Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Short Story Wednesday: 1989 horror/fantasy anthologies: TALES BY MOONLIGHT II edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson (Tor Books); BOOK OF THE DEAD edited by John Skipp and Craig Spector (Bantam); THE YEAR'S BEST HORROR STORIES XVI edited by Karl Edward Wagner (DAW), THE YEAR'S BEST FANTASY (AND HORROR), 2nd Annual, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (St. Martin's): Reviews from (IN*SIT), January 1990


The following reviews reprinted, with minimal editing, from a longer column of mine in the third, January 1990, issue of the magazine (in*sit), edited and published by Mark Hand, Nancy Ryan, Donna Wilson, Claire Mason and myself 

Jessica Amanda Salmonson's Tales by Moonlight II is not quite a direct sequel to the original anthology of a few years back; with this volume, she has done the valuable service of surveying and collecting some of the semi-professional or little horror and fantasy press. She offers 37 short stories and poems going back to Daniel Defoe's "The Devil Frolics with a Butler", published originally in pamphlet form by Defoe himself and seen therefore by Salmonson as part of a tradition that is currently represented by dozens of small-circulation magazines and book publishers, among hundreds with wider or different emphases (in her appendix, she lists 37 little-magazine contact addresses; a 38th is that of Janet Fox's small-press market-report guide Scavenger's Newsletter)A new translation of Theophile Gautier is included, and stories from such diverse a set of writers as Ramsey Campbell, John Varley, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, John Domini, Fox and Salmonson herself, along with H. P. Lovecraft (a very enthusiastic small-press person) and "The Eldritch Horror of Oz" by "L. Frank Craftlove" (Phyllis Ann Karr)--truly fierce. Salmonson also offers an historical survey as introduction  and Grue magazine editor Peggy Nadramia offers offers tips on starting a magazine of one's own in another appendix). 

Splatterpunks...the name is derived from Gardner Dozois's coinage of "cyberpunks" to describe a group of writers who had begun seeing themselves as somewhat apart from other sf people, more aware of global concerns and the interplay of cultures, particularly on the street level, among people living on one or another edge of ever-more technologically-dependent societies. One of the loudest voices, John Shirley's, among this group of writers insisted they were "culturally on-line," with implications that others were not. Cyberpunk writers, particularly Shirley and the most popular of them, William Gibson, also can be prone to flashy writing, and graphic descriptions of the tougher edges of those societies; hence the newly graphic approaches to horror fiction, often featuring marginalized characters, seemed to have more than a little in common with cyberpunk [and writers as interested in branding themselves to gain a little more attention for themselves and their work]. Hence, David Schow's suggestion, splatterpunk: the work of John Skipp, Craig Spector, Schow, Shirley (the notable mutual member), Joe R. Lansdale [at times, though he hated the label and had no interest in being lumped in with it], Robert McCammon and Clive Barker. And with Book of the Dead, splatter punk has its first (as far as I know) all-original anthology, with Skipp and Spector as editors and stories by Lansdale, Schow, McCammon and such fellow-travelers as Ramsey Campbell and Stephen King. The whole thing [in those pre-ubiquitous zombie days] is a tribute to George Romero's Living Dead films, and all the stories involve zombies. Campbell's story is good, if a bit typical of his more sardonic work; sadly, the King is also typical of the worst of his work: dull, unimaginative, sloppily-written. The King and the one by Glen Vasey were unworthy of my time beyond their first few pages (the Vasey because those first few pages were so utterly vapid). But Schow, Lansdale and pop-culture historian and occasional fiction-writer Les Daniels serve it up just the way Joe Bob likes it: imaginatively and wittily cheesy, and tough. McCammon's story manages to be humorously touching about zombie love, veteran Ed Bryant manages to out-ugly the younger splats, and Douglas Winter's "Less Than Zombie" is devastatingly satirical of a certain work by B. E. Ellis (and by extension of similar efforts by McInerney and Janowitz) and the affectless young moderns celebrated by that work [this was before the no-better American Psycho]. The rest are at least interesting, even if Stephen Boyett's story tries that interest eventually; some of the authors, even given the premise of the anthology, might be too slavishly hewing to Romero's concept of zombies, as well. One of those stories, however, Philip Nutman's "Wet Work" [later the basis of a novel of the same title]  is a great knee-jerk  response story for any anti-establishment readers, as it's all about cannibalistic zombies at a certain Pennsylvania Avenue address...

Another contributor to Book of the Dead, Nicholas Royle, came up with perhaps the most difficult (from the writer's perspective, not the reader's) story there, "Saxophone". He has another good piece, first published in the British anarchosyndicalist magazine Dig, reprinted in Karl Edward Wagner's The Year's Best Horror XVII: "One of Us" is one of two yuppie-horror stories in the Wagner volume, and it involves self-piercing enthusiasts (everyone's favorite marginalized group). The other YUP story, Ian Watson's "Lost Bodies", touches on animal rights; it's also one of four stories shared by the Wagner volume and Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's Year's Best Fantasy (and Horror, as the subtitle reminds us). With the disappearance of Arthur Saha's Year's Best Fantasy annual series for DAW Books, the Datlow/Windling and the Wagner are the only widely-available annual American multi-source collections to emphasize fantasy and horror [something very much not the case any longer, even if Datlow flies on her own these days and Wagner is alas in what afterlife there might be]; at over 600 and 350 pages respectively, they are taking up the slack well. Wagner reminds us that this is his tenth volume of the series, which began as reprints of a British annual and came under Gerald W. Page's editorship for several years in the 1970s; for Omni fiction editor Datlow,
and Windling, co-editor of the Elsewhere series of anthologies and much else, their second volume compares favorably with their colleague's. The Wagner has stories by Harlan Ellison, Dennis Etchison, Nina Kiriki Hoffman and two each by Charles Grant and Ian Watson, and has more material taken from relatively obscure British sources; the Datlow/Windling features a different Etchison, one of the Watsons (as noted above) and one of the Grants, three stories by Gene Wolfe, and William Kotzwinkle, Daniel Pinkwater, Joan Aiken, Jane Yolen and Thomas Disch, among others, and features more stories from American sources that might be obscure to many fantasy readers.  Aside from "Lost Bodies", both books feature M. John Harrison's "The Great God Pan", Ramsey Campbell's "Playing the Game" and Grant's "Snowman", and all four probably deserve their placement in both volumes. Further, there's enough in both to make the dual purchase worthwhile, despite the Brian Lumley's  slightly stodgy "Fruiting Bodies" leading off the Wagner, and a weak Richard Matheson story and Edward Bryant's rather dispiriting "year in film" article in the other. The Lumley (from Weird Tales) [then newly revived for the fourth time, with that revival--theoretically, at least--still with us after a quarter-century] does feature some imaginative nastiness (Wagner, and Page before him, have shown much good taste in selecting from rather uneven or often bad writers; two of the best Stephen King stories I've read, for example, were among those selected for their annual). As for the Bryant (a brilliant fiction writer if somewhat dicy reviewer and media journalist): I suppose someone had to like the film Child's Play [still not me]. The only sad notes are struck by the obituaries in the Windling/Datlow and the notice in the Wagner that Charles Grant has grown tired of reading bad splatter imitations and so has decided to stop assembling his Shadows and Greystone Bay original-anthologies. In a column full [of also a number of other volumes and magazines than mentioned here], these two annuals might be your best bets--certainly for a broad sense of what horror (and associated fantastic fiction) offers today. 

For more of today's books, and prompter (and fresher!) reviews, please see Patti Abbott's blog; please also see Damien Broderick's guest review of  R. Scott Bakker's Neuropath also posted on this blog. 

And happy Spring, to those in the northern hemi. (Even though it really begins on 1 March.)

From the Contento/Locus/Galactic Central indices:

Tales by Moonlight II ed. Jessica Amanda Salmonson (Tor 0-812-55371-3, Jul ’89 [Jun ’89], $3.95, 306pp, pb) Anthology of 37 horror stories from small press publications, plus an introduction by Salmonson, a piece on starting small press horror magazines by Peggy Nadramia, and a listing of those currently available.
  • 1 · A Glimpse of Supernatural Literature and the Small Presses · Jessica Amanda Salmonson · in
  • 11 · Proem: The Haunted Street · Marion Zimmer Bradley · pm The Nekromantikon #2 ’50
  • 12 · Dream of a Mannikin, or the Third Person · Thomas Ligotti · ss Eldritch Tales #9 ’83
  • 28 · Marilyn and the King · Ruth Berman · ss Grimoire #4 ’83
  • 33 · The Area · Stefan Grabinski; trans. by Miroslaw Lipinski · ss The Grabinski Reader Sum ’86
  • 45 · The Return of Noire [“They Happened”] · Michael Bullock · ss Sixteen Stories as They Happened, Sono Nis Press, 1987
  • 55 · A Light from Out of Our Heart · Jules Faye · ss Fantasy Macabre #9 ’87
  • 61 · Mr. Templeton’s Toyshop [“Selections from ‘Mr. Templeton’s Toyshop’”] · Thomas Wiloch · ss All the Devils Are Here, ed. David D. Deyo, Jr., Unnameable Press, 1986
  • 69 · The Devil Frolics with a Butler · Daniel Defoe · ss, 1726
  • 73 · The Cats of Ulthar · H. P. Lovecraft · vi The Tryout Nov ’20; Weird Tales Feb ’26
  • 77 · Dead Dogs · Denis Tiani · vi Fantasy and Terror #5 ’85
  • 80 · “W.D.” · David Starkey · ss Grue #2 ’86
  • 85 · The Drabbletails · Stephen Gresham · ss Eldritch Tales #7 ’80
  • 95 · The Gravedigger and Death [Jane Bradshawe] · Mary Ann Allen · ss Ghosts & Scholars #5 ’83
  • 103 · Taking Care of Bertie · Janet Fox · ss Eldritch Tales #11 ’85
  • 110 · Cardinal Napellus · Gustav Meyrink; trans. by Michael Bullock · ss Fantasy Macabre #8 ’86
  • 122 · The Coffeepot [1831] · Théophile Gautier; trans. by Phyllis Ann Karr · ss Fantasy Macabre #5 ’85
  • 130 · Seven · Stephen-Paul Martin · vi Asylum Jun ’87
  • 134 · Chocolate · Wendy Wees · vi Fantasy and Terror #3 ’84
  • 136 · Mousewoman · Wendy Wees · vi Fantasy and Terror #10 ’87
  • 138 · Mother Hag · Steve Rasnic Tem · ss Grue #5 ’87
  • 148 · Good Thoughts · W. Paul Ganley · vi Moonbroth #10 ’73
  • 152 · Shirley Is No Longer with Us · Jody Scott · ss Windhaven #3 ’78
  • 158 · The Ghost of Don Carlos · Michel Tremblay; trans. by Michael Bullock · ss, 1977
  • 167 · Live on Tape · Spider Robinson · ss Stardock Sum ’77
  • 175 · The Head of the Hydra Flower · Carol Reid · ss *
  • 183 · The Manhattan Phone Book (Abridged) · John Varley · ss Westercon Program Book #37 ’84
  • 189 · An Image in Twisted Silver · Charles L. Grant · ss World Fantasy Convention Program Book, 1986; story based on a J.K. Potter illustration.
  • 195 · What Used to Be Audrey · Nina Kiriki Hoffman · ss Arcane #1 ’84
  • 200 · The Day · David Madison · ss, 1969
  • 206 · A Thief in the Night · Jayge Carr · ss Room of One’s Own v6 #1&2 ’81
  • 211 · Silhouette · D. Beckett · ss Paradise Plus: Tales of Another Life, 1985
  • 222 · Laugh Kookaberry, Laugh Kookaberry, Gay Your Life Must Be · John Domini · ss, 1985
  • 242 · Azrael’s Atonement · Archie N. Roy · ss Fantasy Macabre #9 ’87
  • 250 · The Eldritch Horror of Oz [Oz] · L. Frank Craftlove · ss Ozania, 1981
  • 264 · O, Christmas Tree · Jessica Amanda Salmonson & W. H. Pugmire · ss Space & Time Jan ’79
  • 279 · The Pacific High · Grant Fjermedal · ss Fantasy Macabre #10 ’88
  • 293 · Jack in the Box · Ramsey Campbell · ss Dark Horizons #26 ’83
  • 299 · Envoy: The Scythe of Dreams · Joseph Payne Brennan · pm Sixty Selected Poems, The New Establishment Press, 1985
  • 300 · Appendix I: How to Publish Your Own Shoestring Horror Magazine · Peggy Nadramia · ar
  • 303 · Appendix II: Current Small Press Horror Magazines · Misc. · bi

Book of the Dead ed. John M. Skipp & Craig Spector (Bantam 0-553-27998-X, Jul ’89 [Jun ’89], $4.50, 390pp, pb) [Living Dead] Original anthology of 16 zombie stories set in the same universe as George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

The Year’s Best Horror Stories: XVII ed. Karl Edward Wagner (DAW 0-88677-381-4, Oct ’89 [Sep ’89], $3.95, 351pp, pb) Anthology of 20 horror stories from 1988, with an introduction by the editor.

  • 11 · Introduction: Ten Years After · Karl Edward Wagner · in
  • 15 · Fruiting Bodies · Brian Lumley · nv Weird Tales Sum ’88
  • 44 · Works of Art · Nina Kiriki Hoffman · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 53 · She’s a Young Thing and Cannot Leave Her Mother · Harlan Ellison · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 71 · The Resurrection Man · Ian Watson · ss Other Edens II, ed. Christopher Evans & Robert Holdstock, London: Unwin, 1988
  • 88 · Now and Again in Summer · Charles L. Grant · ss Fantasy Tales, v.10 #1, ed. Stephen Jones & David A. Sutton, Robinson, 1988
  • 100 · Call 666 · Dennis Etchison · ss Twilight Zone Feb ’88
  • 113 · The Great God Pan · M. John Harrison · nv Prime Evil, ed. Douglas E. Winter, NAL, 1988
  • 140 · What Dreams May Come · Brad Strickland · ss F&SF Dec ’88
  • 151 · Regression · R. Chetwynd-Hayes · nv The Fourth Book of After Midnight Stories, ed. Amy Myers, London: Kimber, 1988
  • 168 · Souvenirs from a Damnation · Don Webb · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 176 · Bleeding Between the Lines [Dennis Cassady] · Wayne Allen Sallee · ss 2AM Win ’88
  • 186 · Playing the Game · Ramsey Campbell · ss Lord John Ten, ed. Dennis Etchison, Northridge, CA: Lord John Press, 1988
  • 201 · Lost Bodies · Ian Watson · ss Interzone #25 ’88
  • 216 · Ours Now · Nicholas Royle · ss Dig Magazine #6 ’88
  • 224 · Prince of Flowers · Elizabeth Hand · ss Twilight Zone Feb ’88
  • 242 · The Daily Chernobyl · Robert Frazier · pm Synergy #2, ed. George Zebrowski, HBJ Harvest, 1988
  • 247 · Snowman · Charles L. Grant · ss Gaslight & Ghosts, ed. Stephen Jones & Jo Fletcher, 1988 World Fantasy Con/Robinson Pub., 1988
  • 258 · Nobody’s Perfect · Thomas F. Monteleone · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 276 · Dead Air · Gregory Nicoll · nv Ripper!, ed. Gardner Dozois & Susan Casper, Tor, 1988
  • 301 · Recrudescence · Leonard P. Carpenter · nv Amazing Jan ’88

The Year’s Best Fantasy: Second Annual Collection ed. Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (St. Martin’s 0-312-03007-X, Jun ’89, $12.95, 579pp, tp) Anthology of 46 horror and fantasy stories, with summaries of the past year in horror by Datlow, fantasy by Windling, and film by Edward Bryant. Also available in hardcover (-03006-1 $24.95).

  • xiii · Summation 1988: Fantasy · Terri Windling · ar
  • xxvi · Summation 1988: Horror · Ellen Datlow · ar
  • xlvii · 1988: Horror and Fantasy on the Screen · Edward Bryant · ar
  • liv · Obituaries · Jim Frenkel · ob
  • 2 · Death Is Different · Lisa Goldstein · ss IASFM Sep ’88
  • 17 · The Tale of the Rose and the Nightingale (And What Came of It) · Gene Wolfe · nv Arabesques, ed. Susan Shwartz, Avon, 1988
  • 39 · It Was the Heat · Pat Cadigan · ss Tropical Chills, ed. Tim Sullivan, Avon, 1988
  • 54 · The Cutter · Edward Bryant · ss Silver Scream, ed. David J. Schow, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 67 · The Freezer Jesus · John DuFresne · vi The Quarterly Fll ’88
  • 71 · Voices of the Kill · Thomas M. Disch · ss Full Spectrum, ed. Lou Aronica & Shawna McCarthy, Bantam, 1988
  • 87 · Secretly · Ruth Roston · pm Pandora #19 ’88
  • 90 · The Devil’s Rose · Tanith Lee · nv Women of Darkness, ed. Kathryn Ptacek, Tor, 1988
  • 111 · Wempires · Daniel M. Pinkwater · vi Omni Oct ’88
  • 115 · Scatter My Ashes · Greg Egan · ss Interzone #23 ’88
  • 126 · Unfinished Portrait of the King of Pain by Van Gogh · Ian McDonald · nv Empire Dreams, Bantam Spectra, 1988
  • 150 · Shoo Fly · Richard Matheson · ss Omni Nov ’88
  • 165 · The Thing Itself · Michael Blumlein · ss Full Spectrum, ed. Lou Aronica & Shawna McCarthy, Bantam, 1988
  • 179 · The Soft Whisper of Midnight Snow · Charles de Lint · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 193 · Roman Games · Anne Gay · ss Other Edens II, ed. Christopher Evans & Robert Holdstock, London: Unwin, 1988
  • 201 · The Princess, the Cat, and the Unicorn · Patricia C. Wrede · ss The Unicorn Treasury, ed. Bruce Coville, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1988
  • 212 · The Book and Its Contents · Robert Kelly · ss Doctor of Silence, McPherson, 1988
  • 225 · The Great God Pan · M. John Harrison · nv Prime Evil, ed. Douglas E. Winter, NAL, 1988
  • 246 · Lost Bodies · Ian Watson · ss Interzone #25 ’88
  • 256 · Two Minutes Forty-Five Seconds · Dan Simmons · ss Omni Apr ’88
  • 265 · Preflash · John M. Ford · ss Silver Scream, ed. David J. Schow, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 284 · Life of Buddha · Lucius Shepard · ss Omni May ’88
  • 302 · Appointment with Eddie · Charles Beaumont · ss Selected Stories, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 316 · Fragments of Papyrus from the Temple of the Older Gods · William Kotzwinkle · ss Omni Apr ’88
  • 324 · Spillage · Nancy Kress · ss F&SF Apr ’88
  • 335 · Snowman · Charles L. Grant · ss Gaslight & Ghosts, ed. Stephen Jones & Jo Fletcher, 1988 World Fantasy Con/Robinson Pub., 1988
  • 344 · The Scar · Dennis Etchison · ss The Horror Show Win ’87
  • 352 · Laiken Langstrand · Gwyneth Jones · ss Other Edens II, ed. Christopher Evans & Robert Holdstock, London: Unwin, 1988
  • 365 · The Last Poem About the Snow Queen · Sandra M. Gilbert · pm Blood Pressure, W.W. Norton, 1988
  • 367 · Pinocchio · Sandra M. Gilbert · pm Blood Pressure, W.W. Norton, 1988
  • 370 · Game in the Pope’s Head · Gene Wolfe · ss Ripper!, ed. Gardner Dozois & Susan Casper, Tor, 1988
  • 377 · Playing the Game · Ramsey Campbell · ss Lord John Ten, ed. Dennis Etchison, Northridge, CA: Lord John Press, 1988
  • 389 · Faces · F. Paul Wilson · nv Night Visions 6, ed. Anon., Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 413 · Snowfall · Jessie Thompson · ss F&SF Sep ’88
  • 418 · Seal-Self · Sara Maitland · ss The Book of Spells, Michael Joseph, 1987
  • 428 · No Hearts, No Flowers · Barry N. Malzberg · ss 14 Vicious Valentines, ed. Rosalind M. Greenberg, Martin H. Greenberg & Charles G. Waugh, Avon, 1988
  • 438 · The Boy Who Drew Unicorns · Jane Yolen · ss The Unicorn Treasury, ed. Bruce Coville, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1988
  • 446 · The Darling · Scott Bradfield · nv The Secret Life of Houses, Unwin Hyman, 1988
  • 463 · Night They Missed the Horror Show · Joe R. Lansdale · ss Silver Scream, ed. David J. Schow, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 478 · Your Story · Rick DeMarinis · ss The Coming Triumph of the Free World, Viking, 1988
  • 489 · Winter Solstice, Camelot Station · John M. Ford · pm Invitation to Camelot, ed. Parke Godwin, Ace, 1988
  • 495 · The Boy Who Hooked the Sun · Gene Wolfe · vi Cheap Street; New Castle, VA Dec ’85
  • 499 · Clem’s Dream · Joan Aiken · ss The Last Slice of Rainbow, London: Cape, 1985
  • 506 · Love in Vain · Lewis Shiner · nv Ripper!, ed. Gardner Dozois & Susan Casper, Tor, 1988
  • 525 · In the Darkened Hours · Bruce Boston · pm The Nightmare Collector, 2AM, 1988
  • 529 · A Golden Net for Silver Fishes · Ru Emerson · ss Argos Win ’88
  • 538 · Dancing Among Ghosts · Jim Aikin · nv F&SF Feb ’88
  • 575 · Honorable Mentions: 1988 · Misc. · bi
A Redux Post.


pattinase (abbott) said...

This is a lot of work, Todd. Bravo as usual.

Jerry House said...

Some pretty good reading there, Todd, including Lansdale's "The Night They Missed the Horror Show," as close as anyone I can think of got to the Great American Short Story (my opinion only).

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Patti...though most of the work was performed in 1989! (Laying out the magazine and writing some articles, such as this one, directly into the Amiga desktop publishing program.)

It was a good set to have at hand, Jerry. The Lansdale is still my default choice for his best short fiction, and it certainly is a contender for Great American Short Story about the shortfalls of the US...

TracyK said...

There are some really nice covers here. I avoid horror, is the fantasy mixed with horror? I did not know that Daniel M. Pinkwater wrote fantasy.

Todd Mason said...

Nearly all of Pinkwater's work I'm aware of is either fantasy or includes, at least, some fantasy elements. And, for that matter, the more purely horror anthologies dealt with in this post do have at least some items that might be referred to as "dark fantasy" rather than "pure" horror fiction...fantasy with some sinister content, or which doesn't quite key itself to the characters having to face their mortality (for me, more than most others, a work also isn't horror if it isn't fantasticated...if it is for the most part a Possible in the Real World (as we--Mostly!--agree it is) story, it isn't horror, but suspense. Robert Bloch's PSYCHO is suspense fiction, by me (and not a few others), while Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE is horror fiction...and even there, one can try to argue that it's driven by the protagonist's psychological problems, but there is more than a little "reported" incident in the latter novel which is fantastic/supernatural in its nature.