For more than three decades, Ellen Datlow has been at the center of horror. Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. Now, with the tenth volume of the series, Datlow is back again to bring you the stories that will keep you up at night.
Encompassed in the pages of The Best Horror of the Year have been such illustrious writers as:
- Neil Gaiman
- Kim Stanley Robinson
- Stephen King
- Linda Nagata
- Laird Barron
- Margo Lanagan
- And many others
With each passing year, science, technology, and the march of time shine light into the craggy corners of the universe, making the fears of an earlier generation seem quaint. But this light creates its own shadows. The Best Horror of the Year chronicles these shifting shadows. It is a catalog of terror, fear, and unpleasantness as articulated by today’s most challenging and exciting writers.
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Here are 2017's numbers: There are twenty-one stories, novelettes, and novellas in this year's volume, ranging from 1,500 words to 17,900 words. There are almost 20,000 more words this year than there were last year. The material comes from anthologies, collections, magazines, webzines, and eBook-only publications. Eleven of the contributors live in the United States, five in the United Kingdom, three in Canada, and one in Australia. Eleven stories are by women (two stories are by one of them) and ten are by men. The authors of nine stories have never before appeared in my best of the year series.
The Horror Writers Association announced the winners of the 2015 Bram Stoker Awards® April 29 on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. The presentations were made during a banquet held at the organization's second StokerCon. The winners were as follows:
Superior Achievement in a Novel: The Fisherman by John Langan (Word Horde Press); Superior Achievement in a First Novel: Haven by Tom Deady (Cemetery Dance Publications); Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel: Snowed by Marie Alexander (Raw Dog Screaming Press); Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel: Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Love of Edgar Allan Poe by James Chambers (Moonstone); Superior Achievement in Long Fiction: The Winter Box by Tim Waggoner (Dark Fuse); Superior Achievement in Short Fiction: "The Crawl Space" by Joyce Carol Oates (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, March/April); Superior Achievement in a Screenplay: The VVitch by Robert Eggers (Parts and Labor, RT Features, Rooks Nest Entertainment, Code Red Productions, Scythia Films, Maiden Voyage Pictures, Mott Street Pictures, Pulse Films, and Very Special Projects); Superior Achievement in an Anthology: Borderlands 6 edited by Thomas F. Monteleone and Olivia F. Monteleone (Borderlands Press/Samhain); Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection: The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror by Joyce Carol Oates (Mysterious Press); Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction: Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin (W. W. Norton); Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection: Brothel by Stephanie M. Wytovich (Raw Dog Screaming Press).
The Specialty Press Award: Omnium Gatherum.
The Richard Layman President's Award: Caren Hanten.
The Silver Hammer Award: James Chambers.
Mentor of the Year went to Linda Addison.
Life Achievement Awards: Dennis Etchison and Thomas F. Monteleone.
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The 2016 Shirley Jackson Awards were given out at Readercon 28 on Sunday, July 16, 2017, in Quincy, Massachusetts. The jurors were Nadia Bulkin, Robert Levy, Helen Marshall, Robert Shearman, and Chandler Klang Smith.
The winners were: Novel: The Girls, Emma Cline (Random House); Novella: The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor.com Books); Novelette: "Waxy" by Camilla Grudova (Granta); Short Fiction: "Postcards from Natalie" by Carrie Laben (The Dark); Single-Author Collection: A Natural History of Hell by Jeffrey Ford (Small Beer Press); Edited Anthology: The Starlit Wood, edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe (Saga Press) and the Board of Director's Award to Ruth Franklin in recognition of the biography, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life.
The World Fantasy Awards were presented October 30, 2016, at a banquet held during the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio. The Lifetime Achievement recipients, Terry Brooks and Marina Warner, were previously announced. The judges were Elizabeth Engstrom, Betsy Mitchell, Daryl Gregory, Juliet Marillier, and Nalo Hopkinson.
Winners of the Best Work 2016: Best Novel: The Sudden Appearance of Hope, Claire North (Redhook; Orbit UK); Best Long Fiction: The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor.com Books); Best Short Fiction: "Das SteingeschÃpf," G.V. Anderson (Strange Horizons 12/12/16); Best Anthology: Dreaming in the Dark, Jack Dann, ed. (PS Australia); Best Collection: A Natural History of Hell, Jeffrey Ford (Small Beer); Best Artist: Jeffrey Alan Love; Special Award, Professional: Michael Levy & Farah Mendlesohn, for Children's Fantasy Literature: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press); Special Award, Non-Professional: Neile Graham, for fostering excellence in the genre through her role as Workshop Director, Clarion West.
Notable Novels of 2017
Chalk by Paul Cornell (Tor.com Books) begins with a brutal act perpetrated on a bullied British teenager, accidently awakening an ancient power that becomes the embodiment of revenge against those who wronged the boy.
The Bone Mother by David Demchuk (ChiZine Publications) is a series of related vignettes about monsters and magical creatures trying to survive in three villages on the Ukrainian/Romanian border in a time of war. Moving, horrifying, terrifying. A quick, enjoyable read.
Mormama by Kit Reed (Tor) is a marvelous southern gothic about a cursed ancestral home with three elderly sisters living within. When a divorced relative and her young son move in and an accident victim with no memory hides out in the basement the haunts become active, whispering ugly secrets.
The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is an entertaining ride into the dark side of the internet where all sorts of things can be acquired and where awful secrets reside. Demons are intent on using the dark net to create havoc in the world by infecting everything digital. A reporter in Portland, Oregon, stumbles on the plot by accident, and her blind niece — using a new device that enables her to see — might be the key to stopping it. What's most interesting about the plot is how it dovetails nicely with our dependence on and anxieties about the ubiquitous technology that inextricably links us worldwide.
The Boy on the Bridge by M. R. Carey (Orbit) takes place in the same post-apocalyptic world as The Girl with All the Gifts, the terrific 2016 novel and movie. However, it's not a sequel — it's been called a "sidequel," which seems about right. A fungus that mutated from insects has turned most people in England into "hungries" — mindless creatures with a craving for fresh meat — animal or human.
A group of scientists, soldiers, and a brilliant fifteen-year-old boy who is the only survivor of a hungries attack embark on an expedition to Scotland from the last human holdout in England in an attempt to find caches of Cordyceps cultures spread around the countryside by an earlier expedition to test whether specific environments might be less hospitable to the pathogen — or better yet, contain a cure. Initially, the relationship of the boy and the epidemiologist who has taken care of him since he was orphaned plus the road-trip plot seem to indicate a trajectory similar to that of The Girl with All the Gifts, but oh, does it move along.
Carey's characterizations make this book pop. It's fascinating to watch the relationships evolve, and characters who initially only appear in the background begin to emerge into the light. Because the reader really cares about most of them, the book is edge-of-your-seat suspenseful — and agonizing. Despite what you think is going to happen, there are plenty of surprises. Highly recommended.
Under a Watchful Eye by Adam Nevill (Macmillan) is about what happens when an old, unwelcome acquaintance inserts himself back into the life of a horror writer, imposing his disgusting, debased presence into the writer's comfortable existence. With him, he brings mysterious and threatening creatures, acolytes in thrall to a cult leader dead almost thirty years. It's a real challenge to keep readers engrossed in a novel with a horrible, disgusting character playing a dominant role in the first third of the book, but Nevill manages to do so.
The Changeling by Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau) takes the reader for an emotionally wrenching rollercoaster ride when a horrific act destroys the seemingly idyllic life of a New York couple and their infant. Apollo Kagwa's father disappears, leaving him with strange dreams and a box of books. Apollo becomes a rare book dealer and a father himself. When his wife, Emma, starts behaving oddly, he's alarmed, but before he can do anything she does something horrible and unforgivable — and disappears. The story becomes a dark fairy tale about Apollo's odyssey into a world just beyond our ken, with magic that can empower or destroy.
Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence by Michael Marshall Smith (HarperCollins) is a charming dark fantasy about a preteen whose parents split, leaving her perplexed, angry, and feeling betrayed — especially when she's sent to her grandfather's home in Santa Cruz, California. The Devil discovers that his sacrifice machine, used to convert evil deeds into energy, is not working properly. There are certainly horrific aspects — the Devil plays a major role, as does a consciousless criminal and his gang. But there are also many fun and funny bits, including the regular appearance of a stupid, but well-meaning "accident" imp who usually looks like a giant mushroom.
Devil's Day by Andrew Michael Hurley (Tartarus Press) follows the author's celebrated, award-winning debut novel The Loney, and again uses his ability to create a sense of place that overpowers the reader in an atmosphere of dread. This dread emanates from the secrets of the Lancashire moors, where the Devil might (or might not) come calling and the inhabitants find it necessary to propitiate him. John Pentercost and his pregnant wife return home for his grandfather's funeral. John wants to stay. His wife does not. Engrossing but not as satisfying as The Loney, and the end is somewhat confusing. Worse than that, though, is the character of John, who appears to be a jerk caring little about his wife's wishes or needs, only his own. Has he always been a selfish jerk, or is it the influence his childhood home exerts on him the longer they remain there?
The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath (Hutchinson) is the deservedly celebrated writer's ninth novel. He's written a marvelous story haunted by a ghost and by the persistence of evil. It takes place in the theatrical world of post-WWII London, which is still reeling from the devastating bombings and privation. A celebrated actor in his prime dies unexpectedly, leaving his widow grief-stricken and in shock. When she accidently discovers an ugly secret about her late husband her state of mind — and the plot — takes a darker turn.
The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld (HarperCollins) is by the author of the acclaimed first novel The Enchanted, published in 2014. Is The Child Finder horror? Probably not, although it is a crime novel about child abduction and abuse. A young woman, herself a former child abductee who remembers little of her experience yet is haunted by it, has taken it upon herself to find other lost and abducted children. The book is brilliant, suspenseful, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking. One of the best novels of the year.
Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman (Ecco) is the author's second novel and is very different from his first, the acclaimed Bird Box. Post WWII, a washed-up band from Detroit is asked by the US Army to go on a secret mission to a desert in Africa from where a mysterious sound emanates. Their job is to find discover the source of that sound — a sound that neutralizes atomic weapons and negatively affects those who hear it. A second thread of the novel is about one band member who is recuperating from awful, life-threatening wounds he suffered in that desert, while the Army questions him. Suspenseful and chilling.
The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge (Penguin Press) is a clever novel about a woman whose husband has disappeared while researching a mysterious period in H. P. Lovecraft's life and the writer's relationship with a young fan named Robert Barlow. Not horror, but it's fun and might be of interest to those interested in Lovecraft as a character and in imaginings about the science fiction's Futurians. Come to Dust by Bracken MacLeod (Trepidatio Publishers) is about what happens when — for no apparent reason — dead children come back to life. The Grip of It by Jac Jempc (FSG Originals) is about an urban couple who move into a haunted house in rural Wisconsin. Bad Magick by Steven L. Shrewsbury and Nate Southard (Weird West Books) is about Aleister Crowley, an ex-Confederate guerilla, and a group of Jesuits fighting evil in 1901 El Paso, Texas. Universal Harvester by John Darnielle (Farrar, Straus, Giroux) takes place in late 1990s Midwest, in which several residents discover that parts of the video tapes they rent contain alarming bits of stray footage of possible criminal behavior. This is a strange novel, more weird than horror. Every time it threatens to edge into horror, it never quite makes it. Shadows on the Bayou by Patrick Malloy (Bedlam Press) is about a man who ignorantly sells his soul in what he thinks is a tourist attraction in New Orleans and finds himself unable to leave the city. The Vampire Years by Eric Del Carlo (Elder Signs Press) has vampires winning a war against humankind, sending survivors to reservations in an uneasy truce. Borne by Jeff VanderMeer (Farrar, Straus, Giroux) is a marvelously inventive novel told from the point of view of a scavenger living with her partner in a no-man's land of feral children and monstrous bear-like killing machines. It's not quite horror, not quite science fiction, but might be the quintessential work of the weird. The scavenger discovers a small ... object — plant, animal, machine-mysterious something that she dubs Borne. As Borne grows and their relationship deepens it becomes a threat to the status quo of the couple's survival. The Time Eater by Aaron French (JournalStone) is about a man unexpectedly forced to confront his past when a dying college friend asks him to visit. Last Man Screaming by Steve L. Shrewsbury (Weird West Books) is a Lovecraftian Western set in 1899 El Paso, Texas. A Summer with the Dead by Sherry Decker (Elder Signs Press) is about a woman taking refuge from her abusive husband on her aunt's farm, only to be plagued by terrible dreams about the farm's history. The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn (Gallery Books) is about the disappearance of a young boy from a town where history seems to be repeating itself. See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (Atlantic Monthly Press) revisits the case of Lizzie Borden, who infamously murdered her parents by whacking them with an ax. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (Flatiron Books) is about a single mom becoming involved with a married man who turns out to be her new boss. Her relationship with him and his wife take a dark turn in this thriller. Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King (Scribner) is a novel about what happens when most of the women in the world fall asleep, leaving only men awake. The Adventures of the Incognita Princess by Cynthia Ward (Aqueduct Press/Conversation Pieces) is about Lucy Harker, daughter of Dracula and Mina Harker, who, as a spy for the British government, is assigned to guard a military officer on the way across the Atlantic — on the Titanic. Ubo by Steve Rasnic Tem (Solaris) is about a group of humans trapped in a mysterious place called Ubo by roach-like creatures/scientists who force them into scenarios where they play violent men from human history. Hounds of the Underworld by Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray (Raw Dog Screaming Press) is a supernatural noir set in New Zealand about a room full of blood but no body, and the consulting detective (accompanied by her troublesome brother) assigned to the case. In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson (Skyhorse Publishing) is a Supernatural Western noir, with a brutal killer on the loose. Corpselight by Angela Slatter (Jo Fletcher Books) is the second in a dark fantasy series about an investigator of the weird who acts as guardian for her city, Brisbane, Australia. Little Heaven by Nick Cutter (Gallery Books) is about three mercenaries hired to check on someone who might have been taken against their will to a cult enclave in New Mexico. The Lovecraft Squad: Waiting edited by Stephen Jones (Pegasus Books) is a multi-authored novel based on the idea that H. P. Lovecraft's novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth was real, and that a group of stalwart men and women joined together to investigate and defeat other-worldly invaders. Volk: A Novel of Radiant Abomination by David Nickle (ChiZine Publications) takes place about twenty years after the author's previous novel, Eutopia, and once again features eugenicists and parasitic monsters doing their best to destroy humanity as we know it. Moriah by Daniel Mills (ChiZine Publications) is about a former army chaplain of the American Civil War who, nine years later, is sent to an isolated village in Vermont to investigate possible supernatural occurrences. The Greenwood Faun by Nina Antonia (Egaeus Press) is a beautifully produced hardcover weird fiction debut, with a foreword by Mark Valentine.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Best Horror of the Year Volume Ten"
Copyright © 2018 Ellen Datlow.
Excerpted by permission of Start Publishing LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction: Summation 2017Ellen Datlow
Better You BelieveCarole Johnstone
Liquid AirInna Effress
Holiday RomanceMark Morris
Where’s the Harm?Rebecca Lloyd
Whatever Comes After CalcuttaDavid Erik Nelson
A Human StainKelly Robson
The Stories We Tell about GhostsA. C. Wise
West of Matamoros, North of HellBrian Hodge
Alligator PointS. P. Miskowski
Dark Warm HeartRich Larson
There and Back AgainCarmen Maria Machado
Shepherd’s BusinessStephen Gallagher
You Can Stay All DayMira Grant
Harvest Song, Gathering SongA. C. Wise
The GranfalloonOrrin Grey
The Starry CrownMarc E. Fitch
Lost in the DarkJohn Langan
About the Authors
Acknowledgment of Copyright
About the Editor