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BOOK REVIEWS: DECEMBER 1999
By Paula Guran

THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR, VOL. 10
edited by Stephen Jones
Carroll & Graf/ $10.95/ 512p
ISBN: 0786706902

book cover Recently named a "Best Book of 1999" by PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, this tenth anniversary edition of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST HORROR is simply essential for anyone interested in modern horror -- or if you'd like an introduction to it. So far the series has published more than 1.5 million words in 239 stories, novellas, and one poem and, to a large extent, has defined what horror is during the last decade. As always, Jones provides a comprehensive overview of the year in horror along with outstanding stories. Established authors such as Ramsey Campbell, Harlan Ellison, Dennis Etchison, Neil Gaiman, Thomas Ligotti, Michael Marshall Smith, Peter Straub and Kim Newman are presented along with relative newcomers such as Caitlin Kiernan, Kelly Link and Bruce Holland Rogers. At $10.95 for its 500+ pages that's about 2 cents per page or less than 60 cents a story PLUS "Horror in 1998" and "Necrology: 1998" -- this is an offer you just can't refuse!

APOCALYPSE MOVIES: END OF THE WORLD CINEMA
by Kim Newman
St. Martin's Griffin/ $16.95/ 272p.
ISBN: 0312253699

book cover If there's anything Kim Newman doesn't cover in this look at end of the world films, then you really don't need to know it. Only Newman has both the expertise and the compulsion to specify exactly which segments of stock nuclear bomb blasts appear in what movies. As he explores the history of apocalypse films, he covers every type of scenario so far imaginable -- pestilence and plague, warfare, nuclear threat, monsters, mutants, extraterrestrial attack, rogue planets and killer comets, natural disaster, you name it. Newman is the perfect guide: intelligent and humorous at he same time. (The former quite may have been more of a challenge than the latter as these cinematic doomsdays were usually meant to be taken seriously, but quickly became dated and, at best, descended into camp.) As Newman notes, "That the medium, and humanity, can survive so much fictional carnage suggest something about the indomitability of our spirits of the callousness it has been necessary to cultivate in order to make it through the millennium."

TECHNOHORROR : INVENTIONS IN TERROR
edited by James Frenkel
Lowell House/ $15.95/ 256 p.
ISBN: 0737302984 book cover Technology scares us. Whether the fear manifests in a symbolic and metaphorical way, as fear of the machine itself, or in the use and misuse of the machine -- it's all pretty frightening. (Technology doesn't scare you? How many times have you cursed your computer for its seemingly evil ways?) With brief introductions that place each story in context, editor Frenkel mixes a superior selection of now-classic techoscares from the fifties (Ray Bradbury's "The Veldt," Robert Bloch's. "That Hellbound Train, Frederik Pohl's "Survival Kit," Damon Knight's "Masks"), sixties and seventies ("Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes" by Harlan Ellison, "Descending" by Thomas Disch, "The Mangler" by Stephen King) with stories that deserve to become classics from he eighties (Greg Egan's "Scatter My Ashes," George Zebrowski's "This Life and Later Ones," Alan Rodgers's "Little Man," Pat Cadigan's "Patterns," John Shirley's "Screens") and nineties ("The Dead" by Michael Swanwick, "But Smile No More" by Stephen Dedman, "Mammy Morgan Played the Organ, Her Daddy Beat the Drum" by Michael Flynn, "Thinkertoy" by John Brunner.) Frenkel mentions in his introduction, "At the root of horror lies the understanding that after you've put down the book, you can turn the lights up bright and feel safe, because the horror isn't in your life but in the book....That's what they tell you, anyway." But, of course, you can't always believe what you are told...can you?

Frenkel masterfully accomplishes the difficult task of assembling reprints into a fresh new reading experience.


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