Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
By Neil Gaiman
Short stories, horror, fantasy, imagination, suspense
Trigger Warning is the latest collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman, a mix of new works and pieces that he has written for other collections. The common thread of the book is the theme of being uncomfortable, each story has an uncomfortable note in their own way.
Some of the stories that Gaiman here are inspired by other works. He has a Sherlock Holmes story, an episode of Doctor Who, and another short work with Shadow Moon from American Gods as part of the collection. Some of the stories are humorous and lighthearted like Orange or Adventure Story. Some are far on the other end of the spectrum and are genuinely unnerving (Click Clack the Rattlebag and “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountain . . .” both come to mind). Some of the stories start off like a typical story and are going one place then suddenly trip you up and send you tumbling into an entirely different place with only an inkling of how you got there (The Thing About Cassandra and the Return of the White Duke are both fantastic reads).
There are a few works that are included in Trigger Warning that are also presented in other places; by this point The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountain has been turned into an illustrate stand alone novella. A Calendar of Tales was created in conjunction with Blackberry(!?) and fans. He started out by tweeting twelve questions and then writing stories based on the responses that he received. From there he worked with artists and filmmakers to flesh out the worlds that were created. You can find them at http://www.acalendaroftales.com/
From the collection, my favorite stories are The Thing About Cassandra, Adventure Story, The Sleeper and the Spindle, and Black Dog.
The Thing About Cassandra is about a formerly awkward teenage boy, who has proceeded to young man who’s circle of friends and family keep running into his old girlfriend Cassandra. Only problem is that Cassandra that he told them all about when he was 15 was made up to impress his mates.
Adventure Story is hilarious. It’s about a man who goes back to his family’s home to help clear out some of his recently deceased fathers belongs and help out his mum. And a super-stereotypically British manor his mother alludes to his father’s “adventures”. Adventures that included his time in the army, a religious statue, Aztecs, dinosaurs, a princess and werewolves. And lots of this “he didn’t like to talk about”. I would pay money to see Simon Pegg act in a short film of this story.
The Sleeper and the Spindle is a fairy tale re-imagining with Snow White and Sleeping Beauty happening at the same time. Gaiman creates a shared world where the titular characters (who coincidentally are not named) are the active characters and it works out fantastically.
Black Dog is a story about Shadow Moon from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods book. He is out wondering the world, and happens upon a small village pub. He meets the local folk, tries the local brew (named Black Dog after the local legend) and has a time while he waits out the rain. It’s always nice to see a new story about an old friend.
There are a bunch of other tales that are worth reading, Trigger Warning is a great set of stories to pickup. If you are a Gaiman fan, the only disappointment is coming to the end.