Horror Lessons

The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 23 (2011): edited by Stephen Jones (2012) containing

Ramsey Campbell – Holding The Light
Christopher Fowler – Lantern Jack
Paul Kane – Rag And Bone
Gemma Files – Some Kind Of Light Shines From Your Face
Joel Lane – Midnight Flight
Tim Lebbon – Trick Of The Light
Gregory Nicoll – But None Shall Sing For Me
Alison Littlewood – About The Dark
Daniel Mills – The Photographer’s Tale
Mark Samuels – The Tower
Peter Atkins – Dancing Like We’re Dumb
Simon Strantzas – An Indelible Stain Upon The Sky
Joan Aiken – Hair
Steve Rasnic Tem – Miri
Geeta Roopnarine – Corbeaux Bay
Michael Marshall Smith – Sad, Dark Thing
Robert Silverberg – Smithers And The Ghost Of The Thar
Reggie Oliver – Quieta Non Movere
Joe R. Lansdale – The Crawling Sky
Conrad Williams – Wait
Simon Kurt Unsworth – The Ocean Grand, North West Coast
Evangeline Walton – They That Have Wings
Thana Niveau – White Roses, Bloody Silk
John Ajivide Lindqvist – The Music Of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer
Ramsey Campbell – Passing Through Peacehaven
David Buchan – Holiday Home

Enjoyable and somewhat controversial entry in Mammoth’s Best New Horror series because of editor Stephen Jones’ introduction, critical as it was of certain award winners in genre competitions, among other things. The anthology’s lengthy Year in Horror and Necrology sections have also stirred controversy for being too…long.

Apparently, long anthologies are a problem for people reading things on e-readers, and make them want to stop reading because, um, I guess they’re really stupid and lazy. When I don’t want to read the introductory and framing material in an anthology, I generally just skip past it. Apparently this represents some kind of terrible burden for both e-readers and a few people using paper, as I assume their arms have atrophied to be more like a T. Rex’s arms because they’re all hunched over and texting all the time in between keeping their heads in their asses.

Seriously, people? I can think of a lot of major criticisms of this anthology series, but the non-fictional material isn’t the source of any of them.

I don’t know that there’s anything surpassingly disturbing in this year’s selection, but there also aren’t any real stinkers. A couple of stories end with clunky twists, but that’s about it. And not only do you get two Ramsey Campbell stories, you also get two posthumous publications, a nice little Joan Aiken story and a marvelous Evangeline Walton novella involving some particularly awful figures out of Greek mythology. Recommended, unless you’re an idiot with little T. Rex arms.

A Clutch of Vampires by/edited by Raymond T. McNally (1970): Enjoyable anthology/commonplace book of fiction and historical accounts of vampires dating back to classical Greece. The whole thing is dominated by (most of) J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla,” the first great work of vampire fiction. What one gathers from the various non-fiction accounts from a dozen different cultures is that vampires really have odd habits in some countries. The ones that try to kill you by lying on you are surely the most annoying; the Chinese vampires that can’t make 90-degree turns are probably the easiest to thwart. Recommended.

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