Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow, editors, Year's Best
Fantasy and Horror, Volume 8 (St. Martin's Press, 1995)
I don't, as a rule, collect entire runs of anthologies. Oh, I have the entire run Terri WIndling's Bordertown anthologies, including the ever-so-rare Life on the Border (the B-Town tales deserve a hardcover edition!), and some anthology editors such as Sharyn November, Terri WIndling, and Ellen Datlow deserve collecting so I have many, many anthologies they have been responsible for. But in general, I can easily read a given anthology, perhaps even immensely enjoy it, and still pass along it to another reader. If you ever drop by the Green Man office building, make sure you check the shelves outside the Post Room for these anthologies and other reading goodies as there will always be hundreds of galleys, first editions, and reprints which have for one reason or another either didn't get reviewed (look -- more lesbian vampire punk erotica being marketed as Young Adult literature yet again) or not kept, as all of us run out of space from time to time. (Mackenzie, Green Man Librarian here. Funny, the staff here never think that there's not more room in the Library for their 'donations' to the fiction collection when they no longer have room for more books in their offices. Fortunately they Library always seems to have a shelf or two ready for yet more books.) But there is one series which is always a keeper -- Year's Best Fantasy and Horror.
In this retrospective review, I'm looking the eighth edition of a series well settled into itself. It has become what I would call an anthology series comfortable with itself -- it may not be as edgy as like-minded anthologies that keep cropping up, but it plays to its strengths very well. I know that many, many hours of reading pleasure will be forthcoming when the galley arrives in the post as it has for many years now. And long before we got galleys, I was reading it as I purchased the magnificent hardcover edition!
Summations are first up with treats for this edition, including the comics for the year of 1994 being looked at by Will Shetterly and Emma Bull, as well as the usual Fantasy summation (Terri Windling), horror (Ellen Datlow). and Horror and Fantasy in the Media (Edward Bryant). Not as rich offerings as will develop over the following years, but quite worth reading to see what was exceptional for that year.
Oh, but the fiction offerings! What a feast! There's Neil Gaiman's 'Snow, Glass, Apples' in which he brilliantly uses very sparse language to tell the tale of Snow White in terms that are clearly, as noted folklorist Jack Zipes puts it in his introduction to the very rare edition I have, 'is about the contemporary world despite the fairy-tale setting'. A chilling tale indeed. Also worth your time is 'Transmutations', which is by an author about which Windling says in her intro notes that she is 'already on record as firmly believing that Patricia A. Mckillip is one of the most skilled prose stylists gracing the fantasy field today'. The story itself is an elegantly told tale of what goes on in an alchemical laboratory. Very cool, but that's a given for Mckillip, who crafts the most amazing tales told! Another treat is Delia Sherman's 'Young Woman in a Garden', in which she chronicles the life of an imaginary impressionist painter, is a story well-imagined!
Let's see. A vastly under-appreciated poetess, Jane Yolen, offers up 'Marchen', which I think you can guess the contents of; Linda Weasel Head (who I had not heard of) gives us 'The Stone Woman'; and Darrell Schweitzer (who I know rather well, but not as a poet) is brilliant with his 'He Unwraps Himself' poem.
Lilith, who is one of our Green Man Library workers, told me once in the Pub about a later edition of YBFH that she just 'reading and reading and reading even more , but thestories kept going on as if they couldn't possibly be contained by the pages themselves.' For a while she said, 'I thought the book itself was without end. . . .' Every edition feels that way to me, as I always read everything in them. And that puts the entire series way ahead of other similar anthology series who never, ever make me want to just sit there and read them cover to cover.