The unreservedly recommended NIGHTMARES challenges preconceptions
A pair of new reviews and a favorable mention for Ellen Datlow’s NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR.
Ellen Datlow (credit: THIS IS HORROR)
For SEE THE ELEPHANT, Paul StJohn Mackintosh praises Datlow’s forthcoming anthology.
Ellen Datlow is a tremendously influential figure in horror circles, and this collection is one more significant milestone to be set among the score or so other titles and collections listed in its front matter. As Datlow writes in her introduction to the book, “NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR could be considered a sequel to DARKNESS: TWO DECADES OF MODERN HORROR, an anthology that covered the years 1985 to 2005.” PUBLISHERS WEEKLY called that “an anthology to be cherished and an invaluable reference for horror aficionados.” And as a follow-up, this doesn’t disappoint – given what we’ve seen in horror over the past decade, that’s no surprise. As Datlow also writes, with considerable understatement, “2005–2015 has been a great period for short horror fiction.” I’ve written elsewhere on why I think that is, but one contributing factor is surely Datlow herself.
Given how inclusive the collection is, confirmed horror aficionados may find many stories they’re already familiar with – accordingly, they should examine the contents list with care and make sure that it gives them value for money. But even they are likely to discover unfamiliar gems among the more well-worn stuff – Margo Lanagan’s “The Goosle,” for instance, came as a huge and welcome surprise to me. Novice horror fans, meanwhile, shouldn’t hesitate. This is a collection that delivers on its intention of showcasing the best in a decade of fantastically ambitious and creative dark and frightful fiction, as well as following up on a past classic. You couldn’t wish for better evidence for the contention that weird horror is the representative genre of our time. Unreservedly recommended.
Michael Collings on his COLLINGS NOTES reviews the book.
One approaches an anthology edited by Ellen Datlow with a number of assumptions. First, it will represent the wide reading and decades of experience that make Datlow a premier editor of all things dark. Second, it will tap into the most recent trends in dark fiction, demonstrating the shifting paradigms for narrative, characterization, themes, and language. And third, while all of the twenty-four tales (in this case) will have something to offer, among them there will be gems that trigger shivers and dread.
NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR fulfills these assumptions. Highlighting stories from 2005—the closing date for her previous DARKNESS: TWO DECADES OF MODERN HORROR—through 2015, the anthology provides glimpses into a period of accelerated change in the genre and in how it is viewed and accepted by a wider and wider readership. It acknowledges the increasing awareness of diversity, as challenge and as goal, and the role it plays within the genre. It gives place on the stage to a variety of approaches and treatments…not all of which will please all readers but all of which will give pause for thought and consideration.
Each story in NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR does indeed represent a “nightmare,” although the definition of that word shifts within each. Some deal with worlds like ours, twisted in one detail to force characters to face impossiblities. Others take place in fantastic worlds, where the impossible is an everyday event and horror, therefore, must must reach beyond to terrify. Readers will find sufficient entertainment, frequent enough moments of frisson, ample enough opportunities to challenge preconceptions, to make the book worth reading.
In an interview at A FANTASTIC LIBRARIAN, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro recommends NIGHTMARES.
As a book
reviewer, I’m all about the book enabling; I can’t help but want
to make people read all the good books out there. But I can always
use help. What are your top recommendations of books we should look
out for in the coming months?
Long live book
enabling! Time Travel: A History by James Gleick. Fashion, Faith, and
Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe by Roger Penrose. The
second edition of Adam Roberts’ THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION
(Palgrave Histories of Literature series). BRIDGING INFINITY, edited
by Jonathan Strahan. Joyce Carol Oates’ SOUL AT THE WHITE HEAT:
INSPIRATION, OBSESSION, AND THE WRITING LIFE. By Ursula K. Le Guin:
THE COMPLETE ORSINIA (The Library of America), and WORDS ARE MY
MATTER, and THE FOUND AND THE LOST: THE COLLECTED NOVELLAS OF URSULA
K. LE GUIN. Ellen Datlow’s NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN
HORROR. SIX SCARY STORIES by Stephen King. OUT OF THE DARK by Steve
Rasnic Tem. Jad Smith’s study of ALFRED BESTER (Modern Masters of
Science Fiction) and, in the same series, Gerry Canavan’s OCTAVIA
E. BUTLER. SPACESHIPS: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE REAL and the
IMAGINED by Ron Miller. INVISIBLE PLANETS: CONTEMPORARY CHINESE
SCIENCE FICTION IN TRANSLATION edited by Ken Liu. I’m going to stop
here because I have to stop somewhere.
For more info about NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Nihil
Design by Elizabeth Story
For more info about DARKNESS: TWO DECADES OF MODERN HORROR, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Ann Monn