Edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

St. Martin's Press


539pp/$17.95/July 1997

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror:  Tenth Annual Collection
Cover by Tom Canty

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

One of the purposes for reading best of year anthologies is to discover great stories which the reader otherwise would have missed. If I get the book home and discover that I already have the entire table of contents scattered among various issues of magazines, I'll be disappointed and feel as if my money was wasted. Datlow and Windling's series has never had to worry about disappointing in this regard. These two editors comb through small and obscure publications in their (successful) attempt to bring the best the fields of fantasy and horror have to offer to their readers. In addition to looking in the normal genre magazines and anthologies which were published in 1996, they also looked as far afield as The New Yorker, The North American Review, and The Iowa Review.

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Tenth Annual Collection also serves to remind us that there is more to fnatasy than massive, multi-volume series. I imagine that readers of Robert Jordan, Terry Brooks and David Eddings would not necessarily recognize many of these selections as fantasy, but the lack of swords and mighty magics does not preclude the categorization. Epic fantasy is only a part of the writing which makes up the genre. The fantasies which are presented within the covers of this book are, perhaps, more subtle than the fantasies which line the bookshelves at the neighborhood bookstore.

Although High Fantasy may be missing from this anthology, the contents run the gammut from magic realism to fairy tales. Perhaps indicative of the field is the fact that the gaming-related and influenced novels which sell so well in the bookstores show a minimal influence on the stories which make their appearance in this volume.

The anthology opens up with a tremendous 100 page introduction, written by Datlow, Windling, Edward Bryant, Seth Johnson and James Frankel, which successfully gives an in depth overview of what happened, not only in the literary fields of Fantasy and Horror, but also in the media and comics-related fields, ending with Frankel's obiutuary listing for the year.

My only question about their selection concerns the story which was chosen for the pride-of-place first-story position. Although I'm a big fan of Parke Godwin's, I have to wonder why his story "The Last Rainbow," first published in 1981 was chosen for this book. As far as I know, this is the first time in ten years Datlow & Windling have chosen a reprint for their anthology series.

If you never read fantasy short stories, you should make a point to purchase this collection. It contains several wonderful tales and writing talents who you might otherwise miss. Datlow and Windling do such a wonderful job scouring for stories that the same can be said even if you do read fantasy short stories. Their anthologies are the broadest based of all the Year's Best anthologies available.

Parke Godwin The Last Rainbow
Jay Russell Lily's Whisper
Tanith Lee The Reason for Not Going to the Ball
Michael Bishop Among the Handlers
Ana Blandiana The Phantom Church
Angela Carter The Snow Pavillion
Laurie Kutchins Birthdream
Edward Bryant Disillusion
Robert Silverberg Diana of the hundred Breasts
Yxta Maya Murray La Llorona
Thomas Ligotti Teatro Grottesco
Graham Masterton The Secret of Shih Tan
Bruce Holland Rogers In the Matter of the Ukdena
Douglas Clegg O, Rare and Most Exquisite
Stephen Dedman Never Seen By Waking Eyes
Terry Lamsley Walking the Dog
Garry Kilworth The Goatboy and the Giant
Olive Senior Gourd
Isobelle Carmody The Phoenix
Gabriel Garciá Marquez Caribe Mágico
Delia Sherman The Witch's Heart
Patricia Preciado Martin Plumas
Charles de Lint Crow Girls
Lisa Russ Spaar Rapunzel's Exile
Patricia A. McKillip The Witches of Junket
Chris Bell The Cruel Countess
Chang Hwang Little Beauty's Wedding
Neil Gaiman Eaten (Scenes from a Moving Picture)
Philip Graham Angel
Amy Breau Elk Man
Terry Dowling Beckoning Nightframe
Dennis Etchison The Dead Cop
Kathe Koja & Barry N. Malzberg Ursus Triad, Later
Robert Olen Butler JFK Secretly Attends Jackie Auction
A.R. Morlan . . . Warmer
Michael Marshall Smith Not Waving
Susanna Clarke The Ladies of Grace Adieu
Ron Hansen Wilderness
Gerald Vizenor Oshkiwiinag: Heartlines on the Trickster Express
Shara McCallum Persephone Sets the Record Straight
Patricia C. Wrede Cruel Sisters
Jane Yolen The House of Seven Angels
Michael Swanwick Radio Waves

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