Cigar-Box Faust and Other Miniatures

Michael Swanwick

Humorous, luminous, and always entertaining, this collection of award-winning author Michael Swanwick’s short-short fiction is a work of masterfully sustained whimsy for adults. Cigar-Box Faust contains more than seventy fantastical stories in fewer than a hundred pages, including the ever-elusive rhyme for orange…


Cigar-Box Faust and Other Miniatures

by Michael Swanwick

ISBN: 1892391074

Published: 2003

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback, Limited Hardcover, Boxed Limited Set

Humorous, luminous, and always entertaining, this collection of award-winning author Michael Swanwick’s short-short fiction is a work of masterfully sustained whimsy for adults. Cigar-Box Faust contains more than seventy fantastical stories in fewer than a hundred pages.

The title piece is a five-minute condensation of a classic of Western literature, featuring a cigar-cutter as Mephistopheles; a box of matches in the roles of Helen of Troy, an Angel of the Lord, and the Light of Ontology; and a cigar as Faust himself. Although it has previously been performed live by the author, this is its first appearance in print. T

There is also an abecedary showcasing Swanwick’s bravura imagination with a separate story for every letter of the alphabet, another set of tales for every planet in the solar system, and a series of pieces that the author literally wrote in his sleep! To say nothing of a clutch of alternate autobiographies, a novella of decadence and corporate politics in a future Venice that has been boiled down to 416 words, Picasso and Philip K. Dick as existential heroes, and the impossible—a rhyme for “orange.”

“…wonderful strangeness.”
True Review

“Always brilliant, Swanwick shines in these quirky short pieces, with over 70 gathered in this collection, including ‘An Abecedary of the Imagination,’ with six new entries.”

“Miniaturized, tightly compressed fictions that are alternately startling, funny, and mysterious and often possess the resonance of especially vivid dreams…a whimsical, wonderfully eccentric collection.”
Washington Post Book World

“Felicities, surprises, bon-mots, witticisms, epiphanies, goodies of every description.”
Fantastic Metropolis

Michael Swanwick is one of the most acclaimed science-fiction and fantasy short-story writers of his generation, having received five consecutive Hugo Awards. He has also won the Theodore Sturgeon and World Fantasy awards. Swanwick’s novels include The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, a New York Times Notable Book, and the Nebula Award-winning Stations of the Tide. His short fiction has appeared in many venues, including OMNI, Penthouse, Amazing, Asimov’s Science Fiction, New Dimensions, and Full Spectrum, and his work has been translated into more than ten languages.

Praise for Michael Swanwick’s Field Guide to the Mesozoic Megafauna

“Swanwick has written a short-short story for each of the 13 dinosaurs from the Mesozoic era…. The stories are very funny, often ironic, and well worth the very brief time they take to read. Highlights include ‘The Thief of Time,’ which ironically plays with the different meanings of the egg-stealing Eoraptor, the hilarious ‘A Matter of Size,’ which gives an unexpected look at how the Giantosaurus of South America may have regarded its North American cousins, ‘Three Conversations,’ which gives a sting-in-the-tale ending to a short adventure in kite-flying, ‘Pocket Brontosaurs,’ where Swanwick shows that Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg may have missed the real commercial appeal of bringing dinosaurs back to life, and the darkly funny ‘Herbivores,’ which you should read for yourself. All are worth seeking out….”

 Praise for Tales of Old Earth

“Michael Swanwick is darkly magnificent. Tales of Old Earth is just one brilliant ride after another, a midnight express with a master at the throttle. Sit back and enjoy.”
—Jack McDevitt

“One of the most powerful and consistently inventive short-story writers of his generation.”
—Gardner Dozois

“Swanwick has emerged as one of the country’s most respected authors.”
Philadelphia Inquirer

“I have admired Michael Swanwick’s storytelling—his style, his imagination, his compassion—from the beginning of his career. Over time he has simply improved. Indeed, he writes so well the kinds of stories that I would like to write that he obviates the necessity of my even trying to write them. This collection showcases his exemplary talent.”
—Michael Bishop

 Praise for Gravity’s Angels

“I don’t think I’ve come upon as finely crafted, as deft a collection of stories in quite some time…. Buy this book. I mean it—it’s one of the best science-fiction collections I’ve ever read.”
Fantasy & Science Fiction

Gravity’s Angels is a showcase for a decade’s worth of Swanwick’s shorter fictions, from his first published short story, ‘The Feast of Saint Janis,’ to a descent past the edge of a flat earth otherwise very like our own in ‘The Edge of the World,’ which won the 1990 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award…. The stories collected here are luminous with the promise of his ambition, smart and allusive, dense with ideas and images, sacred and profane.”

“…Gravity’s Angels is an extremely impressive collection. Each story is unique unto itself, and reading them closely together does not produce any sense that one has just read the same thing half an hour earlier. If there is any justice in the world, Gravity’s Angels will bring Swanwick whatever recognition he has not had thus far.”

“Swanwick’s work illustrates the power and potential of contemporary science fiction.”
Publishers Weekly

Visit the Michael Swanwick website and his blog.

Cigar-Box Faust
Writing in My Sleep
An Abecedary of the Imagination
Eight Takes on Kindred Themes
Picasso Deconstructed: Eleven Still-Lifes
Brief Essays
Archaic Planets
The Mask
Letters to the Editor
The Madness of Gordon Van Gelder

Other books by this author…