© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (Year's
Best Fantasy and Horror) by Ellen Datlow (Editor), Terri Windling
Despite the notion that I don't like Horror at all, and Fantasy on on forbearance, this may be the best collection of short fiction I've read this year.
Even if you don't think you like Fantasy and
Horror, you owe it to yourself to read this superb collection of stories.
Datlow and Windling have selected as wonderful and terrifying a group of
tales as you could hope for in their 15th annual collection. In SF I look
for ideas that expand my notions of the possible, while in these stories I
find feelings that expand my sense of what it is to be alive.
Speaking of ghosts, or not, Steve Rasnic Tem, was surely channeling the great shorth story masters wen he wrote, "In These Final Days of Sales". This wonderful story is about more than the life, or death, of a Emil, a career salesman, though one who never had any real knack for selling, it is about the death of sales itself, the death of dreams really. Buy this story. You really should have a copy...how many can I put you down for?
In June Consadine's "To Dream Of White Horses", the child of an artist offers a homeless street artist the use of an abandoned (and haunted) former home. I've always wanted to be a homeless street artist for some reason, so this tale of fantasy and horror really drew me in. There are other reasons why it snared me, but you'll have to discover them for yourselves.
In "Timmy Gobel's Bug Jar" by Michael Libling, you will find the most incredible things, not all of them pretty, which comes as no surprise, but like the narrator, you may well find them hard to get out of your mind.
Jeffrey Ford, who is a composition teacher, among other things, wrote "The Honeyed Knot" about how teaching composition has reached inside him and how he has been affected by other's stories. He swears his tale is 99.9% true.
Actually he's wrong. All these stories are true, you can tell by the way they strike at your heart. The evens in them may not be real, but in this collection you will find little else but truth.
All in all there are fifty stories in this collection. When I review a large anthology I try to sample the stories, not give readers a blow by blow for each one, but each of these stories cries, me too, just add one more, just one more.
So here are a few more. Charles de Lint's "Trading Harts at the Half Kaffe CafeK is a werewolfe romance, a blind date that turns out lile all blind dates, something other than you thought. Michael Cabon's "Dark God Of Laughter" gives his protagonist, and you, the reader, to wonder "What's a dead clown doing in my woods?" Well, for one thing, he's not laughing on the inside, that's for sure.
The last tale I will speak of is "The Bones of the Earth, from Ursula K. LeGuin, one of my most beloved authors, whether she is writing the fantasy of Earthsea or the Science Fiction of the Ekumen. Here is a story that takes place a bit before the story of Ged, who became the wizard of Earthsea; it is the story of his teacher, or more accurately his teacher's teacher, The Mage of Ri Albi. To those of us who love this storyline, it is a wonderful piece of coming home.
To the rest of the authors I extend my apologies, for every story in here is worth savoring.
Did I mention that I'm not big on fantasy? Except when it's this good.
Ernest Lilley is Editor and Publisher of SFRevu. He also writes about technology in his publication TechRevu (www.techrevu.com) as well as being a frequent contributor in online and print publications like Byte.com, Digital Camera, Pen Computing and others. He likes station wagons with stick shifts, PDA's with keyboards, and SF with ideas.