Wicked Wonders

Ellen Klages

2018 World Fantasy Award nominee
2018 Locus finalist – Best short story collection
2018 Alex Award nominee

“Magical stories unfurl with marvelous subtlety in this delightful collection from Klages.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

Whether on a habitat on Mars or in a boardinghouse in London, discover the wicked, wondrous adventures of Ellen Klages (The Green Glass Sea), in tales full of wit, empathy, and courage.


Wicked Wonders

by Ellen Klages

ISBN: 978-1-61696-261-6

Published: May 2017

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback and Digital Books


The award-winning author of The Green Glass Sea returns with smart and subversive new tales

A rebellious child identifies with Maleficent instead of Sleeping Beauty. Best friends Anna and Corry share one last morning on Earth. A solitary woman inherits a penny arcade haunted by a beautiful stranger. A prep-school student requires more than luck when playing dice with a faerie. Ladies who lunch—dividing one last bite of dessert—delve into new dimensions of quantum politeness. At summer camp, a young girl discovers the heartbreak of forbidden love.

Whether on a habitat on Mars or in a boardinghouse in London, discover Ellen Klages’ wicked, wondrous adventures full of cheeky wit, empathy, and courage.

Praise for Wicked Wonders

Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog Best Books of May
Amazon Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of the Month
io9 – 20 Amazing New Scifi and Fantasy Books to Add to Your Reading List in May
A Book Riot Must-Read New Release
A She Treads Softly Top 2017 Book
Locus 2017 Recommended Reading List


“Magical stories unfurl with marvelous subtlety in this delightful collection from Klages (The Green Glass Sea).”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Poignant and relatable tales that push the ­barriers of the fantastical realism and beyond.”
Library Journal

 “The reader never knows what fantastic surprise may come next. Enthusiasts of genre fiction—fantasy, science fiction, metafiction—will delight in these 14 strong tales.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“If novels are like dollar bills, short stories are the shiny silvers and coppers that you hold in the palm of your hand. Ellen Klages, in her latest collection of short fiction, pours out a handful of these bright coppers and silver crescents (together with the tokens to some old arcades along summer boardwalks); they catch the mind and the eye with their brilliance.”
Strange Horizons

“Very highly recommended.”
She Treads Softly

 “Powerful, touching, and very much worth reading.”
Looking for a Good Book

“Witty and subversive.”
Reader’s Lane

 “The stories here are beautifully written, entertaining, heartfelt, and thoroughly enjoyable. Klages is a talented storyteller with a knack for creating worlds and situations that morph into new, wondrous things.”
Lit Reactor

 “Serious, funny, tough, tender  . . . This is a collection of stories that I felt better for having read.  Strongly recommended.”
Big Book Balloon

“All the stories in Klages’ brilliant collection have an understated charm. They start of so calmly and quietly, perfectly normal and straightforward except for those few notes that are both discordant and yet elevate the story. And then something wonderful happens on the pages of each story, and I think it is best described as joy.”
A Universe in Words

“In these 14 tales, Ellen Klages managed to shift my paradigms, to help me regain some of the magic lost in my passage out of childhood. Such is the power of the short story, when told by one skilled in the magic of words.”
Barnes and Noble

“Delightful. Disturbing. Delicious. And always, her prose is gorgeous. Klages is one of my favourite authors.”
—Nalo Hopkinson, author of The Salt Roads and Falling in Love with Hominids

“Every time you think you know where an Ellen Klages story is going, she pulls another fast one. Wicked Wonders is fancy in every sense of the word.”
—Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky

“Klages surprises in each story, but maintains a sense of humanity and warmth throughout that transforms her tales from narrative experiments into powerful observations of the human (and non-human) condition.”
—Bookseller’s Pick, Barnes & Noble

“ Witty, sly, wicked, and poignant.”

“Klages writes from the emotional center of a tale rather than from the science fiction conceit . . . Klages’ mastery of the telling detail is evident.”
Chicago Tribune

“Full of consistently thoughtful, clever, affecting stories, all overlaid by a sort of gently reassuring feeling of nostalgia.”
SF Bluestocking

“Ellen Klages is a phenomenally skilled writer with the miraculous ability to immerse her readers into nostalgic years of childhoods passed. Her stories also have a clear feminist bent, with the focus on the lives of smart and strong willed women.”
The Illustrated Page

“Ellen Klages’ Wicked Wonders is smart, sad, funny, moving fiction . . . highly entertaining.”
Amazing Stories

“Like Bradbury, Klages is notable for the clarity and unstrained elegance of her prose . . . she’s learned from writers as diverse as Bradbury and Cheever, part of Klages’s storytelling DNA derives from old radio raconteurs like Jean Shepherd or Garrison Keillor.”

Wicked Wonders is a collection that the reader finds themselves not wanting to put down, but also not wanting to finish out of fear that they will have to leave the magical world they’ve found behind when the close the cover.”
Fangirl Nation

“Recaptures some of the innocence and enchantment of childhood, in a series of tales by turn evocative, romantic and poignant . . . In Klages’s fictional worlds, girls and women have the power to direct their lives, save others and, using mathematics and physics, push the boundaries of what is possible.”
The Idle Woman

“If you enjoy strong or subversive female protagonists in speculative fiction, this collection is for you!”
Read Well Reviews

“A shimmering cornucopia of language, emotion, and surprises rich with meaning.  No one gives us the terrible innocence and longings of childhood better than Ellen Klages. These stories are fabulous, in every sense of that multi-faceted word.”
—Nancy Kress, author of After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall

“The stories collected in Ellen Klages’ Wicked Wonders are the best kind: ones that deliver charm and delight the first time, then open further and compound their meanings on each consecutive read. As I devoured the collection, I kept saying, ‘This one is my favorite. No. This one.’ And then I turned the page to find even more . . . A fantastic achievement.”
—Fran Wilde, award-winning author of Cloudbound and Horizon

Wicked Wonders will realign disparate parts of your heart into quantum sympathy. Read it. Read it now.”
—William Alexander, National Book Award-winning author of Goblin Secrets

 “Stunning. She draws your eye to the waves at the shore then gathers the tide behind your back. Bradbury, Dahl, Jackson? No—simply incomparable Klages.”
—Karen Lord, author of The Galaxy Game and The Best of All Possible Worlds

“Whenever I start to read a new story by the incomparable Ellen Klages, I feel as if I’m on the edge of my seat in the front row of the theater: keen-eyed and determined, this time, to pay close attention to the entire performance and figure out how she does it. I never do figure it out—her hands are too quick, too deft, and she seems to be everywhere at once . But that’s OK, the magic happens anyway, and bits of it still glitter on my shoulders as I re-enter my life, dazed and exhilarated, wiser and richer for the experience.”
—Andy Duncan, author of The Night Cache and The Pottawatomie Giant

“Smart, often funny, and satisfyingly strange, these wicked stories will delight.”
—Jenny Blackford, author of Duties to my Cat and The Princess and the Slave

“Hugely enjoyable.”
The Booklover’s Boudoir

“All of these stories have a strange little bend in them but the magic isn’t overwhelming, they are ‘curiouser and curiouser’ still.”

“Klages has a very unique way of telling a story that sneaks up on you and burrows under the layers of your subconscious, ready to pop up when you least expect it. She’s a great writer, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for more of her work.”
Fiction Fantastic

“A mixture of heartbreaking magical melancholy, vintage nostalgia, and forlorn near-futurism . . . the aesthetic is memorably fantastic.”
Nostalgia Reader

“Wicked Wonders is truly a wonderful collection of recent short fiction by Ellen Klages. It’s a terrific introduction to her work.”
The MT Void

“Klages uses language very artfully. Her descriptions are very beautiful and rich, which leave the worlds she creates very well-painted.”
SF Crowsnest

“Reading Wicked Wonders is like looking through a box filled with heirloom jewelry and listening to their histories: each piece is special or significant in some way, and at least one story is likely to stay with you for one reason or another. I’ll be adding a copy of Wicked Wonders to my own library, with the intent of reading it many times in the future. Highly recommended.”
—Jana Nyman, Fantasy Literature

“Absolutely gorgeous. 10 out of 10 stars”

“Ms. Klages, you have a new fan.”
The Writerly Reader

Wicked Wonders is marvelous. Klages has a unique world-view and her stories are both fresh and surprising. While reading this collection, I felt a range of emotions, from laughing to crying and everything in-between . . . Klages is the best “new-to-me” author discovery that I’ve made in a long time. I have a serious crush on her writing style.”
Perpetually Booked

“Honestly, I really couldn’t find fault with this collection.”
The Book That

“In  Ellen Klages’ dazzling new collection of short stories, Wicked Wonders, she crafts one perfect sentence after another.”
Mirabile Dictu

“These stories completely charmed me and this quickly became one of my favorite books of 2017.”
Emily Reads Jane

“In Wicked Wonders, readers are surrounded by stories of magic, transformation, art, longing, sleight of hand, and the extraordinary hiding in plain sight . . . altogether wonderful.”
New York Review of Science Fiction

“If you think short stories are not for you, read this book. From the first page I was instantly immersed in the magical and vibrant worlds of Wicked Wonders.”
Satellite Mind

“This is an author who demonstrates great skill in both creating richly-developed worlds and unique, three-dimensional characters over and over again in short stories. It’s no small feat, and she does it so very well. Definitely worth a read!”
Convergence Book Reviews

About the author

Ellen Klages is the acclaimed author of the Scott O’Dell Award-winner, The Green Glass Sea, and White Sands, Red Menace, which won the California and New Mexico Book awards. Her short fiction, previously collected in the World Fantasy Award-nominated Portable Childhoods, has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, and has been translated into more than seven languages and republished worldwide. A graduate from the Second City’s infamous Improv Program, Klages also holds a degree in philosophy, which led to many randomly-alliterative jobs such as proofreader, photographer, painter, and pinball arcade manager. She lives in San Francisco, in a small house full of strange and wondrous things.

About the author of the introduction

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of twelve novels and fiction collections, including the New York Times bestsellers The Jane Austen Book Club and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. She is the recipient of the PEN/Faulkner, World Fantasy, and Nebula Awards, as well as the Commonwealth Medal and the International Fiction Prize. Fowler lives in Santa Cruz, California.


Praise for Ellen Klages

On Passing Strange

[STARRED REVIEW] Klages folds history and the modern world into a thoroughly satisfying novella that’s rich in detail, warm in regard, and clever in execution.
―Publishers Weekly

“A once-invisible slice of history, filled with vibrant, non-idealized characters, and fabulous writing to boot. A must-read!”
―Ann Leckie, New York Times bestselling author of the Imperial Radch trilogy

“A moving and genuine love story.”
The Washington Post

“With Passing Strange, Ellen Klages has spun a marvelously gritty tale of the bad old days, deftly weaving a tapestry from bittersweet nostalgia, magic, weirdness, romance,and the ugly truth of being queer in San Francisco at the dawn of WWII. It earns my highest compliment: I wanted more.”
―World Fantasy Award winner Caitlin R. Kiernan

“Ellen Klages’s love for queer San Francisco is evident in every line: its history, its mystery, and its people in all their variety and glory. I smiled as I read. You will, too.”
―Nicola Griffith, author of Hild

“A tightly written plot and an unyielding sense of wonder… Passing Strange is a quick, enchanting read.”
Romantic Times

‘Klages deftly weaves each thread to a climax both bittersweet and empowering while demonstrating historical knowledge and immense fondness for her subjects and setting. For fans of speculative fiction with a strong sense of place.”

Passing Strange is [Klages’] best adult work to date.”
The Chicago Tribune

“Passing Strange is a passing subtle, detailed intergenerational fantasy with a pulp influenced story and a literary sensibility full of the past and the artefacts it leaves behind. Queer history, San Francisco history and a pinch of Weird Tales.”
―Geoff Ryman, winner of the Clarke, Nebula and World Fantasy Awards.

“Elegantly constructed, elegiac, and hopeful in the face of difficult things.”
―Liz Bourke

“A masterpiece of queer fantasy.”
― The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

On Portable Childhoods

“Ellen Klages believes books can be magic, and now she’s delivered the proof: this spell-weaving collection of her short stories. There are so many smart, sweet, funny, troubling treats here about so many things—childhood, chefs, God, barber shops, the atomic bomb—that it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite. Just read them all! They’re great!”
—Connie Willis

“Klages, whose debut novel, [The] Green Glass Sea (2006), won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, demonstrates both superior writing skill and a wide range in an impressive short-story collection that defies easy categorization. The 16 selections, three of which are original to the volume, include moving mainstream tales of human relationships, like the title story, about a mother and daughter, as well as fantasy and science fiction. The author is equally adept at short, twisty narratives that make the most of premises that could be gimmicks in lesser hands, like the recursive ‘Möbius, Stripped of a Muse.’ This collection will linger in the memory long after reading and should help garner a larger audience for Klages’s forthcoming second novel.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Klages creates wonder-filled and beautiful worlds in her short stories, making this a tremendously satisfying collection.”

“The kind of SF writer that comes along once in a decade…brilliant stories.”
—Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing.net

“Klages knows that if you can get inside a child’s perspective, it’s all the fantasy you need, and she does it beautifully.”

“Klages’ superb first story collection…strong emotional stories.”
Denver Post

“Consistently well written and emotionally stimulating, the book is one of the loveliest you’ll find.”
School Library Journal Online

“Klages has the true storyteller’s gift of characters and plot. You believe in people from the first moment they appear on the page, and you can’t guess where they are going. If many of the stories in Portable Childhoods are not already classics in the field, they should be.”
—Charles de Lint, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

“Haunting and crystalline…there are 16 reasons why you should inspect Portable Childhoods. Buy it. Read it. Set it down. Then pick it up and read it again!”
Tangent Online

“Highly recommended. I enjoyed each and every story in the collection.”
SF Revu

“Ellen Klages’s work seems as transparent as spring water, but this is a woman who knows that clarity and simplicity can pierce the heart.”
—Peter Straub

“Ellen Klages writes about childhood in brilliant, primary colors. Like Ray Bradbury, her nostalgic stories are like myths.”
—Maureen McHugh

“This delightful collection showcases the best of Klages. Her protagonists are lovable, her prose natural, and her charm evident throughout.”
—Karen Joy Fowler

“Welcome to Planet Klages! These stories are warm, witty, occasionally wise, and always wonderfully written. Ellen Klages is going to be big as big. Buy this book now, read it today, and become her fan forever.”
—Michael Swanwick

“Ellen Klages writes like a dream—a dream from which you wake up laughing, and that fills the rest of the day with its strangeness and sweetness.”
—Margo Lanagan

“Like childhood, these stories run deep with not-yet-happened nostalgia and fierce yearning for what never was. And, like children, they brim with joy, wonder, and wickedness.”
—Nicola Griffith

“When you surface out of an Ellen Klages story, it’s like arriving home after a long trip: Your kitchen table, your car, your living room are all recognizably yours, but strange, and not half as real as the place you just came from. That place is the real world, and the people in it are as complex, unpredictable, and solid as you. It’s a hard place to come back from.”
—Emma Bull

“Ellen Klages’s stories combine the clear-eyed wonder of an intelligent child with the beautiful, controlled prose of a craftsman. And they have heart. What more could one ask of fiction?”
—Delia Sherman

“Ellen Klages is the funniest lead civilian collector in science fiction. Maybe the funniest woman, too.”
—Joe Haldeman

On White Sands, Red Menace

 “Sensitively portrays the early coming-of-age of two likable characters in a unique setting…will leave readers anxious to pick up the preceding work.”

“Superbly written and rich in detail…this book is every bit as powerful as its predecessor.”
School Library Journal

“Klages’s The Green Glass Sea (2006) won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and in this gripping sequel, set just after World War II, science, mechanics, and politics continue to play a big role in the teen friendship story. Dewey’s atomic-scientist dad has died in a traffic accident, and she has moved in with her friend Suze’s family near Los Alamos. Suze’s dad is driven by his work in the new frantic race to build a rocket (‘The first man in space mustn’t be a Russian’), and he fights bitterly with his peacenik wife, Terry, about Hiroshima and the radiation nightmare. There is sometimes too much local detail, but the ground-breaking science is part of daily life for the smart techno-teens, and the adult characters are as compelling as the kids. As Klages said in an interview in the November 2007 issue of Book Linksmagazine, people are excited about future technology, ‘and others are afraid that there won’t be a future.’ Along with these global issues, Klages’s compelling story explores personal relationships and what it means to be a family.”

On The Green Glass Sea

“Klages makes an impressive debut with an ambitious, meticulously researched novel set during WWII.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“…an intense but accessible page-turner, firmly belongs to the girls and their families; history and story are drawn together with confidence.”
Horn Book, starred review

“Many readers will know as little about the true nature of the project as the girls do, so the gradual revelation of facts is especially effective, while those who already know about Los Alamos’s historical significance will experience the story in a different, but equally powerful, way.”
School Library Journal

“The story is [a memoir of the life of the small daughter of an atomic scientist, who recounts the events leading up to and following Trinity] in heartbreaking Klages style:, simple, subtle, emotionally powerful writing that will knock you on your ass again and again as you read it…. If you haven’t read Klages before, you’re in for a treat.”
—Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing.net

“Ellen Klages is a very careful writer—which is to say that she is full of care for her craft and allows her readers the intelligence to take care of themselves. To take care, for instance, of the differences and resonances and contingencies between reality and fantasy, between real life and fairy tale; and to take care of what one can say to and about the other.”
ED SF Project

“Klages gives us sympathetic characters and slow-building suspense in an absorbing novel with a unique view of wartime.”
Newhouse News Service

“This beautifully told and historically accurate story makes you feel what it would be like to be a kid in this surreal, secretive world of scientists, mathematicians, and their families.”
Not Your Mother’s Book Club

Visit the Ellen Klages website.

Table of Contents

Introduction by Karen Joy Fowler

The Education of a Witch
Amicae Aeternum
Mrs. Zeno’s Paradox
Singing on a Star
Hey, Presto
Echoes of Aurora
Friday Night at St. Cecilia’s
Caligo Lane
Goodnight Moons
Gone to the Library
Household Management
Sponda the Suet Girl and the Secret of the French Pearl
The Scary Ham
Afterword: Why I Write Short Fiction

Other books by this author…