Twenty years ago Bantam Spectra published a collection of Connie Willis’ much-loved Christmas stories. Miracle and Other Christmas Stories came in third on the Locus Award ballot for Best Collection of the year (behind The Martians by Kim Stanley Robinson, and A Good Old-Fashioned Future by Bruce Sterling), and made the preliminary ballot for the British Fantasy Award. However, it’s been out of print for 18 long years, and if there’s something the world needs desperately today, it’s the wit and wisdom of Willis’ classic SF Christmas tales.
Last year Del Rey saw fit to publish a much-expanded edition of Miracle and Other Christmas Stories in a handsome trade paperback edition. The original volume was a generous 328 pages; the newly retitled A Lot Like Christmas is a whopping 544. For fans of novella-length fiction this book is a special treat, as it contains no less than seven, including the Hugo Award nominee “Miracle,” the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus nominee “Just Like the Ones We Used to Know,” and the Hugo Award winner “All Seated on the Ground.”
Virtually all of the stories within were originally published in the December issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction (the only exceptions being two original tales from Miracle, and the novella “Now Showing,” from the Martin/Dozois anthology Rogues). The expanded edition is missing the short story “The Pony,” but includes four new novellas: “deck.halls@boughs/holly,” “All Seated on the Ground,” “All About Emily” and “Now Showing.” It also includes the original introduction and three follow-up essays on classic Christmas tales and movies, plus a brand new fourth essay on TV specials (“Plus a Half-Dozen TV Shows You May Not Have Seen That Haven’t Succumbed to “Very-Special-Christmas-Episode” Syndrome”). Here’s the complete TOC.
“Miracle” (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, December 1991) — Hugo & Locus Award nominee
“All About Emily” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 2011)
“Inn” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 1993)
“All Seated on the Ground” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 2007) — Hugo winner, Locus Award nominee
“In Coppelius’ Toyshop” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 1996)
“Adaptation” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 1994) — Locus nominee
“deck.halls@boughs/holly” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 2001) — Locus nominee
“Cat’s Paw” (Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, 1999)
“Now Showing” (Rogues, 2014)
“Newsletter” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 1997) — Locus Award winner
“Epiphany” (Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, 1999)
“Just Like the Ones We Used to Know” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 2003) — Hugo, Nebula & Locus Award nominee
A Final Word on the Subject
An Advent Calendar of Great Christmas Movies to Watch
And a Score of Christmas Stories and Poems to Read After You’ve Gone to Bed
Plus a Half-Dozen TV Shows You May Not Have Seen That Haven’t Succumbed to “Very-Special-Christmas-Episode” Syndrome
This book really is the perfect gift idea for the SF fan in your life. Publishers Weekly calls it “A perfect stocking stuffer,” and Kirkus Reviews says it’s “A collection of Christmas stories with just the right blend of sugar and spice… sweet and sharp, whimsical and heartfelt, funny and warm.”
I bought a copy last year and it got buried under a stack of blankets in our library, until I found it while cleaning up last week. Talk about perfect timing. There’s no book I’m looking forward to more this holiday break than this one.
A Lot Like Christmas was published by Del Rey on October 10, 2017. It is 544 pages, priced at $17 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by Kathleen Lynch/Black Kat Design, and I like it a lot.
See all of our recent New Treasures here.