The Year’s Best Horror XIII (1984), edited by Karl Edward Wagner (1985):
Introduction: 13 Is A Lucky Number – Karl E. Wagner
Stephen King – Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut
Charles L. Grant – Are You Afraid Of The Dark?
John Gordon – Catch Your Death
Gardner Dozois – Dinner Party
Daniel Wynn Barber – Tiger In The Snow
Ramsey Campbell – Watch The Birdie
David J. Schow – Coming Soon To A Theatre Near You
Leslie Halliwell – Hands With Long Fingers
Fred Chappell – Weird Tales
Jovan Panich – The Wardrobe
Vincent McHardy – Angst For The Memories
David Langford – The Thing In The Bedroom
John Brizzolara – Borderland
Roger Johnson – The Scarecrow
James B. Hemesath – The End Of The World
John Gordon – Never Grow Up
Charles Wagner – Deadlights
Dennis Etchison – Talking In The Dark
One of the strongest entries from Wagner’s 15+ year run on DAW’s Year’s Best Horror series, with a gratifyingly broad and deep range of stories. Splatterpunk was still in its formative stages in 1984, so the violence levels in these stories generally never go above a Yellow Alert level. Comic horror (David Langford’s “The Thing In The Bedroom”), science-fiction-horror (Gardner Dozois’s “Dinner Party”), children’s horror (the two entries from John Gordon) and even a prose adaptation of what was originally a story from a comic book (Charles Wagner’s “Deadlights”) represent some of the more off-beat offerings.
The King story isn’t horror per se, though it is a charming piece that straddles the line between light and dark fantasy. Fred Chappell’s story, from a literary journal, takes us through a nightmarish historical voyage that includes the weird-but-true meetings of Hart Crane and H.P. Lovecraft; Dennis Etchison heads into Misery territory, albeit with a decided twist; David Schow pits a Viet Nam vet against the bizarre proprietors of a repertory cinema in rundown L.A.; Roger Johnson presents an able M.R. James homage; Ramsey Campbell is at his drollest in a “true story” which I’m guessing (or hoping) isn’t. Karl Edward Wagner was a world wonder; highly recommended.