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Black Static


To Be The Best

12th Nov, 2010

Author: Peter Tennant

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As the finale to our 'Anthology Month', I thought I'd do a statistical(ish) comparison of the year's best volumes, and this year for the first time in a while we have three hefty tomes to take into consideration. In addition to Best Horror of the Year Volume 2 edited by Ellen Datlow and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #21 edited by Stephen Jones, both of which I reviewed in Black Static #19, we have The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2010 edited by Paula Guran.

For ease I'll refer to these as Datlow, Jones and Guran from now on, rather than keep typing out the titles (I'm lazy), and before we go on I should emphasise that I'm only comparing facts and figures, not making any value judgements about the books. These are three highly experienced editors and, while you or I might disagree with individual choices (as do the three editors among themselves), the chances of them picking a crap story are slim. At the foot of the page I've posted a link to an Interaction thread where you can compare the three Tables of Contents.


Datlow has 310 pages, containing seventeen stories (nineteen writers in all), a summation of the year in horror and honorable mentions.

Jones has 512 pages, containing nineteen stories (twenty writers in all), a summation of the year in horror, necrology and an appendix of useful addresses.

I haven't seen a copy of Guran, but according to amazon it weighs in at 544 pages. There are thirty eight stories (thirty nine writers in all), but I have no information as to what supporting material the book contains.


'What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night' by Michael Marshall Smith is the only story to appear in all three volumes.

No other stories appear in both Datlow and Jones.

'Lowland Sea' by Suzy McKee Charnas, 'The Crevasse' by Dale Bailey & Nathan Ballingrud and 'In the Porches of My Ears' by Norman Prentiss appear in both Datlow and Guran.

'Respects' by Ramsey Campbell appears in both Jones and Guran.

Authors who appear in more than one book, but with different stories, are Reggie Oliver (Jones and Datlow); Steve Duffy, Gemma Files, Stephen Graham Jones and John Langan (Datlow and Guran); Barbara Roden (Guran and Jones).

Repeat Offenders

Guran is, hopefully, the first in a series, and so we have no previous form, but with both Jones and Datlow we can compare current to past contributors.

Datlow publishes eight writers for the first time in the series' history, while three of the contributors in #2 also appeared in #1.

Jones publishes eight writers for the first time, while five of the contributors also appeared in #20.


It breaks down by gender as follows:-

Datlow             5 ½ stories by women out of 17 in total (32%)

Jones                2 stories by women out of 19 in total (11%)

Guran               17 stories by women out of 38 in total (45%)

I'll take a moment here to observe that if Guran had been included in the figures when I did my previous post on Women in Horror Anthologies then the percentage of women appearing in 'best of' anthologies would have risen from 21% to 33%, which fits very well with the figure of 30% for women contributing original fiction to anthologies.


Editor                           Jones                Datlow             Guran


Australia                       1(5%)              1(6%)                2(5%)

Canada                          4(21%)            1(6%)                4(10%)

Ireland                          0                       0                        1(3%)

New Zealand               1(5%)               0                        0

United Kingdom         11(58%)           5(29%)              6(16%)

United States                2(11%)             10(59%)            25(66%)

The US is the largest national market, and so statistically you would expect it to take the lion's share of publishing credits, and this is the case for Datlow and Guran, but for Jones the UK appears to be punching well above its weight.

All the contributions come from the English speaking world (with apologies to the Irish and any French speaking Canadians), which reflects either a dearth of horror outside of anglo-circles, or more likely a lack of work available in timely translations. The latter was certainly my own experience when I planned a Black Static feature on horror in translation a few years back and had to abandon the idea for lack of suitable material.


So where do you need to get published if your work is to register on the radar of these editors?

Editor               Jones                Datlow             Guran


Anthologies     12(63%)           11(65%)             21(55%)

Chapbooks       1(5%)               2(12%)               2(5%)

Collections        6(32%)            0                         2(5%)

Magazines         0                     3(18%)                8(21%)

Online                0                     1(6%)                  5(13%)

The answer to the question would appear to be a resounding cry of "Anthologies!", with each editor taking more than half their choices from this source.

And the anthology which registered the most was Poe edited by Ellen Datlow, which scored three stories in Datlow, two in Guran and one in Jones

Only two other anthologies scored with all three editors, Strange Tales III edited by Rosalie Parker, with a different story in each volume, and Postscripts 18 edited by Pete Crowther and Nick Gevers, which had a Norman Prentiss story in Datlow and Guran, and a Chris Bell story in Jones.

Of the other overlapping anthologies, Exotic Gothic 3 scored with both Jones and Datlow, British Invasion scored once with Jones and twice with Guran, Cern Zoo scored with Datlow and Guran, The Fifth Black Book of Horror scored with both Jones and Datlow, Lovecraft Unbound and Phantom both scored once with Datlow and twice with Guran.

Those are the figures, and make of them what you will. I'm going to go and lie down in a darkened room until my head stops spinning.

And yes, I know that the various percentages don't always add up to 100%, and that not all the columns are perfectly aligned, but I don't care.

'Anthology Month' is now officially over, all six weeks of it.


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