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A Walking Tour of the Shambles
Gene Wolfe & Neil Gaiman
American Fantasy Press, 57 pages

Gene Wolfe
Gene Wolfe is one of the most respected writers in the field, and one of the few authors in the genre whose stories have been accepted in mainstream publications such as The New Yorker. Nominated 19 times for a Nebula Award, he has received the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement. He is known for strikingly audacious novels such as The Fifth Head of Cerberus, but most readers will probably have learned to appreciate his writing in The Book of the New Sun series, and the associated Long Sun series. Wolfe lives in Barrington, Illinois, USA.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Peace
SF Site Review: Sword and Citadel
SF Site Review: Shadow and Claw
SF Site Review: In Green's Jungles
SF Site Review: Free Live Free
SF Site Review: The Urth of the New Sun
Gene Wolfe Tribute Site
Gene Wolfe Tribute Site
Gene Wolfe Tribute Site

Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is the author of one of the most critically acclaimed comic books of the decade, the Sandman series from DC Comics. He is also the author of a collection of short stories, Angels and Visitations, and the co-author (with Terry Pratchett) of Good Omens. His first anthology was The Sandman Book of Dreams, edited with Ed Kramer. He is the creator and author of the BBC series "Neverwhere," which inspired his novel of the same name. Born in England, he now lives in Minnesota.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: American Gods
SF Site Review: Stardust
SF Site Review: Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
SF Site Review: Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
SF Site Review: Neverwhere
SF Site Review: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish
SF Site Review: The Sandman: Book of Dreams
American Fantasy

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Advertisement
Art: Gahan Wilson
A Walking Tour of the Shambles Should you ever find yourself inside the borders of the Shambles, be warned. Walk as quickly as you can, without stopping, looking around too much or speaking to any of the odd inhabitants of the place until you obtain a copy of this indispensable guide. In it, you will discover the best defensive maneuvers against a crocodile, how to avoid being attacked by the denizens of the House of Clocks, and how to keep yourself from being robbed, poisoned or otherwise incapacitated and sold as a treat to fellow unfortunates.

Actually, I'm only joking about the very last part. Just because there's a place called Abattoir Alley, or that there's a barber shop oddly reminiscent of good old Sweeney Todd's doesn't mean you should fear for your life. Really.

Gene Wolfe and Neil Gaiman teamed up to create this humorously creepy look into The Shambles for a recent (April 2002) World Horror Convention. Now available to the general public, A Walking Tour of the Shambles provides some wonderfully pleasant, light reading that manages to give you a tiny bit of a chill now and then. The styles of these two wonderful writers blend so well that you can't tell who is writing which bit, and the tone of the helpful, ever cheerful guidebook writer is wonderfully atmospheric. I loved many of the pieces of advice, such as "In general, distrust anyone you meet whose teeth are sharper than your own." Come to think of it, such things could be applied to any sightseeing adventure.

The humor is very well done, dead-pan and slightly off-hand, never going for the easy jokes. The cover is drawn by Gahan Wilson, with appropriately creepy interior pen and ink drawings by Randy Broecker and Earl Greir. I really enjoyed some of the drawings, which were just like the writing -- clever, the horror hidden just slightly so that you often discover it out of the corner of your eye. From first page to last, they take every opportunity possible to create the atmosphere of a guide book (check out the list of books that Gaiman and Wolfe also wrote -- I'd love to read I Was a Werewolf for the CIA.)

Along with a useful appendix of books for further information and a list of questions and answers (such as "Do I still have all my credit cards?") and a list of several... umm... interesting recipes (dandelion and road kill salad, anyone?), I feel A Walking Tour of the Shambles is dead essential for anyone needing to risk their lives by going to the Shambles, or for someone who is trying to decide whether to date a member of the meat worker's union, or to anyone who is a fan of the off-kilter humor of Charles Addams or Edward Gorey. By the way, there actually is a website at PreserveUsFromTheHouseOfClocks.com and, according to Books in Print and other such reliable sources, none of the books attributed to the authors in the book exist on this plane of reality. Drat.

Copyright © 2002 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at www.apenandfire.com.


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