Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: Eloquent Books
Publication Date: February 26, 2010
Author Website: Ira Nayman
What Were Once Miracles Are Now Children’s Toys is the second collection of alternated news stories by Ira Nayman. The premise of the book is like a newspaper, filled with stories of an alternate world. Of course, being releases as a trade paperback precludes the book from being designed to look like a newspaper, though Nayman does his best by including Bylines and titling each story. He also includes recurring features, such as a technical column and a relationship column where “readers” ask questions and the fictional columnist answers them.
Nayman’s content is quite hilarious if you are a science/tech/fiction geek. This collection of news stories is Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader for the science fiction set. Each of the stories stands alone, satirizing various aspects of technology, history, arts and culture, politics and more by twisting real details of our culture into self-mockery. The end result is hilarious. Nayman is clever in phrasing, for the most part keeping his news stories reading like news stories, making up quotes from “experts”, fictional products we wish existed, or snarky commentary on contemporary issues coupled with clever wordplay and an excess of punnery.
The book is also contains interludes, which, when put together, contain Nayman’s original story “The Weight of Information” about the editors and writers of the Alternate Reality News Service, who are the producers of this novel collection.
I couldn’t read it all in one sitting, the stories being better taken a few at a time rather than in one gulp. After a while, the funny just gets lost in the sheer amount of it, which shows that there is lots of comedy on every page. Just like it would be difficult to watch a stand-up comedian for 8 hours straight, so to would it be to read What Were Once Miracles Are Now Children’s Toys in one gulp. Better to space it out, enjoy each bit of cleverness when you have five minutes here as you wait for the bus or subway, ten minutes here when you wait for a meeting to start, or a thirty minutes while you wait for your wife/partner/friend to think about getting ready for a night on the town.
This book would make for a great ice-breaker at gaming sessions, book clubs, or conventions of the science fiction and gaming set. The short “news” stories lend themselves to a quick read and are so funny that everyone will be comfortably laughing before you have made it a few paragraphs. Nothing is without the potential for humor in Nayman’s mindset, and he twists, puns, and snarks his way through the morass of human life, helping us laugh at the sometimes utterly ridiculous world around us. Be prepared to laugh when reading What Were Once Miracles Are Now Children’s Toys.