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"I've always thought that the short story was the ideal format for spooky fiction. While there are no more magazines like Weird Tales or Unknown, the publisher of Daw Books remains true to the tradition. The Year's Best Horror Stories anthology seems destined to become as important a fixture as the old magazines were. The latest one indicates a healthy level of craftsmansh "I've always thought that the short story was the ideal format for spooky fiction. While there are no more magazines like Weird Tales or Unknown, the publisher of Daw Books remains true to the tradition. The Year's Best Horror Stories anthology seems destined to become as important a fixture as the old magazines were. The latest one indicates a healthy level of craftsmanship and imaginative fertility in a field which has so few outlets for budding writers." So wrote Don Hutchison in his review of the previous collection. This year continues the high tradition with a spine-chilling selection by the series' new editor, the well-known writer of fantastic adventure, Karl Edward Wagner. The eighth annual includes such favorite writers as Harlan Ellison, Eddy C. Bertin, Russell Kirk, Hugh B. Cave, Charles L. Grant, Ramsey Campbell, and many more! Contents: Introduction: Access to Horror by Karl Edward Wagner. The Dead Line by Dennis Etchison. To Wake the Dead by Ramsey Campbell. In the Fourth Year of the War by Harlan Ellison. From the Lower Deep by Hugh B. Cave. The Baby-Sitter by Davis Grubb. The Well at the Half Cat by John C. Tibbetts. My Beautiful Darkling by Eddy C. Bertin. A Serious Call by George Hay. Sheets by Alan Ryan. Billy Wolfe's Riding Spirit by Kevin A. Lyons. Lex Talionis by Russell Kirk. Entombed by Robert Keefe. A Fly One by Steve Sneyd. Needle Song by Charles L. Grant. All the Birds Come Home to Roost by Harlan Ellison. The Devil Behind You by Richard A. Moore.


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"I've always thought that the short story was the ideal format for spooky fiction. While there are no more magazines like Weird Tales or Unknown, the publisher of Daw Books remains true to the tradition. The Year's Best Horror Stories anthology seems destined to become as important a fixture as the old magazines were. The latest one indicates a healthy level of craftsmansh "I've always thought that the short story was the ideal format for spooky fiction. While there are no more magazines like Weird Tales or Unknown, the publisher of Daw Books remains true to the tradition. The Year's Best Horror Stories anthology seems destined to become as important a fixture as the old magazines were. The latest one indicates a healthy level of craftsmanship and imaginative fertility in a field which has so few outlets for budding writers." So wrote Don Hutchison in his review of the previous collection. This year continues the high tradition with a spine-chilling selection by the series' new editor, the well-known writer of fantastic adventure, Karl Edward Wagner. The eighth annual includes such favorite writers as Harlan Ellison, Eddy C. Bertin, Russell Kirk, Hugh B. Cave, Charles L. Grant, Ramsey Campbell, and many more! Contents: Introduction: Access to Horror by Karl Edward Wagner. The Dead Line by Dennis Etchison. To Wake the Dead by Ramsey Campbell. In the Fourth Year of the War by Harlan Ellison. From the Lower Deep by Hugh B. Cave. The Baby-Sitter by Davis Grubb. The Well at the Half Cat by John C. Tibbetts. My Beautiful Darkling by Eddy C. Bertin. A Serious Call by George Hay. Sheets by Alan Ryan. Billy Wolfe's Riding Spirit by Kevin A. Lyons. Lex Talionis by Russell Kirk. Entombed by Robert Keefe. A Fly One by Steve Sneyd. Needle Song by Charles L. Grant. All the Birds Come Home to Roost by Harlan Ellison. The Devil Behind You by Richard A. Moore.

50 review for The Year's Best Horror Stories: Series VIII

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    And finally, at YEAR'S BEST HORROR VOLUME 8, we reach the first volume edited by Karl Edward Wagner, featuring stories originally published in 1979. Wagner really put his imprint on this annual series, bringing in material from a wide range of sources right from the beginning and continuing that standard for the next decade or so. This coincided with a boom in the small press horror field and the establishment of TWILIGHT ZONE MAGAZINE as a new, mainstream market for writers of weird fiction. The And finally, at YEAR'S BEST HORROR VOLUME 8, we reach the first volume edited by Karl Edward Wagner, featuring stories originally published in 1979. Wagner really put his imprint on this annual series, bringing in material from a wide range of sources right from the beginning and continuing that standard for the next decade or so. This coincided with a boom in the small press horror field and the establishment of TWILIGHT ZONE MAGAZINE as a new, mainstream market for writers of weird fiction. The change is apparent almost immediately. There is not one weak story in this book (or, to be more objective, and kinder to Gerald W. Page, not one story "not to my taste"). Dennis Etchison starts things off with "The Dead Line", a disturbing tale about organ harvesting and the future of medical "care". "The Babysitter" by Davis Grubb (author of Night of the Hunter) is an exercise in suspense revolving around a babysitter, her three charges, and an errant gun. I found it an interesting "moment in time" story, as Grubb seems to be grappling with America's recent war history (Vietnam) and general gun culture. Intriguing stuff. John Tibbetts' "The Well At The Half Cat" is nicely old-fashioned, lots of atmospheric detail pervading a story in which a man refurbishes an old pub and ends up replaying a role in a past murder. To be honest, the story itself was a bit familiar, but the poetic and atmospheric detail really sell it. "A Serious Call" by George Hay is a slight tale about a lecture on the nature of good and evil delivered by a Reverend at a Polytechnic. I find myself somewhat at odds with its point, but the execution is quite enjoyable. Alan Ryan's "Sheets" is a workplace horror tale focusing on the boredom and drudgery of department stores. Again, a slight tale but, also again, entertaining and brief. One of the first indicators of Wagner's new approach is the inclusion of Robert Keefe's "Entombed" - a story that seems pretty much like a non-genre, lit piece, despite all the mummy imagery. A good read all the same, as it's an interesting sketch of a troubled teenager. "A Fly One" by Steve Sneyd features an odious main character (think "tough-talking, 70's TV show police detective") who believes he may have just nailed the right suspect in a girl's murder. Despite the arrogant lead, the tale itself is told in a solid, authentic, 70s British cop argot, with only the end being a slight disappointment. Hugh B. Cave's "From The Lower Deep" is a pulpy, creepy story with a great setting - a half-flooded fishing village on an island from which most of the inhabitants have fled (and those remaining are being preyed upon by something unknown). Not world shaking, but it does the job. Eddy C. Bertin (seemingly a prolific Dutch writer and someone I'd like to read more work by) provides a narrative involving mental illness, psychic vampirism and a femme fatale in the Baudelaire-derived "My Beautiful Darkling". Very good stuff. Another example of a "wouldn't have been included until Wagner became editor" story is "Billy Wolfe's Riding Spirit" by Kevin Lyons, originally published in EASYRIDER Magazine. Familiar but fun, it sets the New Jersey police against a motorcycle riding criminal who can't be caught. Despite what I said about Russell Kirk's stolid conservatism in a previous volume's review, he turns in a fine tale in "Lex Talonis", in which a reformed and saved (in the religious sense) criminal is blackmailed into pulling one more robbery job in a house of horrors. It may have all of Kirk's trademark heavy religious and social commentary (the failed urban neighborhood reforms of the 70's come under some serious drubbing) but is quite well done nonetheless. Along similar lines is "The Devil Behind You" by Richard Moore, in which a young boy playing hooky from church meets the Devil in the woods...or does he? It's a sharp little tale with a surprisingly nasty ending. Charles L. Grant's "Needle Song", about the deleterious effects imposed on a neighborhood when a mysterious old lady moves in, is interesting if, in the usual Grant style, a bit hard to pin down. Harlan Ellison gets *two* stories in this volume. The first, "In The Fourth Year Of The War", is a nice, compact little tale about a man driven by another personality (or is it?) to take revenge for past slights from his life. It's good, representative Ellison. Ellison's second story ties with Ramsey Campbell for best piece in the book. That's funny because Ellison's piece, "All The Birds Come Home To Roost", is hard to classify as a horror story, although any "love 'em and leave 'em" profligate guy hearing the set-up would disagree. Let's just say that a man with a long dating history suddenly finds that history running in reverse. I'll leave it at that. Maybe "psychological horror" might cover it. Ramsey Campbell's piece, "To Wake The Dead" is also an oddity, as it's really the first chapter of his novel of the same name (To Wake the Dead retitled The Parasite for the U.S.). Regardless, it stands alone as a story in which a group of kids sneak into an old house to fool around with a Ouija board and get more than they bargained for. That might not sound too original, and it isn't, but what makes it such a superb piece is that the writing, the language, the pacing and atmosphere are so masterfully handled that the piece is creepy as hell. Excellent stuff.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Quentin Wallace

    This was a very good collection of horror stories. One thing that I noticed while reading this collection was how horror stories have changed. Specifically, something that once was considered "pulp" horror would be considered "literary" by today's standards. I'm not sure what caused such a shift of perception, but it seemed apparent with this collection. This one include some authors I didn't know, as well as some heavy hitters including Harlan Ellison, Ramsay Campbell, Dennis Etchison, and Charl This was a very good collection of horror stories. One thing that I noticed while reading this collection was how horror stories have changed. Specifically, something that once was considered "pulp" horror would be considered "literary" by today's standards. I'm not sure what caused such a shift of perception, but it seemed apparent with this collection. This one include some authors I didn't know, as well as some heavy hitters including Harlan Ellison, Ramsay Campbell, Dennis Etchison, and Charles L. Grant. The stories range from Lovecraft type monsters to more human villains, as well as some that fall in between. The majority were psychological. The stories as a group did a tremendous job of creating a sense of forboding, as the whole time I was reading I felt creeped out. As I said earlier, the stories seemed much more literary than most modern collections, but perhaps that's just a sign of the times. This is a fairly hard to find paperback, but if you really enjoy horror short stories this one is worth tracking down.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    Karl Edward Wagner took over the editorship of DAW's Year's Best Horror series from Gerald W. Page in 1980 with this eighth volume, which features a creepy Michael Whelan cover. Wagner's choices came from a wide variety of original sources rather than just the traditional short horror magazines of the time, and he seemed to be to be willing to include more works from little- and unknown writers. Among the highlights of this volume are stories by Ramsey Campbell, Davis Grubb, Alan Ryan, Dennis Et Karl Edward Wagner took over the editorship of DAW's Year's Best Horror series from Gerald W. Page in 1980 with this eighth volume, which features a creepy Michael Whelan cover. Wagner's choices came from a wide variety of original sources rather than just the traditional short horror magazines of the time, and he seemed to be to be willing to include more works from little- and unknown writers. Among the highlights of this volume are stories by Ramsey Campbell, Davis Grubb, Alan Ryan, Dennis Etchinson, Charles L. Grant, Russell Kirk, and two stories from Harlan Ellison. My favorite is From the Lower Deep by Hugh B. Cave.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Lucia

    These things are like primers for writing weird/horror/dark fantasy fiction. Everyone starting out should get them, and they're so cheap on the secondary market, it's almost criminal. Wish I'd come across these ten years ago. These things are like primers for writing weird/horror/dark fantasy fiction. Everyone starting out should get them, and they're so cheap on the secondary market, it's almost criminal. Wish I'd come across these ten years ago.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    The first year's best collection to be edited by Karl Edward Wagner. This stuff is more horror than some of the earlier volumes, which still had a lot of fantasy elements in it. Great stories here by Etchison and Ellison, and plenty of just generally intersting stuff. The first year's best collection to be edited by Karl Edward Wagner. This stuff is more horror than some of the earlier volumes, which still had a lot of fantasy elements in it. Great stories here by Etchison and Ellison, and plenty of just generally intersting stuff.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ray

    A mediocre collection overall. Too many of the stories seemed pointless; when I’d reach the end, I’d cock an eyebrow and say “Huh?” But a few of the stories were quite good. “To Wake the Dead” by Ramsey Campbell. My favorite Ramsey Campbell story so far. It’s about some kids who sneak out to hold a seance in a haunted house and call up something more than they bargained for. Effective atmosphere and a clever manipulation of standard parental fears about peer pressure make this an excellent read. A mediocre collection overall. Too many of the stories seemed pointless; when I’d reach the end, I’d cock an eyebrow and say “Huh?” But a few of the stories were quite good. “To Wake the Dead” by Ramsey Campbell. My favorite Ramsey Campbell story so far. It’s about some kids who sneak out to hold a seance in a haunted house and call up something more than they bargained for. Effective atmosphere and a clever manipulation of standard parental fears about peer pressure make this an excellent read. This story is actually the prologue to Campbell’s novel, The Parasite (American title), but the story stands well on its own. “From the Lower Deep” by Hugh B. Cave. When their island homes are flooded after an earthquake, most of the residents flee. But those who remain face something far worse than floodwaters. Cave does an excellent job of building up suspense and keeping the reader guessing. “All the Birds Come Home to Roost” by Harlan Ellison. A man becomes terrified as he encounters all the women he’s been involved with over the years, one by one, in reverse order. (To say more, would give too much away...)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    A solid collection with my favorites being the last two stories: All The Birds Come Home To Roost by Harlan Ellison and The Devil Behind You by Richard A. Moore. I also really liked A Serious Call by George Hay, My Beautiful Darkling by Eddy C. Bertin and In The Fourth Year Of The War, another by Harlan Ellison.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tim McBain

  9. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Scorpion

  10. 5 out of 5

    Darren O.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Georgie

  12. 5 out of 5

    Letande D'Argon

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mavis

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

  16. 5 out of 5

    Anneka Ever

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rick

  18. 5 out of 5

    Fatman

  19. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  20. 5 out of 5

    Phil On The Hill

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  22. 4 out of 5

    Horror Fan

  23. 4 out of 5

    Taryn

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christina Allen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Devon Ashby

  26. 4 out of 5

    Donna

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mark Yanes

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hans

  29. 5 out of 5

    James Smith

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  31. 5 out of 5

    Ron

  32. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  33. 5 out of 5

    Ch J Loveall

  34. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

  35. 4 out of 5

    { U n s o l v e d M y s t e r y }

  36. 5 out of 5

    Allan

  37. 4 out of 5

    David Pollison

  38. 4 out of 5

    Chris.s

  39. 5 out of 5

    Rachelle DeMunck

  40. 4 out of 5

    Greg Cagle

  41. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Moore

  42. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Collins

  43. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Ferrell

  44. 4 out of 5

    Elle

  45. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  46. 4 out of 5

    Annie Tevis

  47. 5 out of 5

    Joe Noir

  48. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  49. 4 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

  50. 4 out of 5

    Erik

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