Review – Unnatural Creatures

Posted January 16, 2016 by Nicky in Reviews / 6 Comments

Cover of Unnatural Creatures ed. Neil GaimanUnnatural Creatures, Neil Gaiman

Unnatural Creatures is a fun collection with a rather diverse set of authors, including Gaiman himself, Peter S. Beagle, Nnedi Okorafor, Nalo Hopkinson, Diana Wynne Jones… it includes some stories published before which fit with the theme, and a couple which seem to be published for the first time here. Most of them weren’t stories I knew already, and I thought overall it was a good selection; there were none which really didn’t work for me, though I wasn’t so interested in ‘The Compleat Werewolf’, particularly given how long it was.

Some of the creatures are more traditional than others: werewolves and ancient animal gods and the spirits of trees juxtaposed against a predatory bicycle, the story by Gahan Wilson, etc. Which is always good, to my mind, because werewolves and unicorns and such have been done, and a bit of new blood is always interesting.

My favourites of the collection? Hmm. ‘The Griffin and the Minor Canon’, by Frank R. Stockton; ‘The Sage of Theare’, by Diana Wynne Jones; ‘The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees’, by E. Lily Yu; ‘Prismatica’, by Samuel R. Delaney… Stockton’s story, for example, is fairly traditional in the sort of structure and moral, but then there’s that odd sad note of pity for the Griffin, despite — well, you should probably read it for yourself. ‘The Cartographer Wasps’ is a fable, too, with a different sort of feel. And then ‘The Sage of Theare’ has a figure familiar from Jones’ other books — Chrestomanci!

Yes, it’s definitely an interesting combination, and a collection worth spending some time with, I think.

Rating: 4/5


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6 responses to “Review – Unnatural Creatures

  1. I want to read ALL THE NEIL GAIMAN THIS YEAR. Although let’s be real…I’ll probably only read, like, 2 of his lesser intimidating books. XD I’m not sure about short stories? I’ve never really read them before…. :O

    • Wellll, there’s only one Gaiman short story in here anyway. But I actually find his short stories, for the most part, very satisfying. There’s a clever one in the introduction to the collection Smoke & Mirrors that sticks in my mind.

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