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Ellen Datlow

(1949- )
Ellen Datlow has been an editor for over thirty years, first in book publishing, but mostly editing short stories for OMNI Magazine and webzine, EVENT HORIZON, a webzine, and SCIFICTION, the fiction area of SCIFI.COM. She now edits original and reprint anthologies. Ellen Datlow is a born and bred New Yorker, although she travels a lot. Here’s Ellen Datlow’s website.
Click here for more work by Ellen Datlow.

Magazine Monday: Cemetery Dance, Issue 66

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No, it's not a horrible magazine; it's a horror magazine, and a fine one at that.  It's only the Monday that's horrible.

Cemetery Dance is published irregularly, usually three to four issues per year, and covers the entire field of horror, from film to comics to novels. It is heavy on the nonfiction, with excellent reviews and multiple interviews. There are six stories in this issue, all of them excellent. Issue 66 impressed me so much that I’ve already ordered the next, and am likely to subscribe.

The first story, “Lines” by Bill Pronzini, is a surreal tale of Hood, who is looking for the woman who left him for another man, taking $2000 of Hood’s money with her. He has tracked her easily, and catches up with her in Line, Nevada. He intends to kill her and her lover, and he does. It’s what happens after that that makes this story Weird.

... Read More

Magazine Monday: Nightmare Magazine, Women Destroy Horror Issue

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I wouldn’t normally review a magazine from last month, but the October issue of Nightmare Magazine is something special, and it’s still available. In this issue, Women Destroy Horror! Issue 25 is devoted to horror written by women, the result of a Kickstarter originally intended to help women destroy science fiction (in the June 2014 issue of Lightspeed Magazine) that met its stretch goals. (Full disclosure: I contributed to the Kickstarter.)

The guest fiction editor of this issue is Ellen Datlow, who is the foremost horror editor working today, of any gender. She picked a lot of great stories for this special issue. Her editorial reminds us that women not only once dominated horror, but actually invented it. Ghost stories and gothic tales were written by women for decades before Read More

Snow White, Blood Red: A bit too much gross-out

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Snow White, Blood Red edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Snow White, Blood Red was the first of Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's adult fairy tale anthologies. The series later developed into a treasure trove of beauty, horror, humor, brightness, darkness, and above all, terrific writing. Here, though, many of the authors seem to have focused on the "adult" rather than on the "fairy tale," on sex and gore rather than on the archetypal power of the tales.

Most of the stories in this collection are filled with visceral, often nauseating, violence. There is also a lot of sex. Now, normally I don't mind sex in books. But this isn't erotic sex; it tends to be twisted, sadistic sex, often rape. The sexual content, rather than being erotic, feels like a further extension of the violence. There's a bit too much gross-out, a bit t... Read More

Black Thorn, White Rose: So many wonderful stories

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Black Thorn, White Rose edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Black Thorn, White Rose is the second in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's series of adult fairy-tale anthologies. I'd have to say that this is my favorite of the bunch; most of the volumes are good, but this one has so many wonderful stories that have stayed with me for years. A few highlights:

"Stronger Than Time," by Patricia C. Wrede , is a sad but hopeful take on "Sleeping Beauty," told through the eyes of Arven, an ordinary peasant widower. He has lived his whole life in the shadow of a mysterious briar-guarded tower. When a prince enlists his help breaching the tower's defenses, the reader is just as surprised as Arven is. Why does the prince need Arven's help? I dare you not t... Read More

Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears: Excellent anthology despite my twisted gut

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Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (eds.)

Ruby Slippers, Golden Tearsis the third in the series of fairy tale anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. It’s a very good collection; in quality it’s probably equal to its immediate predecessor, Black Thorn, White Rose, though I didn’t personally like it as much for reasons I’ll elaborate below.

My favorite of the stories is Ellen Steiber’s stunning novella “The Fox Wife.” Set in nineteenth-century Japan, it concerns a domineering husband and his young wife who shows signs of becoming a kitsune, a fox shapeshifter.

Other favorites include “The Beast,” by Tanith Lee, and the poem “The White Road,” by Read More

Black Heart, Ivory Bones: All that’s best of dark and bright

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Black Heart, Ivory Bones edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Black Heart, Ivory Bones is the sixth and final entry in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s series of fairy tale anthologies. Of the six, I’ve read four, and each has its own particular flavor, its own unique mood. While all of the books contain a mix of light and darkness, in this volume there seems to be more of a balance: “all that’s best of dark and bright,” if you will. The mood that Black Heart, Ivory Bones evoked in me was a wistfulness, maybe, or a pensiveness. When I first read the series, Black Thorn, White Rose was my favorite, but I’ve come to a deeper enjoyment of this volume as I’ve grown older. At this point I’d have to say the two are now tied in my mind.

My favorite stories in thi... Read More

The Green Man: Read it slowly

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The Green Man edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

In fairy tales, whenever someone journeys into the forest, you just know something strange is about to occur and that the protagonist’s life is going to be changed forever. The same is true of the stories and poems featured in The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest. With this collection, editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling kicked off a series of young adult anthologies, each devoted to a particular theme. Here, the theme is wild nature, and most of the stories feature teenage characters who encounter the wilderness and undergo a coming-of-age experience there.

Of course, I have my favorites. Delia Sherman contributes a tale of the Faery Queen of Central Park, and the insec... Read More

Salon Fantastique: More uneven than most of Datlow and Windling’s anthologies

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Salon Fantastique: Fifteen Original Tales of Fantasy by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling are the two greatest short fiction editors of fantasy and horror of our time. Their annual collections of the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror provided us, for 16 straight years, with the best short genre and slipstream fiction from all sources. Their anthologies have defined cutting edge fantasy.

Salon Fantastique is more uneven than most of Datlow and Windling's collections. This themeless anthology, containing stories intended, as the introduction states, "to evoke the liberating, creative spirit of a literary salon," contains some very fine stories. It also, oddly enough, contains some very bad stories.

Delia Sherma... Read More

The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2007

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The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007

In many ways, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007 anthology is a difficult book to review. For one thing, to me and a lot of my reading/writing circle, this is easily the definitive bible when it comes to short stories of the genre. For another, many of the stories that are included in this collection have been featured in other anthologies as well, so there's an overlap in terms of stories featured. But I'll try and talk about what makes this anthology unique from other similar anthologies.

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror is quite comprehensive about its subject matter, not just featuring short stories but poems and articles. The first dozen pages are articles summarizing the important events that happened in the two genres including the obituaries of the previous year. That’s really qui... Read More

The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales

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The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales is another thematic fantasy anthology by the trio of Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, and Charles Vess. Coyote Road features twenty-six pieces of fiction and poetry. Each story is preceded by art by Vess and ends with a short bio and afterword from the author. In the Introduction, Windling gives us an extensive account of trickster tales around the world. The last few pages of the book consist of a Recommended Reading list of titles that tackle that subject as well.

Perhaps the best description I have for the stories here is that they're sophisticated and well-written. They're not easy reading and some have a slow pace, but they tend to leave a resonating emotion by the time you're d... Read More

The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2008

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The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008

For me, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008 has been a two-headed beast. On one hand, it's an eagerly anticipated book by people involved in the industry, usually for the summation at the front of the book and the honorable mentions list at the back. The various editors are quite thorough and detailed when it comes to this part. The other aspect is, of course, the story/poetry selection, which is what will likely attract the casual reader.

So, how does it actually fare? Well, with regards to the first aspect, there are no disappointments. When covering the highlights of the previous year (and alas, the obituaries) and the various media (comics, movies, and music) in which either fantasy or horror plays a part, the book has it covered. The writing is functional and achieves what it sets out to do.

With re... Read More

Poe: 19 New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe

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Poe: 19 New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe edited by Ellen Datlow

Whether you're aligned with the literary academia or an unabashed genre reader, the name Edgar Allan Poe commands much respect. I think it's only fitting that a modern anthology inspired by the author's body of work should be released on his 200th anniversary. Kudos to Solaris Books for taking on the task of publishing such a book, which all comes together with the firm editorial direction of Ellen Datlow. Datlow, for me, has been an editor who's less impressed with literary fireworks or verbal acrobatics but focuses more on the meat and bones of the story, its fundamentals if you will. In that respect, Poe lives up to that promise. That's not to say the stories will immediately grip you. In fact, a good chunk of them take time to develop. But for the most part, the patience and the struggle are well worth the wait, and what's consist... Read More

Troll’s Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales

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Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Fairy tales were my first love when I was a child. My mother introduced me to the joys of stories with The Golden Book of Fairy Tales long before I learned how to read. My early reading included the first three volumes of The Junior Classics and Andrew Lang’s colorful fairy tale books. When Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling started editing anthologies of new takes on the old tales for adults with Snow White, Blood Red, I was delighted. And when Datlow and Windling started editing a series of original fiction for young adults... Read More

The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm

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The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

The Faery Reel is an indispensable tome for anyone who has a mania for faeries. Aside from the short stories in this anthology, the comprehensive introduction of Terri Windling on the fey and the illustrations by Charles Vess are worth the price of admission in themselves. Moreover, the last few pages feature a Further Reading section on the topic of faeries. The typography of the book is appropriate to the faery theme and makes the text quite readable. In other words, it's a really pretty book.

But The Faery Reel isn't just about exterior beauty, and I'd still buy the book if only for the story selections and the poetry. There are actually a lot of stories I liked in this anthology, and choosing a select few to ta... Read More

Supernatural Noir: A Datlow anthology

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Supernatural Noir edited by Ellen Datlow

Ellen Datlow suggests in her introduction to Supernatural Noir that noir fiction and supernatural fiction, with its roots in the gothic, have a lot in common. The main character in each tends to be a hard-living guy, usually down to his last flask of scotch, haunted by a sexy dame whose middle name is trouble. So it seemed natural to her to combine the two genres for an original anthology.

Despite my general rule that any anthology edited by Ellen Datlow is one I want to read, I resisted this one for a long time. Detectives looking for ghosts? Eh. Not my thing. But when Supernatural Noir was nominated for a Read More

After: Like panning for gold

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After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia by editors Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

When I saw the new Datlow and Windling anthology After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia, I was so excited. I love YA fiction, I love dyslit, I love short story anthologies and I love Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling as editors, so I figured it was a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, my reading experience didn’t live up to my expectations.

After is an anthology of short stories set after. After what? Alien invasion, plague, environmental collapse, asteroid strike, it doesn’t matter. Just after. This leaves a lot of room for the authors to be creative, as they all can choose different afters to explore, and it leaves the anthology feeling a bit disjointed as you hop from one ... Read More

The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Four

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The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Four edited by Ellen Datlow

Anything Ellen Datlow edits automatically finds a place on my list of books to read. For many years, this included the excellent anthology series The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, which Datlow coedited with Terri Windling. When that series disappeared, much to the dismay of fans of short fiction everywhere, Datlow undertook to publish The Year’s Best Horror, which has been published by the terrific smaller press, Night Shade Books, for the past four years. This year’s volume, the fourth, is chock full of memorable stories certain to keep you up at night.

... Read More

The Monstrous: You can’t go wrong with Datlow

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The Monstrous edited by Ellen Datlow

Whenever I see Ellen Datlow’s name as editor on the cover of an anthology, I know I’m in good hands. Datlow has a made a thirty-plus year career of choosing good stories and developing collections that take different aims at the theme. The theme of The Monstrous is monsters, and Datlow makes sure to explore all facets of that word with this mostly-reprint anthology from Tachyon Press.

There are twenty stories in the book. One is original to the anthology. The reprints include one classic horror story and a few that read as dated to me. Datlow’s standards of excellent writing and good characterization stand throughout the book.

I’m going to discuss two pieces out of sequence, because they left me puzzling. Read More

Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror

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Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror edited by Ellen Datlow

This anthology comes after a similarly titled anthology, also edited by Ellen Datlow, called Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror which came out in March 2010. Datlow also edits an annual anthology of horror fiction (collaborating with other editors on those). It seems then that Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror (which came out in October 2016) is informed by a great deal of knowledge in the field of speculative horror literature. I am not generally a horror reader, but I still thoroughly enjoyed many tales in this anthology for their engaging storytelling and terrifying themes. What follows is a brief review of each of the 25 tales, in the order which they appear.

“Shall... Read More

More books by Terry Windling and Ellen Datlow

Fairy Tale Anthologies — Publisher: Exploring the darker side of popular fairy tales, this anthology features dark and erotic tales of trolls and ogres, bewitched princesses, and magical kingdoms.

Fairy Tale Anthologies Ellen Datlow Terri Windling 4. Black Swan, White RavenFairy Tale Anthologies Ellen Datlow Terri Windling 5. Silver Birch, Blood Moon


Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling The Beastly Bride anthologyThe Beastly Bride — (2010) Young adult. Publisher: What do werewolves, vampires, and the Little Mermaid have in common? They are all shapechangers. In The Beastly Bride, acclaimed editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling bring together original stories and poems from a stellar lineup of authors including Peter S. Beagle, Ellen Kushner, Jane Yolen, Lucius Shepard, and Tanith Lee, as well as many new, diverse voices. Terri Windling provides a scholarly, yet accessible introduction, and Charles Vess’s decorations open each story. From Finland to India, the Pacific Northwest to the Hamptons, shapechangers are part of our magical landscape — and The Beastly Bride is sure to be one of the most acclaimed anthologies of the year.


World Fantasy Convention 2011: Day Three

I spent most of the morning today in the dealers’ room, which was a disaster for my wallet but a boon for my library. As has become my habit of late, I spent more time picking up titles from small presses, like Prime, Night Shade and EDGE, than from the big boys. Some of that was simply because the big boys weren’t there in force; even Tor, which hosted a party last night, didn’t have a table full of books. But mostly it was because I’m of the firm belief that the small presses are where it’s happening these days, with the strangest and most interesting books coming from them. I am very thankful that the USPS is on site with boxes and a guarantee of safe passage for my new acquisitions, because I could never carry all of these onto the plane, not even if I bought a new piece of luggage -- not enough arms! There were also a few jewelers on the premises, with some lovely things, and I confess I committed jewelry (though not the piece pictured here). The jeweler who captured me ... Read More