The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories
  • The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories
  • The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories

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by Ann VanderMeer, Jeff VanderMeer

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From Lovecraft to Borges to Gaiman, a century of intrepid literary experimentation has created a corpus of dark and strange stories that transcend all known genre boundaries. Together these stories form The Weird, and its practitioners include some of the greatest names in twentieth and twenty-first century literature.

Exotic and esoteric, The Weird

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From Lovecraft to Borges to Gaiman, a century of intrepid literary experimentation has created a corpus of dark and strange stories that transcend all known genre boundaries. Together these stories form The Weird, and its practitioners include some of the greatest names in twentieth and twenty-first century literature.

Exotic and esoteric, The Weird plunges you into dark domains and brings you face to face with surreal monstrosities. You won’t find any elves or wizards here...but you will find the biggest, boldest, and downright most peculiar stories from the last hundred years bound together in the biggest Weird collection ever assembled.

The Weird features 110 stories by an all-star cast, from literary legends to international bestsellers to Booker Prize winners: including William Gibson, George R. R. Martin, Stephen King, Angela Carter, Kelly Link, Franz Kafka, China Miéville, Clive Barker, Haruki Murakami, M. R. James, Neil Gaiman, Mervyn Peake, and Michael Chabon.

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Editorial Reviews

The phrase "ocean of the stream of stories," traditionally applied to a vast cycle of Indian legends, now has a new rightful claimant in the form of Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's enormous, world-spanning, time-delving, mind- warping anthology of fantastika, The Weird, replenished as it is with flows from many lands and many eras. Assembled with passion, scholarship, and a clear vision, this Neptune-deep, Poseidon-rich volume establishes a non-exclusionary canon for "strange and dark stories," a crepuscular territory dear to the heart of any lover of tales that are deranged, odd, surreal, deracinating, spooky, creepy and — well, just plain weird.

The feast begins with a lucid, playful "Foreweird" by Michael Moorcock, himself a seminal figure in the canon. Not seeking precisely to define the weird tale, Moorcock delivers an empathetic assessment of the genre's power and allure. Bookending Moorcock is China Miéville's experimentally jaunty "Afterweird."

Right after Moorcock comes a well-argued introduction by the compilers, both of whom are experienced editors and historians of the field. (In addition, Jeff VanderMeer is a notable working fantasist himself and a frequent contributor the B&N Review.) Succinctly and insightfully, the husband-and-wife editorial team chart the past 100 years of this mode of fiction, its goals and toolkit, and its projected future. They promise rare wonders, and they instantly deliver.

Their very first selection, "The Other Side," derives from a novel by Alfred Kubin, an author whom I personally have never encountered in decades of reading this type of literature. This kickoff selection — unnerving and otherworldly, still fresh and undimmed after a century — sets the standard for the rest of the treasury: a trove of timeless oddities, each one a nonpareil, yet somehow cohering together, despite their defiant heterogeneity, into a recognizable school of fiction. Within just the next 200 pages, readers will encounter such little-known authors as Georg Heym, Luigi Ugolini, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, and H. F. Arnold, all with brilliant stories deserving of a wide audience. Of course, that's just the tip of the iceberg. And in the case of many of the writers foreign to English, the VanderMeers have commissioned bright new translations.

But such a survey as this also has to include famous authors in order to be definitive, and the VanderMeers exhibit a nice eye in this regard. If you have to feature just one Kafka, "The Penal Colony" is a winner. Likewise with Lovecraft and "The Dunwich Horror" and Bradbury and "The Crowd." Those selections do the job of limning the whole corpus of those authors. But the VanderMeers are not sticklers for any hard-and-fast guidelines, seeing that they give some worthy yet underappreciated authors, such as Jean Ray, M. John Harrison, Jeffrey Ford, and William Sansom, more than single airing. (But further thoughts on this practice later.)

By the time one reaches the 1980s, right around the middle of the book, with Michael Shea's gruesome "The Autopsy," the reader might feel that he or she has the mode all sussed out, and knows its tropes and conventions by heart. But the second half of the collection is as stirring as the first part, as a new generation of writers, such as Clive Barker, Tanith Lee, and Michael Cisco, manage to bring fresh sensibilities and strategies to the game. The final story, 2010's "Saving the Gleeful Horse" by K. J. Bishop, launches the genre boldly and bravely into future glories.

A very laudable trait of the editors is their egalitarianism, their refusal to distinguish between lowbrow and highbrow, using quality and impact as their only yardsticks. Pulp authors who might even be prejudicially deemed hacks — Donald Wollheim, Clark Ashton Smith — stand elbow to elbow in eldritch solidarity with Borges and Leonora Carrington, thus constituting a fraternity of writers where the only qualification for admission is the ability to brilliantly conjure frissons of estrangement.

Ultimately, that's what unites such a collection of disparate tales: the uncanny atmosphere and eerie emotional ambiance evoked by matters beyond our ken, by the shattering of consensual reality and placid mundane assumptions, by the eruptions into our little everyday spheres of the cosmic. One recalls Lovecraft's famous observation about the limited powers of the human mind acting to shield us mercifully from the stark realities of the universe. The need and desire to induce this peculiar yet omnipresent sensation explains how these stories differ from straight-on fantasies or allegories or fairytales, genres that do overlap or intersect the weird to some degree. The quintessential weird story must always retain some connection to the real world. Such a tale usually employs some elements of naturalism and mimesis, for it's in the interface between mundanity and extramundanity that the weird emerges. Any venue that is unrelievedly bizarre cannot sustain the pure weird.

Even in a volume of 750,000 words, there must necessarily be omissions. The VanderMeers lament their inability to secure reprint rights to stories by J. G. Ballard or Philip K. Dick. But also among the missing are Patrick McGrath, Ian McEwan (in his early days, absolutely weird), and Rhys Hughes. The great 1960s triumvirate of John Barth, Robert Coover, and Donald Barthelme are not at the party. Nor are any of the Fiction Collective 2 crowd: Lance Olsen, Mark Amerika, Doug Rice. Matthew Derby, and Rikki Ducornet deserve admission. I've always had a soft spot for Samuel Delany's "Night and the Loves of Joe Dicostanzo." Carol Emshwiller surely merits a nod, as does Thomas Disch ("Descending" or "The Squirrel Cage"). Omitting second selections from the double-entried authors would have allowed for a few additional names.

But these absences, and any other personal favorites a reader might name, evaporate in the majestic blacklight radiance of what has been curated. The sterling choices made by the VanderMeers cannot be faulted individually, and lamenting what they passed by is the apex of ingratitude. This landmark anthology codifies, ennobles, and perpetuates a tradition old as humanity's first Neolithic cave paintings of things that go bump in the night.

Author of several acclaimed novels and story collections, including Fractal Paisleys, Little Doors, and Neutrino Drag, Paul Di Filippo was nominated for a Sturgeon Award, a Hugo Award, and a World Fantasy Award — all in a single year. William Gibson has called his work "spooky, haunting, and hilarious." His reviews have appeared in The Washington Post, Science Fiction Weekly, Asimov's Magazine, andThe San Francisco Chronicle.

Reviewer: Paul Di Filippo

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Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.30(d)

Read an Excerpt



Alfred Kubin, “The Other Side” (excerpt), 1908

F. Marion Crawford, “The Screaming Skull,” 1908

Algernon Blackwood, “The Willows,” 1907

Saki, “Sredni Vashtar,” 1910

M.R. James, “Casting the Runes,” 1911

Lord Dunsany, “How Nuth Would Have Practiced his Art,” 1912

Gustav Meyrink, “The Man in the Bottle,” 1912

Georg Heym, “The Dissection,” 1913

Hanns Heinz Ewers, “The Spider,” 1915

Rabindranath Tagore, “The Hungry Stones,” 1916

Luigi Ugolini, “The Vegetable Man,” 1917

A. Merritt, “The People of the Pit,” 1918

Ryunosuke Akutagawa, “The Hell Screen,” 1918

Francis Stevens, “Unseen—-Unfeared,” 1919

Franz Kafka, “In the Penal Colony,” 1919

Stefan Grabinski, “The White Weyrak,” 1921

H.F. Arnold, “The Night Wire,” 1926

H.P. Lovecraft, “The Dunwich Horror,” 1929

Margaret Irwin, “The Book,” 1930

Jean Ray, “The Mainz Psalter,” 1930

Jean Ray, “The Shadowy Street,” 1931

Clark Ashton Smith, “Genius Loci,” 1933

Hagiwara Sakutoro, “The Town of Cats,” 1935

Hugh Walpole, “The Tarn,” 1936

Bruno Schulz, “Sanatorium at the Sign of the Hourglass,” 1937

Robert Barbour Johnson, “Far Below,” 1939

Fritz Leiber, “Smoke Ghost,” 1941

Leonora Carrington, “White Rabbits,” 1941

Donald Wollheim, “Mimic,” 1942

Ray Bradbury, “The Crowd,” 1943

William Sansom, “The Long Sheet,” 1944

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Aleph,” 1945

Olympe Bhely-Quenum, “A Child in the Bush of Ghosts,” 1949

Shirley Jackson, “The Summer People,” 1950

Margaret St. Clair, “The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles,” 1951

Robert Bloch, “The Hungry House,” 1951

Augusto Monterroso, “Mister Taylor,” 1952

Amos Tutuola, “The Complete Gentleman,” 1952

Jerome Bixby, “It's a Good Life,” 1953

Julio Cortazar, “Axolotl,” 1956

William Sansom, “A Woman Seldom Found,” 1956

Charles Beaumont, “The Howling Man,” 1959

Mervyn Peake, “Same Time, Same Place,” 1963

Dino Buzzati, “The Colomber,” 1966

Michel Bernanos, “The Other Side of the Mountain,” 1967

Merce Rodoreda, “The Salamander,” 1967

Claude Seignolle, “The Ghoulbird,” 1967

Gahan Wilson, “The Sea Was Wet As Wet Could Be,” 1967

Daphne Du Maurier, “Don't Look Now,” 1971

Robert Aickman, “The Hospice,” 1975

Dennis Etchison, “It Only Comes Out at Night,” 1976

James Tiptree Jr., “The Psychologist Who Wouldn't Do Terrible Things to Rats,” 1976

Eric Basso, “The Beak Doctor,” 1977

Jamaica Kincaid, “Mother,” 1978

George R.R. Martin, “Sandkings,” 1979

Bob Leman, “Window,” 1980

Ramsey Campbell, “The Brood,” 1980

Michael Shea, “The Autopsy,” 1980

William Gibson/John Shirley, “The Belonging Kind,” 1981

M. John Harrison, “Egnaro,” 1981

Joanna Russ, “The Little Dirty Girl,” 1982

M. John Harrison, “The New Rays,” 1982

Premendra Mitra, “The Discovery of Telenapota,” 1984

F. Paul Wilson, “Soft,” 1984

Octavia Butler, “Bloodchild,” 1984

Clive Barker, “In the Hills, the Cities,” 1984

Leena Krohn, “Tainaron,” 1985

Garry Kilworth, “Hogfoot Right and Bird-hands,” 1987

Lucius Shepard, “Shades,” 1987

Harlan Ellison, “The Function of Dream Sleep,” 1988

Ben Okri, “Worlds That Flourish,” 1988

Elizabeth Hand, “The Boy in the Tree,” 1989

Joyce Carol Oates, “Family,” 1989

Poppy Z Brite, “His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood,” 1990

Michal Ajvaz, “The End of the Garden,” 1991

Karen Joy Fowler, “The Dark,” 1991

Kathe Koja, “Angels in Love,” 1991

Haruki Murakami, “The Ice Man,” 1991 (translation, Japan)

Lisa Tuttle, “Replacements,” 1992

Marc Laidlaw, “The Diane Arbus Suicide Portfolio,” 1993

Steven Utley, “The Country Doctor,” 1993

William Browning Spenser, “The Ocean and All Its Devices,” 1994

Jeffrey Ford, “The Delicate,” 1994

Martin Simpson, “Last Rites and Resurrections,” 1994

Stephen King, “The Man in the Black Suit,” 1994

Angela Carter, “The Snow Pavilion,” 1995

Craig Padawer, “The Meat Garden,” 1996

Stepan Chapman, “The Stiff and the Stile,” 1997

Tanith Lee, “Yellow and Red,” 1998

Kelly Link, “The Specialist's Hat,” 1998

Caitlin R. Kiernan, “A Redress for Andromeda,” 2000

Michael Chabon, “The God of Dark Laughter,” 2001

China Mieville, “Details,” 2002

Michael Cisco, “The Genius of Assassins,” 2002

Neil Gaiman, “Feeders and Eaters,” 2002

Jeff VanderMeer, “The Cage,” 2002

Jeffrey Ford, “The Beautiful Gelreesh,” 2003

Thomas Ligotti, “The Town Manager,” 2003

Brian Evenson, “The Brotherhood of Mutilation,” 2003

Mark Samuels, “The White Hands,” 2003

Daniel Abraham, “Flat Diana,” 2004

Margo Lanagan, “Singing My Sister Down,” 2005

T.M. Wright, “The People on the Island,” 2005

Laird Barron, “The Forest,” 2007

Liz Williams, “The Hide,” 2007

Reza Negarestani, “The Dust Enforcer,” 2008

Micaela Morrissette, “The Familiars,” 2009

Steve Duffy, “In the Lion's Den,” 2009

Stephen Graham Jones, “Little Lambs,” 2009

J. Robert Lennon, “The Portal,” 2010

K.J. Bishop, “Saving the Gleeful Horse,” 2010

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The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a rare bird: an anthology as historic -- bringing together writers old and new, from around the world, together in a really unique compendium of "The Weird" as a fictional style -- as it is enjoyable to dive into. These aren't (mostly) ghost stories, or outright tales of the supernatural or fantasy, or Twilight-Zone-esque stories-with-a-macabre-twist, or horror fiction. Or, rather, there's some of each of those elements in nearly all of these tales. I especially found this a bargain as an ebook, since there's so much here that reading it straight through wouldn't work, so having it to return to whenever I'm in the mood is perfect.
JohnnytheP More than 1 year ago
A 1000+ page compendium of wierd fiction, much of it not overly-anthologized before.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AMDonovan More than 1 year ago
When I first saw the box containing this book, I got excited. Then I opened the box, saw the cover with the Lovecraftian cover and some of the contributors and gave a squee of excitement. Then I read the index. My first response was “I am in love!” This is not just another anthology, with representative samples form 1908-2010 the VanderMeer’s managed to give us a sense of the evolution of the horror/thriller genres. If you read “The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles” by Lord Dunsany, you will be happy to know that there is another tale dealing with the Gnoles. You will also be pleasantly surprised by the translated stories, too. A worldwide tour de force of the wonderfully weird with translated tales from as far afield as Germany, Russia, Iran and China not just limited to the English speaking world as most of these collections tend towards, also refusing to limit themselves to the usual vampire, werewolf, zombie and sex stories. While these genres are enjoyable I their own right, it is nice to see a collection not limited to the themes that have permeated the horror/thriller section of the book stores. With contributions from the premier authorities of the eerie tale such as Saki, Lovecraft, Bradbury, Campbell, Ellison, King, Gaiman and many more, the VanderMeer’s do their best to find new stories and new authors that you may not have been introduced to before and it is well worth the time to meet the group. If you loved the delightful creepiness of The Twilight Zone, the weirdness of Fringe and wish to expand your collection and enjoyment with something that manages to stay pretty strong throughout and different from the normal, run of the mill stories, then you will definitely want to add this to your collection. I did receive this book to do a review (but still loved it!)