THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR: Volume 12

Stephen Jones, Introduction by
Stephen Jones, Introduction by . Carroll & Graf $11.95 (512p) ISBN 0-7867-0919-7
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Defending his picks of the best horror stories for the year 2000, Jones writes of his "obligation to my publishers and my readers to deliver a commercial and entertaining work that will appeal to as wide a readership as possible." As proof that the best defense is a sterling offense, he has assembled a formidable lineup of must-read creepers whose merits are indisputable even to entrenched enthusiasts of the genre. Most major horror subtypes are represented: urban horror by Ramsey Campbell, dark fantasy by Paul McAuley, the elliptical weird tale by Nicholas Royle, physical horror by Mick Garris and two nips of vampire fiction from Kim Newman's endlessly inventive Anno Dracula epic. A major chunk of the book is devoted to tales of suggestively evoked horrors whose subtlety is inversely proportional to their potency. Dennis Etchison's "The Detailer" is a perfect dark suspense story that builds to a shattering revelation. Graham Joyce crafts an atmosphere of mounting menace in "Xenos Beach," which leaves its foreign traveler wondering "if he had narrowly escaped something deeply dangerous; or if he had forfeited some experience transcendent and beautiful." Thomas Ligotti's darkly funny "I Have a Special Plan for This World" is set in a modern office where the atmosphere of tension manifests as an obscuring fog. Both Steve Rasnic Tem, in "Pareidolia," and Caitlín Kiernan, in "In the Waterworks (Birmingham, Alabama, 1888)," use symbols drawn from nature for unsettling reflections on death and mortality. Jones's usual comprehensive summary of the year in horror fiction, film and other media further shows that he has done his homework for the reader's enrichment. (Dec.)

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