These Datlow/Windling collections were the best 'bests' ever! I've totally lost track of which ones I've read and which ones I haven't, though. This one was definitely new to me - and most of the stories were new to me as well - and mostly excellent.
The 'Year' in question here was 1989. Apparently a good year for short stories! The book also includes a quite-long round-up/summation of pretty much everything in the genre published that year, including films.
The Edge of the World - Michael Swanwick
This is so nice. It meshes sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, fantasy and mythic fiction into a wonderful and creepy tale. In a decrepit place called The Edge of the World, three all-too believable teenagers... and three wishes. I haven't read any of Swanwick's novels - but I think I should. Just ordered two of them!
The Adder - Fred Chappell
A rather good tribute to Lovecraft. How can you go wrong with a cursed and evil book?
Cat in Glass - Nancy Etchemendy
An evil, haunted sculpture destroys a family.
Monsters, Tearing Off My Face - Rory Harper
A short-short with a twist. A child draws her family as monsters, which attracts the attention of child welfare specialists.
Family - Joyce Carol Oates
A mix of post-apocalyptic and weird fiction. I know Oates is supposed to be one of those amazing, respectable authors, but she never really quite does it for me.
A Dirge for Clowntown - James Powell
I didn't like this one either. If a send-up of murder-mystery-noir tropes where all the characters are clowns sound like it'll do it for you, it probably will.
Miss Carstairs and the Merman - Delia Sherman
A sad but beautiful story of a 19th-century woman who aspires to be a scientist. When she captures a merman, she thinks the paper she will write will make her reputation.
Unknown Things - Reginald Bretnor
An antiques dealer finds a collector who will pay top dollar for any gadget or item whose original use is unknown. But what does he do with his mysteries?
Return to the Mutant Rain Forest (poem) - Bruce Boston and Robert Frazier
Date with a Bird - Tatyana Tolstaya
I've read Tolstaya's novel 'The Slynx.' This is very much in the same vein: surreal, and unabashedly Russian.
Them Bald-Headed Snays - Joseph A. Citro
After his mother dies of cancer, a boy is sent to live with his grandfather in a rural hick town with some very weird neighbors. Failing to explain things in advance leads to a bad outcome.
A Sad Last Love at the Diner of the Damned - Edward Bryant
If you are looking for as much completely gratuitous violence as you can fit into a few pages of text, you will find it here, in this nasty zombie story.
Hanging the Fool - Michael Moorcock
If you like Moorcock's more 'serious' fiction, you'll like this story, where rumors of a horrible crime spread amongst the upper crust of post-WWI European society.
Hansel's Finger - Leif Enger
A man finds a severed finger on a ride at Disneyworld and has a nervous breakdown. eh. I didn't really find this convincing.
Dogfaerie - Garry Kilworth
A nice faerie tale of a haunted house, a young boy, and turning the tables.
A Bird That Whistles - Emma Bull
This one I'd read before, in the 'Double Feature' anthology. It was definitely worth a re-read: the tale of an elvin man who turns up at a human nightclub to play music, and his interaction with one of the regular musicians there is touching, memorable - and perfectly captures the almost-but-not-quite-human nature of Faerie.
The Walled Garden - Lisa Tuttle
A girl has a vision of herself, as an adult, in a garden, with a man. She lets this vision color the path of her entire life, perhaps unwisely. This was beautifully written, but I found the ending unsatisfying. Which was undoubtedly the point - but still.
Varicose Worms - Scott Baker
Magicians masquerade as homeless persons - it gives them power. One of the most powerful lives a double life, and uses his wife as a pawn, ruthlessly. But the worm turns...
The War with Things - Leszek Kolakowski
Actually written in the 1950's, but first translated into English in 1959. Absurd and allegorical, a man anthropomorphizes the commonplace objects around him - which he believes are all turning against him.
The Faery Flag - Jane Yolen
A sweet love story of an affair between faery and human; with a very authentic feel.
Souls Tied to the Knots on a Leather Cord - Zhaxi Dawa
Interesting to read a story by a Tibetan author, rooted in his culture's history and mythology. I can't help feeling that perhaps a Western reader expects different things from a narrative, however. I found the outcome strange, and felt I didn't really understand what I was supposed to take from it.
The Illusionist - Steven Millhauser
A story for anyone who loves traditional, theatrical magic - as well as 'real' magic. The 2006 movie of the same title was based on this story.
Timeskip - Charles de Lint
Features one of de Lint's favorite recurring characters, Jilly Coppercorn. Here Jilly tries to get a shy young couple with crushes on each other together... but a strange haunting interferes.
Something Passed By - Robert R. McCammon
A post-apocalyptic tale where some strange occurrence has changed the laws of physics, and a few remnants of humanity wait for the anomalies to kill them.
Self-Portrait Mixed Media on Pavement, 1988 - Dan Daly
An artist comes in to a prestigious gallery with a proposal for his next - and last - performance piece: a suicide.
The Plane Tree and the Fountain - Michael de Larrabeiti
A French Medieval-flavored tale about the abdication of responsibility.
White as Sin, Now - Tanith Lee
Tanith Lee sure does love the story of Snow White - but I don't mind. More imagery-oriented than plot-oriented, reading this is still pure pleasure.
The Power and the Passion - Pat Cadigan
A nasty, brutal, and very, very good story of a vampire killer.
Jack Straw - Midori Snyder
A girl makes a deal with Death. Lovely and even uplifting.
The Sudd - J.N. Williamson
Very Heart-of-Darkness via JG Ballard feel to this one. A cruise down the Nile stalls out.
Mr. Fiddlehead - Jonathan Carroll
I always feel like I should like Jonathan Carroll, but then I don't. The concept here wasn't bad... a woman gets into a relationship with her best friend's invisible childhood friend. But the betrayal in the story felt too abrupt, like it was just stuck in for shock value. It wasn't convincing.
Shave and a Haircut, Two Bites - Dan Simmons
Barbers are part of an ancient guild... of vampires? A little silly, but fun.
Cinema Altere - Andrew Stephenson
To create the art of the future, filmmakers engineer disasters in alternate universes.
Matters of Family - Gary A. Braunbeck
A horror story about the stresses and horrors of guilt over having to take care of an invalid family member given physical form. Eh, not really for me.
Beauty and the Beast: An Anniversary (poem) - Jane Yolen
A poem. Very sweet.
Find Me - Joan Aiken
A short-short. It's rather horrible, but all-too-accurately captures the thought processes of young children. I've always loved Aiken.
Unidentified Objects - James P. Blaylock
A bittersweet tale of decisions made, and the road not taken... in this case a road almost unimaginable.
Meeting the Author - Ramsey Campbell
An evil, evil, evil childrens' book author, and the damage he wreaks, even from beyond the grave.
The Lovers - Gwyneth Jones
A retelling of the myth of the 'Unseen Bridegroom.' Psyche looks upon her lover's face, and in punishment, his mother sets her to impossible tasks, to keep the lovers apart. An unexpected but unsatisfying ending.
Your Skin's Jes's Soft 'n Purty...He Said (Page 243) - Chet Williamson
Another gratuitous violence selection, for those who might be fans of both 'Brokeback Mountain' and of lots and lots of gore.
Dori Bangs - Bruce Sterling
I'd read this one before, and skipped it this time, 'cause I didn't really like it the first time around.
The Steel Valentine - Joe R. Lansdale
An insanely jealous, and unusually wealthy, husband holds his wife's lover captive. Lots of violence.
Equilibrium - John Shirley
An insane veteran plays a nasty joke. One for the horror fans.
Time Lapse (poem) - Joe Haldeman
A poem. Disturbing.
White Noise - Garry Kilworth
Could the Voice of God be trapped in echoes from the past? What would happen if one heard it, if it echoed down to modern times? Eh, I didn't feel that this worked on a logical level, and the religious stuff didn't do it for me.
Terrible Kisses - Robley Wilson
The lipstick stains won't wash off. Oooooohhhh Noooooo.
Sleepside Story - Greg Bear
A retelling of Beauty & the Beast, in a sort of surreal and futuristic ghetto; where the Beast is a wealthy and aging prostitute, and Beauty an innocent young man. Nicely told, but I actually felt it would have worked better without the sci-fi-ish Sleepside/Dayside aspect to it.