7 Best Short Story Books by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is an American writer with a large repertoire of work ranging from fiction, and graphic novels to even non-fiction. Gaiman is best known for his books like American Gods and, Good Omens, which was adapted for television by Amazon Prime in 2019. His writing is poignant, thought-provoking and bordering on surrealism. Gaiman has been the recipient of many prestigious literary awards such as the Hugo and Nebula awards. Here are 7 best short story books by Neil Gaiman.
7 Best Short Story Books by Neil Gaiman
M is for Magic
M is for Magic is a short story collection by Neil Gaiman which is marketed as ‘child-friendly’. Though, knowing Gaiman and his penchant for whimsical stories with a dark overtone, it might not be appropriate for children.
The collection constitutes a total of eleven short stories featuring different characters. However, one thing to note would be that this is not the first time some of these stories have appeared in a Gaiman collection. In fact, most of the stories present in this short story collection have been published elsewhere before, as is the nature of a short story.
For instance, the short story ‘Troll Bridge’ first appeared in Snow White, Blood Red and was later featured in Angels and Visitations as well as Smoke and Mirrors – Gaiman’s other collection of short stories – before it became a part of M is for Magic. This particular story follows a young man named Jack who lives in a world filled with various monsters. None of these monsters have bothered Jack before until a troll begins haunting him and goes on to do so until later in Jack’s life. ‘Troll Bridge’ was later also published as an illustrated graphic novel with illustrations by Colleen Doran.
A Little Gold Book of Ghastly Things
A Little Gold Book of Ghastly Things is another “collection of side-bs and rarities” according to Neil Gaiman himself. It consists of works previously published by Gaiman in various publications. It merely serves as a sort of a compilation of Gaiman’s already published work, a way to make it easier for readers to find their favourite short stories in one singular place.
Something that sets apart this collection is the fact that apart from short stories, A Little Gold Book of Ghastly Things also contains some non-fiction elements, relating to Gaiman’s real life instead. It features a few of Gaiman’s speeches from various award shows, for instance, Gaiman’s Nebula Award Speech 2005. Not just that, this A Little Gold Book of Ghastly Things also includes an op-ed called ‘Ghosts in the Machine’ written by Gaiman for The New York Times in the year 2006.
A Little Gold Book of Ghastly Things is varied in more ways than one. This collection features a poem written by Gaiman called ‘Orphee’ revolving around the Greek myth of the hero Orpheus, who sang his way to the underworld, to bring his wife back. It also features a short story called ‘Orange’, which is written in a very strange and unique format.
Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders features a respectable amount of short stories and wonders, as the title promises. This collection has not restricted itself to just short stories but also features many poems written by Gaiman. The works featured in this have also been featured in many other publications before this.
One of the short stories featured in this collection is known as ‘A Study in Emerald’, which brings together the mysterious elements of Sherlock Holmes and the horror elements of H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos universe to create something brand new. Even though the story has new flesh, the presence of Holmes and Cthulhu Mythos is clearly evident in its skeleton. Even the title, ‘A Study in Emerald’ is a reference to the Sherlock Holmes novel by the name of ‘A Study in Scarlet’.
Another piece of writing featured in this collection is a poem titled ‘The Hidden Chamber’ based on the fairytale of Bluebird. The poem is incredibly written considering fairytale-esque writing with darker tones is one of Gaiman’s specialities.
Angels and Visitations
Angels and Visitations by Neil Gaiman was one of his very first short story collections, published back in 1993. This assortment of stories came along with some gorgeous and imaginative illustrations by incredible artists like Steve Bisset, Jill Carla Schwarz and Charles Vess to name a few.
The stories featured in this compilation were also published elsewhere before and some would also go on to be republished in some of the future compilations by the author. One such short story is ‘We Can Get Them for You Wholesale’, revolving around a usual man named Peter, living his everyday life, when he finds out about his fiancee’s infidelity and sets out to get his revenge upon her by setting up an assassination. This morbid tale shows the moral degradation of Peter’s character.
This miscellany also features a few poems like ‘Cold Colours’, highlighting the evils of technology and another poem titled ‘Luther’s Villanelle’ with some eerie prose.
Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions is a collection of short stories and poetry by Neil Gaiman and has two separate published editions. The United States edition was published in the year 1998 and the United Kingdom edition followed the next year with 5 new stories.
Some of the stories featured in this collection were familiar to the readers, for instance, ‘Troll Bridge’, ‘We Can Get Them For You Wholesale’ and ‘Murder Mysteries’. The other stories were also previously published in other sources.
One of the stories included in this collection is called ‘Fifteen Painted Card From A Vampire Tarot’ which follows a very interesting premise. It comprises a series of short stories, each one corresponding with the cards from the Major Arcana and vampires. The compilation also has some narrative poems penned by Gaiman.
Trigger Warning is one of Gaiman’s recent publications, originally published in the year 2015. The book compiles a number of disturbing stories and warns the readers that it may not be suitable for them.
There are a few stories that have been republished in this newest publication from other sources. However, something that sets this collection, Trigger Warning, apart from the rest is the short story titled ‘Black Dog’ which is a kind of sequel to Gaiman’s previously acclaimed work, ‘American Gods’ featuring the main character.
Trigger Warning also features some poetry written by Gaiman along with the short stories.
Unnatural Creatures is different from the rest of the titles on this list in the sense that it is not solely a compilation of Gaiman’s works, however, it is an anthology featuring a number of different, immensely talented authors which is edited and compiled by Neil Gaiman, himself.
There are a total of sixteen stories featured in this anthology, from writers like Nnendi Okorafor, E Lily Yu, and Diana Wynne Jones among others. Gaiman’s story in this extensive anthology is titled ‘Sunbird’ and follows a group of friends on their endeavour to eat everything this world has to offer.
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