The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror
annuals are always a treat; read this one and The Year's Best Science Fiction Sixteenth Annual Collection
edited by Gardner Dozois and you'll have a fairly complete overview of speculative fiction from 1998 as well as hours of great reading.
Datlow and Windling, renowned for crossing genre boundaries, gather stories and poems from mainstream magazines, literary journals, and Internet zines. There are vampires, a Lovecraft homage, enchanted birds and animals, shapeshifters, adult fairy tales, ghosts, and even a hunted muse. The best are Byatt's sensuous, enchanting "Cold"--about an ice princess who marries a glass-blowing desert prince--and Straub's novella, "Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff" (which won the Stoker award for Best Long Fiction in 1999), a black comedy of revenge gone awry. The reference material includes each editor's review of the year's best novels, collections and anthologies, magazines, related nonfiction, children's books, and art. There's also a roundup of 1998's film, television, and dramatic offerings by Ed Bryant, a brief essay on comics by Seth Johnson, and obituaries by James Frenkel.
It's an invaluable source of introductions to authors you might not otherwise try, plus thought-provoking observations on fantasy in all its guises. You may not get to a convention this year, but if you've read Datlow and Windling, you'll know what a good one is like. --Nona Vero
From Publishers Weekly
Twelve years of taking the pulse of literary horror and fantasy fiction haven't dulled Datlow and Windling's discrimination. The latest volume in their acclaimed series is a cornucopia of treats harvested from a wide assortment of trade and specialty press publications (including e-zines) issued in the U.S. and abroad. Though the editors split space evenly, Datlow's 11 solo horror picks run long, the better to accommodate their atmospherics and meticulously orchestrated chills. Peter Straub's "Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff," an arch revenge thriller of Dickensian style and scope, is one of several stories that give old-fashioned horrors a contemporary twist. Modern terrors get their due in Dennis Etchison's "Inside the Cackle Factory," a flicker of Hollywood noir, and John Kessel's brilliant "Every Angel Is Terrifying," a sequel to Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" that stands on its own as a haunting meditation on failed redemption. Windling's 32 fantasy selections include eight poems and 24 stories that span a variety of story types: dark fantasy in Stephen King's unsettling dream tale "That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French"; magic realism in Kurahashi Yumiko's man-to-animal fable "The House of the Black Cat"; parable in Jorge Luis Borges's brief "The Rose of Paracelsus." Kelly Link, in her wry metafiction "Travels with the Snow Queen," and A.S. Byatt, in her exquisite romance "Cold," show the traditional fairy tale to be alive and well. In addition, three stories were chosen by both editors. Notwithstanding the very different paths horror and fantasy fiction have taken in recent years, this indispensable anthology proves that a well-told tale can enthrall readers regardless of genre preference.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.