A Yuletide Universe: Sixteen Fantastical Tales

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Overview

The contributors to this Christmas anthology include well-known writers with strong fan followings such as Bram Stoker and Hugo Award-winning author of "American Gods" Neil Gaiman, Hugo Award winner Connie Willis, Anne McCaffrey, Harlan Ellison, Clive Barker, and many others.

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A Yuletide Universe: Sixteen Fantastical Tales

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Overview

The contributors to this Christmas anthology include well-known writers with strong fan followings such as Bram Stoker and Hugo Award-winning author of "American Gods" Neil Gaiman, Hugo Award winner Connie Willis, Anne McCaffrey, Harlan Ellison, Clive Barker, and many others.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
A Yuletide Universe is a diverse collection of 16 holiday-themed short stories by some of the masters of fantastical fiction, including Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Anne McCaffrey, Clive Barker, and Harlan Ellison, to name but a few.

Jolly old Saint Nick is seen in several different lights -- sometimes comical, sometimes dark and disturbing -- in several of these wondrous stories. Neil Gaiman's "Nicholas Was…" portrays Santa as an immortal deity condemned once a year to journey into Endless Night: "Older than sin, and his beard could grow no whiter. He wanted to die." Harlan Ellison's "Santa Claus vs. S.P.I.D.E.R." sees Santa as a secret agent/assassin battling alien-possessed politicians; and in "Icicle Music" by Michael Bishop, Santa is a vengeful deadbeat dad. Chet Williamson's "O Come Little Children…" is an eerie story about a little boy's relationship with a strange mall Santa. This disconcerting story is guaranteed to stay with readers for a long time.

Also included in this collection are classics by L. Frank Baum and Donald E. Westlake. In Baum's "A Kidnapped Santa Claus," originally published in 1904, Santa is abducted by demons plotting to ruin Christmas. Westlake's "Nackles" (1964) is about a miserable father who makes up a holiday demon to cow his children -- with disastrous results.

After reading this Christmas anthology, you'll never look at Santa Claus the same way again. Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
Drawing on her experience as a veterinarian, Claire spins a sweet confection about a couple torn apart by tragedy and brought together again by a big, adorable dog. The year after her friend Jenny died in a car crash, Joy left Wharton, Ky., unsure whether she would ever return. Now, 17 years later, she's back to help out during her father's illness and to open her own mobile vet clinic. Rather than live at home ("The moment I walked into my parents' olive green living room, eleven years of higher education and seven years as a practicing professional melted off my psyche like butter"), Joy moves into Jenny's old house. During a foggy morning drive to the hospital, Joy hits a dog belonging to Dr. Jeff Bradford, who was driving Jenny the night of her accident. Joy has never forgiven Jeff for driving drunk, but his dog's injury is an effective tool in bringing the two together. The contrived conflict created by the couple's miscommunication Jeff, it turns out, wasn't drunk at the time of the accident is easily resolved, but Joy's reoccurring nightmares about Jenny's death, ghostly visits from Jenny and a murderer plump the plot to near bursting. While lacking in originality, the book has an abundance of charm, and Joy's perky first-person narration carries readers nimbly along to a warm, gratifying conclusion. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
From a trio of short, short stories by Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, and Richard Matheson to Donald Westlake's chilling tale of an evil Santa Claus ("Nackles") and James Powell's recounting of a conspiracy that strikes at the spirit of Christmas ("The Plot Against Santa Claus"), the 16 pieces in this collection pay tribute to the Christmas holiday season. Many of the contributions have been published only in periodicals. With works by Connie Willis, L. Frank Baum, Anne McCaffrey, Harlan Ellison, and others, this volume is a good addition to collections of seasonal literature. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446691871
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/15/2008
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,013,472
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Read an Excerpt

A Yuletide Universe


By Brian M. Thomsen

Warner Aspect

Copyright © 2003 Brian Thomsen and Tekno Books
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-69187-9


Chapter One

Nicholas Was ... Neil Gaiman

"Older than sin, and his beard could grow no whiter. He wanted to die."

O Come Little Children ... Chet Williamson

The boy was way past the point where every Santa was the real Santa. In truth, he was just short of total disbelief. TV, comic books, and the remarks of older friends had all taken their toll, and he now thought that although the existence of the great man was conceivable, it was not likely, and to imagine that any of these kindly, red-suited men who smiled wearily in every department store and shopping mall was the genuine article was quite impossible.

Even if he had believed fully, he doubted if anyone under two would have accepted the legitimacy of the Santa he saw before him. Aside from the thinness of both beard and frame, the mans suit was threadbare in spots, the black vinyl boots scuffed and dull, and the white ruffs at collar and cuffs had yellowed to the color of old piano keys. His lap was empty. The only person nearby was a cowboy-hatted man sitting on a folding chair identical to that on which the Santa sat. A Polaroid Pronto hung from his neck, and next to him a card on an easel read YOUR PICTURE WITH SANTA $3.00.

It's a Wonderful Miracle on 34th Street's Christmas Carol Brian Thomsen

The portly patient continued with his protestations, but eventually lay back on the couch and tried to relax, nervously stroking his snow-white and bushy beard.

"I know you're a bit uncomfortable," Dr. Ahmet offered. "Most people are on their first visit."

"I guess I never thought I would wind up on some Upper East Side shrinks couch," Kris replied, quickly adding, "No offense intended. Over the ?shrink,' I mean."

"None taken. So why don't you tell me why you are here?"

"Beyond the fact that you're covered by my HMO?" Kris kidded with a chuckle.

"Yes, beyond that particularly rewarding reason."

Kris sighed and began his confession.

"I guess I'm just having a problem dealing with who I am now."

"As compared to who you were?" Dr. Ahmet inquired.

"Yes."

"And that was?"

Kris fidgeted and sat up, and replied with a sigh, "Kris Kringle."

The Yattering and Jack Clive Barker

Jack J. Polo continued to be the most unknowing of men. He had always been that way; indeed his history was littered with the victims of his naivet?. When his late, lamented wife had cheated on him (he'd been in the house on at least two of the occasions, watching the television) he was the last one to find out. And the clues they'd left behind them! A blind, deaf and dumb man would have become suspicious. Not Jack. He pottered about his dull business and never noticed the tang of the adulterer's cologne, nor the abnormal regularity with which his wife changed the bed-linen.

He was no less disinterested in events when his younger daughter Amanda confessed her lesbianism to him. His response was a sigh and a puzzled look.

"Well, as long as you don't get pregnant, darling," he replied, and sauntered off into the garden, blithe as ever.

A Kidnapped Santa Claus L. Frank Baum

Santa Claus lives in the Laughing Valley, where stands the big, rambling castle in which his toys are manufactured. His workmen, selected from the ryls, knooks, pixies and fairies, live with him, and every one is as busy as can be from one year's end to another.

On one side is the mighty Forest of Burzee. At the other side stands the huge mountain that contains the Caves of the Daemons. And between them the Valley lies smiling and peaceful.

One would think that our good old Santa Claus, who devotes his days to making children happy, would have no enemies on all the earth; and, as a matter of fact, for a long period of time he encountered nothing but love wherever he might go.

But the Daemons who live in the mountain caves grew to hate Santa Claus very much, and all for the simple reason that he made children happy.

Icicle Music Michael Bishop

Now, to Danny's dismay, the crinkled ball of newspaper fell out of the chimney into the firebox. A second sheet cascaded down, and a third, and a fourth.

Then a pair of booted feet appeared in the firebox, dangling down uncertainly, both boots as worn as harness leather. Whumpf! The boots crashed through the crumpled newspaper to the hearth. A pair of skinny legs in mud-fouled khaki materialized in the shadows above them. With a grunt and a muttered curse, a man in a heavy red-plaid coat kicked away the papers, ducked out of the firebox, and hobbled over to the tree, carrying what looked like a grungy World War II duffel bag.

Santa Claus? wondered Danny. Father Christmas? Kriss Kringle? Saint Nick? Or just a chimney-shinnying thief?

The man's duffel looked empty. It hung down his back like a collapsed parachute. His greasy white hair squeezed out from under the roll of his red woolen sailor's cap to tickle the frayed collar of his jacket. In spite of the darkness, Danny could see the man clearly, as if his unexpected arrival had triggered an explosion of ghostly amber light.

Then, turning, the intruder looked straight at him.

Danny ducked out of sight. A moment later, though, he peered back around and saw that Klepto Kriss Kringle had a pale, stubbly beard and a pair of bleak, ever-moving eyes.

What if he weren't just a thief? What if he were a rapist or a murderer? What if he had his sights on the shotgun now in Danny's arms? Assuming, as seemed likely, that he'd staked out their house and watched Mom bring it home....

Danny (Danny told himself), you've waited too long. You should do something. You've got the draw on him, don't you? Why are you being so wishy-washy?

"Hold it, mister!" Danny said, stepping out of the doorway and leveling the twin barrels of his shotgun on the intruder.

Miracle Connie Willis

There was a Christmas tree in the lobby when Lauren got to work, and the receptionist was sitting with her chin in her hand, watching the security monitor. Lauren set her shopping bag down and looked curiously at the screen. On it, Jimmy Stewart was dancing the Charleston with Donna Reed.

"The Personnel Morale Special Committee had cable piped in for Christmas," the receptionist explained, handing Lauren her messages. "I love It's a Wonderful Life, don't you?"

Lauren stuck her messages in the top of her shopping bag and went up to her department. Red and green crepe paper hung in streamers from the ceiling, and there was a big red crepe paper bow tied around Lauren's desk.

"The Personnel Morale Special Committee did it," Cassie said, coming over with the catalog she'd been reading. "They're decorating the whole building, and they want us and Document Control to go caroling this afternoon. Don't you think PMS is getting out of hand with this Christmas spirit thing? I mean, who wants to spend Christmas Eve at an office party?"

"I do," Lauren said. She set her shopping bag down on the desk, sat down, and began taking off her boots.

"Can I borrow your stapler?" Cassie asked. "I've lost mine again. I'm ordering my mother the Water of the Month, and I need to staple my check to the order form."

"The water of the month?" Lauren said, opening her desk drawer and taking out her stapler.

"You know, they send you bottles of a different one every month. Perrier, Evian, Calistoga." She peered in Lauren's shopping bag. "Do you have Christmas presents in there? I hate people who have their shopping done four weeks before Christmas."

The Plot Against Santa Claus by James Powell

Rory Bigtoes, Santa's Security Chief, was tall for an elf, measuring almost seven inches from the curly tips of his shoes to the top of his fedora. But he had to stride to keep abreast of Garth Hardnoggin, the quick little Director General of the Toyworks, as they hurried, beards streaming back over their shoulders, through the racket and bustle of Shop Number 5, one of the many vaulted caverns honeycombing the undiscovered island beneath the Polar icecap.

Director General Hardnoggin wasn't pleased. He slapped his megaphone, the symbol of his office (for as a member of the Board he spoke directly to Santa Claus), against his thigh.

"A bomb in the Board Room on Christmas Eve!" he muttered with angry disbelief ...

Bigtoes sighed. Security looked bad. Bigtoes had even been warned. The night before, a battered and broken elf had crawled into his office, gasped, "He's going to kill Santa," and died.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from A Yuletide Universe by Brian M. Thomsen Copyright ©2003 by Brian Thomsen and Tekno Books. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Yuletide Greetings
Nicholas Was ... 3
Cyber-Claus 5
Holiday 7
Nackles 15
Santa Claus vs. S.P.I.D.E.R. 23
O Come Little Children ... 51
It's a Wonderful Miracle on 34th Street's Christmas Carol 61
The Yattering and Jack 71
Icicle Music 95
Miracle 109
A Foreigner's Christmas in China 151
Household Words; Or, The Powers-That-Be 163
A Kidnapped Santa Claus 187
How Santa Claus Came to Simpson's Bar 197
A Proper Santa Claus 213
The Plot Against Santa Claus 223
And in Closing ... 247
Editor's Note 249
About the Contributors 251
Copyright and Permissions 256
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2003

    solid seasonal speculative stories

    This sixteen story collection runs the gamut of speculative fiction from fantasy to science fiction to horror. The tales are broken into four major categories with several entries in each one. The sections are Santa Shorts (this reviewer¿s personal favorite grouping), Santa Substitutes, Variations on Holiday Theme, and Classic Tales of Christmas Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Whimsy. With one exception, the stories are all reprints from various publications ranging as far back as 1964. In fact two are from the first half of the twentieth century; two from the 1960s; two from the 1970s; five from the 1980s; and four from the 1999s. The contributors are some of the best writers of fantasy, horror or science fiction around past and present. <P>A YULETIDE UNIVERSE is a strong anthology that will elate readers that enjoy a wide gamut of well written stories from the three genres or just appreciate holiday tales. Whether it is Baum, Harte, Gaiman, Ellison, or Barker etc. this is a sure shot stocking stuffer for those appreciate solid seasonal speculative stories. <P>Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2013

    Each year in December, I try to read a book with a Christmas the

    Each year in December, I try to read a book with a Christmas theme. This year, it was a book of sixteen short stories that were characterized as science fiction.
    Although they are stories written by authors that have made their living in the science fiction genre, these stories are not really science fiction. The only clear exception was &quot;Cyber-Claus&quot; by William Gibson.
    Two of the stories I had read in previous collections, but were still welcome here. The Neil Gaiman story (&quot;Nicholas was...&quot;) was originally a demented Christmas card he wrote and would not have been included except that he IS Neil Gaiman.
    With any collection, there will be winners and losers. My list will be different from yours. But it is a diverse group of stories, many with a very original perspective of Santa Claus Past, Present and Future. I would be surprised if you did not find something to like.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

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    Posted March 4, 2011

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