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Third story (depending how you count) in full:
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.



This seasonal drabble is one of the pieces I had read before, first collected in 1993 in Angels and Visitations, re-released last year as part of the Gaiman ebook bundle which I got cheap. At that point Gaiman had published half of Sandman, also Black Orchid, the Books of Magic and (with Terry Pratchett) Good Omens, and was obviously a rising star but not quite as stellar as he has since become. So a lot of these pieces are journeyman work, but none the less interesting as we see him work out a few ideas whihc he returned to later and better. The story that lingers most with me is "Looking for the Girl", about an eternally young nude model, originally published in Penthouse. There is also some poetry and a couple of essays (one on Mary Gentle, one on Father Brown). There are some lovely illustrations as well. I am not a Gaiman completist so won't look out for this in hard copy, but am glad to have it in pixel form.

This was both the top book on my shelf bought in 2015 and the top unread sf book recommended by you guys last year. Next on the first of those lists is The Humans, by Matt Haig; next on the second is A Fall of Stardust, again by Neil Gaiman, but that list will get rejigged in my end-of-year survey.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 22nd, 2016 06:36 am (UTC)
Glad to see you reviewing this...I have a hard copy of this (that I got back in about '98), and I also got the bundle last year with it and all those other rarities.

I don't think I've read all of it (or I don't remember all of it if I do), but one of my favorite Gaiman stories is in it: "Chivalry," which is not only one of my favorite things that he's done, but also one of my favorite modern Grail stories. It has been heavily anthologized elsewhere, granted, but I do believe it appeared in this book first...
Dec. 22nd, 2016 06:53 pm (UTC)
That is a very dark story.
Dec. 24th, 2016 02:56 pm (UTC)
I have very fond memories of this collection.

The one about Tetris, Babycakes, Troll Bridge - so many good stories.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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