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Smoke and Mirrors Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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Length: 354 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Best known for his Sandman graphic novels about Morpheus, Lord of Dreams, Neil Gaiman has also written the standalone books Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), Never Where from his BBC TV series revealing a fantastic realm under London, and Star Dust, a poignant fairy tale. His shorter fantasies are regularly picked for Year's Best collections. Smoke and Mirrors assembles 36 of his favourite stories, prose poems, and verse pieces. Among the imaginative inventions here are a murder mystery set among angels in heaven; the discovery of the Holy Grail at Oxfam; warped retellings of fairy tales and folklore, including a Snow White that's black beyond belief; several clever variations on vampirism; a firm of contract killers with a very remarkable discount scheme; homages to Michael Moorcock and H.P. Lovecraft (one splendidly funny) that avoid mere pastiche; an SF world of rapid and reversible sex changes; Beowulf retold as a Baywatch episode; a tasty amalgamation of computers and black magic; a new final book of the Bible; and the grim wedding present that's simply a manuscript telling a bleakly different story of the recipients' unfolding marriage. SF/fantasy professionals themselves envy Gaiman's perpetual flow of new ideas and ability to put a fresh spin on old ones. Smoke and Mirrors is a dazzlingly varied and rewarding collection. --David Langford

Review

'A very fine and imaginative writer' (The Sunday Times)

'Exuberantly inventive' (Kirkus Reviews)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2272 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Review; Export Ed edition (30 Sept. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074726368X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747263685
  • ASIN: B0049MPHXK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #18,924 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Neil Gaiman is a tour de force of creative talent. He is the bestselling author of Coraline and Stardust, both of which are major motion films. Neil also co-wrote the script for Beowulf starring Anthony Hopkins and Angeline Jolie. He is the creator/writer of the award-winning Sandman comic series and has written several books for children. His latest title, The Graveyard Book, won the Teenage Booktrust Prize 2009. Neil has been immortalised in song by Tori Amos, and is a songwriter himself. His official website now has more than one million unique visitors each month, and his online journal is syndicated to thousands of blog readers every day.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Neil Gaiman is a master story teller, IMHO, and this selection of short stories by him is the perfect showcase for his talents. An incredible assortment of tales awaits the reader in this marvelous book - an old lady that finds the Holy Grail in an Oxfam shop for 30p - a little boy that meets a troll - the shortest but most haunting Xmas story I've ever read - the Jack-in-the-box that no-one played with......oh, so many and all are pure genius. My personal favourite is the very last in the book, which is a re-telling of Snow White and because of N G's version I will never think of her in the same light again. I feel that several of these stories have the potential of becoming full length novels one day - I'll just have to wait and see. One warning, if you haven't read any of Gaiman's work before you will soon become addicted after reading this book.
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Format: Paperback
The good thing about reading an author's work retrospectively is to see how far he has come in his writing career. "Smoke and Mirrors" is a collection of stories and poems, and other short pieces, that had been culled from Gaiman's early career in the 90s. There are undoubtedly some precious gems in this uneven and checkered collection, and even the less spectacular ones (at least in my opinion), are collectively, a work-in-progress document, almost like a writer's working diary.

The volume starts off promisingly enough with "The Wedding Present", embedded in Gaiman's eloquent introduction - a fantastical yet eerily sobering account of the power of the written word and how it can become interchangeable with real lives. The line between fact and fiction blurs for a pair of newly-weds, with shocking results. The next story "Chivalry", is an exemplar of Gaiman's skillful way of conflating the recognisable contemporary world with an older, and legendary one. Few authors I know would be able to make the premise of finding the Holy Grail in an Oxfam shop work, but Gaiman does just that.

Elsewhere, werewolves and vampires appear, some written in mock-heroic style, and with varying levels of success. One such story is spoof on the "Baywatch" series, titled (what else) "Bay Wolf", which is morbidly humorous. Refashioned fairytales, like "Snow, Glass, Apples", effectively an alternate retelling of "Snow White" from the Stepmother Queen's perspective, is one of the more macabre and haunting stories.

Some pieces dealt with social issues like AIDS and animal testing (with horrifyingly logic in "Babycakes"), while others were commissioned to mark special occasions, for instance "Looking for the Girl", written for an anniversary issue of "Penthouse", or for certain publications.
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Format: Paperback
Make no mistake, I very much appreciate and admire Neil Gaiman. I was delighted when "The Graveyard Book" won the Newbery. "Neverwhere", "Coraline", "Stardust" - all marvelous. And Gaiman has written some fabulous short stories. Some of them appear in this book. But only some of them, and those that are included are surrounded by stories that aren't very special and aren't particularly satisfying.

Every reviewer has a favorite in the book. Some like "Snow, Glass, Apples"; some like "The Goldfish Pool..." or "Troll Bridge". I'm partial to "Chivalry". But there is a lot of fill here. Many of the best stories have appeared elsewhere. Also an overlong introduction and a rather indulgent piece that reads like a collection of blog entries on each story tend to dampen one's enthusiasm.

For what it's worth, some of the best stories, ("Troll Bridge", "Chivalry", etc.), were reprinted ten years after this book was released in the collection titled "M is For Magic". That book, also available on Amazon, has a much better selection than this one does, so if you can only swing one Gaiman short story collection, you might want to consider that.
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Format: Paperback
This is a collection of some of Neil Gaiman's short works. You could say there were poems and stories in the book, but saying there is prose, a rondel, long verse, short verse and some peculiar mixtures of obscure types of writing would be a better description.
A few of the stories are the conventional type but many of them are not. Most of the stories have a fairly dark subject matter - indeed some of them are truly horrible - but all are marvellously written, and most extremely original.
There's also a long introduction to the book with a small commentary on each piece plus an extra bonus story.
This isn't a book I'd buy as a present for someone unless I knew their tastes extremely well. It's not the type of book that everyone would enjoy - there are sexual stories, there are dark deeds and just the layouts of some of the pieces make them more different than some people would feel happy with - but I thought it was brilliant. Not every piece will hit the mark, but it's not the type of fluffy read you'll wonder why you bothered with. It's full of stories that stay with you for a long time.
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Format: Paperback
Since watching Stardust, a few years back, I had the impression that the person who wrote it was funny, dark and a definite invite to a fantasy dinner party. I suspected that I would love whoever had written it and I was right.

I started reading Smoke and Mirrors around my friends’, Nick and Em’s, house after Nick said he had a book that he thought I would enjoy. Normally I would have put the book away and taken it home for later. I like to think of myself as a fairly social being after all, and, as much as it sometimes pains me, I know that reading at a party is not generally the done thing. But, as everyone was settling down to watch a film and as they are good friends, who I doubted would mind, I started reading. I’m not actually sure what the film was but I am sure that missing it was worthwhile to get my first glimpse of Gaiman’s writing.

I have to admit that I have not really read a book of short stories since I was young, I have always chosen to get stuck into a novel, believing that the depth and longevity, were things I needed. I was right about needing the depth but very wrong to think it could only be truly gained from a novel, certainly in this case anyway. To liken it to food (quite appropriate given some of Gaiman’s stories) reading each piece was like a taking a mouthful of an incredibly velvety, rich chocolate cake, you only needed a bite to get the whole flavour. It was enough. Each story was just enough.

As Gaiman himself says the process and mechanics of writing fascinate him and this can be seen through this multi-genre book, the fact that he plays around with the structure of his stories and that authors appear as protagonists.
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