November 18th, 2005

earthsea

November Books 11) Smoke and Mirrors

11) Smoke and Mirrors
When I was a child, adults would tell me not to make things up, warning me of what would happen if I did. As far as I can tell so far it seems to involve lots of foreign travel and not having to get up too early in the morning.
The other nice freebie I got with my new Palm T|X was an ebook edition of Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors, with three extra stories not in the print version. Lots of good stuff here; we start with the Holy Grail turning up in an Oxfam shop, and finish with Snow White, as told from the stepmother's point of view; and the Cthulhu mythos as it might have been interpreted by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in a strange English coastal resort:
The beer had the kind of flavour which, he suspected, advertisers would describe as full-bodied, although if pressed they would have to admit that the body in question had been that of a goat.
And several other jewels, including a homage to Zelazny's A Night in the Lonesome October and the story of a 1960s schoolboy who liked Michael Moorcock. Here is one story in full, a seasonal drabble:
Nicholas Was...

older than sin, and his beard could grow no whiter. He wanted to die.
The dwarfish natives of the Arctic caverns did not speak his language, but conversed in their own, twittering tongue, conducted incomprehensible rituals, when they were not actually working in the factories.
Once every year they forced him, sobbing and protesting, into Endless Night. During the journey he would stand near every child in the world, leave one of the dwarves' invisible gifts by its bedside. The children slept, frozen into time.
He envied Prometheus and Loki, Sisyphus and Judas. His punishment was harsher.
Ho.
Ho.
Ho.
Great stuff.