- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: Prime Books; 2012 ed. edition (19 Jun. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1607013452
- ISBN-13: 978-1607013457
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.8 x 22.6 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,210,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2012 Edition Paperback – 19 Jun 2012
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She's also managed to draw some very well-established names -- like Stephen King, Charles de Lint, Caitlin Kiernan and Joan Aiken -- to sit side-by-side with relatively new talents. Some of my favorites include:
A book-lover's nightmare set in a dystopian near-future San Francisco, Glen Hirshberg's "After-Words" introduces the crazed leader of a book-cult whose end-time plans rely on remarkably old-fashioned methods. Hirshberg, a fellow SF denizen, always captures the tiniest nuances of the city, right down to the smells, night sounds, and neighborhood weather (yes, in SF we have different weather in different neighborhoods). Since the world in this story is quite grim, the verisimilitude adds an extra dose of shiver for me.
Joe R. Lansdale's "The Bleeding Shadow" has a Lovecraft-on-the-bayou vibe. Callow bluesman Tootie makes an unwise trade at Cross Roads Records: in exchange for a drop of his blood, he gets a platter full of unearthly music that, when he plays it, bequeaths him unearthly musical skills. Unfortunately, it also opens a doorway for those pesky things that should not be. (And if you like this story, I'd highly recommend picking up John Horner Jacobs' awesome novel Southern Gods.)
Yoon Ha Lee's "Conservation of Shadows" re-visions the ancient myth of Innana's journey to the Underworld as a MMORPG dungeon-like challenge, complete with mazes and inventory slots. I'd never read Lee's work before, but the juxtaposition of an eons-old tale with a futuristic gamescape makes for a memorable story, and Lee's language is beautiful and poetic.
"The Lake" by (the mellifluously-named) Tannarive Due, delivers a sneaky yet genteel brutality with the story of Abbie LaFleur, a Bostonian transplant to the deep south . . . where she really takes to her new environment. And Laura Anne Gilman's "Crossroads" puts a quick and clever new spin on the standard deal with the devil.
I could go through the whole book like this. I am such a sucker for the short form, and Guran's choices are almost always top-notch: out of 33 stories, only one or two are a little meh, and that's probably just down to personal taste. (In fact, I'm not even gushing about other favorites -- Maureen McHugh's emotionally savage "After the Apocalypse," Elizabeth Hand's eerie "Near Zennor," and Tim Powers' clever and creepy "A Journey of Two Paces" -- because I have or plan to write about them in separate reviews of their authors' own collections.)
Verdict: if you like horror, and you like short stories, put this 2012 collection on your holiday wish list -- it's a real treat.
I was still thinking about some of those stories days later.
On the other, the valleys between these peaks seem deeper than in the other DF&H collections I’ve read. Indeed, some tales struck me as so wide of the “best” mark -- they just never get underway at all -- that the overall fabric of the collection suffered as a result. To be sure, it's set of great stories ... but not quite a great anthology.
No collection scores nothing but homeruns, but this collection came pretty close with ninety percent of the stories grabbing the reader's attention and using old themes in new ways. I was especially thrilled to see a story by the deceased Joan Aiken, a writer who deserves to be much better remembered. Hopefully this story will prompt readers to explore her other works. Superstars of the genre, such as King, Powers and Hand are also represented as well as lesser known writers. Like all short story collections, readers come away, not only with a good story but with the knowledge to explore new works and authors.
The overall introduction to the book is nice, but Dozois always introduces each story with a biography and bibliography of the author and a summation of what the story is about, here the teaser is a pull quote from the story which is not especially enlightening, but that is the only complaint I have about this otherwise marvelous collection. A highly recommended specialty menu in the literature of the fantastic.