Trigger Warning is the newest short story collection by Neil Gaiman.
Finished on: 16.03.2015
Trigger Warning is a good collection, with a wide range of stories – from fanfiction (Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who) to tributes (among others to Ray Bradbury); from fairy tales to horror; from fantasy to science fiction; and everything in between. And it has a new short story sequel to American Gods. In his introduction, Gaiman describes the context of origin of each of the stories, which I loved but would have prefered as a paragraph just before each of the stories – it would have saved me from a lot of going back and forth in the book. As usual with these collections, not every entry can be a winner for everyone, but altogether I was very content with what I got to read.
[I have my misgivings about the title and Gaiman’s explanation in the introduction why he’s using it. Trigger Warnings don’t exist to create an all around safe world that coddles people so much they never have to confront pain or negative feelings. Trigger Warnings exist as a specific(!) warning of potentially triggering (as in: making traumatized people acutely relive their trauma) content to create a space for the traumatized which is insofar safe as they can choose whether they’re in the mood to engage with that topic right now, or not. It will never be possible to make the entire world such a safe space – people will still be confronted with that topic without being prepared for it – nor will it be possible to issue warnings for all potentially triggering things for all individuals. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t try to make the spaces we can control good spaces for the traumatized to be in.
That Gaiman chose a blanket Trigger Warning as his title, that the only actual warning he gives is for tentacles, after having basically derided people for needing trigger warnings, seeing as they’re only too weak to grow through the disturbing content they read, leaves a very bad aftertaste in my mouth. Especially considering that, while some of the stories are scary, none really needs (any of the big) trigger warnings.]
After the jump, I’ll talk about each of the stories individually.
Neil Gaiman is a great writer and also a wonderful reader, so it was a joy listening to him. The Q&A afterwards was most charming and he took the time to sign stuff. What more could you ask from such an event?
Our middle-aged narrator returns to his hometown for a funeral and uses the opportunity to stop by his old home. Pretty much without thinking about it, he also ends up at his former neighbor’s place and starts to recall the girl who lived there, Lettie. Lettie who told him the pond behind her house was an ocean. As he gazes at said pond he begins to remember that there was more to Lettie, to their story and to the pond than a simple childhood friendship.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a smart book, written in Gaiman’s wonderful prose. And while I didn’t connect with it as much as with American Gods or Neverwhere, it is still an excellent read that is way too short.
The angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley have spent a lot of time on earth, doing their respective duties and have got pretty comfortable here. So when the news reaches them that the Antichrist is about to be born and the apocalypse is drawing closer, they are not really happy about it. But Crowley sets things in motion, as they are supposed to be set in motion, though coincidence seems to have a hand in it as well. But it has all been predicted by Agnes Nutter, a witch who died a while back, but still has an heir in Anathema Device who keeps up the family tradition. While the Horsemen of the Apocalypse start to gather, it turns out that the boy everybody thought was the Antichrist was actually switched at birth and nobody really knows where the Antichrist really is.
Good Omens is exactly what you imagine a book written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman to be like. That is well-written, clever and a whole lot of fun.
Shadow has spent the last three years in prison and is about to get out when he gets the news that his wife died in a car crash. Devastated, he gets released early and makes his way home to the funeral. Before he arrives there, though, he meets the mysterious Mr Wednesday who is more than he seems to be. Wednesday hires Shadow and Shadow gets drawn into things that are way bigger than he is. Even though he’s a big guy.
American Gods is a Love-it-or-hate-it book. Deadra, who is a huge Neil Gaiman fan, couldn’t finish it. I devoured it for the second time already. And I still love it. Shadow is a great character, the story is interesting and I love the inclusion of all kinds of mythologies and the small stories that are told throughout the book.
Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) moves with her parents (Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman) to a new house. Her parents are always busy so Coraline is left to explore things alone. One day she discovers a hidden door in her house and when she goes through, she meets her Other Mother, who is everything a child could hope for. But her Other Mother has buttons for her eyes. She wants Coraline to stay, but for that, Coraline will need to give up her eyes as well…
Coraline is a wonderful book and the world Henry Selick created from it is beautiful and absolutely amazing. There were some changes made from the book I didn’t understand but other than that I have nothing to complain about.
Overall, the anthology is very good. Of course, as in any anthology, there were stories I liked better than others but the quality of all of them was very high. Datlow as well as Windling provide introductions and there’s an appendix of recommended reading, which is pretty awesome. If you like fairy tale retellings, fantasy/SciFi and a little bit of horror, you will love this book.
Stardust is one of Neil Gaiman‘s novels. [It was also adapted to the big screen a couple of year ago.] [And, *sniff*, it’s the last of Gaiman’s novels (except Good Omens) that I hadn’t read… now, there’s only the comics…]
Tristran lives in a small town in England called Wall. Wall gets its name from a wall that divides our world from the world of Faerie. One day, a star falls from the sky and into Faerie and Tristran promises the girl he is in love with, Victoria, to bring him this star – if she will give him anything he wants in return. So Tristran goes into Faerie…
Stardust is very different from everything else Gaiman has written. It’s a fairy Faerie tale and equally light hearted and funny and moralistic and dark. It’s full of lovable characters and not-so lovable but still great characters. And the story is really sweet.
There are some fairy tales (retellings), which I like. But especially interesting in this collection are two sequels – The Problem of Susan (which deals with Narnia and the discarding of Susan) and The Monarch of the Glen (which is a sequel to American Gods).
Fragile Things is another really great collection. Of course, there are some differences in quality between the stories, but altogether, it is very nice.
[Oh yeah, and because I was asked: I think Smoke and Mirrors is more consistently good than Fragile Things, but Fragile Things has some better stories than Smoke and Mirrors.]