A good collection of Diana Wynne Jones’ short fiction. They’re not all her best work, but there’s some excellent stories here. Recommended for her fans.
The Girl Jones
A most excellent way to get out of babysitting, forever. Hilarious. Not fantasy, though.
Nad and Dan and Quaffy
Eh, I didn’t care for this one. Too self-referential, and kind of annoying. A female writer, at her word processor, makes contact with an alternate universe.
The Plague of Peacocks
A peaceful village is invaded by new neighbors. Their passive aggressive, do-gooder ways get worse and worse… until their just desserts are delivered, in the village’s own special way.
A vet takes a late-night call, and is led into a mysterious wood to tend to wolves. It’s framed as a dream… but in a far less-annoying way than most “it was a dream” stories.
A child is sick with mumps. To amuse herself, she pretends that her bed is a dramatic landscape… but when the tiny adventurers of her imagination come to life, things get out of hand… (Doesn’t most everyone get vaccinated for mumps there days? I’ll look at it as being a period piece…)
The Girl Who Loved the Sun
A story with a mythological feel, about a girl who becomes a tree, believing the sun will love her.
The Fluffy Pink Toadstool
Ha! Hippies might get a bit grumpy about this one, but it’s pretty funny. The mom of a family goes on a DIY craze, and foraging for food goes just a bit wrong.
Auntie Bea's Day Out
An annoying aunt doesn’t pay attention to warning signs at the seashore – and gets far more than she bargained for, on a whirlwind ‘tour’ of all different sorts of ‘islands.’
Due to an aural misunderstanding, a young girl thinks that a walking stick will magically beat her annoying father. The stick talks to her, and moves, but seems unwilling to do any beating. People think she’s pretty weird for bringing a cane everywhere, and talking to it. But in the end, she’s vindicated… in a rather unexpected way.
What the Cat Told Me
An evil wizard uses boys for nefarious purposes, but, with the help of a cat, one may finally escape… told from the point of view of the cat, which one may either find cute, or mildly annoying.
The Green Stone
A funny take-off on the quest story. All the heroes, sidekicks, and what have you are assembled at the inn yard, and a bard is there to report on their deeds. But the quest unexpectedly get aborted… in, of course, an unexpected way.
The Fat Wizard
A small-town story of magic gone wrong… or possibly, unexpectedly right. (“losing weight” doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be “in shape…”)
An amusing sci-fi story about a very poorly programmed household robot.
Dragon Reserve, Home Eight
A familiar-feeling but very enjoyable story… on a colony world, those with psychic powers are kept in swift and brutal check. So it’s not surprising that some families would try to hide their children’s abilities. The end of the story makes too much effort to backpedal from the nastiness the story has brought up, but I still liked it.
Another story from a cat’s point of view. But I liked this one. I’m not sure why Bast would be a Caribbean lady, not an Egyptian woman, but it’s fine. A bunch of cats must drive off their rescuer’s new girlfriend before she takes them to the pound… but she is more nefarious than even they could have guessed.
This is not a short story; it’s a whole novel. Not even a novella. It’s around 230 pages long. Why it wasn’t published as its own book, I do not know. It’s an early work by Wynne-Jones, originally written in 1966. It’s a very nice romantic fantasy… If one travels to a small island in the proper way, a medieval-ish ‘pocket’ world is discovered … Although rumors abound of ghosts, it’s very real, and there may be more there for some of the characters than there is ‘here.’