Initiated in 1990 to "expand the envelope" of horror writing, the Borderlands anthologies have yielded an abundance of quirky and eccentric tales from writers who pushed "beyond the usual metaphors" by which contemporary horror and dark fantasy are usually defined. This fifth volume the first in a decade features a healthy quotient of offbeat efforts that resist simple categorization. Stephen King's "Stationary Bike," for example, is a deft blend of paranoid fantasy and social satire about a successful weight watcher pursued by hypostatized versions of his metabolism who resent being put out of work. In "Father Bob and Bobby," Whitley Streiber maps the mind of his priest protagonist, whose thoughts are an unsettling mix of Christian imagery and pederastic fantasy. David Schow, in "The Thing Too Hideous to Describe," stands the horror B-movie on its head in its amusing account of a bug-eyed monster struggling to understand its symbolic role in human affairs. As in previous volumes, experimentation misfires in several stories that traffic in the grotesque and outrageous, among them Bentley Little's "The Planting," about a man growing a new life form from a neighbor's undergarments. The majority of the 25 selections are brief, virtually plotless exercises that are triumphs of mood or narrative trickery over storytelling. Still, the range of themes that propel these uncommon tales personal alienation, religious intolerance, the quest for transcendence, the torture of hope expand the horror story's reach, and the wealth of relatively new writers featured is encouraging. (Mar.) Forecast: The presence of an original Stephen King tale, his first contribution to the Borderlands series, should ensure major review attention (for a specialty press) and increase the chances of a paperback reprint. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.