Thursday, October 01, 2015

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
Copyright 2015
William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins)
308 pp.

In the introduction to Trigger Warning, author Neil Gaiman warns the reader that the stories included are thematically diverse. Usually, he says, he tries to stick to a theme. But, in this case he gathered a variety. I doubt any diehard Gaiman fan will care and I certainly didn't. Subtitled "Short Fictions and Disturbances," the stories are indeed a hodge-podge of fantasy, suspense, sci-fi, whatever. Some will make your skin crawl in a satisfactory way; some are simply magical; one story is a Doctor Who fiction.

I'm not the typical Gaiman fan as my feelings about Gaiman's writings run dramatically hot and cold. Either I love a story or I don't. In this particular case, I liked or loved probably at least 85% of the writings. A couple simply did not work for me. One I disliked so much I abandoned it a third of the way in. I seldom ditch short stories, simply because they're brief (although this one was fairly long, as short stories go). That certainly puts a light on the hot/cold thing, doesn't it?

A few personal favorites:

"A Calendar of Tales" - This series of short stories takes on more meaning when you're aware of their origin, which the author shares (the author, in fact, describes the origins of most of the stories at the beginning of the book). One story for each month, each begun with a simple prompt tweeted to the author. One of those prompts was "an igloo of books" and just seeing those four words makes you realize the kind of writer in whose hands you've placed yourself -- a man who can take a four-word prompt and write a story that transports you to a world with an igloo made of books is definitely someone special.

"Click Clack the Rattlebag" - One of those stories that's just unsettling enough to give you goosebumps, makes you want to leave the closet doors open with the lights on, and makes you think, "I'm going to have a creepy nightmare tonight." I loved it.

"Nothing O'Clock" - The Dr. Who tale, in which the 11th Doctor and Amy Pond must defeat a creature formerly imprisoned by the Time Lords but set loose upon the extinction of Gallifrey. The characters are so true to those played by Matt Smith and Karen Gillan that Dr. Who fans may find themselves wondering why the story wasn't made into an episode.

Highly recommended - I especially recommend Trigger Warning to Neil Gaiman fans, but if you enjoy short stories and only occasionally like Neil Gaiman, you will still definitely find something to love in this book. Incidentally, a couple of the writings are poetry. And, it's notable that Trigger Warning contains plenty of atmospheric, disturbing stories, making it perfect for fall reading (including the annual RIP challenge).

©2015 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery  or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. I'm not a short story person, but I will read anything by Gaiman. I can't wait to get my hands on this one.


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