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The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Fourteenth Annual Collection
edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
St Martin's Griffin, 640 pages

Thomas Canty
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Fourteenth Annual Collection
Ellen Datlow
Ellen Datlow was the fiction editor of OMNI from 1981 until it folded in 1998. She now works as the fiction editor of SCIFI.COM. Her well-deserved reputation as an editor for both this series and for the Fairy Tale Anthologies series (both with Terri Windling) has garnered her numerous awards.

ISFDB Bibliography

Terri Windling
Terri Windling is a five-time World Fantasy Award winner, a consulting fantasy editor at Tor, the author of The Wood Wife (winner of the Mythopoeic Award) and other fiction, and writes a popular folklore column for Realms of Fantasy magazine.

Terri Windling Website
ISFDB Bibliography

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

While the title, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, may conjure up images of unicorns and wizards, ghouls and bloodsuckers, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's selection of stories and poems demonstrates that the two genres, fantasy and horror, accommodate a much broader range of stories than stereotypes would indicate.

In an essay published in the Washington Post on 1 July 2001, Michael Dirda exhorted denigrators of fantasy to take another look at the genre, which, he explained, is much more than simply "watered-down Tolkien or diluted elixir of T.H. White." Windling and Datlow demonstrate the truth of that statement by selecting a range of stories which contain fantastic and horrific elements without resorting to the stereotypes of epic fantasies and which breathe new life into the old myths some of them use as inspiration.

This year's retrospective includes such authors who are feted by the literary elite as Louise Erdrich and Bret Lott. Alongside these names, however, the editors have included names more familiar to genre readers. Charles de Lint, Jane Yolen, Esther Friesner, and Neil Gaiman (whose recent book, American Gods, was the impetus for Dirda's essay) also have work included in the anthology.

The editors did not confine their trawling for stories in the stereotypical places. Although the fantasy magazines and anthologies provided fine examples of work over the past year, with stories like Jack Dann's "Marilyn" or Kathe Koja's "At Eventide," which appeared in the magazine Eidolon and the anthology Graven Images, respectively, other stories come from such unlikely locations as the United Airlines' in-flight magazine, Hemispheres which featured Harlan Ellison's "Incognita, Inc." in their January 2000 issue.

Sources of inspiration for the stories included in the collection are equally far-ranging. Many of the authors, beginning with Ellison's aforementioned story, take clichés and myths and attempt, on the whole successfully, to say something new about them. One particularly striking example is Ben Pastor's combination of the horrors of World War I with the heroism of Homer's The Odyssey in the story "Achilles' Grave." Most of the stories are not based on legends, but rather the world in which we live, although taken with a strange or frightening twist.

One of the aspects horror and fantasy (and poetry) share with each other, and which is demonstrated throughout this book, is a heavy reliance on the use of language to build a mood. In poetry, of course, the selection of words is important due, in part, to their scarcity. In fantasy and horror, the author must select words that build the wondrous or terrifying sensations the author is attempting (successfully, in the case of the stories in this book) to convey.

While not every story in the collection will appeal to all readers, the quality of all the stories is top notch. They demonstrate that fantasy and horror are not only thriving, but are actually part of a single continuum, depending on how the author chooses to emphasize the supernatural elements which the story contains. It is entirely up to the reader to determine which forms of emphasis work for him and which don't quite measure up to a personal standard.

At the end of his essay, Dirda provided "a starter kit for those new to literary fantasy." While Dirda had all of fantastic literature to draw from in creating his suggested reading list, Datlow and Windling only had the output of a single year. Nevertheless, they have also provided a starter kit for those new to literary fantasy (and horror), which can all be found within the covers of a single volume.


Harlan Ellison, "Incognita, Inc."
Claudia Barbosa Noguiera, "Maria de Jesus"
Louise Erdrich, "Le Mooze"
Eve Sweetser, "Gretel in Berkeley"
Charles de Lint, "Granny Weather"
Ellen Steiber, "The Shape of Things"
Ramsey Campbell, "No Strings"
Jack Dann, "Marilyn"
Nalo Hopkinson, "Greedy Choke Puppy"
Delia Sherman, "The Crone"
Ben Pastor, "Achilles' Grave"
Tia V. Travis, "Down Here in the Garden"
Laurence Goldstein, "Meeting the Graiae"
Elizabeth Engstrom, "Riding the Black Horse"
Kathe Koja, "At Eventide"
Terry Dowling, "The Saltimbanques"
Janet McAdams, "The Monster of Childhood"
Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant, "Ship, Sea, Mountain, Sky"
Glen Hirshberg, "Mr. Dark's Carnival"
Stacey Richter, "The Cavemen in the Hedges"
Carol Ann Duffy, "Circe and Little Red-cap"
Terry Dowling, "Basic Black"
Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem, "The Man on the Ceiling"
Terry Lamsley, "Climbing Down From Heaven"
Jack Cady, "Jeremiah"
Jane Yolen, "Three Questions"
Ian Rodwell & Steve Duffy, "The Penny Drops"
Bret Lott, "The Train, The Lake, The Bridge"
Claudia Adriazola, "Buttons"
Elizabeth Howkins, "Snow Blindness"
Greer Gilman, "Jack Daw's Pack"
Justin Tussing, "The Artificial Cloud"
Ramsey Campbell, "No Story In It"
John F. Deane, "A Migrant Bird"
Donelle R. Ruwe, "The Thousandth Night"
Andy Duncan, "The Pottawatomie Giant"
Howard Wandrei, "George Is All Right"
Susanna Clarke, "Mr. Simonelli or the Fairy Widower"
Francesca Lia Block, "Bones"
Tanith Lee, "The Abortionists Horse (A Nightmare)"
Stewart O'Nan, "Endless Summer"
Joanthan Carroll, "The Heidelberg Cylinder"
Jack Kethchum, "Gone"
John Crowley, "An Earthly Mother Sits and Sings"
Dawn Karima Pettigrew, "Atasdi: Fish Story"
Amy Wack, "Tooth Fairy and The Sandman"
Leone Ross, "Tasting Songs"
Dennis Etchison, "My Present Wife"
Jeffrey Thomas, "The Flying Season"
Paul J. McAuley, "Bone Orchards"
Neil Gaiman, "Instructions"
Esther M. Friesner, "Hallowmass"

Copyright © 2001 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.

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