BEST NEW HORROR by Stephen & Ramsey Campbell--Eds. Jones


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The satisfying and savvy kickoff to a projected annual series. Britons Campbell (Ancient Images, etc.) and Jones (ed., Fantasy Tales magazine) draw from the full well of 1989's horror stories, British and American, occult and psychological, splatter-punk and ""quiet,"" by both big names and unknowns, from obscure fanzines and mass-market and hard-cover collections alike. And though they ladle out no timeless tales, the quality is generally way above average, beginning with Robert McCammon's seat-squirming ""Pin,"" a perfectly pitched monologue by a psychopath about to seek glory by sticking a pin into his eye--a tale preceded by the editors' knowledgeable and outspoken discussion of the 1989 horror crop. After ""Pin"" comes Cherry Wilder's ""The House on Cherry Street,"" a post-Holocaust ghost story whose elegant shufflings of terror--a ghost half-seen in the snow; skeletons in a locked room--contrast to the sensationalism of the McCammon and neatly set the volume's eclectic tone. Of the 18 remaining stories in this 400-page collection, the standouts belong to Thomas Tessier, with the Poe-like political allegory ""Blanca,"" about the ""disappeared"" of a tropical dictatorship; Steve Ramie Tern, with ""Carnal House,"" an eerie tale of posthumous erotic love; Ian Watson, who, in ""The Eye of the Ayatollah,"" imagines an Islamic fanatic using an eye from Khomeini's corpse to spy upon Salman Rushdie; Chet Williamson, whose chilling tale of theatrical vampirism, ""To Feel Another's Woe,"" proves to have been a blueprint for his less-successful novel, Reign (p. 909); and Richard Laymon, with the gleefully pulp-ish ""Bad News."" A thorough ""Necrology"" of horror figures who died in 1989 appends the stories. Breaks no new ground, but with its wide range and intelligent choices this is a bonanza for horror fans--and in the running to become the horror annual of record.

Pub Date: Dec. 10th, 1990
Publisher: Carroll & Graf