The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2004: Seventeenth Annual Collection

Bram Stoker Award Winner

“The proliferation of specialty fantasy publications with short runs and low profiles, combined with the growing pervasiveness of fantasy and horror in mainstream markets that elude genre enthusiasts, has made this annual culling increasingly vital for readers who seek the best in fantastic fiction. Datlow (the horror half) teams with new co-editors (who assume fantasy detail once handled by Terri Windling) and the series doesn’t skip a beat in quality, delivering 43 stories and poems published in 2003 that illustrate modern fantasy’s breadth and variety. Stephen King is represented by “Harvey’s Dream,” an eerie tale of a precognitive dream’s disruption of an ordinary suburban household. Karen Joy Fowler, in “King Rat,” and Ursula K. Le Guin, in “Woeful Tales from the Mahigul,” make suffering the grist of powerful folk tales. Stories by Michael Swanwick, Neil Gaiman and Dan Chaon stretch traditional genre themes in intriguing new directions. Likewise, the one dominant theme that shapes the contents of this year’s volume — the zeitgeist of a post-9/11 world — gets memorably varied treatments from several contributors. Lucius Shepard conjures ghosts from the ruins of the World Trade Center for a consoling tale of redemption in “Only Partly Here,” while Brian Hodge evokes an all-consuming evil in the battlefields of Afghanistan in “With Acknowledgments to Sun Tzu.” Wartime paranoia is implicit in two subtly crafted fables, M. Rickert’s “Bread and Bombs” and George Saunders’s “The Red Bow.” Like the other selections, these stories are proof that the best fantastic fiction is modern mythmaking at its finest.”
Publishers Weekly

Table of Contents


Dean Francis Alfar. “L’Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars)“. Strange Horizons 1/6/03.
Paolo Bacigalupi. “The Fluted Girl”. F&SF 6/03.
Dale Bailey. “Hunger: A Confession”. F&SF 3/03.
Nathan Ballingrud. “You Go Where It Takes You“. Sci Fiction 7/16/03.
Laird Barron. “Old Virginia”. F&SF 2/03.
Terry Bisson. “Almost Home”. F&SF 10-11/03.
Kevin Brockmeier. “The Brief History of the Dead”. The New Yorker 9/8/03.
Scott Emerson Bull. “Mr. Sly Stops for a Cup of Joe”. Gathering the Bones (Tor).
Richard Butner. “Ash City Stomp”. Trampoline (Small Beer Press).
Dan Chaon. “The Bees”. McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales (Vintage).
Peter Crowther. “Bedfordshire”. Gathering the Bones (Tor).
Karen Joy Fowler. “King Rat”. Trampoline (Small Beer Press).
Adam Corbin Fusco. “N007-JK1”. Borderlands 5 (Borderlands Press).
Neil Gaiman. “A Study in Emerald”. Shadows over Baker Street (Del Rey).
Daphne Gottlieb, “Final Girl II: The Frame,” (poem), Final Girl (Soft Skull)
Theodora Goss. “Lily, with Clouds”. Alchemy #1.
Glen Hirshberg. “Dancing Men”. The Dark (Tor).
Brian Hodge. “With Acknowledgements to Sun Tzu”. The Third Alternative #33.
Nina Kiriki Hoffman. “Flotsam”. Firebirds (Firebird).
Shelley Jackson. “Husband”. The Paris Review #164.
Kij Johnson. “At the Mouth of the River of Bees“. Sci Fiction 10/7/03.
Stephen King. “Harvey’s Dream“. The New Yorker 6/30/03.
Paul LaFarge. “Lamentation over the Destruction of Ur”. Politically Inspired (MacAdam/Cage).
Marc Laidlaw. “Cell Call”. By Moonlight Only (PS Publishing).
Ursula K. Le Guin. “Woeful Tales from Mahigul”. Changing Planes (Harcourt).
Thomas Ligotti. “Purity”. Weird Tales #331.
Kelly Link. “The Hortlak”. The Dark (Tor).
Sara Maitland. “Why I Became a Plumber”. On Becoming a Fairy Godmother (Maia Press).
Maureen F. McHugh. “Ancestor Money“. Sci Fiction 10/1/03.
Mike O’Driscoll. “The Silence of the Falling Stars”. The Dark (Tor).
Patrick O’Leary, “Invisible Geese,” The Perfect City,” (poems), The Stars as Seen from This Particular Angle of Night: An Anthology of Speculative Verse (Bakka)
Philip Raines & Harvey Welles. “The Fishie”. Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 6/03.
M. Rickert. “Bread and Bombs”. F&SF 4/03.
Benjamin Rosenbaum. “The Valley of the Giants”. Argosy #1.
George Saunders. “The Red Bow”. Esquire 9/03.
Lucius Shepard. “Only Partly Here”. Asimov’s 3/03.
Vandana Singh. “The Wife”. Polyphony 3 (Wheatland Press).
Michael Marshall Smith. “Open Doors”. More Tomorrows and Other Stories (Earthling Publications).
Michael Swanwick. “King Dragon”. The Dragon Quintet (Science Fiction Book Club).
Steve Rasnic Tem, “Bone,” (poem) The Hydrocephalic Ward (Dark Regions)
Karen Traviss. “The Man Who Did Nothing”. Realms of Fantasy 6/03.
Megan Whalen Turner. “The Baby in the Night Deposit Box”. Firebirds (Firebird).
Jon Woodward, “At the Mythical Beast,” (poem), Mister Goodbye Easter Island (Alice James Books)

This list and links courtesy of Andew Hatchell.


Ellen Datlow

The Sluice: a site dedicated to The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror series