The fun, as ever, starts with the title of each story – gently leading an unsuspecting reader into preconceived ideas and expectations; expectations that are soon spun around, turned on their head (or other extremities), and pushed in an unexpected direction. Thus, a saunter merely through the contents page is already a hugely entertaining experience and one more akin to savouring the hors d’oeuvres of a grand feast than consulting a list of shortcuts into a literary tome. In fact, the gastronomic metaphor serves us well here; the courses on offer range from tantalising tuck to a gourmand’s repast, but never mere vittles – perhaps the way to enjoy this book is to digest one story, three times a day (four if you’re a halfling who needs second breakfast), rather than trying to gorge on all the available delights and delicacies at one sitting. To complete this gourmet’s guide, a tempting sampling of the stories must include:
The Soft Landing, a unique story told from the perspective of a photon;
Travels with my Antinomy, how do you solve a paradox when you’re part of it?;
Vanity of Vanities, the internet achieves consciousness and takes over, but with very different consequences than you might imagine;
The Fairy and the Dinosaur, in which a fairy can’t find what she wants for her picnic in the goblin market, is offered cloned prehistoric plums but turns to a time-travelling robot to go back to the age of the dinosaurs and eat an original plum.
Other titles to tempt you include The Martian Monocles, The Prodigal Beard, A Dame Abroad, The Unkissed Artist Formerly Known as Frog, The Goat That Gloated, The Taste of Turtle Tears, The Bones of Jones, and The Haggis Eater.