out the series. They show Harry in all moods, from happy to angry. They also illustrate how Harry affects the lives of those who come to know him.
These stories are a great prelude to Ghost Story, the next installment in the series. Harry is coming back as a ghost.
Highly recommended for Butcher fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of combat magic, investigative wizardry, and stubborn mages. Read and enjoy!
-Arthur W. Jordin