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Tails of Wonder and Imagination

3.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  233 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
What is it about the cat that captivates the creative imagination? No other creature has inspired so many authors to take pen to page. Mystery, horror, science fiction, and fantasy stories have all been written about cats.

From legendary editor Ellen Datlow comes Tails of Wonder and Imagination, showcasing forty cat tales by some of today’s most popular authors. With uncoll
Paperback, 500 pages
Published February 1st 2010 by Night Shade Books (first published March 1st 2001)
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78th out of 90 books — 3 voters
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Best Fantasy Short Story Collections
298th out of 418 books — 281 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,194)
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Nathan Burgoine
Feb 18, 2015 Nathan Burgoine rated it liked it
Shelves: anthologies
I wanted to like this as a whole much more than I did. It's not that any of the individual stories themselves weren't strong - in fact, I'm sure I'd have more likely rated more stories four- or five-stars, but as a whole there was a whole lot less "wonder" and "imagination" as there was "murder" and "death."

This is likely in part due to my love of cats. I'm a cat-guy (our ending up with a dog rather than a cat notwithstanding). A significant portion of these stories had people who definitely we
Apr 26, 2011 Laurie rated it liked it
This is a collection fantasy/horror stories that involve cats, some forty ‘tails’, many by well known authors- Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates, Charles de Lint, Stephen King, Kelly Link, and Susanna Clarke among others. But this is *not* an anthology for cat lovers, or at least not for those with soft hearts. These are dark stories all, not light-hearted fantasies where the noble young cat discovers he’s a prince and goes on adventures. In a rather uneven collection, cats meet dire fates at times ...more
Mar 22, 2011 Hazel rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I've been reading this Christmas present on and off for over two months and have now forgotten the details of the first few stories. Ooops! As you'd expect in any large anthology, the quality, style and tone all very considerably. I was surprised, however, to find myself enjoying many of these. I don't like Ray Vukcevich's unpleasant Catch, but I remember it. Kelly Link's Catskin reminds me of There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales, a superior fairy tal ...more
Jun 16, 2012 Greymalkin rated it it was amazing
WOW. One of the best anthologies I've ever read. Every story was at least good or interesting or had something to recommend it, and some of the stories were really wonderful. Heartbreaking, beautiful, funny, quirky... amazing. I was a little concerned at how exhausting a huge book of 40 cat-centric stories could be, but they were all so different from eachother. Datlow is an amazing editor to pull this together.

Warning for some readers. If you are a true cat lover and cannot stand the idea of ca
Alison C
Apr 19, 2016 Alison C rated it liked it
"Tails of Wonder and Imagination" is an anthology of previously published fantasy stories featuring various types of felines, ranging from 1977 to 2009, with a brief excerpt from Lewis Carroll’s "Through the Looking Glass" thrown in for good measure. Editor Ellen Datlow is well-known for her many anthologies in the realm of fantasy, dark fantasy and outright horror, and a few of her choices here (such as Edward Bryant’s “Bean Bag Cats” and Kaaron Warren’s “Tiger Kill”) are just too gruesome for ...more
May 08, 2014 Leslie rated it really liked it
Okay first of all this book is a really long book. But that's a good thing because after all it is a collection of stories not just one story. I did read the reviews of this book before I got it and I had some concerns but I also knew that quite a few of the authors were really top-notch excellent amazing authors. I'm glad I followed my instinct instead of the reviews!

If you want the kind of person who is not into anthologies and collections of stories then this definitely is not for you but if
May 14, 2010: Edit! Done with this book!

Sometime early May: I'm going to be...ambitious and try to review all the short stories in this anthology. There are 40 stories though, so I may fall off midway. I'm only on story #17 now...

All the stories in this book are reprints of short stories focusing on cats, so there was nothing originally written for this anthology. I've read a few of the short stories present in this anthology and there are definition familiar names and authors. Prior to each sto
Jun 26, 2011 Laura rated it did not like it
When I got this book from the library, I had no idea it was a collection of stories about cats. I just have had favorable reads from previous Datlow short story collections. As I am a self-described crazy cat lady, imagine my pleasant surprise when I found out these were about cats. Joy!

I read the first few stories and found them charming and engaging. I especially liked the one by Neil Gaiman, which I had read before, but remembered still as a haunting and powerful one. It still was the second
While this collection has several delightful stories in it, it also has an awful lot of stories about cats being tortured, mistreated, or killed, and it was upsetting to read. The one story with a meaningful cat death made me cry like my own cat had died.

Here are the highlights:

"No Heaven Will Not Ever Heaven Be..." is about an artist who painted ads, and incorporated in all the cats he'd loved.

"The Price" is a Neil Gaiman story about a cat showing up to deal with an otherworldly pest problem.

T.L. Bodine
Mar 11, 2013 T.L. Bodine rated it it was amazing
I'd probably call this a 4.5, but only because I've been completely blown away from Datlow anthologies in the past, and this one wasn't *quite* as good. Which is not to say it wasn't great, only that she's set the bar quite high for herself.

This is an anthology about cats: House cats, big cats, mythological cats. There are sphynxes and manticores alongside tigers and lions. Some of the cats have speaking roles. Others are side characters or serve only as catalysts of a greater story. Many of th
Nov 30, 2013 Ahimsa rated it really liked it
Okay, I have admit that I had no idea this book was about cats when I bought it. I saw that Datlow had edited it, and the TOC had tons of great writers. Only on the way home did I realized I had inadvertently purchased feline fiction. (Note: There are cats on the cover, Tales is spelled "tails" and the O in wonder has a cat in it. The cover also states, in small print, "Cat Stories By." So it's not a misleading theme at all, just one that I completely missed.)

I like cats, quite a bit as it turns
Mar 13, 2011 Ryan rated it liked it
Tails is a collection of fantasy stories where cats play a central role - for the most part. Cat stories are very different from dog stories. I never get the sense that the cat NEEDS his/her human in the way a dog does, and that anything the cat does FOR the human is done with an intentional choice and not simple devotion or love.

I'd read Neil Gaiman's story "The Price" before, but enjoyed it again. Cats probably protect us far more than we know but they prefer to keep quiet about it. "The Burg
Sep 12, 2011 Teresa rated it really liked it
A most amazing collection of feline inspired stories, I found several that will stick with me for a long time. Guardians by George R.R. Martin (I had just read The Game of Thrones, so finding this long/short story of his was just Haviland Tuf and his kittens, the Ark and especially the powers of kitten Dax), Not Waving by Michael Marshall Smith...ewww, all my jokes about "meow, meow" at the Chinese buffet came back to haunt me by the end of the "tail", No Heaven Will Not Ever Heaven ...more
Although many well-known authors like Charles De Lint, Neil Gaiman, and George R.R. Martin are featured, I particularly enjoyed the selections from rising stars in short fiction: Elizabeth Hand's retelling of a traditional fairy tale "The Poet and the Inkmaker's Daughter", the psychological thriller "Every Angel is Terrifying" by John Kessell, and Carol Eshmiller's unsettling "A Safe Place To Be." I was thrilled to see Christine Lucas included - I've been a fan of her writing for years - and her ...more
Melanie Clemmer
Dec 01, 2015 Melanie Clemmer rated it really liked it
Obtained this anthology as a Book Bub deal. Impressive collection of authors, including Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and George R.R. Martin. As a cat lover I enjoyed how a cat could figure into the central theme of a variety of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery stories, including a "creation story" explaining why humans will never truly have dominion over cats.
Cyn Armistead
Jul 25, 2010 Cyn Armistead rated it it was ok
I finished it, but I didn't read every story. I couldn't. This is not a collection for cat-lovers, and I am an unabashed ailurophile. I appreciated the introductions, as the helped me avoid some stories, and I regret reading others—most particularly "Not Waving" by Michael Marshall Smith. It was a very well-written story, showing first-hand knowledge of bulimia and the way it can twist those who have it and those who love them. I was nauseated, though, and hated the twist even though I knew how ...more
Gregg Chamberlain
Jun 21, 2016 Gregg Chamberlain rated it it was amazing
Ellen Datlow always comes through with a wonderful selection of stories to read in any of her themed anthologies.

This one is all about cats, of one sort or another... cats with a purpose, cats who just happen to be there...and the humans with whom they associate... there are horror stories, fanciful fantasies, whimsical tales, and more to enjoy.
Jan 08, 2012 astried rated it liked it
I noticed that putting a book in Currently Reading shelf doomed it to oblivion. I'd promptly stop to read it. There are some stories I haven't read but for now I don't really feel like continuing. Am cleaning the shelf and will not put other books in it lest I'll jink the readability...


I realized that I don't have much patience for spaceship and alien kind of fantasy stories. I'm still reading slowly through the book, some I like very much and read it slowly to sa
Kat Dietrich
Mar 09, 2016 Kat Dietrich rated it it was ok
Tails of Wonder and Imagination, edited by Ellen Datlow, is an immense collection of cat stories --- from science fiction to romance, by authors ranging from the unknown to the prolific.

Although some were fantastic, unfortunately, there were just too many stories. I ended up skipping some, and still there were too many stories. Reading became tedious, and it shouldn't.

I'll pretty much read any anthology that Ellen Datlow (with or without Terri Windling) edits. I picked this up just so I could read the Susanna Clarke, Ray Vukcevich and Kelly Link stories (three of my fave!), not intending to read the whole thing - but I did. The quality was a little uneven, but there were some real gems here, like Theodora Goss's "The Puma", "The Manticore Spell" by Jeffrey Ford (which I've read before, but was pleased to encounter again), "Every Angel is Terrifying" by John K ...more
Mar 23, 2016 Loralie rated it did not like it
the first story about Katz's cats was wonderful. then came stories on torturing and killing cats. I am a feline fan. not amused. skipped to Stephen king story I was really after - it was good!! wish this didn't count as a finished book, I didn't read the whole thing by any means.
Jun 23, 2015 SmokingMirror rated it really liked it
Tanith Lee "Arthur's Lion" A man haunted by his childhood. A little bit like Robert Aickman.
Dec 03, 2015 Megret00 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi
Great takes on Alice theme, a couple are a little hard to understand and very dark.

Dec 07, 2015 Rose rated it liked it
Took a bit longer than I first thought. Some of the stories were very, very good while the rest were so-so.
Aug 10, 2014 Res rated it it was ok
Shelves: sff
Fantasy stories on a cat theme, mostly mediocre with a few standouts. I quite enjoyed Neil Gaiman's "The Price," Kelly Link's "Catskin," Catherynne Valente's "The Manticore's Tale," and Susanna Clarke's "The Dweller in High Places."

I bought this as an ebook to read on my iphone while in an airplane. This resulted in my actually finishing a lot more stories than I otherwise would have, just because there was no easy way to skip ahead to the next story. But those four were really the only ones I
Jul 23, 2010 Michelle rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Putting this one aside for now. It doesn't seem to be much of a book for cat, or animal, lovers though. There are at least two stories that seem to revolve around animal testing and animal abuse. I just don't need these images in my head. I read for enjoyment not to be disturbed for days on end by images of cats undergoing barbaric "testing" ... I can get enough of that from reality. A few of the stories I've read so far where good and fit more in the genre of what I thought I was getting in to ...more
Feb 06, 2014 Daphne rated it it was amazing
There were enough stories in this collection that I really enjoyed that made it worth reading. Some were duds, but that's always the case with short story collections from dozens of authors.
Jan 30, 2016 Marianne rated it really liked it
The Price
Dark Eyes, Faith and Devotion
Not Waving
Maieze Corrects an incomplete representation of reality
Gordon, The self-made cat
The Jaguar hunter
Arthur's lion
The burglar takes a cat
The white cat
Cat in glass
Coyote peyote
The poet and the ink makers daughter
The night of the tiger
Every Angel is terrifying
Been bag cats
In Carnation

Aug 29, 2011 Lori rated it it was ok
Sadly, despite some well-known authors included in this anthology, I found it generally bland and many of the stories poorly constructed or disturbing in their handling of the cat "protagonist."

A few stories stood out from the rest, particularly:
The Puma - Theodora Goss (a follow-up to The Island of Dr. Moreau)
Coyote Peyote - Carole Nelson Douglas
Aug 04, 2012 Kate rated it liked it
While I enjoyed some of the stories in this anthology, I felt that it was lacking in a cohesive theme. The stories range all over, from cats to sphinxes to pumas and so on. An anthology about "cats" seems to broad a theme. None of the stories particularly stood out to me, although I enjoyed many of them.
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Ellen Datlow has been an award-winning editor of short science fiction, fantasy, and horror for over twentyfive years.

She is editor of the Best Horror of the Year and has edited or co-edited a large number of award-winning original anthologies. Her most recent are Supernatural Noir, Naked City, Blood and Other Cravings, The Beastly Bride, Teeth, Trolls Eye View, and After (the last three with Ter
More about Ellen Datlow...

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