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The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror 2008:…
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The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror 2008: Twenty-First Annual Collection

by Ellen Datlow (Editor), Gavin J. Grant (Editor), Kelly Link (Editor)

Other authors: Daniel Abraham (Contributor), M. T. Anderson (Contributor), Nathalie Anderson (Contributor), Nathan Ballingrud (Contributor), Laird Barron (Contributor)40 more, Holly Black (Contributor), Chaz Brenchley (Contributor), Edward Bryant (Foreword), Thomas Canty (Cover artist), Ted Chiang (Contributor), Billy Collins (Contributor), Charles de Lint (Foreword), Terry Dowling (Contributor), Jeffrey Ford (Contributor), Karen Joy Fowler (Contributor), James Frenkel (Foreword), Eliza Griswold (Contributor), Eileen Gunn (Contributor), Elizabeth Hand (Contributor), Jack M. Haringa (Contributor), Kij Johnson (Contributor), Lucy Kemnitzer (Contributor), Tanith Lee (Contributor), Alexander MacBride (Contributor), Khaled Mattawa (Contributor), Gary McMahon (Contributor), Donald Mead (Contributor), Tim Nickels (Contributor), Garth Nix (Contributor), Joyce Carol Oates (Contributor), Reggie Oliver (Contributor), Paul Park (Contributor), M. Rickert (Contributor), Karen Russell (Contributor), Veronica Schanoes (Contributor), Delia Sherman (Author), Maggie Smith (Contributor), William Browning Spencer (Contributor), Sonya Taaffe (Contributor), Don Tumasonis (Contributor), Lisa Tuttle (Contributor), Catherynne M. Valente (Contributor), Jeff VanderMeer (Foreword), Paul Walther (Contributor), Liz Williams (Contributor)

Series: Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (21 2008)

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Showing 4 of 4
This is a huge omnibus of 36 stories and 7 poems as chosen by Ellen Datlow for works premiering in 2008. With so much to choose from, there are some wonderful standouts and some that just made me go, "Huh?" (luckily, only 3 of them made me do that). I read this throughout February (a story or sometimes two each night before bed), and now I just want all of the collections I don't have yet.

Here are some of my notes:

The Forest by Laird Barron - feels like you have to be high to appreciate it

The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate by Ted Chiang - an Egyptian fable about a Gate of Years which transports you 20 years into a fixed future - I really liked this one

Rats - by Veronica Schanoes - a familiar, darkly modernized fairy tale .. with rats - I liked this one too

The Swing by Don Tumasonis - where a swing appears to swallow up young girls - I liked this one, but it was one of those reads where you really need to pay attention to catch all of the nuances

My two favorites:

The Fiddler of Bayou Teche by Delia Sherman - about a girl named Cadence with white skin, hair, and pink eyes who was found in the swamp by loup-garous (werewolves) and raised by Tante Eulalie, a woman with many gifts, including healing, in her self-imposed swamp exile. Cadence eventually finds herself in a battle with a fiddler who can "fiddle the Devil out of Hell."

Winter's Wife by Elizabeth Hand - In Shaker Harbor, ME, Roderick Gale Winter, much beloved by his neighbors, including 15-year-old Justin, takes a wife from Iceland (Vaia). In Roderick's house, huldu folk reside as carvings in the beams of the house. When the King's Pines, three majestic pines near the water, are threatened by a wealthy and selfish area developer, strange happenings abound.

I love collections like these, and as I said before, reading this one made me put the others on my to-buy list. If you like fantastically dark tales, this is probably a collection you'll want too.

BOOK RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars ( )
  jewelknits | Mar 13, 2011 |
The twenty-first (and, unfortunately, final) installment of this long-running anthology series.

There's some very good stuff here, starting with the summations. I generally find these pretty interesting, but this year's round-up was awesome. Both the Fantasy and Horror sections reminded me of some novels I'd like to get my hands on, but the real TBR-breaker came when the editors began discussing anthologies and collections. I've discovered any number of wonderful authors through the YBF&H series, and many of my favourites released short fiction collections in 2007. Onto the wishlist they go!

There are also some remarkable stories herein. I've gotta tell you, I did the happy dance when I saw Ted Chiang's name in the TOC. He's yet another author whose complete works I must seek out and greedily devour one of these days, and "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" was every bit as wonderful as I expected it to be. It's an Eastern-inspired tale that plays with storytelling conventions in some interesting ways. Eastern fairy tales and folk stories utilize a different sort of logic than their Western counterparts. I find that there's a much larger awareness of the ways in which all stories are connected. Chiang recognizes this, and he uses it to great effect.

Other stand-outs included "The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics" by Daniel Abraham, "Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go To War Again" by Garth Nix, "The Fiddler of Bayou Teche" by Delia Sherman, "Rats" by Veronica Schanoes and "The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change" by Kij Johnson. I read the last with my own dog sitting on my lap, and I teared up more than a little. As an added bonus, a few of these stories are available for free online. Link and Grant have linked to them from their page for this book.

There were also a fair number of very good stories and poems; not stand-outs, exactly, but stories I'm glad to have read. The problem is that there are an equal number of stories and poems that did nothing for me--and by nothing, I mean nothing. I normally find that Datlow, Link and Grant select stories that show such an exemplary grasp of craft that I can appreciate them on a technical level even when the story itself falls flat for me. That wasn't the case here. All too often, I finished the piece and wondered who I could apply to to get my twenty minutes back. The writing was nothing particularly special. There seemed to be a lot of non-sequiturs. The endings often felt disconnected from the rest of the story. And this wasn't an infrequent occurrence; it happened over, and over, and over.

Urgh.

The collection is still worth reading for the summations and some of the stories, but it wasn't such a treat as some of the previous installments. I'd say the summations and a few of the stories are solidly in 4-star territory, but there were enough stories I'd rate at 3-stars and below that I can't whole-heartedly recommend the collection.

(A slightly different version of this review originally appeared on my blog, Stella Matutina). ( )
1 vote xicanti | Nov 29, 2009 |
Good, solid collection. My favorite authors were:
  • Chaz Brenchley

  • Ted Chiang

  • Veronica Schanoes

  • Lucy Kemnitzer

  • Liz Williams

  • Lisa Tuttle
( )
1 vote Jaie22 | Jan 5, 2009 |
You could possibly be exhausted after reading the centuryish long epic introduction to this volume, giving overviews of fantasy and horror in written form, and in video and comics. As far as video goes, sounds like Edward Bryant is a reviewer I could trust. :)

Unfortunately, not up to the standard of last year's great volume (3.52 vs 3.76). The problem, Daniel Abraham and a couple of others excepted is with the fantasy selections. Both editors mentioned some other favorite stories they couldn't fit in here for space reasons, but they certainly could have done better giving some mediocre fantasy the arse and putting in Lucius Shepard.
On the whole a pretty average bunch. The worst offender by far, dragging the rest down is the wretched MacBride Tarzna spooftiche.

Datlow's horror selections are pretty strong though, headed by the great Laird Barron.

So, I'd call this book perhaps a bit over 3 for fantasy, a bit over 4 for horror, extra for the very well done overview, and give it a four overall. Good but not great.

Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics - Daniel Abraham
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : Vampires in the Lemon Grove - Karen Russell
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : Holiday - M. Rickert
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : Hum Drum - Gary McMahon
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : Splitfoot - Paul Walther
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The House of Mechanical Pain - Chaz Brenchley
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Last Worders - Karen Joy Fowler
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Monsters of Heaven - Nathan Ballingrud
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Fiddler of Bayou Teche - Delia Sherman
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : Mr. Poo Poo - Reggie Oliver
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : Winter's Wife - Elizabeth Hand
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Tenth Muse - William Browning Spencer
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Drowned Life - Jeffrey Ford
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Swing - Don Tumasonis
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Forest - Laird Barron
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : Fragrant Goddess - Paul Park
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : Up the Fire Road - Eileen Gunn
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Gray Boy's Work - M.T. Anderson
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate - Ted Chiang
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : Valentine, July Heat Wave - Joyce Carol Oates
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : A Thing Forbidden - Donald Mead
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : Reversal of Fortune - Holly Black
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : Rats - Veronica Schanoes
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : A Perfect and Unmappable Grace - Jack Haringa
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Boulder - Lucy Kemnitzer
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Hill - Tanith Lee
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Ape Man - Alexander MacBride
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Hide - Liz Williams
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : England and Nowhere - Tim Nickels
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go to War Again - Garth Nix
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : Toother - Terry Dowling
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change - Kij Johnson
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21 : Closet Dreams - Lisa Tuttle

Life exchange rate.

4.5 out of 5

Sour suckage.

3 out of 5

Dead kid clowning just like the old man.

4 out of 5

Widow con beaten.

4 out of 5

Lizard lancer mercenary godbothering, no dummy.

3.5 out of 5

Would up paedophile plate family.

4 out of 5

Partner door bitch ditch.

3 out of 5

Limp angel bloody love.

4 out of 5

Dance marathon bet.

3.5 out of 5

Fundamentally sticky marriage.

3.5 out of 5

A rocky end for local entrepreneur's saga.

4 out of 5

Same book ritual.

4 out of 5

Octopus advice maybe dodgy.

3 out of 5

Dying of cancer won't bug me, at least until the sun goes out, anyway.

4.5 out of 5

Alchemical history.

2.5 out of 5

Bigfoot baby makes talk show host disappear!

3 out of 5

Deserter addition.

3 out of 5

Wormhole time tender's raconteur replay.

4 out of 5

No flies on this marriage

4 out of 5

Dead Billy not, but Christ and priest rather tasty.

3 out of 5

Devil frog chomp, plus 1.

4 out of 5

Junkie gutted.

3 out of 5

Who dropped you the dead nude chick?

2.5 out of 5

Rocky grail riddance.

3 out of 5

Lizard meat puppets.

4 out of 5

Pathetic monkeying around.

2 out of 5

Shag flyers, multiple.

3 out of 5

Dad beach film girl.

4 out of 5

Lizard lancer mercenary godbothering, no dummy.

3.5 out of 5

Forced in denture.

4 out of 5

Dogs like chicken and chips, too.

3 out of 5

Locked up loop.

3.5 out of 5

http://notfreesf.blogspot.com/2008/12/years-best-fantasy-and-horror-21st.html ( )
1 vote bluetyson | Dec 9, 2008 |
Showing 4 of 4
Alas, the last volume in the series is a kind of low-key assemblage of stories of which only a few are up to the expected quality level.
added by Shortride | editSF Site, Mario Guslandi (Mar 15, 2009)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Datlow, EllenEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Grant, Gavin J.Editormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Link, KellyEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Abraham, DanielContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anderson, M. T.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anderson, NathalieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ballingrud, NathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barron, LairdContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Black, HollyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brenchley, ChazContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bryant, EdwardForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Canty, ThomasCover artistsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chiang, TedContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Collins, BillyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
de Lint, CharlesForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dowling, TerryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ford, JeffreyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fowler, Karen JoyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Frenkel, JamesForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Griswold, ElizaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gunn, EileenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hand, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haringa, Jack M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, KijContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kemnitzer, LucyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lee, TanithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
MacBride, AlexanderContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mattawa, KhaledContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McMahon, GaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mead, DonaldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nickels, TimContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nix, GarthContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Oates, Joyce CarolContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Oliver, ReggieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Park, PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rickert, M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Russell, KarenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schanoes, VeronicaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sherman, DeliaAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, MaggieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Spencer, William BrowningContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Taaffe, SonyaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tumasonis, DonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tuttle, LisaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Valente, Catherynne M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
VanderMeer, JeffForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Walther, PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, LizContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312380488, Paperback)

As in every year since 1988, the editors tirelessly scoured story collections, magazines, and anthologies worldwide to compile a delightful, diverse feast of tales and poems.
On this anniversary, the editors have increased the size of  the collection to 300,000 words of fiction and poetry, including works by Billy Collins, Ted Chiang, Karen Joy Fowler, Elizabeth Hand, Glen Hirshberg, Joyce Carol Oates, and new World Fantasy Award winner M. Rickert. With impeccably researched summations of the field by the editors, Honorable Mentions, and articles by Edward Bryant, Charles de Lint and Jeff VanderMeer on media, music and graphic novels, this is a heady brew topped off by an unparalleled list of sources of fabulous works both light and dark.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:10 -0400)

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