Through intelligent selection and commentary, Jones (ed. Fantasy Tales) and Campbell (The Count of Eleven, p. 479, etc.) again prove that horror literature, widely considered an oxymoron not so very long ago, is a field of fiction worthy of serious cultivation. As in their first two annuals, the authors have combed through sources both high-profile (A Whisper of Blood, 1991, etc.) and desperately obscure (Tekeli-li! Journal of Terror) to dig out ""a varied selection...that illustrates the themes and ideas currently being explored in the genre."" The emphasis on ideas can he seen in the authors' roster, which includes big names (Robert McCammon, Dennis Etchison, Thomas Tessier, et al.), fast-rising young stars (Nancy Collins, Thomas Ligotti, Kathe Koja, et al.), and several newcomers--but only a couple of splatterpunks and absolutely no hacks, with most of the 29 entries distinguished by deft style and ambitious subjects. The triangle of love, suffering, and death surfaces as the dominant theme--from K.W. Jeter's opening ""True Love"" (a vampire's daughter cares for her senile but immortal father) through Douglas Clegg's gothic ""Where Flies are Born"" (a woman reanimates her dead child through grotesque means), Alan Brennert's ""Ma Qui"" and S.P. Somtow's ""Chui Chai"" (two wrenching Vietnam-set tales), and the collection's strongest story, Grant Morrison's ""The Braille Encyclopedia"" (a sly shocker about the pursuit of sensual pleasure), and others. A few stories fail, mostly through straining (e.g., those by David J. Schow and Charles Grant) but the vast majority succeed, and equally of interest is the editors' opinionated rundown of the year's (1991) horror fiction, criticism, film and comics, and their invaluable necrology. For the third year running, horror's annual of record, as well as its premier showcase. Not to he missed by any serious fan.