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Abandoned by Booklikes

Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!

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What a Struggle and Letdown

Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman - Neil Gaiman

This book took me so many days to force myself through. I should have just DNFed it and found another book for the "Supernatural" square. Ah well. Not too much to say here except that most of these short stories were a flop IMHO. I have to say that the way these stories are pieced together doesn't really work very well at all. The flow between stories is so sharp and I keep getting taking out of each story as soon as I move on to the next one. Most anthologies have a central premise that all of the authors are supposed to be writing to. For example, I have read Christmas anthologies where each other takes on one of the 12 days of Christmas. Or an anthology that focuses on speculative fiction. Gaiman put this together because he liked the idea of unnatural creatures and a link between animals and words. From the prologue: 


There was no such museum, not then. But I knew how to visit the creatures who would never be sighted in the zoos or the museum or the woods. They were waiting for me in books and in stories, after all, hiding inside the twenty-six characters and a handful of punctuation marks. These letters and words, when placed in the right order, would conjure all manner of exotic beasts and people from the shadows, would reveal the motives and minds of insects and of cats. They were spells, spelled with words to make worlds, waiting for me, in the pages of books.


So I have to say that if that was the premise, maybe it was too wide for some of the authors. I just didn't get there for a lot of these stories. 


1. I can't replicate what this first story is about here, it's a graphic of a dot that expands by Gahan Wilson (3 stars). This story had promise and I liked the idea of an unknown blot/dot becoming bigger and that it moves if someone stops staring at it. The last part of the story definitely made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. 


2. The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu (2 stars). It's about wasps that make maps and bees that are anarchists. I don't know. I just know that I didn't like it and was bored from  beginning to end. 


3. The Griffin and the Minor Canon by Frank R. Stockton (2 stars). You would think a story about a griffin that comes to life would be interesting. It was not. Honestly most of these stories have a slimmer of a good idea but the execution is just not there at all. 


4. Ozioma the Wicked by Nnedi Okorafor (5 stars). One of two stories that I gave five stars to. This was ingenious and I wanted to read more about Ozioma who can talk to snakes. 


5. Sunbird by Neil Gaiman (1 star). Previously read in another short story collection of his. Was less impressed the second time through. 


6. The Sage of Theare by Diana Wynne Jones (2 stars). This went on too long. We read about a special boy born of a good in a world that who supposed will end up being the Sage of Dissolution one day. So the gods, not being that smart go about trying to banish him to another world. This one went on way too long to the point I didn't even care anymore. 


7. Gabriel-Ernest by H.H. Munro (3 stars). Reading about a boy and a wild beast that roams in the woods. This one had more horror elements which was a nice diversion from the slapstick type writing of some of the other stories. 


8. The Cockatoucan; or Great-Aunt Willoughby by E. Nesbit (1 star). I honestly don't remember this one and I did re-read again this morning to refresh my memory and I don't know if my brain blanked it or what. This was too long and I just got bored by it. 


9. Moveable Beast by Maria Dahvana Headley (4 stars). This was actually a great story about a beast that roams and the women, men, and girls who seem to protect it. 


10. The Flight of the Horse by Larry Niven (3.5 stars). It's a story about time travel. It was an interesting idea and I liked this one for the most part.


11. Prismatica by Samuel R. Delany (1 star). I got nothing here folks. 


12. The Manticore, the Mermaid, and Me by Megan Kurashige (2 stars). This story was very try hard to me. I liked where the author was initially going with things, but the ending was just baffling and I assume we are supposed to learn a lesson here or something. 


13. The Compleat Werewolf by Anthony Boucher (3 stars). It's the second story in the book that deals with werewolves. Interesting, but I was really happy to realize I was almost done with this collection at this point. 


14. The Smile on the Face by Nalo Hopkinson (1 star). Nope. It just had a rhyme going through the story and you had to read about people coming back for a ride with a lady inside and it was just all me going for the love of all that is holy just be done. 


15. Or All the Seas with Oysters by Avram Davidson (1 star).  Nope number two. At least it was fairly short. 


16. Come Lady Death by Peter S. Beagle (5 stars). What a great story to end on with a so-so collection. I loved this whole idea and wanted to read more.