Volume 92, Issue 60

Thursday, January 14, 1999



Prince walks like an Egyptian

The punk rock funDementals

Traditional folklore legends gone awry

London band puts feather in their cap

Traditional folklore legends gone awry

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Eds.
$24.99/490 pgs.

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror should be titled The Year's Best Magic Realism and Horror. The definition of fantasy in this anthology is broad and readers will find it lacking in the traditional fantasy genre.

Swords, dragons and quests are all absent. What remains is a great deal of magical realist fiction which has far more realism than fantasy. The anthology even includes poetry such as "Coffee Jerk at the Gates of Hell" by Christopher Jones.

The horror selections contain gore, terror and surprise. Werewolves, vampires and a scarcity of monsters other than the human variety, are absent.

That said, the tales in the anthology tend to be of good quality and can be enjoyed by any reader. They range from accounts of gore and violence to humourous yarns to tales of serious literature. The broad range of stories allow for a great variety of people to enjoy at least some of the writings.

The reader is able to distinguish fantasy stories (or magical realist) from horror by the tale's introduction. Ellen Datlow introduces the horror stories and Terri Windling the fantasy tales. Tales which cross genres are introduced by both editors.

Aside from the tales themselves, there are in depth summations of both the year in fantasy and horror, which are excellent and extensive. They are followed by a summation of horror and fantasy in the media, comics and obituaries. Anyone interested in these two genres will be engaged by these reviews.

The summation of fantasy includes glances at varieties of the genre. As Windling suggests in this synopsis, a true overview of the year's best fantasy includes novels. Those looking for traditional fantasy (Tolkien-esque fiction) will find it among the novels recommended in this section. Authors writing this genre tend to write fat novels, or more often an entire series of fat novels rather than short stories. This explains the lack of traditional fantasy in this anthology.

Several horror novels are also recommended in the horror summation. This aids the reader, giving them a true overview of the best horror, looking at some of the genre's most notable novels.

The review of horror and fantasy in the media is probably the section which will universally attract readers. This is not only because it deals with both genres but also because it includes the year's most significant movies and television shows most people are familiar with. A criticism by Edward Bryant is humourous, accessible and insightful.

These exhaustive summaries are reason enough to buy the book. When you add in a wide variety of quality short stories and poems, the book becomes even more desirable. As long as you don't have your mind set on reading traditional fantasy stories or horror tales filled with vampires and werewolves, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror is a book all fans of literature should enjoy.


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Copyright The Gazette 1999