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Thirteen Phantasms and Other Stories by [Blaylock, James P.]
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Length: 304 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

James P. Blaylock has been publishing singular, literate, evocative stories since 1977, but Thirteen Phantasms and Other Stories appears to be his first (and a complete) collection. Its 16 stories have little concern for genre; Blaylock slides from the fantastic to subtle horror to slipstream, sometimes in the same story. His introduction, with its mentions of an antique shop of mysterious orientalia and of aquaria stocked with obscure oddities, perfectly prefigures the concerns of his stories. The past is sometimes the setting, and it often haunts or drives the characters. But this is no simple nostalgia; Blaylock knows the past, irrecoverable yet inescapable, can be a burden and a trap. Mysteries, too, compel or lure many characters, with their strangeness and shadows and dangers. And some characters pursue--or are controlled by--peculiar obsessions.

Thirteen Phantasms does not present the stories in chronological order, but reading them chronologically reveals Blaylock's evolution into a great writer. His first sale, 1977's atmospheric ship-of-fools/bus-of-bozos fantasy "The Red Planet," is creepy, but too mysterious and underdeveloped to please many readers. A decade later, Blaylock would win the World Fantasy Award with the deserving and powerful "Paper Dragons"; set in a world in which matter has become mutable, it is one of the most unusual dragon stories ever written. The most recent story, 1998's "The Old Curiosity Shop," is a tremendous work in which a man who abandoned his wife discovers she has literally dwindled away from grief, and the objects she left behind, curios sold to a strange shop, are so invested with the weight of memories that a man might be crushed beneath a single item.

Most of the stories take place in contemporary California, but three of the exceptions ("The Ape-Box Affair," "Two Views of a Cave Painting," and "The Idol's Eye") are set in an alternate-history England in which H.G. Wells's science fiction must be fact; and they belong to that rarest of subgenres, comic steampunk. These entertaining adventures feature Langdon St. Ives, a Victorian scientist-adventurer after the manner of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Challenger, and the hero of Blaylock's novels Homunculus (winner of the Philip K. Dick Award) and Lord Kelvin's Machine. --Cynthia Ward

Review

Thirteen Phantasms and Other Stories serves up sixteen examples of why he [is] a respected writer in the field. -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A short story collection from [Blaylock] is cause for celebration and rejoicing. -- Neil Gaiman

Product Details

  • File Size: 1351 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Jabberwocky Literary Agency, Inc. (August 6, 2013)
  • Publication Date: August 6, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00G2CXFPM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,067,870 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been reading James P Blaylock's work for many years now. He is always a sure bet. He can be charming, funny, scary, moving and wistful all in the space of a single work. Thirteen Phantasms includes 16 of Blaylock's short stories, every one of them a gem. My personal favorites are the title story, a lovely, sad exploration of time travel and the search for what was lost; Paper Dragons, winner of a World Fantasy Award and classic Blaylock what with the crabs and the crackpot science; Unidentified Objects is just lovely, and, along with the crackpot science, explores the pain of falling in love; and Doughnuts, which is funny and sad and beautifully captures the fact that the people we most love are the ones we understand least. I return to this collection often. Every story is worthy of multiple readings. Buy this book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I don't suppose I'm giving away much if I tell you the plot -- which is slim enough -- since the tale is so rich in style, so delicately and poignantly evocative -- word by word and phrase by phrase -- of nostalgia and time-defeating wonder. So here it is:

A man of the late '90s, by miraculous means, communicates with, and finally travels back to, the late '40s. His conduit to the past is a collection of old SF magazines in an attic.

Though Blaylock is best-known as a creator of "steampunk," his evocation of the lost world of the time in which he was born is at least as well worth your attention. How ironic that he is looking back to it from the future that men of the '40s were looking forward to!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Reviewed by M. Bobowski

13 Phantasms and Other Stories is rich in quiet humor and it invites us in, makes us comfortable. The edges are soft, like the lines between fantasy and reality, and each story is a world unto itself.

In Paper Dragons a Chinese restaurant becomes the communications center for a traveling crypto-zoologist, getting on the wrong bus in Red Planet turns into the journey of a lifetime for Monty, and the sea seen through John Kendal's keyhole in Nets of Silver and Gold is not necessarily the same sea seen through his window. The real magic here lies not in fantastic events or unreal places, but in the ability to create people from only ink and paper. It is a feat on par with creating a dragon from copper wire and cotton stuffing, and Blaylock's characters in these stories, at least the men, are very human. ...........

[...]
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Blaylock is a genius. I prefer his novels (The Last Coin, Lord Kelvin's Machine, and (of course!) The Digging Leviathon) to his short fiction, but that's just me. I'm sure convincing arguments could be made the other way because his short fiction is brilliant. The Curiosity Shop is strange and wonderful, and the same can be said for most of the stories in this collection. My favorite authors are Philip K. Dick and James P. Blaylock. They spend about equal time at the top of the list.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Now that I have finished the book I will pick a few favorites and reread. I enjoyed every single one of the stories in this book .
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