smoke and mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors (story collection)

For other uses of the phrase see: Smoke and mirrors (disambiguation).

Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions is a collection of short stories and poems by Neil Gaiman. It was first published in the US in 1998, and in the UK in 1999.

Many of the stories in this book are reprints from other sources, such as magazines, anthologies, and collections (including ten stories and poems from Gaiman's earlier small press miscellany Angels and Visitations).


The included stories and poems are different between some of the editions. The US, UK, and eBook editions have some differences in the stories they contain (see table to right):
Not in US print version
Not in eBook version
* Appears in eBook version as Apple

  • Reading the Entrails: A Rondel
  • The Wedding Present (in the introduction)
  • Chivalry
  • Nicholas Was...
  • The Price
  • Troll Bridge
  • Don't Ask Jack
  • The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories
  • Eaten (Scenes from a Moving picture)
  • The White Road
  • Queen of Knives
  • The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch †‡
  • Changes
  • The Daughter of Owls
  • Shoggoth's Old Peculiar
  • Virus
  • Looking for the Girl
  • Only the End of the World Again
  • Bay Wolf
  • Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot
  • We Can Get Them For You Wholesale
  • One Life, Furnished in Early Moorcock
  • Cold Colours
  • The Sweeper of Dreams
  • Foreign Parts
  • Vampire Sestina
  • Mouse
  • The Sea Change
  • How Do You Think It Feels? †‡
  • When We Went to See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside, age 11¼
  • Desert Wind
  • Tastings
  • In the End †*
  • Babycakes
  • Murder Mysteries
  • Snow, Glass, Apples


In the US mass market edition of the book's cover, there is warped painting with weird things relating to individual stories all over it. In the background is a picture of Neil Gaiman, the author.

In his Live At The Aladdin reading in Portland, Gaiman mentions that, upon catching his son listening to him reading the story "Babycakes" in an audio recording, he thought 'Ewww, that guy is sick!' He says it's the only thing he's ever written that has really disturbed him.

A new tradition in a few Gaiman fans is to write out "Nicholas Was..." and send it around in Christmas cards.

"Nicholas Was..." is exactly 100 words long, excluding the title.


  • Dym i lustra (Polish), ISBN 83-87968-54-4
  • Fumaça e Espelhos (Portuguese), ISBN 8586932620

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