A Yuletide Universe: Sixteen Fantastical Tales
Brian M. Thomsen
Aspect, 2003 (2003)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
am often leery of short story collections because of their inconsistency. Though there are a few lesser tales in
A Yuletide Universe
, the quality of writing (by big name authors like Harlan Ellison, Connie Willis, Donald Westlake and Anne McCaffrey) is generally excellent.
nd these sixteen tales are a treat! The collection opens on cynical short shorts by Neil Gaiman, William Gibson (his
is a nicely done takeoff on
The Night Before Christmas
) and Richard Matheson. Then Donald Westlake (what's he doing writing SF?) does a delightfully nasty
, about an abusive father who threatens the kids with a monstrous Santa one time too often. My favorite of the collection, Harlan Ellison's
Santa Claus vs. S.P.I.D.E.R.
, takes a hilarious
/ alien invasion (they've crawled into the minds of '
Reagan, Johnson, Nixon, Humphrey, Daley, Wallace, Maddox, ... Spiro Agnew
') spin on the holiday. And Chet Williamson packages the true meaning of Christmas in a vagrant mistaken for a pedophile in his remarkable
O Come Little Children
ris Kringle consults a psychiatrist in Brian Thomsen's clever
It's a Wonderful Miracle on 34th Street's Christmas Carol
. You have to feel sorry for Clive Barker's poor lower demon, who tries so hard for so long to steal a soul before Christmas in
The Yattering and Jack
. Michael Bishop's
takes a hard-edged, dark look at the holiday. Connie Willis is brilliant as always in her romantic, New Age
, in which a Christmas Spirit intervenes hilariously to give Lauren her true heart's desire. Frank Baum does
A Kidnapped Santa Claus
. There's a corporate
Plot Against Santa Claus
by James Powell, and Anne McCaffrey's
A Proper Santa Claus
warns against killing children's imaginations.
f you're looking for an antidote to excessive seasonal sentimentality, then this is the book for you. And
A Yuletide Universe
makes the perfect gift for any SF fan on your list.
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