The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, 2010 Edition

Darkness surrounds us. We can find darkness anywhere: in a strange green stone etched with mysterious symbols; at a small town’s annual picnic; in a ghostly house that is easy to enter but not so easy to leave; behind the dumpster in the alley where a harpy lives; in The Nowhere, a place where car keys, toys, people disappear to; among Polar explorers; and, most definitely, within ourselves. Darkness flies from mysterious crates; surrounds children whose nightlights have vanished; and flickers between us at the movie theater. Darkness crawls from the past and is waiting in our future; and there’s always a chance that Halloween really is a door opening directly into endless shadow. Welcome to the dark. You may never want to leave. This inaugural volume of the year’s best dark fantasy and horror features more than 500 pages of dark tales from some of today’s finest writers of the fantastique. Chosen from a variety of sources, these stories are as eclectic and varied as the genre itself.

“With this collection of 39 stories originally published in 2009, Guran (Zombies: The Recent Dead) creates an expansive definition of the genre, ranging from overtly fantastic to (mostly) realistic and from the hilarity of Seth Fried’s Pushcart Prize — winning ‘Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre’ to the tender terror of Margo Lanagan’s novella ‘Sea-Hearts.’ Nods to classics abound: Suzy McKee Charnas’s futuristic ‘Lowland Sea’ retells a Poe story of plague, Michael Shea’s ‘Copping Squid’ evokes Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, Sarah Monette’s ‘White Charles’ channels M.R. James, and Catherynne M. Valente’s ‘A Delicate Architecture’ revisits the Brothers Grimm. Others play on present-day pop culture, such as Peter Straub’s ‘Variations of a Theme from Seinfeld.’ Many tales tackle themes of objectification, abuse, and destroyed innocence, cutting straight to the reader’s heart. (Jan.)”
Publishers Weekly

“Anthologist and editor Guran has collected 39 thrilling and frightening horror stories published in 2009. While some of the authors will be familiar to readers outside the genre—Joe R. Lansdale, Kelley Armstrong, Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell—most of the contributors may be new to those who haven’t kept up to date on their urban-fantasy and horror writers. Although they are all technically in the same genre, the stories are quite diverse, from Straub’s quirky “Variations on a Theme from Seinfeld” to Armstrong’s eerie “Haunted House” to Lansdale’s creepy and sad “Torn Away.” Fans of horror and dark fantasy—the latter, Guran explains, defies easy definition, but you know it when you feel it—should welcome this collection with open arms. This is the first edition of this anthology, but if the editor can maintain the same high quality in years to come, it is certain to join the several crime and SF year’s-best collections as a staple in the genre-fiction world.”

CONTRIBUTORS (in alphabetical order):

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