Alex Telander's Reviews > Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
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Jan 27, 2011

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While few of you may be familiar with English author Neil Gaiman, he is a writer for any of those who enjoy reading horror in the vein of Ray Bradbury and Stephen King. And what better way to experience and enjoy a new author than with a short story collection, giving a broad spectrum of Gaiman’s abilities.

Smoke and Mirrors does not have any running, horrific theme, or any specific aim; it is not horror or fantasy, science fiction or an erotic collection . . . and then again it is all these and more. The initial story, “Chivalry,” is about a lost knight – Galahad – who has been sent to find the Holy Grail; the problem is that a little old lady has recently bought it at a charity store and will not relinquish it that easy. Written in poetic form, “Bay Wolf” presents a retelling of the epic of Beowulf through the framework of a Baywatch episode.

“We Can Get Them For You Wholesale” reveals the existence of a specific company that will kill people for a price; but when you request large numbers to be killed, the price drops; when you request the death of everyone on the planet, it’s free! “Babycakes” is an obscene, perverted poem about a race that no longer has any animals to consume and use, so they turn to babies, who are similar intelligence. “Some of them we ate. Baby flesh is tender and succulent. We flayed their skin and decorated ourselves in it. Baby leather is soft and comfortable.”

While Gaiman does not possess much of a sophisticated literary skill – at least in this collection – he nevertheless is an author to read for the interesting and amazing stories he concocts. This would be a welcome Christmas as present to anyone looking to try out a new author.

Originally published on December 3rd 2001.

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