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From Barnes & NobleThe 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