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Fearful Symmetries Paperback – May 15, 2014
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More anthologies like Inferno, and its predecessor of a few years ago, The Dark, should be urgent priorities. It's very clear that horror at short length is poised for a major revival, and the commercial stimulus must, as here, be applied, and on a large scale...
---Nick Gevers, Locus Magazine
"...one of the best recent collections of horror as literature."
-- Carl Hays, Book List
Inferno will undoubtedly stand the test of time to become a classic in the field. ...Inferno is a monument to all that horror fiction is capable of.
--Nicholas Kaufmann for Fearzone
About Fearful Symmetries
"I ...cannot say enough good things about the exceptional talent and overall quality that comes to life within the pages of Fearful Symmetries."
--Jess Landry for Hellnotes
"One of the best horror anthologies I've ever read." --Alan Baxter for
"...Datlow has assembled an eclectic mix of horror, fantasy, and quasi-science fiction stories, with a good measure of selections that fall between and just outside of those distinctions. About the only thing the tales have in common are their exceptional quality of storytelling."
Stefan Dziemianowicz for Locus
From the Author
From my introduction: Introduction
Fearful Symmetries was funded by Kickstarter, a crowd funding mechanism that has in the last few years increased in popularity. Why did I do this rather than use a traditional approach to publishing an anthology? I've rarely had problems selling theme anthologies to book publishers. Before a publisher commits to buying a book (novel, single-author collection, or anthology) the publisher must sell the book to its marketing and sales people, who in turn have to sell it to bookstores. But non-theme anthologies have always been a hard sell, and it's even more difficult it today's publishing climate.
Using Kickstarter was an experiment. I've donated to several Kickstarter projects, but had never been involved with one before. I approached Brett Alexander Savory and Sandra Kasturi, owners of the Canadian ChiZine Publications, to partner with me on the project. I thought they'd be a good match for what I had in mind because I enjoy what they publish and I love their production values and commitment to good-looking books. They also have excellent distribution, which means their books are available in most bookstores. This is important, so that the book is available to the general reading public, not only our several hundred backers. I was delighted (and relieved) when we reached our goal, and shocked when we went above it. The one thing we'd forgotten to factor in to our financial estimates was the percentage paid out to Amazon, who handled our payments, and to Kickstarter itself. So the money that went over our initial requirements went for that.
I solicited some of the writers I've worked with in the past and also a few whose work I've admired but never published before. And in a break from my usual working method, Brett, Sandra, and I decided to hold a month-long open reading period. We promised to keep at least a couple of slots open for unsolicited stories submitted during that period. We received 1,080 submissions. There were several readers, including Sandra and a prominent Australian publisher/editor. Of those 1080 submissions, 119 were passed on to me. I ended up buying four.
Every anthology is a balancing act, be it reprint or original, theme or unthemed. While I love editing themed anthologies, there's something especially challenging and fun molding an anthology with fewer boundaries. The editor has to be even more aware of varying tones, themes, voice, and locale in the stories she acquires.
So what can you look forward to in Fearful Symmetries? There are monsters--human and non-human. There are children -those who victimize, and those who are victims. There are supernatural horrors, psychological terrors, nourish dark fantasies, and downright weird fictions.
Come on in, and make yourself a cozy little nook in the dark, and enjoy.
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Top Customer Reviews
Few readers are going to like every story here, but it will be a matter of readers' taste rather than writers' talent. I've been waiting a long time to read something by the immensely gifted Gemma Files in which I'd feel like I'm part of the intended audience, and I thank her for letting me in with "A Wish from a Bone". I also enjoyed the works representing Bruce McAllister, Jeffrey Ford, Robert Shearman, Michael Marshall Smith, Laird Barron and John Langan. The last couple stories, by Carole Johnstone and Garth Nix, are virtual companion pieces that should have anchored a collection of their own -- one about Britons who face bizarre adversity with innate courage and plucky aplomb.
If "Fearful Symmetries" has a persistent flaw, it's that too many of the authors seemed intent on building a world in which further adventures could be had. Nothing wrong with that in a short story, but when you string too many of them together it starts reading like a SyFy Channel pitch session.
Overall, though, I'm glad I backed the Kickstarter campaign for it (even though I didn't get credit in the back -- sniff!) and would support further Datlow-CZP collaborations in future.
Ellen Datlow's name to me is synonymous with horror anthology. I see the two together so often, and usually with accolades, that I decided I really did need to just read one of her collections. This one really impressed me in its variety and its quality. I typically enjoy reading horror stories like these around Halloween time, and this collection would be suited well for that kind of celebration. The hard decision will be whether to reread this one or try out another one of her collections.
A review of each single story seems excessive, and there isn't a single story that failed here. There are no common themes uniting this collection other than the very general fitting into the category of horror or dark tales. They range from very realistic to paranormal, from gruesome gore-filled feasts to nuanced, atmospheric tales, from pulp to literary. Fairly well-ranged in background and style, this is an ideal volume to discover new authors or names that you may merely recognize.
Frankly, it is hard to even pick out favorites from this. For someone like me who has a wide range of tastes across the genre, each of these represents top contributions to their respective category of story type. If you are discriminating regarding the type of horror you like then this may not be the best collection. There will certainly be some or several stories here that you like, but others may hold no interest, in which case you might search elsewhere for a themed collection or just read certain selections here. But for those wanting an intro or return to the range that the horror genre has available, "Fearful Symmetries" is absolutely perfect.
I have decided to stop reading because I prefer explicit horror to implicit horror. It may be too late for me though. I cannot resist. They are
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fearful Symmetries, edited by @EllenDatlow – review: http://www.thirteenoclock.com.au/fearful-symmetries-edited-by-ellen-datlow-review/