Each volume of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction will feature a different guest editor. The Series Editor is Michael Kelly. Weird fiction is a diverse and eclectic mode of literature, and we are excited to see varying viewpoints. In fact, we are confident that the volume will see little if any overlap with the various other “Best Of” anthologies.
Along with up to 125,000 words of the finest strange fiction from the previous year, each volume will include an introduction from the Guest Editor, a foreword from the Series Editor, and (at the discretion of the guest editor) a short list of other notable stories. The book will be available in trade-paperback and eBook.
The Guest Editor for Volume 4, for English-language work FIRST published or translated this year, 2016, is Helen Marshall. Helen and I are now reading for the volume.
Publishers, please send PDFs (or mobi or ePub files) of any relevant work to bestweirdfiction (at) gmail (dot) com. Our strict preference is digital files.
Authors, if you think there is work I should be seeing, please contact me and I’ll make arrangements with the publisher.
I have a firm deadline of Dec. 15. The earlier, the better.
So … welcome to the Year’s Best Weird Fiction.
What is weird fiction?
The simple answer is that it is speculative in nature, chiefly derived from pulp fiction in the early 20th century, whose remit includes ghost stories, the strange and macabre, the supernatural, fantasy, myth, philosophical ontology, ambiguity, and featuring a helping of the outré. Weird fiction, at its best, is an intersecting of themes and ideas that explore and subvert the laws of Nature. It counts among its proponents older and newer writers alike: Robert Aickman, Laird Barron, Charles Beaumont, Ambrose Bierce, Octavia Butler, Ray Bradbury, Angela Carter, Neil Gaiman, Shirley Jackson, Kathe Koja, John Langan, Thomas Ligotti, Kelly Link, H. P. Lovecraft, and many others.
Weird fiction is not specifically horror or fantasy. And weird fiction is not new. It has always been present. That’s because it isn’t a genre, as such. This makes the prospect of defining weird fiction difficult, and perhaps ill advised. Weird fiction is a mode of literature that is present in other genres. Weird tales were penned long before publishers codified and attached genre labels to fiction. You can find weird fiction in literary journals, in horror magazines, fantasy and science fiction periodicals, and various other genre and non-genre journals and anthologies that are welcoming to speculative fiction of the fantastique.
There’s been renewed interest in weird fiction, spurred by the writings of the authors mentioned above, and by the likes of Jeffrey Ford, Elizabeth Hand, Margo Lanagan, China Mieville, Reggie Oliver, Kaaron Warren, and by the publication of anthologies such as American Fantastic Tales, Black Water, Black Wings, The Weird, The Uncanny, Strange Tales; and journals such as Black Static, ChiZine, Shadows & Tall Trees, and Weird Fiction Review.
Weird fiction is here to stay. Once the purview of esoteric readers, it is enjoying wider popularity. Throughout its storied history there has not been a dedicated volume of the year’s best weird writing. There are a host of authors penning weird and strange tales that defy easy categorization. Tales that slip through genre cracks. A yearly anthology of the best of these writings is long overdue.