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Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and…

Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions (original 1998; edition 2001)

by Neil Gaiman

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8,596111567 (3.99)1 / 181
Title:Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
Authors:Neil Gaiman
Info:Harper Perennial (2001), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction, fantasy, read

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Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions by Neil Gaiman (1998)


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English (110)  French (2)  All languages (112)
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
At that moment, Neil Gaiman became her favorite author of all time. ( )
  aratiel | Sep 5, 2018 |
Some of these stories I really liked... others not so much. Pretty typical for a book of short stories in that, to me. ( )
  ca.bookwyrm | Jan 26, 2018 |
As with most short story collections, Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors is something of a mixed bag. When he is good he is sublime, and there is plenty in this volume that fits that description, but there are also a few stories that seem little more than jottings of ideas meant to be fleshed out or perhaps left over from longer works. There is also some laudable inventiveness which, for me, doesn't always quite work - for example his triptych of narrative poems - but nonetheless shows the writer's great talent and shows also how important it is to stretch oneself.

As I say, there are some utterly wonderful stories in this collection. The book closes with two of the best. Murder Mysteries, about the death of an angel during the construction of the universe and Snow, Glass, Apples, a new view on the Snow White story that is both reminiscent of Angela Carter and one of the best of its kind I have read. These and other stand-out stories such as The Goldfish Pool and other stories show, like Angela Carter, a deep connection to and understanding of myth and folklore - both an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject but also a thorough understanding of the workings and themes of the mythic, something that resonates through all his best work, from the Sandman graphic novels to [b:American Gods|4407|American Gods|Neil Gaiman|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1258417001s/4407.jpg|1970226] and [b:Stardust|16793|Stardust|Neil Gaiman|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1266451583s/16793.jpg|3166179]. ( )
2 vote Pezski | Jun 8, 2017 |
While looking back through the various short story collections I've read, I realized I hadn't wrote any sort of review for this one, even though I did write a review for Neil's second collection, Fragile Things. I don't know how I let that slide.

Well, I'm writing the review now. I think this is one of the most even collections I've read. I don't know that it has the highest concentration of great stories, but it was by far the most consistent, with none of the stories being bad or forgettable. I also thought the poems were generally better than those in Fragile Things, even though that collection has the poem Instructions, which is my favorite of all Neil's poems.

To prove it, here are my personal top five from this collection, presented in the order that they appear, using memories that are fast approaching three years of age.

One of the best things about Gaiman is how he uses folklore and myth to tell modern tales with modern sensibilities. This is one of the best examples of that. This is a story about a knight seeking the holy grail, and the old lady who has it on her mantlepiece. A fantastic 'what if' sort of story that shows what it might be like if all the magical objects of power from our myths and legends really existed, and how unimportant they might be if pulled from the realm of myth, despite their powers.

Troll Bridge
A bittersweet story about a boy who runs into a troll and gets away by convincing the troll that he'll be 'tastier' if he leaves and comes back with more life experience, only to eventually give himself up to the troll when his life doesn't work out the way he expected. The best thing about this story is how it makes you really feel the passage of time. It's like how you sometimes dream that you've lived out an entire lifetime, even though you've really only been dreaming for minutes. Gaiman is uniquely gifted in being able to make that come across with the written word, but I think this story is the one that did it best.

What if you could take a pill to change your sex at will? Do I really need to say anything else to make you want to read this?

Shoggoth's Old Peculiar
A story about the Lovecraft mythos that is oddly compelling, despite the fact that I had never read any of Lovecraft's work before reading this. In fact, this story is what made me buy an omnibus of his work, and while I still haven't read the whole thing I still consider myself a Lovecraft fan, and this story is what turned me into one.

We Can Get Them For You Wholesale
A story about a man who wants to kill his girlfriend because she's been cheating on him. He looks through the phone book to find an assassin, and winds up with a number that he really shouldn't be calling.

( )
2 vote ForeverMasterless | Apr 23, 2017 |
Neil Gaiman's first collection of short fiction spans the 80's and 90's and showcases a vivid imagination and some wonderful writing.

The stories here range from amusing to scary, from disturbing to perverse and are never less than interesting. Gaiman's introduction gives a brief description of the genesis of each story and he even includes an entire short story about a marriage. A kind of Dorian Gray for the suburban set.

Personal favourites include Chivalry, where an old lady finds the Holy Grail in a charity shop and is then visited by Sir Galahad himself; the Goldfish Pool and Other Stories, which is semi-autobiographical and tells of a writer coming to LA to work on a script and the old hotel he stays in; One Life Furnished in early Moorcock, about a boy's obsession with said writer (again semi-autobiographical); and Murder Mysteries, a story set amongst Angels during the time before the act of Creation itself.

Two stories haunt me though, the brief Babycakes and the dark Snow, Glass, Apples. One was written for PETA to highlight cruelty to animals and is quite disturbing; the other is a retelling of Snow White from the Queen's point of view. You'll never read that fairy tale in the same way again.

So, if you like Mr Gaiman you will love these stories. If you haven't read much of his work, this and his other collection, Fragile Things, are good places to start.

Happy reading! ( )
1 vote David.Manns | Nov 28, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neil Gaimanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Potter, J.K.Cover photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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But where there's a monster there's a miracle.

Dragons Are Too Seldom

Ogden Nash
For Ellen Datlow and Steve Jones
First words
They'll call it chance, or luck, or call it Fate -- The cards and stars that tumble as they will. (introduction, actual first words of book).
Mrs. Whitaker found the Holy Grail; it was under a fur coat. (Chivalry, first line of out first story in book)
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Maar waar een monster is, is ook een wonder - Ogden Nash - Dragons are too seldom
'Ik bedoel' zei ze, 'dat een mens het niet kan helpen dat ie groter wordt.' - 'Eén mens niet, misschien,'' zei Wiggel Waggel, 'maar twee wel. Met de benodigde hulp had je het bij 7 kunnen houden.' - Lewis Carroll - Achter de spiegel
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Collects these stories:
"Nicholas Was ..."
"The Price"
"Troll Bridge"
"Don't Ask Jack"
"The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories"
"The White Road"
"Queen of Knives"
"The Daughter of Owls"
"Shoggoth's Old Peculiar"
"Looking for the Girl"
"Only the End of the World Again"
"Bay Wolf"
"We Can Get Them for You Wholesale"
"One Life, Furnished in Early Moorcock"
"Cold Colors"
"The Sweeper of Dreams"
"Foreign Parts"
"Vampire Sestina"
"The Sea Change"
"When We Went to See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside, Age 11 1/4"
"Desert Wind"
"Murder Mysteries"
"Snow, Glass, Apples"

AR 5.7; 15 Pts
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0380789027, Mass Market Paperback)

This anthology of short stories, and the occasional story poem, is vintage Neil Gaiman: quirky, sometimes very funny, often dark and disturbing. Most have been published before, but are hard to find elsewhere and cover all of Gaiman's writing life. As Gaiman says in his introduction, "most of the stories in this book are about love in some form or another," but not requited love. The stories in Smoke and Mirrors touch on all of Gaiman's themes: sex, death, dreams, and the end of the world. From "Chivalry," about the Holy Grail and where it finally ended up, to "Troll Bridge," a very adult version of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff"; from "Bay Wolf," a story poem that melds Beowulf and Baywatch, with interesting results, to "Murder Mysteries," which is about a murder, but also about angels, God's will, and Evil, these stories leave lasting impressions. Fans of Ray Bradbury's short stories and of Gaiman's other works will enjoy this collection. --Nona Vero

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:31 -0400)

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The author offers a collection of tales, several of them new, of strange inventions, miraculous encounters, and bizarre discoveries.

(summary from another edition)

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