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The Year's Best Fantasy And Horror 2006
editors: Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link, and Gavin J. Grant
St Martin's paperback $19.95
review by Sean Parker
This is the 19th annual collection of The Year's Best Fantasy And Horror, and the good news is that there is still one hell of a lot of good stuff to be found out there in the genre press. As usual the editors, Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link and David J. Grant, have done a fine job in selecting the best stories (and poetry) to be found. Whilst tastes vary, I can't think of one piece in this book that didn't enjoy, to some degree or other.
This also contains over 100 pages of information on the past year in the world of horror and fantasy, including manga, music, obituaries and the regular 'honourable mentions' section - most of which will be of use to anyone with more than a passing interest in the field.
Anyway, back to the meat of the book. Thirty six tales, four poems, all worthy of their place here. Style and subject matter vary wildly (a good thing), so you get a politically-grounded scare courtesy of Glen Hirshberg (American Morons) followed directly by the bizarre and creepy Shallaballah by Mark Samuels. Both great writers, but with very different approaches.
Other outstanding stories were the strange but effective Proboscis by Laird Barron, the almost tranquil seeming Northwest Passage by Barbara Roden, Boatman's Holiday by Jeffery Ford (in which Charon takes a well earned break!), the vaudeville reminiscences of Howard Waldrop's The Horse Of A Different Colour (That You Rode In On) and Geoff Ryman's 'monkpunk'(?) tale The Last Ten Years In The Life Of Hero Kai.
As well as those, special mention should also be given to the mixture of fairy tale and amphetamine psychosis that makes up the snappily titled A Case Study Of Emergency Room Procedure And Risk Management By Hospital Staff Members In The Urban Facility by Stacey Richter, Chuck Palahniuk's quite frankly gross Hot Potting, Joe Hill's disturbing My Father's Mask and Kim Newman's novella The Gypsies In The Wood, which ends the collection.
The best anthology I have read in a while, this is great for keeping up with what is going on in the worlds of fantasy and horror, or simply as a collection of fine stories. I'm looking forward to number 20 already.
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The Year's Best
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