The 14th volume of the critically acclaimed Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthology series is a 556-page behemoth combining 44 of the best stories and eight of the best poems from 2000. Editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling provide long, thorough, and insightful summaries of their fields, horror and fantasy, respectively. If that isn't enough, the anthology includes Edward Bryant's detailed and evenhanded "Fantasy and Horror in the Media: 2000," Seth Johnson's concise and knowledgeable "Comics: 2000," and James Frenkel's "Obituaries: 2000."
The stories and poems in this volume are as strong as the title claims; a few are very good, and most are excellent. The contributors include literary greats like John Crowley, Harlan Ellison, and Louise Erdrich; genre giants like Ramsey Campbell, Charles de Lint, and Tanith Lee; acclaimed young-adult authors like Francesca Lia Block and Jane Yolen; excellent foreign authors better known in their native countries, like Australia's Terry Dowling and Bolivia's Claudia Adria'zola; and terrific new talents like Susanna Clarke, Andy Duncan, and Kelly Link.
With a volume this massive, it is difficult to describe all the stories, or even representative examples of the many different subgenres. Here are summaries of two selections from each editor:
In Louise Erdrich's tragicomic tall tale "Le Mooz," a prideful Ojibwa woman wrecks her marriage after a moose hunt goes awry. In Kathe Koja's chilling and startling "At Eventide," a serial killer tracks down the woman artist who escaped him and sent him to prison. "The Man on the Ceiling," a metafiction by Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem, is a brilliant, moving, autobiographical exploration of the physical, emotional, and creative lives of two writers. In Susanna Clarke's witty, beautifully written fantasy of manners, "Mr. Simonelli or the Fairy Widower," a poor, handsome young priest learns his new parish overlaps Faerie, discovers a shocking ancestral secret, and makes covert marriage proposals to five beautiful sisters.
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror is a great and generous collection, perfect for most, but not all, horror and/or fantasy fans. It includes both supernatural and nonsupernatural horror, but it doesn't have anything for the "splatterpunk" fan. Also, while the horror selections are drawn from both genre and nongenre publications, most of the fantasy selections are taken from nongenre magazines, anthologies, and other sources. If you want fantasy drawn largely or exclusively from genre sources, and particularly if you want only heroic/adventure/sword-and-sorcery fantasy, then you should skip the entire Year's Best Fantasy and Horror series. Those subgenres make no appearance in this volume, and have never had much of a presence in this series; it's as if only magic realism, fairy tales, and mythic/folkloric fantasy of a rather sensitive, measured, and grown-up sort need apply (even when it's young adult fiction). Also, extreme, graphic horror may be out of fashion, but its raw, adolescent energy will doubtless reappear in future volumes of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror whenever great graphic-horror stories are published. --Cynthia Ward
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
There are other annual "best" collections of fantasy and horror combined, but this long-running series of short fiction and poetry, with exhaustive summations of both fields for the year 2000, tops them all. Editors Datlow and Windling have scoured not only magazines and anthologies devoted to these genres but also general and small-press publications. So a handful of mainstream authors pop up (Louise Erdrich, Stewart O'Nan, etc.), along with a host of American and British writers familiar to genre fans (Ramsey Campbell, Harlan Ellison, Tanith Lee, Neil Gaiman, etc.). If few of the more than 50 eclectic stories and poems are outstanding, they are all worthy. More sketches than tales are Steve Resnic Tem and Melanie Tem's fantastical "The Man on the Ceiling" and Greer Gilman's poetic "Jack Daw's Pack." Jack Dann's "Marilyn" proves the film star should be given a moratorium. Fine folk tales by Erdrich, Claudia Barbosa Nogueira and Nalo Hopkinson demonstrate the value of brevity. Jack Ketchum is painfully and unusually poignant in a brief story of loss, "Gone," while Campbell satirically points up the inadequacies of specialty publishers in "No Story in It." And the late Howard Wandrei's tale of jealousy and revenge, "George Is All Right," is as creepy as they come. This anthology is an essential volume for anyone who values quality in fantasy and horror today.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.