The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror : Thirteenth Annual Collection

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9780312264161: The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror : Thirteenth Annual Collection

For more than a decade, readers have turned to The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror to find the most rewarding fantastic short stories. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling continue their critically acclaimed and award-winning tradition with another stunning collection of stories. The fiction and poetry here is culled from an exhaustive survey of the field, nearly four dozen stories ranging from fairy tales to gothic horror, from magical realism to dark tales in the Grand Guignol style. Rounding out the volume are the editors' invaluable overviews of the year in fantasy and horror, and a long list of Honorable Mentions, making this an indispensable reference as well as the best reading available in fantasy and horror.
Contents

Summation 1999: FantasyTerri Windling
Summation 1999: HorrorEllen Datlow
Horror and Fantasy in the Media: 1999Edward Bryant
Comics: 1999, Seth Johnson
Obituaries: 1999, James Frenkel

Darkrose and Diamond, Ursula K. Le Guin
The Chop Girl, Ian R. MacLeod
The Girl Detective, Kelly Link
The Transformation, N. Scott Momaday
Carabosse, Delia Sherman
Harlequin Valentine, Neil Gaiman
Toad, Patricia A. McKillip
The Dinner Party, Robert Girardi
Heat, Steve Rasnic Tem
The Wedding at EsperanzaLinnet Taylor
Redescending, Ursula K. Le Guin
You Don't Have to be Mad . . .Kim Newman
The Paper-Thin Garden, Thomas Wharton
The Anatomy of a MermaidMary Sharratt
The Grammarian's Five DaughtersEleanor Arnason
The Tree Is My Hat, Gene Wolfe
Welcome, Michael Marshall Smith
The Pathos of Genre, Douglas E. Winter
Shatsi , Peter Crowther
Keepsakes and Treasures: A Love StoryNeil Gaiman
What You Make It, Michael Marshall Smith
The Parwat Ruby, Delia Sherman
Odysseus Old, Geoffrey Brock
The Smell of the Deer, Kent Meyers
Chorion and the PleiadesSarah Van Arsdale
Crosley, Elizabeth Engstrom
n0 Naming the Dead, Paul J. McAuley
The Stork-Men, Juan Goytisolo
The Disappearance of Elaine ColemanSteven Millhauser
White, Tim Lebbon
Dear Floods of Her Hair, James Sallis
Mrs. Santa Decides to Move to FloridaApril Selley
Tanuki, Jan Hodgman
At Reparata, Jeffrey Ford
Skin So Green and Fine, Wendy Wheeler
Old Merlin Dancing on the Sands of TimeJane Yolen
Sailing the Painted OceanDenise Lee
Grandmother, Laurence Snydal
Small Song, Gary A. Braunbeck
The Emperor's Old BonesGemma Files
The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His HorseSusanna Clarke
Halloween Street, Steve Rasnic Tem
The Kiss, Tia V. Travis
The Beast/The Hedge, Bill Lewis
Pixel Pixies, Charles de Lint
Falling Away, Elizabeth Birmingham

Honorable Mentions: 1999

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About the Author:

Ellen Datlow is the acclaimed editor of such anthologies as Sirens and other Daemon Lovers (with Terri Windling), Blood Is Not Enough, Lethal Kisses, and Off Limits, and has won the World Fantasy Award five times. She lives in New York City and currently edits fiction for SCIFI.COM.

Terri Windling won the Mythopoeic Award for her first adult novel, The Wood Wife. She has edited numerous books and anthologies, including The Essential Bordertown and Black Heart, Ivory Bones, the most recent in a series of contemporary fairy tale anthologies, edited with Ellen Datlow. Honored five times with the World Fantasy Award, she divides her time between Devon, England, and Tucson, Arizona.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Thirteenth Annual Collection
Summation 1999: FantasyTERRI WINDLING 
 
 
Welcome to the thirteenth edition of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. This anthology series was created to be an annual celebration of the best in nonrealist literature--ranging from magic realism (à la Márquez) to imaginary world fiction (à la Tolkien), as well as from dark stories of supernatural magic to those of psychological horror. By combining works from the genres of "fantasy" and "horror," along with magical tales from "mainstream fiction," Ellen and I seek to ignore the limiting boundaries that strict genre categorization places upon contemporary writers. Thus all nonrealist writing rooted in myth, magic, and surrealism is eligible for inclusion in this collection, which contains selections from sources as diverse as The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and The New Yorker. This fantasy/horror/mainstream combination reflects the wide spectrum of magical fiction published each year in English-language publications--and we are firm believers in the idea that the three fields are greatly enriched when their stories are viewed side by side. But for those readers who maintain a diehard preference for fantasy over horror, or vice versa, please note that the fantasy stories carry my initials after their introductions, horror tales carry Ellen Datlow's, and stories in the shadow realm between carry both our initials (with the acquiring editor listed first).This introductory summation, for those new to the series, provides an overview of fantasy publishing in the year just past, with lists of recommended novels, nonfiction, children's books, art books, etc. Usually at this point I wax on a bit about what a great year it was in the fantasy field, for we've been blessed by many such lately. But 1999, I'm sorry to report from the trenches, was not a banner year. Short fiction was as strong as ever (as you'll see from the stories in this book), but novel-length fiction was disappointing. There was a handful of excellent books (such as Minions of the Moon by Richard Bowes, in genre, and Prince by Ib Michael, in mainstream fiction), but nothing close to the glorious abundance of extraordinary novels that have appeared in the last few years. I've been pondering the question of why this should be so, as well as talking to editors and publishers, and the explanation is a simple one. I don't believe we're witnessing a sudden decline of interest in magical fiction;rather, 1999's lackluster offerings are a direct result of the particularly sterling year we had in 1998. Many of the fantasy field's top authors gave us their best efforts in 1998 (Guy Gavriel Kay, George R. R. Martin, Patricia A. McKillip, Sean Stewart, Sean Russell, and Jane Yolen, to name just a few of them), and were absent from the publishing lists while working on their next books. These writers, as well as the field at large, seemed to be catching their breaths in 1999, making it a good year to check out some of the newer talent, such as Elizabeth Haydon, Thomas Harlan, China Miéville, Judy Budnitz, and Valery Leith.The slimmer than usual offering of quality fantasy fiction for adult readers contrasts with a bumper crop of thoroughly enchanting novels in the children's book field. Love Harry Potter or hate him, there's no denying that he's had a massive impact on the New York publishing industry. It's still too soon to tell whether a significant portion of Harry Potter fans will move on to other fantasy books (as readers did in the wake of Tolkien's bestsellerdom in the 1970s), but my best guess is that a number of them will, now that the word "fantasy" has lost its faint whiff of disrepute in the children's book field. (This, despite the fact that so much classic children's fiction--Carroll, Nesbit, Eager, Baum, Lewis, Tolkien, etc.--is indisputably fantastic in both senses of the word.) Already we're seeing a surge in the amount of children's fantasy being published, with bigger advertising budgets and expectations. According to editors at several publishing houses, this is a trend that's only just beginning--and one that bodes well for the larger fantasy genre, considering that several of the field's best writers once came to us from children's books. We have not only J. K. Rowling to thank for this, but also the brilliant Philip Pullman, whose best-selling books The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife are complex, hard-hitting, and literary enough to gladden any discerning reader's heart--and to ensure that "children's fantasy" isn't limited to light, humorous books of the Potter sort. (The most interesting article on the Potter phenomenon I read this past year, by the way, is "Harry Potter's Girl Trouble," about the dubious role of female characters in Rowling's series. This insightful piece by Christine Schoefer can be found in the archives of Salon magazine, www.salon.com).While Rowling and Potter will probably be the dominant influences in magical children's fiction for some time to come, in adult fiction (both in the genre and the mainstream) Gabriel García Márquez continues to be a strong inspiration for young writers from Latin and non-Latin cultures alike, as do, to a lesser extent, other magic realist/surrealist authors like Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Ben Okri, and Angela Carter. Judging from the books that have crossed my desk in the last thirteen years, I believe it is impossible to overstate the impact Márquez has had on late-twentieth century fiction the world over. In our country, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a book that, more than any other, gives young writers the permission and the courage to stray from the path of strict realism (and Gordon Lish-style minimalism) to which creative writing graduate programs all over the country seem so determined to steer them. In the fantasy genre, a particularly Márquezean way of explicating the modern world through quiet moments of transcendent enchantment can be found in the works of quite a number of our top writers (Crowley, Fowler, Carroll, Goldstein, etc.), while Angela Carter's sensuous,folkloric work has inspired a modern renaissance in adult fairy-tale fiction. At the same time, literary Tolkienesque fantasy (aka imaginary world or traditional fantasy) has not disappeared--1998 marked a strong resurgence of the form. The year 1999, it must be noted, only brought us a very few good novels of the type, but this spike downward seems to be temporary, as I've already received several good Tolkienesque novels to review for the year 2000.On the whole, the lines drawn (by publishers, bookstore managers, and critics) between mainstream fiction and genre fiction continue to get blurrier every year, and I long for a day when all these books sit side by side on a shelf marked Fiction. Modern bookselling being what it is, however, books are still organized and sold by category labels, leading a group of writers from the fantasy and science fiction genres to come up with a label of their own: interstitial fiction. Here's a brief excerpt from the somewhat (but not entirely) tongue-in-cheek Interstitial Arts Manifesto:Perhaps you've had this experience. You read a book, go to a gallery opening, attend a concert. You come out exhilarated, excited, enthralled. "It was great!" you tell your friends. "I loved it!" "So, what is it?" they ask. "It was ..." You think for a moment. "Sort of ..." You wave your hands helplessly in the air. "Different," you conclude weakly. Pressed, you can find analogies. A book is a "magic realist Victorian biography in the guise of a mystery novel." A painting is "symbolist Renaissance surrealism." Music performed on sitar and didgeridoo is "Afro-Celtic-punk." What all these different art forms have in common is their resistance to easy definition, to niche-labeling by either marketers or critics. It is art that is hard to pigeonhole, hard to describe in one simple sentence, art that lies in the interstices, between the cracks of recognized genres. It is Interstitial Art. Our society likes to divide its arts into tidy categories. When we walk into a bookstore, we rarely see all the newly written novels sitting side-by-side. Instead, they are divided into categories, subcategories, and genres. There's a special section for novels containing crimes and mysteries; a special section for books by women, by gay and by black authors ... science fiction and fantasy have their own little ghetto segregated from "literature." If Jane Austen were writing today, no doubt her work would be shelved under romance. Of course, labels can be useful. Such labels enable merchants and marketers to treat creation as Product, to be sold and marketed in mass quantities. For consumers, labels mean we have to spend less of our precious time distinguishing one created work from another. Genre label equals recognizable product, with clearly defined parameters and narrowly allowable variations within each one. For artists working in forms that fall between the genre cracks, too often these labels are arbitrary and ill-fitting. As Interstitial Artists, we believe that fine art can be made within any genre, and from even the most unlikely of materials (and their combinations), provided it is done with skill and style. A Mexican-American woman writes her autobiography as a magic realist tale that includes both poems and recipes (House of Houses by Pat Mora). An American jazz composer finds classical Indian musicians who will play his tunes and improvise their own (Antigravity by Warren Senders). Tibetan religious chants join with Native American flute (Winds of Devotion by Nawang Khechog and R. Carlos Nakai). A British-Portuguesepainter draws on traditional fairy-tale images to create a perverse, sensual, feminist dialogue (Paula Rego). A comic book weaves together myth and gender, history, literature, and complex illustration (Neil Gaiman's The Sandman). A "folksinger" incorporates Sufi prayer and Scottish pipes in a meditation on mortality (Loreena McKennitt). How do you label it all? What do you call it? We call it Interstitial Art: a label for art that can't be labeled, a definition for work that can't be defined.For more on this topic (and the related Young Trollopes movement) look on the Web at www.endicott-studio.com/ia.html. For other good discussions and observations on the state of the contemporary fantasy and horror fields, I recommend the archives of the Event Horizon web site, www.eventhorizon.com, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and the author interviews conducted by Charles N. Brown in Locus magazine.Having taken a general look at the state of fantasy publishing in 1999, let's turn to the books that were published last year and some recommended titles broken down by type (those pesky labels again). As usual, I won't claim to have read every magical, mythical, or surrealist work published in this country and abroad in 1999, but I made a darn good stab at it. Here are the best books I found among the five-hundred-odd books we received for review (gathered by my hard-working assistant editors, Richard and Mardelle Kunz). We think there were some real gems among them, and we hope that you'll agree.Top TwentyEach year in this spot we list twenty novels that no fan of magical literature should miss--books chosen not only for their excellence of craft and overall entertainment value, but also those that give an indication of the direction in which the fantasy field is heading. In 1999 the strongest area of fantasy fiction was, hands down, in Young Adult books. In recognition of the strong contribution made by YA writers to our field in 1999, you'll find seven of the best YA fantasy titles listed among this year's Top Twenty, recommended to readers of all ages.Skellig by David Almond (Delacorte): Don't be mislead by the slim size of Almond's novel, or its YA label--this is a book that deals, in deceptively straightforward prose, with the grand themes of life and literature: birth, death, hope, despair, mystery, tragedy, and redemption. (Artistic influences here, the author said in one interview, are the works of Italo Calvino, Gabriel García Márquez, and Raymond Carver--quite a trio to inspire a children's book.) It's the story of a boy who finds a broken man with tattered wings huddled in the garden shed. Michael shares this strange and troubling secret only with his new friend, Mina, while his sister lies in the hospital and life crumbles around his family. Skellig, which won England's Whitbread Award, is a rare and beautiful book, full of art, owls, natural history, and the poetry of William Blake.Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle (Roc): One of our field's best writers turns his hand to YA fiction in this suspenseful tale of ghosts, faeries, and medieval history, set on a ramshackle English farm. Jenny is a New York City girl who bitterly resents being stuck in rural Dorset when her mother remarries, untilshe comes into contact with the magical spirits who haunt the place--including a troublesome boggart, a shifty pooka, and the three-hundred-year-old ghost of Tamsin Willoughby. Beagle does a fine job of bringing modern and Jacobean characters together, mixed with large dollops of British folklore, in a tale that hinges on the bloody history of the Monmouth rebellion in Dorset, in the time of King James II.The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley (Atheneum): This atmospheric YA novel is told through the voice of young Corin Stonewall, a fiercely independent orphan who has cut off her long, uncanny silver hair and disguised herself as a boy in order to become a keeper of the "Folk" (dangerous subterranean creatures who will despoil the land and livestock if not kept regularly appeased). A dying man's bequest takes Corin away from her underground world to the halls of a vast seaside estate. Here she comes face to face with a past full of secrets, tragedy, and magic. The narrative voice here is an uncommon one, and the imaginary world convincing, even though we see only a corner of it. Billingsley uses standard folklore ingredients, including a wealth of selkie (seal-people) legends, but she cooks them up into a highly original, memorable story.The Rainy Season by James P. Blaylock (Ace): Blaylock's chilling ghost tale is set in the author's usual territory of southern California, combining modern and nineteenth-century characters in a taut psychological drama. Phil Ainsworth, photographer and widower, is the sole guardian of a young orphaned niece, who comes to live with him in the rambling old house he inherited from his mother. An unusually heavy rainy season fills a long-dry well on the property, setting the story in motion--for it's a well in which a child was ritually drowned one hundred years ago, giving it magical properties that others (including ghosts from the past) are eager to exploit. Unlike so many supernatural stories, which get bogged down by their special effects, Blaylock uses the magical elements to explore characters and their relationships. The Rainy Season is yet another gem from the man Library Journal correctly called "one of the most distinctive contributors to American magic realism."Minions of the Moon by Richard Bowes (Tor): Kevin Grierson is a man with a Shadow. This reckless, destructive part of himself dominated his troubled youth (hustling on the streets of Boston) and his subsequent years in New York City (addicted to drugs, drink, power, anything that would bring another r...

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