The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories: 9

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus review The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories: 9 [Amazon, Abebooks, Local Library] by Arthur W Saha.

Saha The Year's Best Fantasy Stories 9

I bought this collection for the Lafferty story “Square and Above Board,” which happily turns out to have a prominent chess element. In 1983 Arthur Saha was in the process of taking the Year’s Best Fantasy series over from its founding editor Lin Carter, and in his introduction he claims that the selection in this volume is on the whole “upbeat.” I suppose I agree. About half of the stories are from periodicals (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Twilight Zone Magazine), while the others are culled from anthology books. 

The topical diversity of the collection as a whole is shown in my catalog keyword tagging: death, fairy, high fantasy, metafiction, nautical, satan, weird fiction. I had not previously read anything by Tanith Lee, and her story “Mirage and Magia” is very Dunsanian. Michael Shea’s “The Horror on the #33” speculates on the pleasures of drunken vagrancy and reinvents the angel of death. The longest story is “Another Orphan,” a peculiar fantasia on Moby Dick, which turned out to be surprisingly satisfying. The fact that three stories (“Other,” “Lest Levitation Come Upon Us,” and “Djinn, No Chaser”) have housewife protagonists is a little surprising in this sort of genre collection, and none of them measure up to Robert Irwin’s Limits of Vision. Still, they were each worth the read, even if the punnishingly-titled last of them (by Harlan Ellison) is rather cornball.