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Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances Paperback – October 27, 2015
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Attention Science Fiction Fans
Man vs. machine, humans vs. aliens, paranormal activities – discover the best of science fiction with these collectible books. Learn More.
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Praise for Trigger Warning: “Everything that endears Gaiman to his legions of fans is on display ... Full of all manner of witches and monsters and things that creep in the night, this collection will thoroughly satisfy faithful fans and win new ones—if there’s anyone out there left unconverted. (Kirkus Reviews)
“There’s much to revel in here, especially for those who’ve never read anything by Gaiman.” (Huffington Post)
“[T]his collection of stories and poems doesn’t disappoint....Gaiman has warned us about the monsters, but then come magic and miracles. And love.” (Washington Post)
“[Trigger Warning] showcases the breadth and depth of Gaiman’s talent and the unique plangent warmth he brings to fantasy fiction. He is never anything less than a pleasure to read.” (Financial Times)
“Gaiman’s is one of the most distinctive voices in modern fantasy.” (Locus)
“Gaiman displays an uncanny knack for compressing his expansive imagination into the close quarters of his stories’ caves, cottages, and creepy rooms....[he] takes full advantage of his wide range, and it makes for exciting, often musical writing.” (Boston Globe)
‘All of [the stories] are told with an assured, masterly confidence that should please anyone who misses seeing a new Ray Bradbury collection on the shelf at the library.” (Newsday)
“Gaiman calls the stories a “hodgepodge,” with no real interweaving theme throughout. But each of the stories and poems celebrates a different aspect of storytelling that has informed the author’s life.” (NPR)
“Trigger Warning is a comfortable hodgepodge of material ... but there’s enough serious-minded and deeply felt fantasy and horror to make readers hope that it won’t be almost a decade before Gaiman completes another similar volume.” (San Francisco Gate)
“[Gaiman]’s prolific, like Stephen King, and apparently inexhaustible: He dreams up stories as naturally as he breathes.” (Slate)
“Lovingly crafted...gleefully enjoyable.” (Bustle.com)
“[I]t’s the phenomenon of connecting mythology and modern life that makes Gaiman such a captivating author.” (Winnipeg Free Press)
“[T]his is not a ‘best of’ collection, though you’d be forgiven for thinking so at many instances, since Gaiman is, as always, a skilled storyteller.” (Tor.com)
“Neil Gaiman’s writing is so present, so engaging, that it can send spasms of bone-chilling terror through your body and your reaction would still be, ‘Please sir, I want some more.’” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
“Each short piece serves as an exciting foray into some macabre microcosm of his mind. ...It’s a testament to Gaiman’s versatility that he exhibits so many different styles of writing in this single anthology.” (The Harvard Crimson)
“The short stories in this collection are shocking, disturbing, funny, insightful ... Trigger Warning offers a good introduction to the works of Neil Gaiman, or a delightful addition to the collection of someone who has been following him for a long time. If you’re a fan, don’t miss this one.” (Oklahoma City Oklahoman)
“There is something for every type of Gaiman fan here, and those new to his work will find this to be a solid introduction to the type of stories he crafts: lyrical, literary, sometimes quite chilling, and always strange and provocative. ...This is a book to savor and enjoy.” (Bookreporter.com)
“Those who want to greet and shake hands, or settle in for a conversational catch-up with Gaiman’s delightfully dramatic minstrel’s tale-by-the-campfire style will love everything in Trigger Warning, naturally.” (Booklist)
“Gaiman is such a powerful and evocative writer that almost everything he churns out serves to justify the aforementioned cultural triumph of fantasy literature over realism and modernism. Gaiman’s attention to craft, passion for language and profound respect for the mythological roots...come through even in his abbreviated prose fragments.” (New York Times Book Review)
From the Back Cover
In this wide-ranging collection of short fiction, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. This rich compendium includes previously published stories, poetry, and a very special Dr. Who tale that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series, as well as the never-before-published American Gods novella "Black Dog," in which Shadow Moon stops at a village pub on his way back to America. Horror and ghost stories, speculative fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and verse—all combine to illustrate the strength and breadth of Gaiman's storytelling mastery and cement his reputation as one of the finest writers at work today.
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Top Customer Reviews
Without further ado, I’ll give a rundown of the included works:
1.) “Making a Chair”: This is a poem about writer’s block.
2.) “A Lunar Labyrinth”: An homage to Gene Wolfe’s work, “Solar Labyrinth.” This short story is about a maze that was destroyed, and that wasn’t to be walked on full moon nights.
3.) “The Thing About Cassandra”: This is among my favorite stories in the collection. What happens when your friends and family start bumping into the girl who you made up as a girlfriend back in school?
4.) “Down to a Sunless Sea”: This was written for a water-themed event. It’s about a person riding in a lifeboat down the Thames toward the sea.
5.) “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains”: This one was inspired by an island off Scotland called Skye, but the story is fantasy with magic elements. A man strikes out in search of revenge and closing, regarding a daughter who he thought had run away. This is one of the most engaging pieces in the collection.
6.) “My Last Landlady”: This is a story, conveyed in poetic form, about a mean landlady.
7.) “Adventure Story”: In the Introduction, Gaiman calls this a companion piece to his novella “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” However, I didn’t make that connection, (and I’ve read that story.) At any rate, it’s a great story about an intriguing artifact left behind by a [deceased] father whose stories were always painfully dull. It’s told by a mother to a son who is incredulous that his, seemingly milquetoast, father lived through such a fascinating event.
8.) “Orange”: Like several of the pieces in this book, this one is unconventional / experimental. However, it’s creative, and it works. It consists of answers to a questionnaire, from which the reader pieces together the story. One doesn’t have the questions, but most of them are fairly clear from the context of the answer.
9.) “Calendar of Tales”: This is what it sounds like, 12 stories each matched to a month. It’s another of the unconventional and unusual pieces. Each story was spun from a tweet response to a question about a given month of the year.
10.) “The Case of Death and Honey”: Few characters in the public domain have spurred as many offshoot stories as Sherlock Holmes, and this is Gaiman’s entry in the pool. Holmes’s interest in bee-keeping is central to the story.
11.) “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”: An homage to Bradbury. If one forgets a person, did they ever exist?
12.) “Jerusalem”: This work was influenced both by a poem by William Blake and a trip the author took to said city. The story is about a couple of tourists and the unique mental illness associated with this locale.
13.) “Click-Clack the Rattlebag”: A scary bedtime story told by a child about a different kind of monster.
14.) “An Invocation of Incuriosity”: A story about one of the strange and colorful people one might meet at a flea market.
15.) “’And Weep, Like Alexander’”: A light-hearted story about an “un-inventor,” one who keeps you from having flying cars and all the other promised technology from sci-fi.
16.) “Nothing O’Clock”: This is a “Doctor Who” story. It’s not necessary to be familiar with the series (necessary backstory is provided), but it could make it more appealing—i.e. the inside joke effect.
17.) “Diamonds and Pearls: A Fairy Tale”: This is from “Who Killed Amanda Palmer?” Palmer is a cabaret-punk singer/songwriter and Gaiman’s wife, and the aforementioned booklet consists of a series of photos of Palmer looking deceased with brief stories to go along. This is one of the stories that could stand alone. It’s a fairy tale of the adults-only variety.
18.) “The Return of the Thin White Duke”: Another fairy tale, this one about a Duke that strikes out on a quest for adventure in order to rescue a Queen who doesn’t need rescuing.
19.) “Feminine Endings”: A story about a human statue—by that I mean one of those people who deck themselves out and stand on a box in the town square in touristy places in many parts of the world.
20.) “Observing the Formalities”: A poem about one who doesn’t get invited.
21.) “The Sleeper and the Spindle”: A take on the story of “Sleeping Beauty,” but from a different point of view.
22.) “Witch Work”: This is another poem. I believe it’s the only one that’s not free verse. It’s about the life of a witch.
23.) “In Relig Odhrain”: This is a true story about a saint, written in free verse.
24.) “Black Dog”: This is a spin-off from the novel “American Gods” and it features that book’s protagonist, Shadow. You don’t need to have read that book, but you might have a greater affinity for the story if you have. It should also be noted that this is the one piece that is original to this collection, and it’s one of the most substantial pieces in the collection. i.e. it gives fans a reason to pick up the book even if they’ve read a lot of it from the original source.
I enjoyed this book. Gaiman is a masterful story teller. Whether it’s one of conventional pieces based in established worlds (e.g. “Doctor Who” or that of Sherlock Holmes) or one of the off-the-wall, experimental pieces, these stories and poems are a pleasure to read.
Certainly, Gaiman's fictions are rarely safe. Often challenging, sometimes disturbing, occasionally hopeful, nearly always interesting...but rarely, if ever, "safe." The stories collected in 'Trigger Warning,' his third (or perhaps fifth) such collection, stand as a prime example of this simple truth.
Here we have a new perspective on a very old story and a new chapter for a familiar character. There's a story about forgetting, and many stories about remembering. There's one story that's really twelve stories, and some stories that don't seem like stories at all (though they are all stories, in the end). There's a Doctor Who story and a Sherlock Holmes story. There's a story about the end of the world, and a story that touches on the moment before the beginning of time. There's a story about someone who never existed, and another about an existence that should never be forgotten. There's even a story (or perhaps more than one) about telling stories.
All in all, there are twenty-four stories here (or perhaps more, depending on how you count), and if you seek out Gaiman's work, you might have read some of them in other places and other forms. A few are poems, most are prose, all are clever and imaginative and well worth a second look, or a first one, or a even a fifth one. Unlike most short story collections, which are often more misses than hits, Gaiman hits the mark almost every time - to the point that, when I finish a story and feel as though it's missing somehow, I wonder if it's not something I'm missing, and Gaiman hit exactly the spot he wanted to with the story. Often, if I go back and read it again, years or moments later, I find this to be the case.
I tried to make this book last longer than it did. I paused between each tale, considered it, breathed it in before moving on to the next. And yet I devoured them all in a single day, one flowing into the next as easily as pearls on a string. Some moved one to another naturally, like the smart positioning of a potential godmother's annoyance at being left out of a celebration of birth right before a tale of a kingdom put to sleep by the pricking of a young girl's finger. Titles intrigues and first sentences tease and ideas seduce, and before I knew it I was turning the last pages, a little dazed, but ultimately satisfied.
To answer Neil's question, these are not "safe" fictions, nor should they be. More than once while reading, I felt my face crunch in disgust, or felt my guts lurch in fear, or felt my heart grow with hope. These stories are not easy, they are not taken lightly. These stories cajole, they heckle, they challenge, they shock, and they move.
Take the warning on the cover seriously, and enter these pages at your own risk. It may not be safe, but it's well worth the risk.