There's no shortage of good to great anthologies out there, and it feels like I've read only a smattering of them. Lord knows I still have several on my to-be-read pile that I simply won't be able to highlight during this Summer of Shorts marathon. But, I thought I'd mention five today that I think everyone should track down and read if they haven't already.
And, after you've seen my favorites, if you feel so inclined to share some of your favorite anthologies, please leave a comment and let me know. If their not on my bookshelf, I can always put them on my wish list.
#5: Machine of Death edited by Ryan North - I think it was Camille Alexa who alerted me to this anthology, back when they were accepting submissions for its followup. Handily enough, they provided a PDF copy free of charge as inspiration. Well, not only was it that, but the anthology was a refreshing original theme and had a ton of great stories that capitalized on the unique premise of a machine that told you exactly how you were going to die.
#4: American Gothic edited by Joyce Carol Oates - This is actually one of the first anthologies I ever read, one I found in a used-book shop for a few bucks, and has wound up in a place of permanence on my bookshelf. I've read some of Oates' own short fiction, and considering her knack with frightful tales, it's no wonder I enjoyed this collection of macabre gems so much.
#3: Darkness edited by Ellen Datlow - Twenty of the best horror stories from the last twenty years all in one book. I originally sought it out so I could read "The Pear-Shaped Man," which practically became urban legend in its own right, as I had a devil of a time trying to find that one story. The other nineteen stories, however, are equally terrific and really show how keen an eye Ellen Datlow has for dark fiction.
#2: Supernatural Noir edited by Ellen Datlow - It should come as no surprise that I'd have Ellen Datlow's name appear twice on this list, since she seems to be the preeminent practitioner of horror anthologies. This book had a superb roll call of authors, all with stories that blends crime fiction and other noir-ish genres with the supernatural. The anthology, as far as I'm concerned, is damn near perfect for my tastes.
#1: October Dreams edited by Richard Chizmar and Robert Morrish - The anthology that truly is perfect for my tastes would of course revolve around Halloween, my favorite holiday of the year. Nearly as enjoyable as the stories are the Halloween memories shared by many of the authors. But when it comes to anthologies I'm looking for short stories more than anything, and this anthologies delivers.
So ... what's your favorite anthology?