A mini rant: year in review ‘experts’

My caveat: Obviously I’m in a mood to share. 😉 No, really, my opinion here is not aimed at such beasts as the recent Locus Recommended Reading list, but is contained squarely within my area of speciality: horror fiction.

I followed a link to the respected Emerald City zine to take a peek at their 2005 in review essay. As usual, I skimmed through the usual suspects, almost entirely mass market novelists and short story writers from the ‘big magazines’ (like F&SF and Asimovs), almost all science fiction and fantasy, which interests me only passingly. Then I came across the Horror Short Fiction 2005 review.

Mention consisted of Joe Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts, which by all accounts is meant to be the breakout collection of the year. Fair enough, I thought, the guy deserves some credit. Others were mentioned, primarily from the UK.

Then horror anthologies was discussed, with the view that “2005 has not been a great year for original horror anthologies, even though several of them were published…” Again, two small press anthos were mentioned, both with UK editors.

Now, this strange bias struck me as… well, strange. I don’t consider myself a person with any special knowledge, or any significant insight over anyone else, but damnit, I felt this particular review was inadequate. Aside from my own venture with Shadow Box, significant horror anthologies such as Dark Delicacies and the outstanding Corpse Blossoms (Creeping Hemlock Press) were released in 2005. Corpse Blossoms, to use one example, features original fiction by international horror heavyweights such as Ramsey Campbell, Tom Piccirilli, Gary A Braunbeck, Bentley Little, and Steve Rasnic Tem. It will probably win the Bram Stoker Award this year.

Hell, even using home-grown examples, we had excellent horror-ish anthologies and collections including Daikaiju! (ed. Hood & Pen), The Grinding House by Kaaron Warren, and Never Seen By Waking Eyes by Stephen Dedman (which could also be in contention for a Stoker Award).

None of these were mentioned by our Horror Short Fiction year in review expert.

What strikes me as odd is where these experts come from. Is there a stamp you can buy which will ink the word on your forehead? I love when I read these expert opinions and find I disagree with them. I’d much rather agree or disagree over content than I would over shocking omissions.

As an aside: I did notice none of the above made it onto the Locus Recommended Reading List. Fascinating, that. I guess the centre of the universe must be geographic centre of the USA (with an occasional fleeting glance to the UK) and is populated by science fiction and fantasy. Not that I’m having a go, it represent its readers interests, and does it well – but I won’t listen the next time someone tries to convince me horror (or dark fiction) is a subset of fantasy. Pfft!