'Trigger Warnings', Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is a craftsman, with more than one publication that could easily be categorised as a modern classic - "Good Omens", his witty collaboration with Terry Pratchett, his best-selling "American Gods", or his Hugo award winning "The Graveyard Book", all vye for that acolade. His short story collections, "Smoke and Mirrors" (1998), and "Fragile Things" (2006) have also been widely acclaimed, and so it is with something very akin to delight that we welcome a third collection of short pieces in the form of "Trigger Warnings", which Gaiman has sub-titled "Short Fictions & Distrubances".
This is an ecclectic collection, but that is no bad thing, for there is a very good chance that there is something within its covers to suit almost any pallet. Science-fiction fans and Dr Who officianados will be pleased to find a new story featuring Matt Smith's eleventh incarnation of the time travelling misfit from Galifrey in the mix. Those who hark back to Gaiman's first great solo success, "American Gods" (2001), will welcome a new tale set in that universe (not to mention one which acts as something of a herald for "American Gods 2", a novel which Gaiman has been promising to deliver since 2011. A series of occasionally jarring social media interactions are credited with inspiring one series of shorts, yet cyberspace sits comfortably alongside the timeless and the classic, with a Sherlock Holmes story fit to please the most discerning critic of Baker Street ballads. Oh, and speaking of ballads, did we mention that there is poetry as well?
This really is an ideal collection for those who want to dip into Gaiman's mind in short, well crafted little bursts, or for those who already know what to expect of him, and want a smörgåsbord of spicy, thinly sliced cuts. Each of the parts arguably belongs to a coherent whole insofar as they all have some disquietening quality to them, some key issue, or skewed character the introduction of which is designed to make the reader pause and take stock. More than that though, each stands well on its own merits, and helps to highlight the many talents Gaiman brings to the table - horror writer, historian, comedian, and poet. Not without cause has he been hailed as "one of the best fabulists of our age", and if you want to know why, you could do a good deal worse than pick up "Trigger Warnings" and start dipping in.
'Trigger Warnings' by Neil Gaiman will be released simultaneously in both hardback and trade paperback by Headline in the UK, and by William Morrow in the US, on 2 March 2015.