Warning: include(../../../incs/top.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Years-Best-Fantasy-And-Horror-18th-Annual-Collection-by-Ellen-Datlow-Kelly-Link-and-Gavin-J-Grant-editors-.php on line 3

Warning: include(../../../incs/top.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Years-Best-Fantasy-And-Horror-18th-Annual-Collection-by-Ellen-Datlow-Kelly-Link-and-Gavin-J-Grant-editors-.php on line 3

Warning: include(): Failed opening '../../../incs/top.inc' for inclusion (include_path='.:/opt/php54/lib/php') in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Years-Best-Fantasy-And-Horror-18th-Annual-Collection-by-Ellen-Datlow-Kelly-Link-and-Gavin-J-Grant-editors-.php on line 3

MagazineBook reviews

Just in | Library of book reviews 

The Year's Best Fantasy And Horror: 18th Annual Collection by Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant (editors)

. Contributed by

Buy from Amazon US - Buy from Amazon UK
nb: US titles may only be available from Amazon US, and UK titles from Amazon UK.

Buy The Year's Best Fantasy And Horror in the USA - or Buy The Year's Best Fantasy And Horror in the UK

author pic

pub: St. Martin's Press. 480 page enlarged paperback. Price: $19.95 (US), $26.95 (CAN). ISBN: 0-312-34194-6.

check out websites: www.stmartins.com

Reviewing this massive volume--44 stories, 70 pages of editorial material, amounting to 480 pages in all--is a tricky task. If I analysed every story my review would stretch to several thousand words and would you be bothered to read it right through? The usual approach (adopted by most reviewers) in cases like this is to make a few general remarks about the quality and scope of the volume, as compared to previous ones, then to pick out a favourite 3 or 4 stories and comment briefly, finally mentioning the names of some other authors included or one could find a theme that links a handful of the stories.



I didn't read the previous volume in this series, though I have read many earlier ones. The whole thing is large and impressively packaged, with really useful articles on the best fantasy and horror occurring in various media (if you're really interested in anime, graphic novels and music) during 2004. The multi-page list of honourable mentions at the back is long and suggests a pleasing completeness. It does seem to me a trifle unfair that, for example, John Connolly gets twelve honourable mentions but no story in the book itself.

Let me tease out one of the most interesting aspects of these stories: what does 'best' mean these days in the context of fantasy and horror? One obvious answer is subtlety. Fantasy doesn't include dragons or elves and horror doesn't include giant spiders or attacks with chainsaws. So the best stories deal with original ideas at the edge of fantasy and horror, mostly in our world, suggesting disturbing or perhaps terrifying brushes with phenomena we can't explain, put across in an attractive and readable style or perhaps in a slightly elliptical fashion, so that one needs to fill in the blanks by guesswork.

Most memorable is 'Reports Of Certain Events In London' by China Miéville which deals with the temporary presence of streets in various cities of the world. Streets appear and, after a few hours or days, disappear again. This explains why we have problems finding our way back to particular streets. I find it quite a plausible idea. But Miéville further develops the idea to suggest that these streets are small and dangerous to human health (if you walk along one it may disappear and so will you). He wraps up the story in more mystery by suggesting that some details of this phenomenon reached him by mistake in an incomplete and often baffling package of documents, each one of which is reproduced here.

Gregory Maguire's 'The Oakthing' is set in France during World War I, showing how a grandmother, accidentally left behind when a farming family flee the German military advance, acquires supernatural help, perhaps. The title is a hefty clue. Another story with a different flavour is 'Water Babies' by Simon Brown, set in Australia, crime fiction featuring a female police officer and a possible supernatural ingredient. That seems to be one of the criteria for inclusion here: a different flavour of setting or style or point of view, which marks out a story as memorable.

In 'A Hazy Shade Of Winter', Simon Bestwick shows that religious extremism can occur anywhere, even in a small Christian sect in rural England at Christmas, in the present day. (Don't stop reading to ask how, just enjoy the moment.) There's the suggestion of a nasty divorced husband returned from the dead to claim one of his children in Stephen Gallagher's pretty unrestrained story 'Restraint'. John Kessel's 'The Baum Plan For Financial Independence' is a lightly amusing dream-fantasy about getting rich, a very polished wish-fulfilment story concerning criminals which never tries to explain itself. I must mention Chuck Palahniuk. His story 'Guts' is the most disgusting in the book, though so smoothly written as to be completely believable: a warning against extreme forms of masturbation.

The best known authors here are Peter Straub and Joyce Carol Oates, both fine US novelists, though neither represented by stories which quite do justice to their talents. The Oates piece. 'Stripping', and the shorter of the two by Straub are too brief to achieve anything, while the other Straub, 'Mr.Aickman's Air Rifle', has beautiful ingredients which don't (for me) quite mesh.

I should mention the poetry. Several poems are included, rhyming and non-rhyming, but so lacking in quality that I wonder why the editors bothered.

Did I enjoy all the stories? No. Perhaps some are too subtle or too American for me. Obviously 2004 was not a vintage year. But 'the best' is a personal, subjective thing. Don't be put off by my reservations. This is a volume well worth trying if you enjoy short fant

Magazine > Book reviews

Just in | Library of book reviews

Add SFcrowsnest.com daily news updates to your own web site or blog - just cut and paste the code below...


Warning: include(../../../incs/bottom.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Years-Best-Fantasy-And-Horror-18th-Annual-Collection-by-Ellen-Datlow-Kelly-Link-and-Gavin-J-Grant-editors-.php on line 22

Warning: include(../../../incs/bottom.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Years-Best-Fantasy-And-Horror-18th-Annual-Collection-by-Ellen-Datlow-Kelly-Link-and-Gavin-J-Grant-editors-.php on line 22

Warning: include(): Failed opening '../../../incs/bottom.inc' for inclusion (include_path='.:/opt/php54/lib/php') in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Years-Best-Fantasy-And-Horror-18th-Annual-Collection-by-Ellen-Datlow-Kelly-Link-and-Gavin-J-Grant-editors-.php on line 22

 

CURRENT ISSUE

July 2012

RECENT NEWS


Warning: include(../../../last5news.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Years-Best-Fantasy-And-Horror-18th-Annual-Collection-by-Ellen-Datlow-Kelly-Link-and-Gavin-J-Grant-editors-.php on line 30

Warning: include(../../../last5news.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Years-Best-Fantasy-And-Horror-18th-Annual-Collection-by-Ellen-Datlow-Kelly-Link-and-Gavin-J-Grant-editors-.php on line 30

Warning: include(): Failed opening '../../../last5news.inc' for inclusion (include_path='.:/opt/php54/lib/php') in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Years-Best-Fantasy-And-Horror-18th-Annual-Collection-by-Ellen-Datlow-Kelly-Link-and-Gavin-J-Grant-editors-.php on line 30

Stephen Hunt's novels - USA


Warning: include(../../../incs/footer.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Years-Best-Fantasy-And-Horror-18th-Annual-Collection-by-Ellen-Datlow-Kelly-Link-and-Gavin-J-Grant-editors-.php on line 35

Warning: include(../../../incs/footer.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Years-Best-Fantasy-And-Horror-18th-Annual-Collection-by-Ellen-Datlow-Kelly-Link-and-Gavin-J-Grant-editors-.php on line 35

Warning: include(): Failed opening '../../../incs/footer.inc' for inclusion (include_path='.:/opt/php54/lib/php') in /home/hunt0799/public_html/articles/books/The-Years-Best-Fantasy-And-Horror-18th-Annual-Collection-by-Ellen-Datlow-Kelly-Link-and-Gavin-J-Grant-editors-.php on line 35