Friday, January 15, 2010

Wishin' and Hopin' and Thinkin' and Screamin'...

Since many of my fellow horror blogosphere cohorts are answering the same question - "What are you most looking forward to in 2010?" - let's get back to The Jar by tackling the selfsame query...and as circumstances have warranted, my answer would have been the same in 2009...and 2008...and 2007...and earlier.

At the World Horror Convention in April of 2004, anthologist John Pelan announced an ambitious project to be published by Richard Chizmar and the fine, fine folks over at Cemetery Dance Publications. It was to be called The Century's Best Horror Fiction, a massive two-volume tome that collected 100 of the greatest fear-fraught offerings in short fiction that the prior millennium was able to muster. The guidelines were simple; one story per year, and no more than one story per author. Here's the list, presented at the convention, and subsequently promoted through the CD website -

1901: Barry Pain -- The Undying Thing
1902: W.W. Jacobs -- The Monkey's Paw
1903: H.G.Wells -- The Valley of the Spiders
1904: Arthur Machen -- The White People
1905: R. Murray Gilchrist -- The Lover's Ordeal
1906: Edward Lucas White -- House of the Nightmare
1907: Algernon Blackwood -- The Willows

1908: Perceval Landon -- Thurnley Abbey

1909: Violet Hunt -- The Coach

1910: Wm Hope Hodgson -- The Whistling Room

1911: M.R. James -- Casting the Runes

1912: E.F. Benson -- Caterpillars

1913: Aleister Crowley -- The Testament of Magdelan Blair

1914: M. P. Shiel -- The Place of Pain

1915: Hanns Heinz Ewers -- The Spider

1916: Lord Dunsany -- Thirteen at Table

1917: Frederick Stuart Greene -- The Black Pool

1918: H. De Vere Stacpoole -- The Middle Bedroom

1919: Ulric Daubeny -- The Sumach

1920: Maurice Level -- In the Light of the Red Lamp

1921: Vincent O'Sullivan -- Master of Fallen Years

1922: Walter de la Mare -- Seaton's Aunt

1923: George Allen England -- The Thing from Outside

1924: C.M. Eddy -- The Loved Dead

1925: John Metcalfe -- The Smoking Leg

1926: H.P. Lovecraft -- The Outsider

1927: Donald Wandrei -- The Red Brain
1928: H.R. Wakefield -- The Red Lodge

1929: Eleanor Scott -- Celui-La

1930: Rosalie Muspratt -- Spirit of Stonhenge

1931: Henry S. Whitehead -- Cassius

1932: David H. Keller -- The Thing in the Cellar

1933: C.L. Moore -- Shambleau

1934: L.A. Lewis -- The Tower of Moab

1935: Clark Ashton Smith -- The Dark Eidolon

1936: Thorp McCluskey -- The Crawling Horror

1937: Howard Wandrei -- The Eerie Mr Murphy

1938: Robert E. Howard -- Pigeons from Hell

1939: Robert Barbour Johnson -- Far Below

1940: John Collier -- Evening Primrose

1941: C.M. Kornbluth -- The Words of Guru

1942: Jane Rice -- The Idol of the Flies

1943: Anthony Boucher -- They Bite

1944: Ray Bradbury -- The Jar

1945: August Derleth -- Carousel

1946: Manly Wade Wellman -- Shonokin Town

1947: Theodore Sturgeon -- Bianca's Hands

1948: Shirley Jackson -- The Lottery

1949: Nigel Kneale -- The Pond

1950: Richard Matheson -- Born of Man & Woman

1951: Russell Kirk -- Uncle Isiah

1952: Eric Frank Russell -- I Am Nothing

1953: Robert Sheckley -- The Altar

1954: Everill Worrell -- Call Not Their Names

1955: Robert Aickman -- Ringing the Changes

1956: Richard Wilson -- Lonely Road

1957: Clifford Simak -- Founding Father

1958: Robert Bloch -- That Hell-Bound Train

1959: Charles Beaumont -- The Howling Man

1960: Frederic Brown -- The House

1961: Ray Russell -- Sardonicus

1962: Carl Jacobi -- The Aquarium

1963: Robert Arthur -- The Mirror of Cagliostro

1964: Charles Birkin -- A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts
1965: Jean Ray -- The Shadowy Street

1966: Arthur Porges -- The Mirror

1967: Norman Spinrad -- Carcinoma Angels

1968: Anna Hunger -- Come

1969: Stefan Aletti -- The Last Work of Pietro Apono
1970: David A Riley -- The Lurkers in the Abyss

1971: Dorothy K. Haynes -- The Derelict Track

1972: Gary Brandner -- The Price of a Demon

1973: Eddy C. Bertin -- Like Two White Spiders

1974: Karl Edward Wagner -- Sticks

1975: David Drake -- The Barrow Troll

1976: Dennis Etchison -- It Only Comes Out at Night

1977: Barry Malzberg -- The Man Who Loved the Midnight Lady

1978: Michael Bishop -- Within the Walls of Tyre
1979: Ramsey Campbell -- Mackintosh Willy

1980: Michael Shea -- The Autopsy

1981: Stephen King -- The Reach
1982: Fritz Leiber -- Horrible Imagings

1983: David Schow -- One for the Horrors
1984: Bob Leman -- The Unhappy Pilgrimage of Clifford M

1985: Michael Reaves -- The Night People

1986: Tim Powers -- Night Moves

1987: Ian Watson -- Evil Water

1988: Joe Lansdale -- The Night They Missed the Horror Show

1989: Joel Lane -- The Earth Wire

1990: Elizabeth Massie -- Stephen

1991: Thomas Ligotti -- The Glamour

1992: Poppy Z. Brite -- Calcutta Lord of Nerves

1993: Lucy Taylor -- The Family Underwater

1994: Jack Ketchum -- The Box

1995: Terry Lamsley -- The Toddler

1996: Caitlin R. Kiernan -- Tears Seven, Times Salt

1997: Stephen Laws -- The Crawl

1998: Brian Hodge -- As Above, So Below

1999: Glen Hirshberg -- Mr. Dark's Carnival

2000: Tim Lebbon -- Reconstructing Amy


Impressive, no? And once announced, it led to much online chatter among the Horror Polloi as to individual author and year representations, but all were agreed that, boy oh boy, this was gonna be something to own. CD was listing the price at a hefty $150, but for 700,000 words, this was a must-have. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. For the last few years CD has said on its website that the books are "going out with the next batch," but one would assume that several "batches" have come and gone without the promised result. The book is taking on all the characteristics of Harlan Ellison's long-promised, never-delivered The Last Dangerous Visions, albeit with tales that were previously published and possible to find elsewhere...if you are willing to dig. What was once a very high-profile announcement on the CD site has now been buried, and you have to search to find the page dedicated to the books. There is info buzzing around the Interweb that they are still waiting for rights clearance for a handful of stories, but that seems a far cry from telling fans they're getting shipped off to the printers, if not outright dishonest. For a publisher with such a reputation for excellence, the failure to deliver after all this time is a black eye. So my hope is that all the forces come together, the books truly are ready to become reality, and that next year at this time I'm holding these in my hot little hands...taking care not to drop either on my foot.

3 comments:

knobgobbler said...

Man, I hadn't heard about that but you're right, it certainly would have been a 'must have'... to bad it's turned into... vaporpages?

senski said...

You're so right, knob. Amazon can get the price down to about $100 for the two, but it's been a pre-order item for years now. You should check out the two book set Peter Straub edited for the Library of America last year. I'm gonna do a post on them - they're wonderful...

Carl (ILHM) said...

The effort alone in assembling each of those writings warrants the cost, great find Sen!