Saturday, January 23, 2016

Best New Horror Volume 2 (1990) and Volume 3 (1991): 2015 Revised PS Publishing Editions

Best New Horror Volume 2 (1990): 2015 Revised PS Publishing Edition: edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell, containing the following stories:


  • Apostate in Denim* by Roberta Lannes: Removed from the original edition by the publisher due to concerns over its violence. It's well-written and very unpleasant.
  • The First Time  by K. W. Jeter: Brutal road trip/coming of age story becomes graphic and surreal towards its end.
  • A Short Guide to the City  by Peter Straub: Straub's most Borgesian work, complete with a shout-out to a famous Gabriel Garcia Marquez short story.
  • Stephen  by Elizabeth Massie: Award-winning and right on the cusp of unintentional hilarity, especially if you remember In Living Color's Head Detective.
  • The Dead Love You  by Jonathan Carroll: Bonkers, surreal, disturbing, weird.
  • Jane Doe #112  by Harlan Ellison: Another Ellison story that starts off as horror and ends as a shrill condemnation of anyone who doesn't lead what Ellison considers an exciting, meaningful life -- which is to say, anyone who isn't either famous or well-regarded in a creative field. Thanks for the lecture, Mr. E!
  • Shock Radio  by Ray Garton: Enjoyable revenge piece involving, well, a shock-radio jock.
  • The Man Who Drew Cats  by Michael Marshall Smith: Moody, very Bradburyesque piece was one of the soon-to-be-prolific Mr. Smith's first published stories.
  • The Co-Op  by Melanie Tem: Augh! Very disturbing, feminist take on body horror. 
  • Negatives  by Nicholas Royle: Brilliant short piece in which the horror arises from distorted perception.
  • The Last Feast of Harlequin by Thomas Ligotti: Probably still the estimable Mr. Ligotti's most anthologized story, a creepy, oddball reimagining of concepts from H.P. Lovecraft's "The Festival."
  • 1/72nd Scale  by Ian R. MacLeod: Mournful tale of a boy, his dead brother, and his grieving family builds both sorrow and horror with careful, slow precision, and then moves in an unpredictable and cathartic direction in the last few pages. Quite brilliant, I think.
  • Cedar Lane  by Karl Edward Wagner: Minor, late-career Wagner with a nifty twist and a story that overall riffs on a famous Bradbury story from the 1950's.
  • At a Window Facing West  by Kim Antieau: Interesting but weirdly unfinished.
  • Inside the Walled City  by Garry Kilworth: Disturbing, claustrophobic horror in Hong Kong.
  • On the Wing  by Jean-Daniel Breque: Pretty minor.
  • Firebird  by J. L. Comeau: Witchcraft and embattled cops in decaying Detroit.
  • Incident on a Rainy Night in Beverly Hills  by David J. Schow: Much more Hollywood humour than horror.
  • His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood by Poppy Z. Brite: A career-defining early work from Brite riffs on Lovecraft's tale "The Hound" in disturbing, erotic, and decadent ways. 
  • The Original Dr Shade  by Kim Newman: Brilliant, horrifying, metafictional riff on British pulp heroes, racism, and Thatcherism.
  • Madge  by D. F. Lewis: Pretty minor.
  • Alive in Venice  by Cherry Wilder: Nice 19th-century period piece.
  • Divertimento  by Gregory Frost: Science fiction horror.
  • Pelts by F. Paul Wilson: Don't catch, kill, and skin raccoons from a haunted forest. Just don't.
  • Those of Rhenea  by David Sutton: Interesting but not entirely successful piece set on a haunted Greek island.
  • Lord of the Land by Gene Wolfe: Great, mysterious nod to Lovecraft from the great and giant Mr. Wolfe.
  • Aquarium  by Steve Rasnic Tem: Weird near-horror from the finely tuned, poetic Mr. Tem.
  • Mister Ice Cold  by Gahan Wilson: Oh no, another unstoppable serial killer. Yuck.
  • On the Town Route  by Elizabeth Hand: Weird, atmospheric jaunt through extremely rural America.


Overall: Many of these stories have become repeatedly republished classics, and others merit rediscovery. There are very, very few misses. Fine editorial work from the team of Jones and Campbell. This new edition updates the biographies for the writers, so there is new material if one already owns the original edition. As well, a story meant to appear has been added back in (See * above for details). Highly recommended.



Best New Horror Volume 3 (1991): 2015 Revised PS Publishing Edition: edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell, containing the following stories:


  • True Love  by K. W. Jeter: Really disturbing character study.
  • The Same in Any Language  by Ramsey Campbell: A visit to the Greek islands turns out badly for a boy and worse for his annoying father.
  • Impermanent Mercies  by Kathe Koja: Totally weird and strangely disturbing.
  • Ma Qui  by Alan Brennert: Marvelous piece of posthumous narration set during the Viet Nam War.
  • The Miracle Mile  by Robert R. McCammon: Pretty slight entry from a zombie anthology.
  • Taking Down the Tree  by Steve Rasnic Tem: A weird, poetic piece from the prolific and valuable Mr. Tem.
  • Where Flies Are Born  by Douglas Clegg: OK bit of body-horror.
  • Love, Death and the Maiden  by Roger Johnson: Moody horror-quest sort of fizzles out in murkiness.
  • Chui Chai  by S. P. Somtow: Another unimpressive piece of horror from someone who was a really impressive science-fiction writer in the 1970's and early 1980's.
  • The Snow Sculptures of Xanadu  by Kim Newman: Fun metafictional oddity for Citizen Kane fans.
  • Colder Than Hell  by Edward Bryant: Chilly psychological horror story recalls Sinclair Ross' classic "The Painted Door."
  • Raymond  by Nancy A. Collins: Collins creates a sad werewolf.
  • One Life, in an Hourglass  by Charles L. Grant: Riff on Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes is low-key but mostly satisfying.
  • The Braille Encyclopedia  by Grant Morrison: Creepy horror piece suggests that mostly-comic-book-writing Morrison is riffing hard on Clive Barker.
  • The Bacchae  by Elizabeth Hand: Brilliant piece of feminist, mythological horror set in a rapidly disintegrating near-future.
  • Busted in Buttown  by David J. Schow: Interesting, but it really feels like Schow is riffing on Dennis Etchison here.
  • Subway Story  by Russell Flinn: Flinn abandoned writing soon after this was published, which is a shame -- he was like a somewhat more surreal but quite horrifying version of Ramsey Campbell in terms of his subject matter and descriptive focus.
  • The Medusa  by Thomas Ligotti: One of Ligotti's relatively early, much-anthologized, weird pieces.
  • Power Cut  by Joel Lane: Sharp, satiric horror about homophobia.
  • Moving Out  by Nicholas Royle: Excellent, unusual, disturbing ghost story.
  • Guignoir  by Norman Partridge: Fun, pulpy piece of American ultraviolence, complete with carnival.
  • Blood Sky  by William F. Nolan: Unusual, affecting character study of a serial killer.
  • Ready  by David Starkey: Interesting.
  • The Slug  by Karl Edward Wagner: Writer's block horror from the late, great writer and anthologist who faced these demons and others at the time of publication.
  • The Dark Land  by Michael Marshall Smith: Excellent early bit of horrifying, somewhat surreal journey into... something.
  • When They Gave Us Memory  by Dennis Etchison: A typical Etchison oddity, which is to say unusual in subject matter, elusive in meaning, keenly observed in physical detail.
  • Taking Care of Michael  by J. L. Comeau: Sort of yuck.
  • The Dreams of Dr. Ladybank  by Thomas Tessier: Tessier works some very modern, gender-bending, boundary-pushing changes on the basic set-up for such horror classics as Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Parasite."
  • Zits  by Nina Kiriki Hoffman: Bleak, disturbing vignette.


Overall: Many of these stories have become repeatedly republished classics, and others merit rediscovery. There are very, very few misses. Fine editorial work from the team of Jones and Campbell. This new edition updates the biographies for the writers, so there is new material if one already owns the original edition. Highly recommended.

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