February 3rd, 2010

Summary: Wallace anthologies, 2009

Sean Wallace, 2009

Another editor who issued several books in 2009 is Sean Wallace. I will disclose up front that Sean is my publisher for my Best of the Year books, and that I also write reviews for his Fantasy Magazine.

Sean's books -- at least his original anthologies -- tend to be slimmer than those of most others, and his particular tastes, at least as expressed in these books, seem to tend to literary fantasy and to dark fantasy. I saw three books from him in 2009. These are Phantom (co-edited with Paul Tremblay), Jabberwocky 4 (co-edited with Erzebet YellowBoy), and Japanese Dreams. The three books together featured 33 new short stories (7 of them short-shorts), totaling according to my estimate exactly 100,000 words. (There were also a couple of reprints, I suspect possibly because these books were a bit delayed -- the stories in question are both by Steve Berman, and appeared in his 2008 collection, credited there, as I recall, to these very anthologies.) 15 of the new stories were by women, 46%.

My favorite of these was Phantom. This book focuses explicitly on "literary horror", complete with an introduction by Tremblay playing around a bit with the idea that such a subgenre might be regarded by some as nonexistent. My favorite stories here were "The Cabinet Child", by Steve Rasnic Tem (reliably a writer whose horror I enjoy even as I generally dislike much horror), about an unhappy marriage and the curious child that results, and its curious life; "The Ones Who Got Away", by Stephen Graham Jones, a scary non-fantastical story about a crime gone horribly wrong; and "A Stain on the Stone", by Nick Mamatas, about a young man running tours of horrific sites on Long Island, including the site of a drug-induced murder -- and how he learns of another more private horror. Good work too came from Becca De La Rosa*, F. Brett Cox, and Vylar Kaftan, and Steve Berman's "Kinder" (the reprint) is also very nice.

Japanese Dreams is, not surprisingly, a collection of "fantasies, fictions, and fairytales" on Japanese subjects. Here I liked K. Bird Lincoln's "And the Bones Would Keep Speaking", about the decades long effects of the murder of a Japanese boy in Oregon after Pearl Harbor; "The Rental Sister", by Robert Joseph Levy, about a woman hired to try to bring a despairing boy out of his "withdrawal"; and "Lady Blade", by Jenn Reese, an enjoyable tale of a sentient sword. Also, good work came from Richard Parks, Lisa Mantchev, Yoon Ha Lee, and Jay Lake -- among others, the book is solid throughout.

Jabberwocky 4 is a different sort of anthology, very slim, a mixture of poems and short shorts with a couple of longer (but not very long) stories. Those two longer stories were probably my favorites: Nicole Kornher-Stace's "Notes Toward a Comparative Mythology", another of several selkie stories I saw this year; and Becca de la Rosa's* "The Story of Iolo and Nye", an enjoyably difficult to describe story about an odd brother and sister. Of the short-shorts, my favorites came from Shea McCandless and Genevieve Valentine.

(*I'm not sure how to capitalize her name -- here I have it the way it was in each book, even though they do it differently.)