First-rate horror anthology, its 26 tales sparked by Dante's Inferno. Crowther and Kramer recently teamed for the thematic anthology Tombs (p. 594), but this new effort holds much greater promise. On hand are Gene Wolfe with the folksy but ironic ""Bed and Breakfast,"" about a still-living man who beds down with a murderess/suicide on a small farm three miles from hell. Harlan Ellison's ""Chatting with Anubis"" follows a Chinese archaeologist and his female American companion as they dig into the Sahara and discover the huge tomb of . . . well, we won't say, but the underworld is guarded by a colossal laughing jackal, Anubis, who reveals the secret of the ages to the two scientists, a secret once revealed to Alexander the Great. In addition, three stories with especially strong pull: Douglas Clegg's""The Ripening Sweetness of Late Afternoon,"" which draws a brilliant portrait of a streetcomer preacher with two murders on his soul who returns to his sunny hometown to be crucified on the beach where other townsfolk have been crucified awaiting his return; Storm Constantine's ""Return to Gehenna,"" in which the heroine--an office drudge whose purse holds ""an extortionate electricity bill addressed to 'the occupier' at an address she didn't know; a letter from a bank advising of an abused overdraft facility, written to 'whomever it may concern'; an eviction order for nonpayment of rent. A catalogue of tears and woe--financial distress in all its forms--but anonymous; evidence only of universal, urban misery""--discovers the tastepiercing pleasures of hell; and Brian Aldiss's utterly inspired ""Dark Society,"" in which a poet's dead wife faxes him garbled messages from hell--or is it hell? Topflight horror from one proud band of storytellers.