Trig­ger Warn­ing

A gal­li­maufry of Gaiman

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Books -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

352 pages | Hard­back/ ebook Writer: Neil Gaiman Pub­lisher: Head­line

Part of Neil Gaiman’s

in­tro­duc­tion to this book is headed “Gen­eral Apol­ogy” and states that short story col­lec­tions “should not, hodge­podge and willy- nilly, as­sem­ble sto­ries that were ob­vi­ously not in­tended to sit be­tween the same cov­ers,” be­fore ad­mit­ting that “This col­lec­tion fails this test.” Trig­ger Warn­ing is a com­pi­la­tion of sto­ries and po­ems writ­ten for an­tholo­gies, mag­a­zines and so on – plus one all- new story.

That said, it’s un­likely you will have ev­ery­thing else, and it’s much neater to have it all in one vol­ume. This col­lec­tion in­cludes fan­tasy, SF, hor­ror and even some straight fic­tion; trib­utes to Ray Brad­bury, Jack Vance and Har­lan El­li­son; and ad­ven­tures for Sher­lock Holmes and Doc­tor Who. There’s even a sort of su­per­hero ori­gin story for David Bowie. And the short form suits Gaiman es­pe­cially well – the plot­ting in his longer works can be a lit­tle way­ward, while here he seems freer, able to un­fold an idea in how­ever long it takes, then clear the stage for a new one.

The book gets bet­ter as it goes along. Early en­try “The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Moun­tains…”, for in­stance, ties up well but is baggy in the mid­dle. But “Or­ange” – a story of alien in­cur­sion, told en­tirely in an­swers to a writ­ten ques­tion­naire – is bril­liant, and by the Sher­lock Holmes story “The Case Of Death And Honey” – in which the great de­tec­tive at­tempts to solve im­mor­tal­ity – the col­lec­tion is hit­ting its stride. “Click- Clack The Rat­tle­bag ” is a lovely hor­ror short, while “Pearls” and “The Re­turn Of The Thin White Duke” ap­ply Gaiman’s love of re­fash­ion­ing myths and fairy­tales in sur­pris­ing ways.

The Doc­tor Who story, “Noth­ing O’Clock”, boasts a per­fect Who con­cept that plays out with hu­mour and ter­ror. Fi­nally the one all- new story, “Black Dog”, re­vis­its Shadow from Gaiman’s novel Amer­i­can Gods and is the best of them all: a vivid tale of haunt­ings and be­trayal that un­folds with pre­ci­sion and econ­omy.

As per Gaiman’s apol­ogy, this can never be an out­stand­ing short story col­lec­tion be­cause it can’t be­come more than the sum of its parts. Yet it’s still an es­sen­tial pur­chase for any­one who loves Gaiman’s work, and not just for rea­sons of com­pletism: he’s fre­quently on top form here. Ed­die Rob­son Also out now: a CD of the re­cent Ra­dio Four adap­ta­tion of Good Omens, Gaiman’s 1990 col­lab­o­ra­tion with Terry Pratch­ett.

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