The weaving of fictional suspense and terror is as ancient as humankind itself. But where does this age-old tradition stand at the cusp of a new decade, a new century, a new millennium? This mammoth volume seeks to answer that question. Your hold in your hands the state of the art -- of fear.
To prepare this groundbreaking anthology, writer and editor Al Sarrantonio challenged a distinguished roster of authors to demonstrate with all-new stories the shape of horror/suspense literature as we enter the twenty-first century. As you will read the twenty-nine contributors responded by displaying the infinite variety which is the very hallmark of this field. Some of these stories will startle you or fill you with terror. Some will haunt you long after you finish reading them. There is even an eerily echoing chuckle or two found inside. But together, these weirdest of tales join to form a great literary mosaic, a vivid contemporary portrait of a genre which is proud, potent, and irresistible.
Not only is this the largest anthology of original horror/suspense fiction of all time -- not one story in 999 has ever been published before -- but it is also the finest. Here is a major publishing event with an attitude: to shake you up and scare you silly.
This colossal collection of truly original horror and nonsupernatural suspense proves that the contemporary horror genre is alive and kicking--with enough talented heirs to keep it breathing for many years to come. Here the well-known masters of the macabre--Stephen King, Bentley Little, Ramsey Campbell--join up with those who deserve to be: P.D. Cacek, who chills us to the bone with her disturbing story, "The Grave"; and Michael Marshall Smith, author of a one-of-a-kind mathematical horror story, "The Book of Irrational Numbers."
Exceptionally different in style, the common denominator of these 29 never-before-published short stories is their ability to haunt and terrify. As editor Al Sarrantonio states in his introduction, "if it scares you, that's it." Worthy stand-outs in this massive fear factory are Joyce Carol Oates's quasi-gothic tale, "The Ruins of Contracoeur," the sorrowful tale of a family forced into exile because of the patriarch's fall from grace. "Not ten days following the upheaval of our lives, ... Father, disgraced and defeated, uprooted his family from the state capital to live in the ruin of Cross Hill, his grandfather's estate in the foothills of the Chautauqua Mountains." Despite its classic horror style, Oates's contribution is very much set in the contemporary world of computers and high technology, and for 13-year-old Graeme Matheson, losing access to the Internet is almost as disturbing as the faceless man who haunts him at night.
F. Paul Wilson (The Barrens and Others, The Tomb) contributes the book's most traditional vampire story, "Good Friday." Vampires have taken over Europe, and America seems about to suffer the same fate. The nuns of a New Jersey Catholic school quickly realize that no amount of holy water can save them from the undead.
Over 650 pages, a quarter of a million words, and enough adrenaline rushes to keep the average horror reader up for nights, 999 is dark decadence indeed . --Naomi Gesinger
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