Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Sixteenth Edition

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9780312314255: Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Sixteenth Edition

For more than a decade, readers have turned to The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror to find the most rewarding fantastic short stories. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling continue their critically acclaimed and award-winning tradition with another stunning collection of stories. The fiction and poetry here is culled from an exhaustive survey of the field, nearly four dozen stories ranging from fairy tales to gothic horror, from magical realism to dark tales in the Grand Guignol style. Rounding out the volume are the editors' invaluable overviews of the year in fantasy and horror, new Year's Best sections on comics, by Charles Vess, and on anime and manga, by Joan D. Vinge, and a long list of Honorable Mentions, making this an indispensable reference as well as the best reading available in fantasy and horror. The critically acclaimed and award-winning tradition continues with another stunning collection, including stories by Kelly Link o Kim Newman o Corey Marks o Eric Schaller o M. Shayne Bell o Helga M. Novak o Terry Dowling o Michael Libling o Zoran Zivkovic o Bentley Little o Carlton Mellick III o Brian Hodge o Conrad Williams o Tom Disch o Melissa Hardy o Joel Lane o Nicholas Royle o Tracina Jackson-Adams o Karen Joy Fowler o Jackie Bartley o Peter Dickerman o Ramsey Campbell o Adam Roberts o Robert Phillips o Jay Russell o Luis Alberto Urrea o Margaret Lloyd o Stephen Gallagher o Robin McKinley o Haruki Murakami o Theodora Goss o Kathy Koja o Lucy Taylor o Elizabeth Hand o Kevin Brickmeier o Sharon McCartney o Susan Power o Don Tumasonis o Nan Fry. Rounding out the volume are the editors' invaluable overviews of the year in fantasy and horror, Year's Best sections on comics, by Charles Vess, and on anime and manga, by Joan D. Vinge, and a long list of Honorable Mentions, making this an indispensable reference as well as the best reading available in fantasy and horror.

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About the Author:

Ellen Datlow is the acclaimed editor of such anthologies as Blood is Not Enough, Little Deaths, Alien Sex, Vanishing Acts, and the forthcoming The Dark: New Ghost Stories. She has won the Hugo Award for Best Editor once and the World Fantasy Award six times. She and Terri Windling also won The Bram Stoker Award for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Thirteenth Annual Collection. She lives in New York City and currently edits fiction for Scifi.com. Visit her Web site at http://www.datlow.com.

Terri Windling is a writer, editor, artist, and passionate advocate of fantasy literature. She has won six World Fantasy awards for her editorial work and the Mythopoeic Award for her novel The Wood Wife. She has edited over thirty anthologies, many in collaboration with Ellen Datlow--including the Snow White, Blood Red adult fairy-tale series, The Armless Maiden, Sirens, The Green Man, and Swan Sister. She has also written children's books and articles on myth and folklore, and she edits the Endicott Studio Online Journal of Mythic Arts at http://www.endicott-studio.com. She divides her time between homes in Devon, England, and Tucson, Arizona.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Sixteenth Annual Collection
KELLY LINKLullKelly Link's stories have recently appeared in Conjunctions and McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales. Her first collection, Stranger Things Happen, was published to critical acclaim in 2001. She has won a World Fantasy Award, a Nebula Award, and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. She works with her husband, Gavin J. Grant, on the 'zine Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, and is the editor of Trampoline, an anthology forthcoming from Small Beer Press. She lives in Massachusetts.About "Lull" Link says: "Time-travel, palindromes, and poker. I'm not really very good at any of these." Perhaps not, but she has masterfully created a delightfully chilling and original nesting doll of light and dark elements. The story was originally published in Conjunctions 39: The New Wave Fabulists.--E. D., T. W.There was a lull in the conversation. We were down in the basement, sitting around the green felt table. We were holding bottles of warm beer in one hand, and our cards in the other. Our cards weren't great. Looking at each others' faces, we could see that clearly.We were tired. It made us more tired to look at each other when we saw we weren't getting away with anything at all. We didn't have any secrets.We hadn't seen each other for a while and it was clear that we hadn't changed for the better. We were between jobs, or stuck in jobs that we hated. We were having affairs and our wives knew and didn't care. Some of us were sleeping with each others' wives. There were things that had gone wrong, and we weren't sure who to blame.We had been talking about things that went backwards instead of forwards. Things that managed to do both at the same time. Time travelers. People who weren't stuck like us. There was that new movie that went backwards, and then Jeff put this music on the stereo where all the lyrics were palindromes. It was something his kid had picked up. His kid, Stan, was a lot cooler than we had ever been. He was always bringing things home, Jeff said, saying, you have got to listen to this. Here, try this. These guys are good.Stan was the kid who got drugs for the other kids when there was going to be a party. We had tried not to be bothered by this. We trusted our kids andwe hoped that they trusted us, that they weren't too embarrassed by us. We weren't cool. We were willing to be liked. That would have been enough.Stan was so very cool that he hadn't even minded taking care of some of us, the parents of his friends (the friends of his parents), although sometimes we just went through our kids' drawers, looked under the mattresses. It wasn't that different from taking Halloween candy out of their Halloween bags, which was something we had also done, when they were younger and went to bed before we did.Stan wasn't into that stuff now, though. None of the kids were. They were into music instead.You couldn't get this music on CD. That was part of the conceit. It only came on cassette. You played one side, and then on the other side the songs all played backwards and the lyrics went forwards and backwards all over again in one long endless loop. La allah ha llal. Do, oh, oh, do you, oh do, oh, wanna?Bones was really digging it. "Do you, do you wanna dance, you do, you do," he said and laughed and tipped his chair back. "Snakey canes. Hula boolah."Someone mentioned the restaurant downtown where you were supposed to order your dessert and then you got your dinner."I fold," Ed said. He threw his cards down on the table.Ed liked to make up games. People paid him to make up games. Back when we had a regular poker night, he was always teaching us a new game and this game would be based on a TV show or some dream he'd had."Let's try something new. I'm going to deal out everything, the whole deck, and then we'll have to put it all back. We'll see each other's hands as we put them down. We're going for low. And we'll swap. Yeah, that might work. Something else, like a wild card, but we won't know what the wild card was, until the very end. We'll need to play fast--no stopping to think about it--just do what I tell you to do.""What'll we call it?" he said, not a question, but as if we'd asked him, although we hadn't. He was shuffling the deck, holding the cards close like we might try to take them away. "DNA Hand. Got it?""That's a shitty idea," Jeff said. It was his basement, his poker table, his beer. So he got to say things like that. You could tell that he thought Ed looked happier than he ought to. He was thinking Ed ought to remember his place in the world, or maybe Ed needed to be reminded what his place was. His new place. Most of us were relieved to see that Ed looked okay. If he didn't look okay, that was okay too. We understood. Bad things had happened to all of us. 
We were contemplating these things and then the tape flips over and starts again. 
It's catchy stuff. We could listen to it all night. 
"Now we chant along and summon the Devil," Bones says. "Always wanted to do that."Bones has been drunk for a while now. His hair is standing up and his face is shiny and red. He has a fat stupid smile on his face. We ignore him which is what he wants. Bones' wife is just the same, loud and useless. The thing thatmakes the rest of us sick is that their kids are the nicest, smartest, funniest, best kids. We can't figure it out. They don't deserve kids like that.Brenner asks Ed if he's found a new place to live. He has."Off the highway, down by that Texaco, in the orchards. This guy built a road and built the house right on top of the road. Just, plop, right in the middle of the road. Kind of like he came walking up the road with the house on his back, got tired, and just dropped it.""Not very good feng shui," Pete says.Pete has read a book. He's got a theory about picking up women which he's always sharing with us. He goes to the Barnes and Noble on his lunch hour and hangs around in front of displays of books about houses and decorating, skimming through architecture books. He says it makes you look smart and just domesticated enough. A man looking at pictures of houses is sexy to women.We've never asked if it works for him.Meanwhile, we know, Pete's wife is always after him to go up on the roof and gut the drains, reshingle and patch, paint. Pete isn't really into this. Imaginary houses are sexy. Real ones are work.He did go buy a mirror at Pottery Barn and hang it up, just inside the front door, because otherwise, he said, evil spirits go rushing up the staircase and into the bedrooms. Getting them out again is tricky.The way the mirror works is that they start to come in, look in the mirror, and think a devil is already living in the house. So they take off. Devils can look like anyone--salespeople. Latter Day Saints, the people who mow your lawns--even members of your own family. So you have to have a mirror.Ed says, "Where the house is, is the first weird thing. The second thing is the house. It's like this team of architects went crazy and sawed two different houses in half and then stitched them back together. Casa Del Guggenstein. The front half is really old--a hundred years old--the other half is aluminum siding.""Must have brought down the asking price," Jeff says."Yeah," Ed says. "And the other thing is there are all these doors. One at the front and one at the back and two more on either side, right smack where the aluminum siding starts, these weird, tall, skinny doors, like they're built for basketball players. Or aliens.""Or palm trees," Bones says."Yeah," Ed says. "And then one last door, this vestigial door, up in the master bedroom. Not like a door that you walk through, for a closet, or a bathroom. It opens and there's nothing there. No staircase, no balcony, no point to it. It's a Tarzan door. Up in the trees. You open it and an owl might fly in. Or a bat. The previous tenant left that door locked--apparently he was afraid of sleepwalking.""Fantastic," Brenner says. "Wake up in the middle of the night and go to the bathroom, you could just pee out the side of your house."He opens up the last beer and shakes some pepper in it. Brenner has a thing about pepper. He even puts it on ice cream. Pete swears that one time at a party he wandered into Brenner's bedroom and looked in a drawer in a table beside the bed. He says he found a box of condoms and a peppermill. When we asked what he was doing in Brenner's bedroom, he winked and then put his finger to his mouth and zipped his lip.Brenner has a little pointed goatee. It might look silly on some people, but not on Brenner. The pepper thing sounds silly, maybe, but not even Jeff teases Brenner about it."I remember that house," Alibi says.We call him Alibi because his wife is always calling to check up on him. She'll say, so was Alec out shooting pool with you the other night, and we'll say, sure he was, Gloria. The problem is that sometimes Alibi has told her some completely different story and she's just testing us. But that's not our problem and that's not our fault. She never holds it against us and neither does he."We used to go up in the orchards at night and have wars. Knock each other down with rotten apples. There were these peacocks. You bought the orchard house?""Yeah," Ed says. "I need to do something about the orchard. All the apples are falling off the trees and then they just rot on the ground. The peacocks eat them and get drunk. There are drunk wasps, too. If you go down there you can see the wasps hurtling around in these loopy lines and the peacocks grab them right out of the air. Little pickled wasp hors d'oeuvres. Everything smells like rotting apples. All night long, I'm dreaming about eating wormy apples."For a second, we're afraid Ed might tell us his dreams. Nothing is worse than someone telling you their dreams."So what's the deal with the peacocks?" Bones says."Long story," Ed says. 
So you know how the road to the house is a private road, you turn off the highway onto it, and it meanders up some until you run into the house. Someday I'll drive home and park the car in the living room.There's a big sign that says Private. But people still drive up the turnoff, lost, or maybe looking for a picnic spot, or a place to pull off the road and fuck. Before you hear the car coming, you hear the peacocks. Which was the plan because this guy who built it was a real hermit, a recluse.People in town said all kinds of stuff about him. Nobody knew. He didn't want anybody to know.The peacocks were so he would know when anyone was coming up to the house. They start screaming before you ever see a car. So remember, out the back door, the road goes on down through the orchards, there's a gate and then you're back on the main highway again. And this guy, the hermit, he kept two cars. Back then, nobody had two cars. But he kept one car parked in front of the house and one parked at the back so that whichever way someone was coming, he could go out the other way real fast and drive off before his visitor got up to the house.He had an arrangement with a grocer. The grocer sent a boy up to the house once every two weeks, and the boy brought the mail, too, but there wasn't ever any mail.The hermit had painted in the windows of his cars, black, except for these little circles that he could see out of. You couldn't see in. But apparently he used to drive around at night. People said they saw him. Or they didn't see him. That was the point.The real estate agent said she heard that once this guy had to go to the doctor.He had a growth or something. He showed up in the doctor's office wearing a woman's hat with a long black veil that hung down from the crown, so you couldn't see his face. He took off his clothes in the doctor's office and kept the hat on.One night half of the house fell down. People all over the town saw lights, like fireworks or lightning, up over the orchard. Some people swore they saw something big, all lit up, go up into the sky, like an explosion, but quiet. Just lights. The next day, people went up to the orchard. The hermit was waiting for them--he had his veil on. From the front, the house looked fine. But you could tell something had caught fire. You could smell it, like ozone.The hermit said it had been lightning. He rebuilt the house himself. Had lumber and everything delivered. Apparently kids used to go sneak up in the trees in the orchard and watch him while he was working, but he did all the work wearing the hat and the veil.He died a long time ago. The grocer's boy figured out something was wrong because the peacocks were coming in and out of the windows of the house and screaming.So now they're still down in the orchards and under the porch, and they still came in the windows and made a mess if Ed forgot and left the windows open too wide. Last week a fox came in after a peacock. You wouldn't think a fox would go after something so big and mean. Peacocks are mean.Ed had been downstairs watching TV."I heard the bird come in," he says, "and then I heard a thump and a slap like a chair going over and when I went to look, there was a streak of blood going up the floor to the window. A fox was going out the window and the peacock was in its mouth, all the feathers dragging across the sill. Like one of Susan's paintings."Ed's wife Susan took an art class for a while. Her teacher said she had a lot of talent. Brenner modeled for her, and so did some of our kids, but most of Susan's paintings were portraits of her brother, Andrew. He'd been living with Susan and Ed for about two years. This was hard on Ed, although he'd never complained about it. He knew Susan loved her brother. He knew her brother had problems.Andrew couldn't hold down a job. He went in and out of rehab, and when he was out, he hung out with our kids. Our kids thought Andrew was cool. The less we liked him, the more time our kids spent with Andrew. Maybe we were just a little jealous of him.Jeff's kid, Stan, he and Andrew hung out all the time. Stan was the one who found Andrew and called the hospital. Susan never said anything, but maybe she blamed Stan. Everybody knew Stan had been getting stuff for Andrew.Another thing that nobody said: what happened to Andrew, it was probably good for the kids in the long run.Those paintings--Susan's paintings--were weird. None of the people in her paintings ever looked very comfortable, and she couldn't do hands. And there were always these animals in the paintings, looking as if they'd been shot, or gutted, or if they didn't look dead, they were definitely supposed to be rabid. You worried about the people.She hung them up in their house for a while, but they weren't comfortablepaintings. You couldn't watch TV in the same room with them. And Andrew had this habit, he'd sit on the sofa just under one portrait, and there was another one, too, above the TV. Three Andrews was too many.Once Ed brought Andrew to poker night. Andrew sat a while and didn't say anything, and then he said he was going upstairs to get more beer and he never came back. Three...

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