The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Part 1

We have a number of Mammoth Books in our collection, so there is a high likelyhood they’ll be chopped into 2 or more parts. This is mainly due to the number of stories read and how fast I can read them. Though, with Best New Horror, I am sectioning it into 3 parts. Not because I’m not done with it yet (I’m not, I have 7 stories to go after “The Bone Carver”), but because I have a number of reviews for the stories written up and I want to post them before they get erased. This is because Snooch is evil.

Now, with Best New Horror, I found that I was overall disappointed with the stories I read. This is quite strange since most Mammoth books are fucking awesome and it was edited by Stephen Jones who does a great job at picking some great stories for the anthologies. I think it’s an overall disappointment since this was one of the first (or the first) Best New Horror for the Mammoth series and tastes, and styles, have changed since the mid 90s.

This anthology was published around the time where horror and most of the literary genre were not doing all that well, the death of Karl Edward Wagner was still pretty fresh in peoples minds, etc. Or, they were like me, kids who were more interested in horror films, video games, and who had the best cd/tape collection.

 

The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror
edited by: Stephen Jones
1996
Part 1
Tirkiluk – Ian R MacLeod
From what I’ve gathered, it’s a short story based on information gathering around WWI about cloud formations or something. It starts out as journal entries that are made for that type of work (or at least what I’m gathering that type of work is needed for).

Honestly, I got bored with it. Flipped through a couple pages, found a bizarre section about a zombie-like character giving birth. It didn’t hold enough attention so I skipped it to the next story.

The Most Boring Woman in the World – Christopher Fowler
First POV of a woman who gets bored with the normal life. It’s a fun, bizarre little story, more fucked up than ‘horror,’ I felt. The best quote of this story is:

“Was it get up, wash the kids and iron the breakfast, or make the dinner, fry the dog and kill the husband?”

I cracked up when I read it. It made the whole story even better.

Extinctions in Paradise – Brian Hodge
A gentleman goes practically in hiding in a South American town, away from the golden life of syndicated columnist with a dead family. So he pretty much hangs out with an old photographer and helps out the street-kids who…happen to have lycanthropy. Not as contaminated species, but as an evolutionary response for survival. Neat!

The story was pretty neat, but I could’ve done without the ending. I, personally, had no need to read about two random people meeting and having fun sexy times. Then I get the bizarre ending of the human version of cub-suckling and it blew the story completely.

Food Man – Lisa Tuttle
A young teen with anorexia nervosa manages to slip by and hide her uneaten meals under her bed. One evening, she consciously wonders what it looks like, only to have that desire make the food come to life and give her one hell of a ride. She determines that she needs to eat in order to have more sexy-times and after a while, annoys her Food Man. One night, she realizes that he just wants to be eaten, so she devours him. She finds this is more pleasurable than sex and decides she is still hungry so she goes off on a feeding rampage.

To me, this is not horror. This is one of those weird “I had a dream where I ate the world” kind of stories but it leaves off at the perfect place to make you wonder what happens next. Thankfully, it doesn’t go into avid detail of the sexual escapades of a young teenager and her re-animated food-corpse, which had me thinking of both the literary and film version of Herbert West, Reanimator. It’s a fun story, pretty fucked up.

More Tomorrow – Michael Marshall Smith
In the early stages of the interwebs, during that time before AOL met its peak or right around the time of this, we have the setting for this story. Sadly, I am at the age where a small portion of this makes absolutely no sense, so this is one of those stories that holds up true for “era/timed” stories that workshops and things frown upon. This is a story of your average computer geek who lives right on the line between normal and stereotype, whose biggest accomplishment is having a salad twice in a week and knowing more about The Internets than most people.

He decides he is going to surf through an alt.group and finds photos of his coworker, wigs out, but has no idea what to do and cannot help. Honestly, I got pretty bored about halfway through and just skimmed the remaining pages to find what happens to the coworker. But, overall, it’s a story of a guy who skims what would probably now be considered a message board.

This is a very timed peice unfortunately. Most people would have no idea what alt.whatever means. The only thing I am familiar with is alt.fashion.goth and that was years after it officially died and there were breif mentionings about it on other websites. Then again, I am not a message board/forum/chatroom kind of person. We don’t have to have special programs to download, unencrypt/zip, reconfigure, and upload to see things. If we want to see porn on the web, well, there are hundreds of easily accessible websites right at our fingertips.

In a way, it was a decent story, it just really did not hold my attention all that well. One day I’ll probably finish reading it, but I doubt that.

 

Going Under – Ramsey Campbell
I read this story a couple years ago in…Fruiting Fungi I think. It’s a weird story that, to me, makes no sense. I skipped it after reading a paragraph or two.

It’s pretty much about a guy who becomes very impatient, is consistently calling his house to remind his wife of something, becomes insanely claustrophobic and then has a complete mental collapse. I still have the feeling that I’m missing a key peice to the puzzle in this story. It was weird, it was Ramsey Campbell, and it was a lot better than the bloating zombies trying to suck face (the zombie thing is from one of his other stories and it still makes me twitch).

 

Survivor – Dave Smeds
Vietnam soldier decides he wants a unicorn tattoo. A badass unicorn tattoo, which happens to be cursed and he’s pretty much fucked for life. This is a really slow-starting story with a fascinating plot to it. I would reccommend this one to people to read because it’s just really fucked up. It was a decent story, but I didn’t care a whole lot about it.

 

The Stones – Patrick Thompson
All I gathered was that a couple decided to go on a vacation to some area to look at stones. This is insanely slow and I skipped it. If I want to read something like that, I will attempt to read The Long Lost again, which is really hard to get into and I never got past the fourth page.

 

Back of Beyond – Cherry Wilder
I have no recollection what this is. My notes simply state: “Not interested, skipped.” and even though the book is right beside me, I really do not feel compelled to look up the base idea for it.

 

A Hundred Little Witches – Steve Rasnic Tem
A guy was taught that all women are witches of something, so he has terrible relationships and people think he’s weird because he talks to himself. Well, he finds a girl who sympathizes with him and he freaks out, runs home, and gets ripped up by his own personal demons. It’s a strange little story and it was interesting. It sounds like it may have been something that could’ve been turned into a novella of sorts.

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