Horror Fiction Sampler Platter
This month in the world of short horror fiction:
A new sea-themed horror anthology from renowned editor Ellen Datlow—a reprint of a reprint of some original 80s excellence.
The Devil and the Deep: Horror Stories of the Sea
March 20, 2018; Night Shade Books; edited by Ellen Datlow
One of the most prolific horror fiction editors in the business, Ellen Datlow has edited dozens and dozens of the best horror anthologies out there, including the annual ‘Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror’. In the introduction to Devil and the Deep she describes the sea as ‘a watery terra incognita, a huge blank canvas that invites writers to imagine horrors onto it’. Despite varying subjects and styles, most sea-themed genre stories share a feeling of underlying mystery and melancholy, a prickly apprehension, a surreal loss of time. These tales haunt those same blue waters. Land-lubbing writers like Seanan McGuire, Christopher Golden, Steve Rasnic Tem, Brian Hodge, and John Langan have chosen to board Datlow’s sea-worthy vessel with all new stories.
A few notables:
Massive dump as prelude to cruise ship chaos in Shit Happens, by Michael Marshall Smith
Cozy desert island turns tedious in the tortuous Broken Record, by Stephen Graham Jones
Seamonster as Lovecraftian alibi in Fodder’s Jig, by Lee Thomas
February 27, 2018; Pinnacle Fiction; edited by J.N. Williamson
Dark Masques is a new paperback reprint of a 2001 horror anthology of the same name, also released by Pinnacle, which was itself a reprint and retitling of two separate horror anthologies from Baltimore publisher John LeMay, Masques (1984) and Masques II (1987). The result of a diabolically rewarding partnership between LeMay and author J.N. Williamson, each Masques installment consisted primarily of new stories from horror masters of the era, both emerging and established. Reading the anthology for the first time, I was greeted by stories that were at times soothingly familiar (Soft by F. Paul Wilson; Popsy by Stephen King) and at other times alluringly unfamiliar (The Litter, by James Kisner; The First Day of Spring by David Knoles). With a table of contents that’s inarguably stacked with talent, Dark Masques is an excellent tool for aspiring writers looking to learn from the successes (and failures) of their favorite genre authors. It’s also an excellent tool for bored bookworms looking to grab a fountain drink and cruise a veritable buffet of 80s fiction.