The third in a series of classic fairy tales retold for adult readers (Snow White, Blood Red, 1993; Black Thorn, White Rose, 1994) again brings a distinguished company of writers to age-old material. In their introduction, editors Datlow and Windling trace the fairy tale tradition to pre-Christian roots and suggest that ``wonder tale'' would be a more accurate description: Only a minority of the stories concern ``fairies'' or similar demihuman beings. Instead, we find Susan Wade conflating ``The Wizard of Oz'' with a Hans Christian Andersen tale, as told by a grown-up Dorothy interviewed in present-day Hollywood; or Gahan Wilson re-creating ``Hansel and Gretel'' as a modern resort, in a narrative tone more chilling than anything in the original. Gene Wolfe also brings a delicious ambiguity, a wealth of period detail, and an earthy sense of humor to ``The Death of Koschei the Deathless,'' a take-off on a well-known Russian tale. Meantime, the editors are not afraid to offer alternate takes: In this volume of 22 stories, Joyce Carol Oates, Nancy Kress, and poet Farida S.T. Shapiro offer their own versions of ``Sleeping Beauty.'' Other contributors include horror writers Nancy A. Collins and Kathe Koja, as well as fantasy and folklore specialists Jane Yolen, Tanith Lee, and Delia Sherman. Here, too, is one of the last works of the late science fiction writer John Brunner, ``The Emperor Who Had Never Seen a Dragon,'' based on a Chinese original. The fairy-tale tradition clearly retains its imaginative fertility, and the authors have almost without exception risen to the occasion.