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999 by Al Sarrantonio

999

New Stories of Horror and Suspense

By Al Sarrantonio

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 1999
ISBN: 0-380-97740-0
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Following the steps of groundbreaking anthologies such as Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions (not reviewed) and Kirby McCauley’s Dark Forces (1980), this major publication of supernatural horror and nonsupernatural suspense offers 27 original works (no reprints) by Young Turks and top authors in the field. Stephen King’s “The Road Virus Heads North,” while suspenseful, is gimmicky and lacks the great warmth of his forthcoming Hearts in Atlantis (p. 988), which has spoiled us for lesser works from the master. Kim Newman’s “Amerikanski Dead at the Moscow Morgue,” in every way an outstanding tale, finds the ever-fanciful Newman in solemnly hilarious spirits as he speaks with a straight face of captured and shuffling dead American zombies herded into an onion-domed church-turned-morgue in Communist Russia back in the time of the holy zombie healer, Rasputin. Joyce Carol Oates’s “The Ruins of Contracoeur” is a tour de force of moody poetics “in the death-stillness of a stonily moonlit night.” Thomas Disch’s “The Owl and the Pussycat” tells of a church owl brought home from an AA meeting who marries a pussycat and of their putting up with and overcoming an abusive, alcoholic master. Eric van Lustbader’s romantic fantasy “An Exaltation of Termagants” takes place in the addled brain of a mescal addict. William Peter Blatty (of The Exorcist) gives a slick, sly novella, “Elsewhere,” concerning a haunted house and the truth about its ghosts. Blatty’s hackneyed writing falls far below the stylishness of Newman, Oates, and several others in a sheaf that also includes Neil Gaiman, David Morrell, T. E. D. Klein, F. Paul Wilson, Ramsey Campbell, Ed Gorman, Gene Wolfe, and Nancy A. Collins” just to whet your appetite. Perhaps not quite the literary benchmark editor Sarrantonio hopes—nor is its excellence as consistent as some annuals by female editors of erotic suspense and vampire tales—but it will certainly be around for decades. ($200,000 ad/promo)