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The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories

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From Lovecraft to Borges to Gaiman, a century of intrepid literary experimentation has created a corpus of dark and strange stories that transcend all known genre boundaries. Together these stories form The Weird, and its practitioners include some of the greatest names in twentieth and twenty-first century literature.

Exotic and esoteric, The Weird plunges you into dark domains and brings you face to face with surreal monstrosities. You won't find any elves or wizards here... but you will find the biggest, boldest, and downright most peculiar stories from the last hundred years bound together in the biggest Weird collection ever assembled.

The Weird features 110 stories by an all-star cast, from literary legends to international bestsellers to Booker Prize winners: including William Gibson, George R. R. Martin, Stephen King, Angela Carter, Kelly Link, Franz Kafka, China Miéville, Clive Barker, Haruki Murakami, M. R. James, Neil Gaiman, Mervyn Peake, and Michael Chabon.

1126 pages, Paperback

First published November 1, 2010

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About the author

Ann VanderMeer

71 books212 followers
Ann VanderMeer is an American publisher and editor, and the second female editor of the horror magazine Weird Tales. She is the founder of Buzzcity Press.

Her work as Fiction Editor of Weird Tales won a Hugo Award. Work from her press and related periodicals has won the British Fantasy Award, the International Rhysling Award, and appeared in several year's best anthologies. Ann was also the founder of The Silver Web magazine, a periodical devoted to experimental and avant-garde fantasy literature.

In 2009 "Weird Tales edited by Ann VanderMeer and Stephen H. Segal" won a Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine. Though some of its individual contributors have been honored with Hugos, Nebula Awards, and even one Pulitzer Prize, the magazine itself had never before even been nominated for a Hugo. It was also nominated for a World Fantasy Award in 2009.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 254 reviews
Profile Image for Zach.
285 reviews274 followers
July 2, 2012
Watching the number of characters I can fit into this textbox dwindle away as I review each story is creating a feeling of anxiety entirely appropriate to this book. Thanks, goodreads.

Alfred Kubin, “The Other Side” (excerpt), 1908 (translation, Austria)
Set somewhere on Earth in the fictional city of Pearl, this story featured an interesting juxtaposition of a straight-forward, almost newsprint-esque voice addressing the successive plagues of sleeping sickness, animal infestation, and non-organic decomposition that overtake the city, culminating in the protagonist’s appeal to the lord (?) god (?) leader (?) of the city for some sort of explanation for the misery all around him. The sense of entropy and fantastical meta-recognition on display here brought to mind Viriconium pretty strongly. I liked this enough that I plan on searching out the complete novel. 4.5/5

F. Marion Crawford, “The Screaming Skull,” 1908
This was a very enjoyable ghost story about an old man living in a haunted house he inherited from his cousin after said cousin murdered his wife and then passed away. There was nothing really surprising or, ahem, weird in this one, and I’m not entirely sure why it was included (particularly after the Vandermeers made the point in their introduction that only a few ghost stories were weird enough to include?). I did enjoy the way it was presented: the narration is the protagonist’s half of a conversation with a visiting friend, whose responses are answered but never quoted directly. This story introduces the theme that several others touch on in this anthology: the acceptance or understanding of the un-/super-natural, as the narrator’s refusal to accept this occurrences as proof of a murder lead inexorably to... well, you know. 4/5

Algernon Blackwood, “The Willows,” 1907
An intensely atmospheric story about two men on a camping trip in a swamp on the Danube who stumble onto some sort of nexus of interdimensional horrors. The focus is on the intersection of the natural world and supernatural forces and the inexplicable awe-inspiring weirdness of each, with a narrator who spends a lot of time ruminating on the effect of such on the human mind. Slow and longer than it needed to be, but the mood is pitch perfect and the build to the climax is truly creepy. 5/5

Saki, “Sredni Vashtar,” 1910
The boy Conradin lives with his cousin Mrs. De Ropp, who takes a certain enjoyment out of making him miserable. Conradin’s only enjoyments in life are toast and the two pets he keeps hidden in a shed in the garden: a chicken and a ferret. He’s scared of the ferret, though, and becomes more and more worshipful and fixated on this creature that he begins to view as his very own protective deity. This ferrety god of violence and suffering’s name? SREDNI VASHTAR!
Most interesting was the fact that the weird aspect of this story was quite possibly an entirely rational and ordinary event. 3/5

M.R. James, “Casting the Runes,” 1911
Ok so this is a story about a guy who is SO MAD about negative reviews of his books and rejections of his conference proposals that he curses people with his dark nefarious arts. Ho hum. Again the theme pops up of the inability or refusal of the human mind to come to terms with such eldritch occurrences, although not so explicitly dwelt upon as it was in “The Willows.” 2.5/5

Lord Dunsany, “How Nuth Would Have Practiced his Art Upon the Gnoles,” 1912
Nuth the burglar is the best burglar of all the burglars, but his bumbling apprentice is not up to snuff, so of course the two embark on a scheme to Robin Hood some giant emeralds from the gnoles, who appear to be fairies/elves/menacing little folk of the forest (and not hyena-esque gnolls, although the gnoles do appear to be their namesake). This was a good setup and I thought it was going in a different direction based on some of the narrator’s comments on the antagonism between the propertied classes and Nuth’s reappropriations, but it turns out that this is a very short story (as are the following two) and I was somewhat disappointed. It did have a great final line, though. 3/5

Gustav Meyrink, “The Man in the Bottle,” 1912 (translation, Austria)
A decadent-ish (as in the literary tradition) story of a decadent (as in the lifestyle) masquerade ball - combination that I could not care much less about. I imagine most of the titles and names were supposed to mean something to me, but they didn’t, and this one overall felt rather short and inconsequential. The first miss of the collection. 1/5

Georg Heym, “The Dissection,” 1913 (new translation by Gio Clairval, Germany)
Another very short one, correctly identified by the Vandermeers in their introduction as more of a prose poem than a story, which contrasts the replaying of the happiest memory (ies?) of a cadaver with the messy end of his remains at the hands of a team of doctors. Much creepier and more atmospheric than anything else since “The Willows.” 3/5

Hanns Heinz Ewers, “The Spider,” 1915 (translation, Germany)
Oh hey women are like spiders who ensnare and then kill their mates, get it? zzzz 2/5

Rabindranath Tagore, “The Hungry Stones,” 1916 (India)
This was fine but unlike, say, “The Willows” which has stuck in my head in a big way, I don’t think it will have any kind of lasting impact. In this first piece in the book by a non-Westerner the titular stones are the building materials making up an ancient palace built by a Persian Shah, now used as a residence by a humble collector of wool duties. The house, though, misses the former days of excess, and begins manifesting itself in the dreams of the narrator. It’s better than that summary makes it sound, although it has an awkward framing narration (as do so many of these older stories!) and ends kind of mid-stream.
Also, an off-putting number of references to the dainty feet of fair maidens...? 3/5

Luigi Ugolini, “The Vegetable Man,” 1917 (new translation by Anna and Brendan Connell, Italy; first-ever translation into English)
You will never guess what the protagonist of this story finds himself turning into after an encounter with a mythical plant deep in the heart of the Amazon. A few creepy moments but overall another kind of inconsequential short piece.
Minor annoyance: a Brazilian addressing a countryman in Spanish. 2.5/5

A. Merritt, “The People of the Pit,” 1918
Ok, back on track. I think it says a lot that this story, which is written in the most laughably awful pulpy way, was my favorite entry in a while. Again, a framing story: two guys hiking find a horrifically mangled third guy crawling through the snow. In his lucid moments, guy #3 recounts his trip down into THE PIT, a pre-deluvian hell on Earth of extra-dimensional slug monsters and bodiless terrific entities and haunted ruins and what have you.
It just so happens that I think I can identify my three favorite aspects of weird stories:

      1. hell on Earth
      2. extra-dimensional monsters, slug-esque or otherwise
      3. haunted ruins
Excellent work, Mr. Merritt. 4.5/5

Ryunosuke Akutagawa, “The Hell Screen,” 1918 (new translation, Japan)
In which an artist whose name I forget is tasked by a lord who hates him (and whose name I also forget) to paint a portrait of Hell. The Weird aspects of the story come into play through dreams and the artist’s attempts to stage real-life visions of Hell in order to paint them - nothing actually supernatural here. There’s also a subplot about the lord's inappropriate interest in the artist’s daughter, who seemed at first to be shaping into an interesting character, but then that went nowhere and she was reduced to a sadly typical agent-less hostage. 3/5

Francis Stevens (Gertrude Barrows Bennett), “Unseen?—?Unfeared,” 1919
The first story written by a woman - but a woman using a male pen name and featuring only men. A man and his buddy have a drink, discuss the misfortunes of a local scientist type who is commonly understood to have practiced witchcraft, and part ways. The narrator then quickly begins feeling ill and stumbles into a showroom where a crazy man shows him the crawling horrors suffusing the world invisible to the naked eye. Then it turns out that the crazy man was the scientist in question at the beginning, and also the drinking buddy had accidentally poisoned the narrator and so maybe (or maybe not) the whole thing was just a series of hallucinations...? This was a bad story. 1/5

Franz Kafka, “In the Penal Colony,” 1919 (translation, German/Czech)
Another entirely natural and yet undeniably weird story about a visiting dignitary and the horrific torture machine at the heart of the titular colony. I’m sure Foucauldian/biopolitics people have a field day with this punitive-inscribing-upon-the-body business, but I’m not going to hold that against Kafka - this was a great story about the inhumanity of modernity, even if all I could picture the whole time was Count Tyrone Rugen. 5/5

Stefan Grabinski, “The White Weyrak,” 1921 (translation, Poland)
Heroic chimney sweepers battle some sort of gremlin-y thing. Unmemorable. 2/5

H.F. Arnold, “The Night Wire,” 1926
Something goes bump in the night at a newspaper wire office when reports about an evil mist start pouring in from a town that appears not to exist. Creepy and inexplicable, I just wish this one was longer. 4/5

H.P. Lovecraft, “The Dunwich Horror,” 1929
A bit of an odd choice for the inevitable Lovecraft entry, because while this does have some sort of unspeakable twisted horror coalescing in a decaying backwater New England town, it also has a redoubtable hero who defeats said horror and emerges unscathed. Who wants an optimistic Lovecraft story? And yet - a great one-story primer on the mythos and the Necronomicon, so I don’t know what other single story I would have preferred to see here instead, although I think “The Whisperer in Darkness” is the one that has most stuck with me. 3.5/5

Margaret Irwin, “The Book,” 1930
The VanderMeers’ introduction to this one made the point that this was one of the few ghost stories weird enough to be included in the volume. I’m not so sure that I would call this a ghost story in the first place, but if you do, then I would say like 75% of the stories (so far anyway) fit the same criteria <12/10/11: just realized I already made this point regarding the second story in the anthology. oops). “The Book” is about a book of Satanic rites that a bumbling white collar-type finds in a mysterious (haunted?) bookshelf that he has inherited, and the text of which changes to guide his business ventures, only to slowly reveal its more sinister side. No surprising developments here, but still very enjoyably creepy. 4/5

Jean Ray, “The Mainz Psalter,” 1930 (translation, Belgium)
Jean Ray, “The Shadowy Street,” 1931 (translation, Belgium)

No real reason was given for the inclusion of two Ray stories back to back, but I’m not going to complain because these were both absolutely fantastic (both senses of the word) and his stuff is very difficult to come by these days, I have now found. The former is a horrific story of seafaring and the latter is a horrific urban study, but both are surreal puzzles that seem not to have answers but which revolve around alternate dimensions and predatory invisible creatures and growing dread and terror and helplessness. Moreover many of old stories in the volume so far have relied on kind of awkward framing narratives, but Ray uses that technique to great effect. Also, I think "The Shadowy Street" is the first story in the collection to include an actual active woman character.
I've sort of waffled back and forth regarding spoilers for the stories collected here but watching these unfold was too much fun to ruin for anyone - find and read these. 5/5

Clark Ashton Smith, “Genius Loci,” 1933
A haunted swamp story, notable only for its exploration of the seductive effect of the weird on the human mind. 2.5/5

Hagiwara Sakutaro, “The Town of Cats,” 1935 (translation, Japan)
A prose poem about the weirdness of familiar locations when approached from a different direction. Meandering, overly introspective, and ultimately uninteresting. 2/5

Hugh Walpole, “The Tarn,” 1936
The second entry about a vengeful author, but this was much better than "Casting the Runes." Our protagonist (it would be helpful for these reviews if I could ever remember character names but that is not something my brain is capable of, apparently) is a solitary, bitter man being visited by a much more successful author whose debut emerged at the same time as the protagonist's - unfairly, our man feels, killing off any interest in his book. Word of this dislike reaches the antagonist, who can't bear anyone to think ill of him, so he traipses out to intrude and tromp about on the protagonist's precious solitude by a remote tarn. Weird and horrific hijinks ensue - this is a great example of a seemingly mundane story slowly and inexorably becoming a weird one. 4/5

Bruno Schulz, “Sanatorium at the Sign of the Hourglass,” 1937 (translation, Poland)
So I (tried to) read _Street of Crocodiles_ relatively recently and did not enjoy it at all - I found it kind of vacuous and meandering and entirely unengaging. This, on the other hand, I absolutely loved: a man visits his ailing father in a sanatorium where time has been tampered with in order to cheat death. The father may or may not be the only patient there, the son may or may not be losing his mind, nothing is as it seems, and then to top everything else off an army invades. Another excerpt that has me interested in finding and reading the entire work. 5/5

Robert Barbour Johnson, “Far Below,” 1939
Another purely pulpy work, which are proving less common than I would have expected. There are THINGS living in the deepest subway tunnels under NYC, and so the government attempts to contain them by focusing the powers of science and modernity. This doesn't exactly work out - but it doesn't exactly not work out either. 3/5

Fritz Leiber, “Smoke Ghost,” 1941
Following "Far Below" quite well thematically, why wouldn't modern ghosts be made up of exhaust and trash and factory soot and machinery? This I imagine was a historically important piece for the modernization of the haunting story, but the actual narrative here isn't particularly interesting and the climax/ending kind of betrays the setup anyway. 3/5

Leonora Carrington, “White Rabbits,” 1941
Better-written (much, much better-written) than the preceding story, but kind of similarly vignette-ish and image-based. Leprous zombies and carnivorous rabbits. 3/5

Donald Wollheim, “Mimic,” 1942
To be honest, I had to look this one up to remind myself what it was about because I was drawing a complete blank - which tells you something about this piece, less a story than a quickly-jotted idea to the effect of "many other species have some sort of rival or predator that mimics them, why not humans?" 2.5/5

Ray Bradbury, “The Crowd,” 1943
Ok I spoke too soon about the lack of pulp in here, I suppose. Crowds at car crashes gather quickly... a little TOO quickly, if you ask our protagonist here. 2.5/5

William Sansom, “The Long Sheet,” 1944
Life, if you think about it, is like being trapped in a steel tunnel, with a wet sheet that you have to laboriously twist until dry in order to earn your freedom, only guards from above constantly shower you and the sheet with steam. 3.5/5

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Aleph,” 1945 (translation, Argentina)
This has never been one of favorite Borges stories and I'm pretty bummed that it's the one that made the cut. I think a lot of that has to do with the interminable discussion of poetry in the first half? Really just about anything else would have been a better choice, although for my money "The Garden of Forking Paths" is unbeatable (also if you had asked me to guess which would be included here I probably would have said "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius," which does after all share with "The Aleph" the conceit that Borges-the-character is trying to root out some sort of weirdness, but what do I know). 3/5

Olympe Bhely-Quenum, “A Child in the Bush of Ghosts,” 1949 (Benin)
Kind of an inverted companion piece to the Lieber story, here instead of weird-as-symbol-of-the-modern we have weird-as-natural (natural-as-weird?), wherein a boy overcomes his fear of death by means of exposure to the spirit world. This had a folktale-ish vibe to it, and based on the shared-with-Tutuola idea of the "Bush of Ghosts," I am going to go right ahead and assume that's what this story was based on. 4/5

Shirley Jackson, “The Summer People,” 1950
I had confused this title with "A Visit; or the Lovely House" when I was about to read this one, and while that story would have fit the bill also, you can't really go wrong with Jackson. This story has such a perfect arc of creeping dread and slowly-intruding weirdness - it occurs to me that intrusion, either of the weird into reality or the rational into the irrational, is a central concern for all of this volume's selections. 5/5

Margaret St. Clair, “The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles,” 1951
A riff on the earlier gnoles story with a rope salesman instead of a burglar - a perfectly 1950s update, particularly when he is reading his salesman's manual for pointers on how to approach the client. Somehow manages to be simultaneously goofy and creepy/unsettling, the former of which is not so much my thing but I will admit that this was a lark. 3.5/5

Robert Bloch, “The Hungry House,” 1951
Another haunted house story. Maybe that intro where they said there weren't many ghost stories was from an earlier draft of the collection? Typical setup: a young couple purchases (or rents? the story is kind of inconsistent on this) a house which has been vacant for a while, weird things happen, the backstory is filled in, typical haunted housery continues. An excellent build-up that faltered with the reveal and ensuing carnage - although reflections really are quite creepy, aren't they? 3.5/5

Augusto Monterroso, “Mister Taylor,” 1952 (new translation by Larry Nolen, Guatemala)
There's an interesting dichotomy here between weird-for-the-sake-of-weird stories and stories where the weirdness is a more blatant thematic stand-in... for, say, American imperialism in Latin America, as reiminaged into the commodification of shrunken heads. Bananas or coca cola as shrunken heads - that's pretty weird, huh? 3/5

... and I'm out of characters. To be continued in the comments, I guess.
Profile Image for Mark.
Author 2 books4 followers
Currently reading
May 25, 2022
Ongoing Buddy Read with Nefeli. This book is incredibly comprehensive, with 110(!) stories covering the history of Weird fiction between 1907 and 2010. And calling these all short stories isn't doing it complete justice, as there are also many novelettes and full-fledged novellas in this huge tome.

As with any project like this, not every tale can work for everyone, and I admit scratching my head about some of the choices the VanderMeers made. That said, the editors should be commended for putting together such a varied and overall interesting anthology. I discovered a lot of new-to-me authors from this book. For example, it is the book that really generated my interest in Shirley Jackson, who I know consider to be one of my favorite writers.

For me, the highlights from this collection are:

- Ryūnosuke Akutagawa - The Hell Screen (1918)
- Franz Kafka - In the Penal Colony (1919)
- Leonora Carrington - White Rabbits (1941)
- Ray Bradbury - The Crowd (1943)
- Shirley Jackson - The Summer People (1950)
- Michel Bernanos - The Other Side of the Mountain (1967)
- Gahan Wilson - The Sea Was Wet As Wet Could Be (1967)
- Daphne du Maurier - Don't Look Now (1971)
- Robert Aickman - The Hospice (1975)
- George R.R. Martin - Sandkings (1979)
- Bob Leman - Window (1980)
- Joanna Russ - The Little Dirty Girl (1982)
- Octavia E. Butler - Bloodchild (1984)
- Poppy Z. Brite - His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood (1990)
- Lisa Tuttle - Replacements (1992)
- Tanith Lee - Yellow and Red (1998)
- Kelly Link - The Specialist's Hat (1998)
- Caitlín R. Kiernan - A Redress for Andromeda (2000)
Profile Image for Yórgos St..
93 reviews37 followers
September 3, 2020
You are right! I did not read the whole thing but anything below 5 stars is a crime.

Still reading it. Yes, it's awesome. My only complaints...No Gene Wolfe or Arthur Machen stories and yet there is one by GRR Martin. Weird indeed..

Almost finished....
Profile Image for Mark.
549 reviews156 followers
December 24, 2011
This is the most comprehensive and eclectic story collection of the sub-genre to date. Many will comment on this book’s size. It is over a thousand pages of fairly small text, usually in two columns per page (Weird Tales style), 750 000 words of weirdness from writers in over eighteen different countries. There are stories that are known, stories that are much less known and some stories translated into English for the first time.

A huge collection of stories and a variety of authors from all over the world, Ann and Jeff here not only try to show what they consider to be a collection of the best representations of the subgenre (if we can call it that) in the last one-hundred years but also try to show readers what weird fiction is, what are its origins and how it has developed.

An ambitious target, but one which has been supremely realised. Of the old favourites, many will recognise:

F. Marion Crawford, “The Screaming Skull,” (1908) , Algernon Blackwood, “The Willows,” (1907) , Saki, “Sredni Vashtar,” (1910 ), M.R. James, “Casting the Runes,” (1911), H.P. Lovecraft, “The Dunwich Horror,” (1929), Clark Ashton Smith, “Genius Loci,” (1933), Fritz Leiber, “Smoke Ghost,” (1941), Ray Bradbury, “The Crowd,” (1943), Shirley Jackson, “The Summer People,” (1950), Jerome Bixby, “It’s a Good Life,” (1953), Daphne Du Maurier, “Don’t Look Now,” (1971), George R.R. Martin, “Sandkings,” (1979), Stephen King, “The Man in the Black Suit,” (1994) and China Mieville, “Details,” (2002).

All are good tales and as good as you could expect, as are stories by F. Paul Wilson, Clive Barker, Caitlin Kiernan, Lisa Tuttle, Garry Kilworth and many others.

Where this collection really scores is that there is a lot here even the experienced expert will find new. Many of the tales have been translated from other languages, especially for this edition, and so were new to me. Authors I have heard of (Belgium’s Jean Rey, for example) I was now reading for the first time. There’s Kafka and Borges here, but new to me were France’s Michel Bernanos, Spain’s Merce Rodreda, Italy’s Dino Buzzati and Japan’s Ryunosuke Akyutagawa. What this confirmed to me was that there is an amazing world of the Fantastic beyond the English prose.

The Weird, being in chronological order, also gives us glimpses into the latest ‘new’ weird writers: or should that be ‘new, new weird’, as the ‘New Weird’ grouping, if it ever existed, seems to date from the later1980’s to early 1990’s. Clearly names to look for in the future are Laird Barron, Steve Duffy and Reza Negarestani, many of whom I hadn’t encountered until this volume. The final ‘Afterweird’ by China Mieville is as brain-stretching as I’d expect.

I haven’t even tried to review the tales in depth here. I was pleased to read some old favourites but was more pleased to read stories I’d never heard of before. Consequently there was a joy in just not knowing where a story was going to lead.

There is enough here for everyone. It is awesomely weird. There are stories of drama, of fantastic mythology, of creepiness and unease, of tales in the past and ones that might just be happening now.
Even in such a major-sized tome there are omissions, some because of space, some because the editors couldn’t get the permissions. (I’ll mention Thomas Disch, JG Ballard and Arthur Machen, for example.) But these are minor quibbles, considering what is covered.

This is essential for anyone with a remote interest in what readers see in weird fiction. It covers the width, breadth and depth of what readers might see as the sub-genre, as well as no doubt some other dimensions usually beyond the traditional three. It has taken me nearly two months to read this, but it has been an amazing read. This is a book to wallow in, to delve into, to pick stories from at random. It is a book once read, readers will keep coming back to, and have since finishing it the first time.

As is the book’s remit would suggest, not every story will be well liked, not every tale will be understood. It will cause debate, and I suspect will be high on ‘the best of’ lists at the end of the year. I think already it is one of mine.
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
643 reviews4,266 followers
April 5, 2022
3.5 stars (average of 3.39 across all 110 stories)! A short story collection where you really get a LOT for your money. Some absolute gems in here and as expected, some duds too! But loved this reading experience overall.
Profile Image for Jim.
39 reviews11 followers
March 19, 2012
I would rank this at the same exalted level as Manguel's excellent BLACK WATER anthologies - not just another horror anthology, but a true tribute to weird literature throughout the world. By turns tender and terrifying, straight-faced and satirical, graceful and grotesque, awe-inspiring and devastating, the stories in this wide-ranging volume are capable of producing one dizzying revelation after another, as they explore the height, depth and breadth of the unfettered human imagination.
Profile Image for Nancy Oakes.
1,923 reviews732 followers
August 28, 2013
Massive shrieks of delight!! As far as a humongous collection of weird tales, it just don't get better than this, folks. Seriously. Even considering the 1152 double-columned pages, its heft (not at all comfortable for reading in bed) and the couple of months it took me to get through this weighty tome, it was all worth it. While every anthology has a few stories that a reader's not going to like, overall this one is a 5/5 star collection, worth every moment it took to read and certainly worth every penny I spent on it. That was last year, when you could actually still buy one new -- now if you want the hardcover edition, it's in the hands of secondhand sellers. Luckily there are now both paperback editions and one for the e-reader. It's monumental, it's epic and well, it's the ultimate weird collection!!
China Miéville writes in the book's "afterweird" that

"In this book is a Weird Canon. It is not exactly yours -- how could it be? We don't fray the world quite the same, and different things watch each of us...Weird travels with us, each reader a Typhoid Mary in every library."

He's so right. My cup of tea in terms of the weird may not be someone else's, but in this book, there's a wide enough of a variety that will show you, when all is said and done, just which waters of the weird you'd like to continue to navigate. For me, there are only a handful that weren't really up my alley -- mainly (but not limited to) the ones with more of a "weird science" edge.

One of my favorite books of 2013, I recommend it to anyone who loves weird fiction or even better, to anyone who's read a few examples of the craft and wants to know where to turn next. It is, in a word, excellent.

If you want to see my brief descriptions on each story in table of contents order, just click here. You'll note I don't go into a lot of detail, but there's definitely enough to whet an appetite.
Profile Image for L.S. Popovich.
Author 2 books323 followers
May 1, 2019
The biggest anthology I’ve ever found. Expanding on his earlier The New Weird, Vandermeer shows that he has spent a lot of care selecting these stories. There are well-known stories by H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, as well as dozens of completely unknown authors like Bob Lehman who prove with one story that they are valuable contributors. The thing I like about this massive tome is that the work is taken from all over the world, not just America. A whole boatload of translators jumped on board the project and it was nice to see that the quality of the stories was uniformly good. I can only think of one other anthology that pretends to be this good and that is Dangerous Visions by Harlan Ellison. But instead of the endless essays that Ellison provides where he brags about his close personal friends who are all better writers than him, Vandermeer gives a brief description of each author’s career. What is so wrong about simply finding a gem and placing it in an anthology? I don’t care if the author was paid for the contribution or they’re long dead. I only want to read their words, see their visions and enjoy their madness. I read Vandermeer’s equally impressive Big Book of Science Fiction as well. I am also wondering if there will ever be an anthologist who can resist the temptation of anthologizing himself.
Whatever one’s opinion is of so-called weird fiction, you will probably love most of these stories. It is truly the only worthy successor to Dangerous Visions I have ever found – and yes I have read Again, Dangerous Visions…
Profile Image for Alan.
1,103 reviews109 followers
April 21, 2020
You feel eyes on you. Weird is an affect. We know it when we feel it. It's constrained neither by 'level' of culture—there is pulp here, and there is 'haute' literature, by Bruno Schulz, Tagore; Leonora Carrington—nor by nationality, nor subject matter. Certainly there are monsters but there is emotion and character and monsterless places too. Supernature is strong, but by no means the only transmitter of that alien unease.
—"Afterweird: The Efficacy of a Worm-Eaten Dictionary" by China Miéville, p.1115

Or, to put it more succinctly,
With unease and the temporary abolition of the rational, can also come the strangely beautiful, intertwined with terror.
—Introduction, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, p.xv

The VanderMeers' anthology The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories is vast, indeed—this massive survey covers more than 100 years and includes some 750,000 words. I won't even be attempting a story-by-story review here; just listing the full Table of Contents would probably blow right past Goodread's character limit. But... I will mention a few specific stories and observations about them as they came to me over the solid month and more it took me to read this book.

The very first story, for example, contains a connection that surprised me:
{...}Apollonia Six, the pork-butcher's widow{...}
—"The Other Side" (1908), by Alfred Kubin, p.2
That widow's name will stand out for anyone who has seen Prince's Purple Rain...

The Weird, in the VanderMeers' consideration, is also the Strange and the Dark—the art of the frisson. Thought the stories in The Weird are very different, they all share that artful ability to cause goosebumps. It also seems possible to me that the idea of psychology—of a science of the mind—could in and of itself create (or at least crystallize and intensify) the very notion of an abnormal psyche, and that the contemporaneous rise of these weird fictions along with the rise of psychoanalysis as a systematic study is no coincidence.

She had maddened me. In pursuit of her I wandered from room to room, from path to path among the bewildering maze of alleys in the enchanted dreamland of the nether world of sleep.
—"The Hungry Stones" (1916), by Rabindranath Tagore, p.94

"A man has no right to trifle with the superstitions of ignorant people. Sooner or later, it spells trouble."
—"Unseen—Unfeared" (1919), by Francis Stevens, p.124
This story needs some patience—it won't be to everyone's taste, especially at the start, but Stevens' character does reverse his racist course later on.

H.F. Arnold's "The Night Wire" (1926, pp.154-158), with its dispatches from the town of Xebico that does not appear on any map, seems to prefigure Welcome to Night Vale.

H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" (1929) is included here in its entirety; the VanderMeers acknowledge only briefly that "Much about Lovecraft's life and beliefs are problematic to modern readers{...}" (p.159). Unlike Francis Stevens' story a decade earlier, Lovecraft's does not ever soften or reverse its racism.

Authors must all be filthy-minded; they probably wrote what they dared not express in their lives.
—"The Book" (1930), by Margaret Irwin, p.185
Irwin's story attacks the very idea of reading, and may therefore be the creepiest work in this anthology. China Miéville seemed as struck by this one as I was, judging by his mention of it in that "Afterweird"...

Once we meander into more modern fare, Jorge Luis Borges' classic tale "The Aleph" (1945) sets off a string of unforgettable literary fireworks from authors like Shirley Jackson, a string that also includes a personal favorite of mine, Margaret St. Clair's "The Man Who Sold Rope To The Gnoles" (1951). St. Clair's Hitchcockian tale is a brief and antic riposte to Lord Dunsany's "How Nuth Would Have Practiced His Art Upon The Gnoles" (1912), which appears earlier in this very volume.

In this strong central section of The Weird, the VanderMeers mix instantly-recognizable classics with gems of world fiction that might be unfamiliar even to the most seasoned readers.

"Courage is no more than learning to live with your fear."
—"The Other Side of the Mountain" (1967), by Michel Bernanos, p.398.
Bernanos' long, dreamlike wandering contains several moments of sharp clarity like this one.

There were a couple of stories in this section that I couldn't bear to read again. I just had to skip classics like Daphne du Maurier's "Don't Look Now" (1971), and James Tiptree, Jr.'s "The Psychologist Who Wouldn't Do Awful Things to Rats" (1976), not because they were bad, but because they were so terrifyingly good.

On the other hand, I felt compelled to reread George R.R. Martin's "Sandkings" (1979), which I first encountered as an early subscriber to Omni during that magazine's brief and glossy print run.

After Michael Shea's "The Autopsy" (1980), in one of the few really sharp tonal breaks in the VanderMeers' otherwise smooth succession between stories, we're taken directly to the dark urban fantasy of "The Belonging Kind" (1981), by the unlikely powerhouse writing team of William Gibson and John Shirley. I did notice that the preface to their story claims these two met at a "science convention" (p.581) which seems not as likely as meeting at a science-fiction convention...

"It all seems the same to me," he maintained. "Comfort and dreams. It all rots your brain." Then, reflectively: "Give them what they want and take the money."
—"Egnaro" (1981), by M. John Harrison, p.589.

Sometimes these stories cut a little too close to the (heh) bone, as with the plague-emptied streets of Manhattan in F. Paul Wilson's "Soft" (1984), or the deeply disturbing societal degeneration of Joyce Carol Oates' "The Family" (1989), which eschews genre in favor of placid, personal creepiness. Karen Joy Fowler, one of my all-time favorite authors, is represented here by "The Dark" (1991), which is also about... the plague, or plagues, throughout history. Eep.

The Weird collects stories from across the globe, too, from Benin to Iran to Finland.
Know this: times change, but each is only one time of many.
—"Tainaron: Mail from Another City" (1985), by the Finnish author Leena Krohn, p.672
A fever may be breaking...

Or not... witness the fervid surrealism and borderline incoherence of Craig Padawer's contribution:
Their bodies had been obliterated by language, all traces of their sexuality buried beneath a storm of words. There was something horrific about the sight of those who had survived a typewriter attack.
—"The Meat Garden" (1996), by Craig Padawer, p.871

Of course I really enjoyed the local Portland color in Stepan Chapman's short-short story "The Stiff and the Stile" (1997).

And, of course, I had to reread "The Specialist's Hat" (1998), Kelly Link's wonderfully eerie fable about children exploring a house with a history.

On the other hand... I have never been able to bring myself to finish a Michael Cisco story, and I'm afraid "The Genius of Assassins" (2002) was no exception—something about Cisco's particularly disjointed style, in which each individual sentence is fine on its own but the whole never seems to cohere, just grates on me. Oh, well...

For some reason, "The Brotherhood of Mutilation" (2003), by Brian Evenson, was execrably copy-edited, compared to the rest of this volume. Maybe the frequent typos were even intentional, a meta-horrific element aimed directly at spelling and grammar nerds like me, since the story itself was okay...

"The White Hands" (2003), by Mark Samuels, struck me as a throwback in both diction and theme, echoing some of the earliest stories in this book. And Laird Barron's "The Forest" (2007), a few entries later, also seemed to possess a certain backward-looking quality, full of he-men and pugilistic metaphors (Barron's rather odd biographical sketch on p.1044 takes care to point out that he's a "certified strength trainer") but with a—heh—gut punch of an ending.

October had borrowed a night; when we stepped outside it felt more like the middle of January{...}
—"The Hide" (2007), by Liz Williams, p.1067
Now that's a good metaphor...

The arcane knowledge of epidemiology held by the demon Pazuzu, in Reza Negarestani's "Dust Enforcer"... that was a weird tale indeed, and one that's eerily applicable to the current situation:
The human defense mechanism is the most consistent entity on this planet; its self-fertilizing paranoia is capable of grasping and identifying every contact only in terms of a potential incursion.
—"Dust Enforcer" (2008), by Reza Negarestani, p.1072

I found myself agreeing with the VanderMeers on Micaela Morrissette's "The Familiars"—it really was "Bradburyesque."

And then there was this brief distillation of the Weird:
I felt as if the rules had changed, and nobody had told us.
—"The Lion's Den" (2009), Steve Duffy, p.1092

And... that's the lot, or at least as many of the lot as I made notes for. I am extremely grateful to the VanderMeers for pulling together this comprehensive collection of weird tales, and I'm glad I had the time to take my time reading it... Perhaps, in some small way, you may feel the same, once you've allowed that alien unease to creep over you in the dead of night.

I will end this review as I began, with words from Miéville's Afterweird...
Weird travels with us, each reader a Typhoid Mary in every library. It passes from us into pages, infects healthy fiction (pretend for a moment there might be any such thing). A virus of holes, a burrowing infestation, an infestation of burrowingness itself, that births its own pestilential hole-dweller.
There's a slip again.
—"Afterweird: The Efficacy of a Worm-Eaten Dictionary" by China Miéville, p.1115

Profile Image for Molly.
192 reviews7 followers
March 13, 2022
I am not one of those super organized people who updates their review of The Weird after every story, but I decided to split this into quarters since it is such a chonk and I'm reading it over such a long time with HOWLS. This breaks the anthology into the following sections:

1. "The Other Side" by Alfred Kubin to "Smoke Ghost" by Fritz Leiber (completed)
2. "White Rabbits" by Leonora Carrington to "The Brood" by Ramsay Campbell" (completed)
3. "The Autopsy" by Michael Shea to "Last Rites and Resurrections" by Martin Simpson (completed)
4. "The Ocean and All Its Devices" by William Browning Spencer to "Saving the Gleeful Horse" by K. J. Bishop (in progress)

I confess that as of now, I have not read the Foreweird. I'll probably get around to it. I have read the Foreweird now. It wasn't very insightful.


First Quarter: "The Other Side" by Alfred Kubin to "Smoke Ghost" by Fritz Leiber
Average rating for this section: 2.88/5
Average rating for all stories thus far: 2.88/5
Date completed: June 20, 2021

Note: DNF "The Dunwich Horror"

Obviously we're hitting the ground running with a number of low scores. There was also one DNF, which does not have a rating and does not factor into the score—"The Dunwich Horror" by H.P. Lovecraft. I think a fair amount is because I'm just not used to reading older stuff; these stories span from 1908 to 1941, and that's not a time period I have much experience (or frankly, interest) in. It feels like the style of the time was a certain amount of detachment from the characters, but that makes it hard for me to feel invested in the story. Additionally, so many of these stories are just forgettable. I have no idea what happened in most of them. Sometimes even flipping through isn't enough to jog my memory.

I do feel like I have some gripes with the editing at this point. For several of the stories, I don't feel like the justification for including it in the anthology is there. The introductions often give a brief biography of the author, but don't always include what modern or important writers they influenced, so it's hard to see the threads from the beginning of weird to the current, although that may change or become more clear as I continue my way through the brick. One major pet peeve is the editors' tendency to say things like "not all" of an author's work "has dated well" or that an author's "beliefs are problematic to modern readers"—obscuring bigotry in a "times were different" excuse. Times were different, but brushing over the problem sweeps it under the rug rather than acknowledging racist and sexist influences on the genre, the ramifications of which we still feel today.

Favorite stories from this section: "The Dissection" by Georg Heym, "The Hell Screen" by Ryonosuke Akutagawa, "The White Wyrak" by Stefan Grabinski, and "Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass" by Bruno Schulz


Second Quarter: "White Rabbits" by Leonora Carrington to "The Brood" by Ramsay Campbell
Average rating for this section: 3.47/5
Average rating for all stories thus far: 3.20/5
Date completed: September 13, 2021

I am not surprised to find that as we creep toward present day, I find myself enjoying the stories considerably more. Since starting this anthology, I've read a lot more classic weird and horror than I ever had before, namely The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies and of course The Weird itself, and I have discovered something significant: I don't like it! For the most part, early 20th century short stories stink!

So luckily for me, this is organized chronologically and it should continue to get better as I read. There were a few stories in this section that felt like they should have been written way earlier than they were (such as "The Other Side of the Mountain"), but for the most part I am enjoying the more contemporary vibes here. I'm excited to start the next section!

I am still not very impressed by the Vandermeers' curation of the anthology though. It struck me today how absolutely atrocious the gender balance is in this book. Less than a quarter of the authors are women or marginalized genders. I don't even want to look at the white:nonwhite ratio. Once I get through this, I'll be excited to dive into some anthologies focusing on women writing weird, as well as The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories, Volume 1.

Favorite stories from this section: "White Rabbits" by Leonora Carrington, "The Man Who Sold Ropes to the Gnoles" by Margaret St. Clair, "It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby, "The Psychologist Who Wouldn't Do Terrible Things to Rats" by James Tiptree, Jr., "Mother" by Jamaica Kincaid, and "Window" by Bob Leman.


Third Quarter: "The Autopsy" by Michael Shea to "Last Rites and Resurrections" by Martin Simpson
Average rating for this section: 3.64/5
Average rating for all stories thus far: 3.30/5
Date completed: December 31, 2021

Note: DNF "Shades" and I literally cannot remember if I read "Worlds that Flourish" - will check on that later.

The stories are getting better, but they're still not knocking my socks off. Lots of 3s and 4s in this section; fewer 5-stars than the last section, but fewer 1- and 2-stars as well. At this point it's all becoming a bit of a blur for me, and the line between Weird and general horror is becoming more blurred. I find myself asking, is this really a subgenre in need of definition? Although there are throughlines to be seen from one story to the next, what Weird is becomes more abstract by the page.

Much the same issues with the editing choices as before. At some point over the past few months I saw someone describe the VanderMeer's editing style as "idiosyncratic," which I think is a very nice way of saying it. We are at least getting more women authors in this section, although the gender ratio still skews male.

I'm in the home stretch now. Can't wait for the sense of accomplishment finishing this behemoth will give me.

Favorite stories from this section: "Soft" by F. Paul Wilson and "The Delicate" by Jeffrey Ford
Profile Image for Toby.
76 reviews22 followers
August 18, 2021
I’ve finally read this beast of a book in its entirety! The behemothic breadth of this anthology is unmatched, and the quality (and weirdness) of the stories is consistent throughout. If I were to engage my cynical side, I would say that the stories by the likes of Gaiman, King, Martin and Murakami are perhaps not sufficiently weird to merit inclusion and perhaps would not have been, were it not for the star power of their authors. However, those are in the minority and there is a vast assortment of uncovered gems from around the world to discover here, some translated to English for the first time. This book has been a deep and precious restorative for my imagination throughout the pandemic, so I am very thankful to the VanderMeers for that. Some of my favourite stories were:

Algernon Blackwood, The Willows, 1907

H.F. Arnold, The Night Wire, 1926

Bruno Schulz, Sanatorium at the Sign of the Hourglass, 1937

Dino Buzzati, The Colomber, 1966

Robert Aickman, The Hospice, 1975

Octavia Butler, Bloodchild, 1984

Leena Krohn, Tainaron, 1985

Lisa Tuttle, Replacements, 1992

Tanith Lee, Yellow and Red, 1998

Brian Evenson, The Brotherhood of Mutilation, 2003
Profile Image for Ed Erwin.
929 reviews99 followers
Shelved as 'didn-t-finish'
January 4, 2020
Damn it! I checked this out to read one single story, but I'm too tempted by the others to skip them. I'm gonna have to read at least the ones by James Tiptree, Joanna Russ, Michel Bernanos, Amos Tutuola, ....
Profile Image for Kat  Hooper.
1,583 reviews398 followers
May 19, 2012
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

I haven’t actually read every page of The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, yet I’m giving it my highest recommendation. Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Master and Mistress of Weird, The Weird is 1126 pages long and should really be considered a textbook of weird fiction. It contains 110 carefully chosen stories spanning more than 100 years of weird fiction. Here’s what you can expect to find in this massive volume:

A “Forweird” by Michael Moorcock gives us a brief history of the weird tale, discusses how it has defied publishers’ attempts to categorize it into neatly-bordered genres, and gives examples of writers who are revered by modern readers but whose weird fiction caused them to be marginalized during their lifetimes. Moorcock also attempts to explain why we like weird fiction and relates the affinity for strange tales, at one time or other, to the popularity of psychoanalysis, the development of easily-consumed mass communication, and the desire to rock the literary boat once in a while when genres become staid. Or, Moorcock suggests, perhaps we just occasionally like to be disturbed.

Next, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s introduction begins to define “Weird” by reminding us of H.P. Lovecraft’s 1927 definition: “something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains.” The VanderMeers suggest that weird stories are dark and make us uneasy, but can at the same time be beautiful. They also discusses the influences of surrealism, Decadent Literature, New Wave and Gothic and then offers a detailed history and evolution of the weird tale with recommended authors and stories (most of which are included in this volume).

Then come the stories — 110 of them arranged chronologically starting with stories from 1907 and 1908 from Alfred Kubin, F. Marion Crawford, and Algernon Blackwood and ending in 2010 with a story by K.J. Bishop. In between are stories by men and women from all over the world including Lord Dunsany, Abraham Merritt, Franz Kafka, H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury, Jorge Luis Borges, Shirley Jackson, Robert Bloch, Mervyn Peake, Daphne du Maurier, James Triptree Jr., George R.R. Martin, M. John Harrison, Octavia Butler, Clive Barker, Lucius Shepard, Harlan Ellison, Elizabeth Hand, Poppy Z. Brite, Haruki Murakami, Lisa Tuttle, Stephen King, Angela Carter, Tanith Lee, Kelly Link, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Michael Chabon, China Miéville, Neil Gaiman, Jeffrey Ford, Jeff VanderMeer, Daniel Abraham, Margo Lanagan, Laird Barron, Liz Williams, and so many more... Each story is introduced with a paragraph explaining the author’s credentials, awards, and influence in the field.

Last comes an “Afterweird” by China Miéville which is just weird enough to deserve a place in this anthology. Miéville, not surprisingly, discusses the etymology of the word “WEIRD” and, as he recaps some of the unsettling things we’ve encountered in this compendium, wonders how useful etymology is when defining something as “weird.” Instead, he suggests that weird is personal, state-dependent, and “We know it when we feel it.” Lastly, Miéville proposes that “weird” is contagious, infecting your brain and the stories you read from now on.

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories is not meant to be read front to back all at once, but is rather more like a manual or primer in the scholarly field of Weird Fiction. I read many of the stories (most of them were stories I had not previously read) and familiarized myself with a few authors I’d never heard of before. I look forward to reading all of these weird tales eventually and I’m glad to have this text on my shelf. The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories deserves a place on every speculative fiction lover’s bookshelf.

Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
Profile Image for Big Red.
515 reviews21 followers
March 10, 2022
I started reading this book on April 4, 2021. I finished this morning, 340 days later.

I took notes for and rated each story on a scale from 1-5, like I rate any book, and the average rating was 3.40.

340 days, 3.40 average rating. Weird, right?

This book is massive. It has 110 stories, all considered "weird", a genre within or alongside traditional horror. The stories are arranged in order of publication, the first story from 1908 (an excerpt from Alfred Kubin's The Other Side) and the last from 2010 (Saving the Gleeful Horse by K. J. Bishop).

Overall, I enjoyed the time I spent reading these stories. Most of the stuff in here is the work that inspires generations. So even if I didn't necessarily enjoy certain works, works that are considered classics, I can certainly appreciate what they've done for modern weird fiction and horror. In some cases, I'm not sure I'd agree that certain stories are weird - in some cases there were just traditional ghost stories (and there's nothing wrong with that!)

I "DNF-ed" 4 stories. I've realized there's a certain type of prose that just isn't for me, and that's ok. I won't mention which :-)

I gave 22 stories a 5 star rating. Here they are, in order of appearance and original publication:
- The Willows by Algernon Blackwood
- The Spider by Hand Heinz Ewers
- The People of the Pit by A. Merritt
- The Crowd by Ray Bradbury
- The Long Sheet by William Sansom
- The Summer People by Shirley Jackson
- The Complete Gentleman by Amos Tutuola
- 'It's a Good Life' by Jerome Bixby
- Don't Look Now by Daphen du Maurier
- Sandkings by George R. R. Martin
- Window by Bob Leman
- Soft by F. Paul Wilson
- Bloodchild by Octavia Butler
- Hogfoot Right and Bird-Hands by Gary Kilworth
- Worlds that Flourish by Ben Okri
- The Country Doctor by Steven Utley
- Feeders and Eaters by Neil Gaiman
- The Town Manager by Thomas Ligotti
- Brotherhood of Mutilation by Brian Evenson
- Flat Diane by Daniel Abraham
- Singing my Sister Down by Margo Lanagan
- The People on the Island by T. M. Wright
Profile Image for Skylar Phelps.
237 reviews30 followers
September 23, 2018
If you are fascinated by imaginative fiction like me, especially the stranger, sometimes darker side of the imagination, then I strongly recommend this collection. It is HUGE and granted, some of the stories are better than others but this book has changed my reading life forever.
Profile Image for James Everington.
Author 61 books80 followers
October 15, 2012
I don’t know if you've ever seen the Man Vs. Food TV program (if not, basically some idiot attempts to eat an 40oz steak or 3ft pizza or something…) but I've just finished reading The Weird, a vast (100+ stories, 750000 words) anthology of weird fiction put together by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer.

“The publishers believe this is the largest volume of weird fiction ever housed between the covers of one book” the blurb says, as if there’s any doubt…

Just the physical size of the book is somewhat imposing, especially when you see the double-columns of small type inside. I've been reading this on and off since January, and part of the reason it has taken so long is that its pretty much impossible to read this book (in its non-ebook version) on public transport or in bed. It’s just too heavy and unwieldy.

But unlike those huge steaks (I imagine) The Weird doesn't let quantity get in the way of quality. Given the sheer number of selections there’s no way people will love every one, but there’s not a story here that’s anything less that interesting to the horror fiction aficionado. I don’t think any anthology before this one has stories spanning such a range before, whether in time (the oldest story is from 1908; the newest 2010); geography (stories from twenty countries across the globe, some in translation for the first time); or genre (traditional horror rubs shoulders with science-fiction, literary fiction, fantasy and even humour).

Some of the stories I had read before – and it’s always a pleasure to read The Willows or The Hospice again. But many others were brand new to me; of those that I've not read before these were my favourites:
Hanns Heinz Ewers, “The Spider,”
H.F. Arnold, “The Night Wire,”
Clark Ashton Smith, “Genius Loci,”
Robert Barbour Johnson, “Far Below,”
William Sansom, “The Long Sheet,”
Robert Bloch, “The Hungry House,”
Jerome Bixby, “It’s a Good Life,”
Charles Beaumont, “The Howling Man,”
Mervyn Peake, “Same Time, Same Place,”
Gahan Wilson, “The Sea Was Wet As Wet Could Be,”
Dennis Etchison, “It Only Comes Out at Night,”
James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon), “The Psychologist Who Wouldn’t Do Awful Things to Rats,”
George R.R. Martin, “Sandkings,”
William Gibson/John Shirley, “The Belonging Kind,”
Joanna Russ, “The Little Dirty Girl,”
F. Paul Wilson, “Soft,”
Garry Kilworth, “Hogfoot Right and Bird-hands,”
Lucius Shepard, “Shades,”
Joyce Carol Oates, “Family,”
Karen Joy Fowler, “The Dark,”
Lisa Tuttle, “Replacements,”
William Browning Spenser, “The Ocean and All Its Devices,”
Craig Padawer, “The Meat Garden,”
China Mieville, “Details,”
Brian Evenson, “The Brotherhood of Mutilation,”
Margo Lanagan, “Singing My Sister Down,”
Steve Duffy, “In the Lion’s Den,”
K.J. Bishop, “Saving the Gleeful Horse,”
But that’s not to belittle the quality of the others.

In my opinion The Weird sets a new standard for an anthology of ‘weird fiction’ – as well as the stories themselves, the Introductions and Afterwords are thought-provoking, and as if the book itself wasn't enough there’s a whole website called The Weird Fiction review with articles, interviews and fiction by many of the authors.

In short, if you’re a horror fiction fan with a taste for the weirder, more articulate or surreal side of the genre, this is pretty much a must-read.
Profile Image for Paula Cappa.
Author 14 books484 followers
July 24, 2014
What's missing in this horror compendium? See if you can guess.

If you are a horror short story lover as I am, this is the anthology to have on your shelf. That is, if you have the space as this volume is bigger and heavier than Stephen King's colossal Under the Dome, and quite boxy to read on your lap (I used a pillow to offset the weight). What I liked about this compendium is the range of time it covers for horror stories. Not only the master horror writers like Blackwood, Lovecraft, MR James but some not so well known like Jean Ray, Luigi Ugolini, Bruno Schulz. The Vandermeers have stories here from 1908 to 2010 with over 100 authors in the genre. Since there's so many here that are worthy of comment, I'll quickly sight the Jean Ray stories from the 1930s as stories you should not miss (and can't read anywhere online). F.Marion Crawford's The Screaming Skull will still entertain you even though it was written in 1908. Claude Seignolle's The Ghoulbird, and The Hungry House by Robert Bloch are a couple of my oldie favorites. For more contemporary authors Michael Chabon, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Kelly Link, Thomas Ligotti, Joyce Carole Oates, Daphne du Maurier.

I couldn't help notice that not a single one of Mary Shelley's short stories was included in this compendium, and she wrote about 18 shorts. Nor will you find Anne Rice's "Master of Rampling Gate." which is, I think, her only short story to date but with over 20 novels in this genre. No Gertrude Barrows Bennett's fiction, who is said to have invented dark fantasy (wrote 8 short stories) and influenced Lovecraft. Maybe there are copyright issues going on, but a compendium (a body of knowledge) without Shelley and Rice? A little bit of a hole here, I think. Still, The Weird is an ambitious and valuable source.
Profile Image for Kate Savage.
658 reviews114 followers
May 3, 2020
"This is a worm farm. These stories are worms," writes China Mieville in the final words of the final writing in this cinderblock of a book.

"This is the vermiformalist fact of the matter," he writes. "The dwellers in holes are not punishments. That they watch us is as random as a rip, the shape of threadbareness. That is the Weird: that we are watched from holes."

I began this book when I began social distancing. And the compilation swung me far out and away from sociability, out into uncanny shock and down to the chthonic muck. (And yes, while there I did have nightmares about spider-women who give birth to their own murderers.)

A month and a half of slow reading through this worm farm and this is what I think:

We need these stories.

We need a reminder of places that don't want us. Others who don't exist for our benefit. The vast tentacled chill of the larger-than-human world. While we walk about with our binocular minds, we need to remember that others watch us with their own minds and their own opinions, and if they notice us they do not find us charming.

I think this is especially important for those of us who read a lot of nature writing. One way to escape sentimentality and anthropomorphism is through the wormhole of the Weird.

No one would ever claim this compilation is sensical or balanced or even. The editors stiffly note that some authors 'haven't aged well,' by which they mean they are racist or misogynist or ableist. But even there, there is the benefit of reading against the grain, celebrating the swamps and hags who leave Lovecraft horrified (a very weak stomach, that Lovecraft. He writes with disgust about fireflies). High literature sits alongside pulp. That's just how compost piles work.
Profile Image for Julie Davis.
Author 4 books267 followers
October 20, 2015
It's October. Of course I'm reading something like this.

Much to my own surprise I have developed a real love of weird fiction over the last few years. (I blame the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast.)

This collection contains short stories and novellas in chronological order, from around the world. I'd already read the earliest, classic stories included but was really pleased at the selections. (Ahem - so the VanderMeers had the good taste to agree with MY taste. Yes, I realize the judgment call there, but we've gotta draw those lines somewhere, right?)

I'm really looking forward to seeing what I discover here, especially in exploring the weird tales from other cultures.

I'm marking this as finished, though I haven't actually finished it ... but I am so weirded out by reading nothing but weird fiction that I'm going to be the subject of a Lovecraft story if I don't switch to something else. So - I'll return to it, because it is soooo good and because I especially love the introductions, but not now. Need normalcy (or something closely resembling it) right now.
Profile Image for Casey.
599 reviews46 followers
June 27, 2015
Yes, diversity. Keep this word in mind. This anthology is diverse. It is a wonderful collection of historical and contemporary world wide Weird fiction. Diversity.

If you want to read Weird, a comprehensive guide to the subgenre, this delivers.
If you are expecting story after story to be a 10/10 read, this will disappoint.

This is a map, a wondrous map to the Weird. My advice? Those readerly expectations you now clutch as you weigh the decision to either pick this book up or pass it by, let those go and ask yourself one question. Ask yourself, "Do I want a global historical guide to Weird fiction?" If your answer is, "Yes. Yes I do." Then I say, "Cool," and "Groovy." But you should realize that this book is a commitment, and if you are a reader who shies from literary commitment, you aren't ready for this anthology. And if you aren't quite ready, it's okay, don't feel bad.

Each story is introduced with some author background and story related information. I found this interesting yet lacking. Yes, this is a heavy book, one of those books you could use as a weapon or to stop a bullet (please do not try this), and while its bulk requires a certain editorial economy of words, I'd have preferred a more substantive introduction to author and story.

So, let's talk about the ambiguous 3/5 stars I'm slapping on this rating.
All of the stories were interesting.
A few of the stories induced a persistent vegetative state (this sounds more exciting than it is).
Most all of the stories were good.
Some were quite good.
A handful of stories flirted with life-altering storytelling/writing craft that blew my mind and gave me warm fuzzies for many many days.

It's more than a book, it's an experience.
Profile Image for Rand.
475 reviews100 followers
March 9, 2013
I Can't Believe It's Not the Necronomicon

More authors are included in this book then may be listed in this database but all of the first lines of each story are listed here.

One of my favorite stories, by relative-unknown Craig Padawer, is The Meat Garden. Read it here, carefully, as it is fairly representational of the wide range of tones which this tome holds. Then there are seemingly-normal tales of mystery like Margaret Irwin's The Book. Some of the stories are in the public domain but nearly all are accompanied by a brief note as to why they were selected.

Disturbing image to further convey the weirdness of this book, courtesy of PETA (warning, clicking the spoiler will spoil yr appetite but not the book) :

The pages are double columned, like a magazine. All in all, it's a lot of fun but also rather serious. The editors did their homework here and it definitely shows.

Not something you want to fall asleep reading as you may be injured by its heft.

Oh, & China Miéville did the postscript, which is rather excellent.

Profile Image for D Dyer.
351 reviews29 followers
January 15, 2020
This collection featured some truly spectacular choices made by the editors. I had the pleasure of rereading some of my favorite stories by Octavia Butler, margo Lanigan and Joyce Carol Oates as well as of being introduced to authors I’ll definitely be seeking out more work from. But not every choice was an inspired one, there were some stories that despite very much enjoying them I didn’t feel fit the overall theme of the collection and others that were just bad examples both of the genre and of the particular writer‘s work.
I would definitely recommend picking this up if you are a fan of horror or dark fantasy fiction, it’s an anthology worth having even if just for the best stories and one that I think would reward being dipped into whenever you need a hit or something chilling or just strange.
Profile Image for Liviu Szoke.
Author 29 books364 followers
December 24, 2014
This is the Holy Bible of the horror anthologies, particularly for the uncanny, weird horror. 110 stories, novellas, novel fragments and even entire novels, from Belgium to Iran, from South America to North America, from England to Bengal and India. Some are great, some are masterpieces, some are classics, some are crap. I fought to finish this mammoth this year, despite its length and complexity, otherwise it would have been a shame to start a book in May and to finish it next year. Recommended!
Profile Image for Adrienne.
516 reviews121 followers
December 5, 2018
This is very heavy book. I found it too hard to read and hold the book. Best to read on an eReader.
Profile Image for Andy .
447 reviews69 followers
March 27, 2015

"I can't believe I read the WHOLE thing!"

This is a MASSIVE tome, at just less than 800,000 words (that's more than two "The Brothers Karamazov's") and 110 stories, this is the "War and Peace" of horror anthologies. And this is easily one of the best horror anthologies I've ever read. It's both entertaining and informative to see how the "weird tale" has changed over time, it seems to me we are living in the best time for weird fiction in probably half a century.

It's true not everything here is a masterpiece, I didn't care for many of the non-western weird stories which seemed to go nowhere, nor for the far more bizarre stories which appear occasionally. But these are typically short. But the Vandermeer's aren't afraid to include several novellas that are in the 20k+ word range. Many of these stories challenge the reader but I always looked forward to diving into whatever was next, and was consistently rewarded.

I'm only reviewing the best I put a "+" beside those that I consider the most exceptional here.

The Screaming Skull - F. Marion Crawford - Read this story years ago, very atmospheric, fireside type tale. A man tells how he is haunted by a skull which seems to move by itself, returns when thrown away, and has a wickedly malefic temprament.

The Willows - Algernon Blackwood - Lovecraft considered it the best "weird tale" ever written, certainly it does subtly, yet effectively get at a very outre-ness. Two men stranded on a small island in the Danube River find themselves dogged by an unseen, alien force.

The Spider - Hanns Heinz Ewers - VERY good weird tale, certainly it’s “weird” in every sense of the word, but also scary, smart and despite it’s rather difficult to accept concept, it’s still believable. After three men hang themselves in an Parisian apartment, a doctor, trying to make a name for himself decides to stay there. At first nothing happens, but he becomes infatuated with a woman across the street who begins to have a psychic control over his will.

The Vegetable Man - Luigi Ugolini - This was a good little tale, creepy in some of it's details. A botanist tells how he discovers a rare species of plant in the jungle which has seemingly infected him with plant cells which are replacing his own.

In the Penal Colony - Franz Kafka - I've read this one several times, so didn't re-read it here. It's a masterpiece of bizarre Kafka strangeness and social commentary. A group of men gather around a brutal torture machine which is made to punish those who don't even know their crime, but causes a religious epiphany in their final moments.

The White Wyrak - Stefan Grabinski - This was a really creepy story, scary imagery, very nice. One of the best very short stories in this collection. A group of chimneysweeps become concerned when some of their comrades go missing after cleaning a chimney in an old, closed brewery.

The Night Wire - H. F. Arnold - This is a classic, a very weird story with an odd concept, but has a really good creepiness that I found quite effective. Two night wire operators start getting news of a small town where the people are being pursued and killed by a black fog which originated in a graveyard.

The Dunwich Horror - H. P. Lovecraft - Oh come on, who hasn't read this one a couple times already? In a small village an old wizard has a son who grows at an amazing rate and delves deeply into the occult.

+The Mainz Psalter - Jean Ray - This one totally blew me away and I'd like to read more by this author. This was a very imaginative, scary, and WEIRD story for sure. This reminds me of other such weird sea stories by Hodgson for example, but this one was surprisingly good for being lesser-known. A crew find themselves transported into another, menacing dimension after they agree to work for a strange schoolmaster.

Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass - Bruno Schulz - VERY weird story, I see where Ligotti gets influence here. This stuff has great mood and atmosphere, incredibly dream-like and surreal. The end felt a bit random, but I liked this one a lot. A man moves into the sanatorium where his father has been put up, in a town where time has been turned back, and they are running on useless, "worn out" time, it's grey and dark, people sleep constantly.

Far Below - Robert Barbour Johnson - This was a really good one, I thoroughly enjoyed it, it's pretty scary, although most of the horror is hinted at, and the implications of what little info we're given is what really makes the story so memorable. A man working in the New York subway system describes a cannibalistic primitive race of mankind who has burrowed there.

Smoke Ghost - Fritz Leiber - This is another classic, a story cited by Ramsey Campbell as being a big inspiration to him. It's a very imaginative, unsettling story that brings the ghost story into a 20th century, urban setting. A man becomes haunted after seeing a dirty sack creep closer to him each day across a dingy series of rooftops. Soon the thing creeps out into the open, but for what purpose?

It's a Good Life - Jerome Bixby - I really liked this one, it was definitely eerie, a sort of dystopian story, where there's an all-powerful figure and people cannot even think what they want. Simple concept, but horrible implications. One of the better sci-fi type stories in the collection. Everyone fears little Anthony who can read minds, and do whatever he wants to people with it.

Axolotl - Julio Cortazar - Another extremely short, but very original story. A man becomes obsessed with watching axolotl's in an aquarium zoo, believing they are a higher evolved life than we imagine.

+Don't Look Now - Daphne du Mauier - This is a masterpiece of suspense. It's got an extremely creepy feel to it, and was one of the biggest "page-turners." Although I've seen the film version of this story, it didn't ruin it for me, this story has a very nice sense of paranoia and dread all of it's own. A couple vacationing in Venice after the death of their young daughter meet two old women who claim to have seen her spirit, and tell them to leave Venice to avert tragedy.

The Hospice - Robert Aickman - I wouldn't consider this Aickman's best story, but it's a good example of the unsettling style of a very unappreciated writer. A man becomes stranded and takes refuge in a place called The Hospice where people act strange, there’s no telephone and they don’t seem to want him to leave.

It Only Comes Out at Night - Dennis Etchison - This is one of the more "standard horror stories" in this collection I suppose. It's a very scary story, a mood of unease settles in quickly, and I could sorta tell where it was going, but I was hoping I was wrong! A man and wife traveling across a desert stop in at a very strange rest area.

The Psychologist Who Wouldn’t Do Terrible Things to Rats - James Tiptree - This was a good story, the first half didn't do a lot for me, but the second half was just excellent, and it's got a great theme overall. The horror here comes from what the man discovers, but also from the efficient, clockwork modern world and it's willingness to be brutal to animals, and people. A man working in a lab tries to avoid doing painful experiments on his rats, but finds his reputation at risk.

The Beak Doctor - Eric Basso - OK, warning, this was by far the most challenging piece in the book, and it will not be for all tastes. But I found it rewarding overall. This is a muted, avant-garde piece; moody, pure atmosphere. It requires patience but does create a real sense of disorientation. I was bored for some stretches, then some semblance of plot, or conversation would bring us out of the dream-like state of it to the surface for a time. Very different stuff. A doctor wanders through the foggy streets of a city which is plagued by a sleeping sickness. Few people are still awake, and those who are attempt to continue with their lives.

Sandkings - George R.R. Martin - This is a masterpiece of sci-fi with some creepy crawly horror, interesting beginning to end and well-written, just a good, fun story. A man acquires some insect-like creatures called Sandkings which build small castles inside a terrarium and feed an ugly "maw" which lives below the sand. But soon the things get out, start to grow bigger and have an insatiable hunger.

+Window - Bob Leman - Wow, this is perhaps the story that scared me the most here, it's one of the most frightening and surprising stories I've read in a while. It starts out feeling predictable, but then it just takes a totally horrifying turn I didn't see coming at all. Very impressive. A scientist working with telekinesis is swallowed up during his experiments and a Victorian mansion with a family inside is left behind in place of his laboratory. A group of men try to understand this window into another world.

The Brood - Ramsey Campbell - I've read this one twice before, so I didn't re-read it here. But OH MY GOD, this is a creepy, crawly, SCARY story. It’s powerful, atmospheric, and this is definitely the story I would have chosen by Campbell. A man notes a crazy, sinister old woman who wanders the street in front of his apartment and seems to be collecting animals and taking them into her dilapidated old house across the street.

+The Autopsy - Michael Shea - This is a science fiction-horror masterpiece, very powerful, smart, well-told and as gory as anything I've ever read. I really loved the set up here, lots of weird elements that I had no idea how they would come together, but in the end they did and far better than I would have predicted. After a man enters a mine with a bomb, killing several men, the mortician performing the autopsy discovers he was under the influence of an alien force.

The Little Dirty Girl - Joanna Russ - This was an excellent story, and very much in the strange/weird Aickman variety. The end can be interpreted in a couple ways, I took it down a more disturbing path. A woman encounters a dirty little girl who she starts to feed and take care of, and becomes conscious that the girl must be a ghost, but a very material one.

The Function of Dream Sleep - Harlan Ellison - I almost didn't include this in my selection of the BEST here, but this is a very emotional story, actually quite deeply touching for being also quite horrific at times. A man who has experienced the death of many close friends feels this is tied with a vision he has of waking up to find a huge mouth in his side.

The Boy in the Tree - Elizabeth Hand - Good story, but it took me some time to figure out what the heck was going on, we don't get a really full picture until at least half through. In a research lab where wires are hooked up to people's heads who have few emotions, they are able to erase or take on other people's traumatic memories. But one of these memories has a supernatural power which is too much even for the rather numb narrator.

Family - Joyce Carol Oates - This was a brutal, hard, amoral, dystopian story. Perhaps a commentary on the transitory nature of the American family today? A commentary on urbanization and how we have become unmoored from the past. Perhaps just a commentary on how nasty humans are generally -- or are they just trying to survive in a horrible reality? A family tries to survive as the outside world disintegrates, they get a new father, new siblings, and forget the old ones even existed.

The Dark - Karen Joy Fowler - This is another great story, eerie, unsettling and paranoid. I liked how the end was left a bit open-ended although we know everything, there's enough mystery to still wonder about. After a boy goes missing in the woods, an epidemic specialist suspects there's a connection between his disappearance and the sudden appearance of plague in the area.

+The Country Doctor - Steven Utley - It's always nice to find a story that surprises me, and this one really went off in a direction I wasn't expecting at all. I thought about this one for days. The characterization and storytelling generally are very involving. An old graveyard being excavated in a town about to be underwater from the building of a dam uncovers a very weird, creepy history.

+The Snow Pavilion - Angela Carter - This was one of my absolute favorites here, I'm prepared to say this is a full-on masterpiece of atmospheric weird fiction. There's such a delicious sense of dread here and mounting suspense. It feels very much influenced by Aickman. A playboy philanderer get stranded in a strange, snowbound mansion full of dolls, and weird, unseen inhabitants.

Yellow and Red - Tanith Lee - The editors think it's like M. R. James' "Casting the Runes" -- I think it's FAR closer to his story "The Mezzotint." I don't think this is among the VERY best in this collection, but I really love this type of story, excellent atmosphere, setting. A man inherits an old gloomy house from his uncle which has caused those who lived there to waste away -- after spilling a drink on some old photographs he discovers why.

The Specialists Hat - Kelly Link - Another one I hesitated to include here because this is a very strange story with weird elements I'm not sure came together, but I still really enjoyed the tone and atmosphere/setting, definitely has a good Gothic feel. Two twins living in a mansion with a dark past with their father get a babysitter who is, oddly enough, very well-acquainted with the house.

The God of Dark Laughter - Michael Chabon - Another one I hesitated to include here, would have liked a bit more punch at the end. It's still a great story, nice sense of place here, creepy details. Not sure if the influence is Lovecraft, Ligotti or both. The DA of a small town discovers that a clown horrible murdered in the woods may have been murdered by a mysterious cult.

Details - China Miéville - This was great, very creative and original concept which wouldn't work under the right conditions, but here it has a definite effectiveness. A boy is sent by his mother to see a Mrs Miller who he talks to through a door. She has opened a sort of window of perception, and is seeing patterns of horrors in the things of everyday life.

The Cage - Jeff VanderMeer - This one almost gets a "+" I really liked it; wonderful idea, great setting. But most of all I loved the rainy, moldy mood of it. After mankind is besieged by a fungus-apocalypse, an antique dealer takes a risk in acquiring a strange old cage from a house recently taken over by the fungus.

The Brotherhood of Mutilation - Brian Evenson - I like everything I've read by Evenson so far, this is no exception. It's funny, pulpy and told in a purely matter-of-fact way which makes it even more bizarre and Kafka-esque in it's absurd bureaucratic craziness. A man who had his hand cut off, and cauterized the wound himself is brought to a compound where a cult of men celebrate the removal of body parts, and where he is told to investigate a murder.

Flat Diane - Daniel Abraham - This was an incredibly well-written, touching, page-turning story. Very original idea that comes across convincingly too. A single father traces around his daughter and sends the outline to relatives they can't afford to visit. What happens to the drawing seems to have an influence on the girl -- then the drawing falls into some very sinister hands.

The Forest - Laird Barron - I think Barron has written some better work since this book was published, but this is certainly is a good one, and quite original. It has the usual hard edge of a Barron story while feeling a bit more fatalistic perhaps. An actor takes some time off to see an old friend, a hermit scientist who is trying to establish contact with a consciousness, not above the earth, but within it.

The Portal - J. Robert Lennon - I really liked this one, very short but incredibly well told. It actually made me laugh, but it's got some creepy parts as well and I thought about it for days afterward. I like the rather mundane tone in which such things are explained in. I also think it's got a subtle moral about the disillusionment which can happen when one has everything they want. A father tells how, after buying an old house, the family discovers a portal in the backyard which sends them to increasingly disturbing places.
Profile Image for Col.
487 reviews12 followers
Shelved as 'partially-read'
June 19, 2021
I seriously doubt I'll ever actually read every story in this collection - it's 1100 double-columned pages, after all, but luckily I've got a brother advising me on which he thinks are worth a look. A selection more than a century wide, from extremely famous to (comparatively) more obscure writers, the only complaint I might make about the selection at a glance is that it looks to be overwhelmingly anglo authors, but that's a pretty minor complaint.

"The Dunwich Horror" - It's been ages since I read this the first time, but I don't recall it being one of Lovecraft's best. I would've substituted "The Colour Out of Space" or "The Music of Eric Zahn". I only really recall the bodily description of the corpse and the weirdly actiony ending.

"The Hospice" - Great story, truly weird and creepy atmosphere without ever being overtly threatening or horrifying. I felt it did lay it on a bit thick with the title and the parting shot from the hearse driver, but otherwise it was pitch-perfect and the smallness of all the weird happenings magnified how strange the whole situation was.

"It Only Comes Out at Night" - My brother totally loved this story but I was unconvinced. It seemed to be trying way too hard while not actually doing that much for most of the run, then went way overboard at the end. Not terrible but I'm not aching to read it again.

"The Man in the Black Suit" - Stephen King is most tolerable in small doses, and of the ~30 short stories by him I read, this was probably the best, so excellent choice. It's a great "weird encounter as a child" story with a bit of folktale feeling to it, simple but menacing.

"Dissection" - Very short, a little gross and creepy.

"The Beautiful Gelreesh" - Did I really just read a horror story about some kind of Dr Seuss creature who convinces people to kill themselves? Hilarious.

"The Town Manager" - A barely-fiction tale of a continually degenerating town, under the revolving door governance of outsiders with no regard for its well-being. Unfortunately, there is no escape no matter how far you go. Despite some humorous elements (the absurdly helpless attitudes of the townsfolk, the seemingly demonic new manager's terrible spelling, Funny Town), it's nearly as cynical and depressing as I'd been led to believe Ligotti is generally.

"Mimic" - Straddling the science fiction/horror line, mimicry among humans. Doesn't seem memorable.

"The Vegetable Man" - Reminds me of an Itou story, where the whole thing revolves around one grotesque image. Okay.

"The Book" - A ghost story of a cursed book and its reader. It's an alright ghost story, but it's really not that weird. Vandermeer claims it's the only one of Margaret Irwin's stories that was weird enough to make it into the collection, so I have to assume the rest are extremely conventional.

"The Night Wire" - The somewhat versimilistic framing, and the content of a disturbing dispatch from a town located on no map, recall modern creepypasta.

"The Mainz Psalter" - Pretty good sea shanty. The sailor side characters were more engaging than the "weird" stuff, framing device was cute, ending "twist" was decent.

"The Other Side of the Mountain" - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

"In the Hills, the Cities" - Featuring the world's greatest human pyramid. Takes a bit to get going but when it does, it's very worth it. I wonder how the gay angle played in the 80s? I had no idea until reading this and looking him up that Clive Barker was gay (or British). Won't forget this one any time soon.

"The Screaming Skull" - Another mundane ghost story. I have to apologize to the author of the story about the cursed book, that one was way weirder.

"The Willows" - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

"Sredni Vashtar" - Slightly uncomfortable? It's hard to say anything about these really, really, short ones. Apparently it's quite famous.

"Soft" - The world has been destroyed by a plague of melting bones, but we still have to deal with boomer dads doing bad movie impressions. Kinda funny, kinda gross, definitely weird. Glad the author thought of the best way to climb stairs with boneless drooping legs.
Profile Image for Ronald.
204 reviews38 followers
July 8, 2012
I've resolved that, if I'm interested in a big book, I would get it for my ereader. Such is the case here.

However, I discovered that my ebook version is missing the story "The Colomber" by Dino Buzzati. I informed amazon, and they replied that they are working with the publisher on the problem, and they will not be selling the ebook until the problem is solved.

This book is a collection of weird stories that were published in over the past 100 years , written by authors world-wide. Weird fiction is an amorphous category; it is not just supernatural horror, but but can be science fiction, fantasy, literary surrealism , and absurdism. I'll venture a theory about this stuff: it is about the encounter of a menacing supra- or ir-real. The previously mentioned story "The Colomber", which is a fine story, is about a sailor stalked by a sea creature invisible to everybody except to the said sailor. In "The Night Wire" (1926) by H.F. Arnold, the narrator who is a news reporter recounts how his fellow reporter got wire dispatches of a fog enveloping a city, shrieks and cries coming from the fog, and lights swirling around the fog. Now this story is a find! Plot driven, entertaining, and well written, this story approaches my ideal for short fiction.

This volume also contains the story "The Aleph" by Jorge Luis Borges. Though I don't think this story really fits here. The Aleph is something that I would actually like to encounter. Borges "The Zahir" might be a better choice. "Axolotl" (1956) by Julio Cortazar is here, but I think a better story of his is "House Taken Over."

Other fine stories in this volume by Kafka, Shirley Jackson, Jean Ray, Ramsay Campbell, Harlan Ellison, Thomas Ligotti, H.P. Lovecraft
Profile Image for Paul Roberts.
Author 6 books23 followers
April 16, 2014
DISCLAIMER: I have not read all the stories within this massive tome of awesome. I'm quite sure the VanderMeers have designed their book to be consumed in small doses, giving each of the tales time to fester and to inspire.

The greatest power this compendium wields is to bring to the reader's attention a myriad of lessor-known masters. Consider it a test bag handed to you by a drug dealer.

Standouts thus far include:

"Genius Loci" by Clark Ashton Smith
"The Book" by Margaret Irwin
"Angels in Love" by Kathe Koja
"The Hungry House" by Robert Bloch
"The Genius of Assassins" by Michael Cisco
"Dust Enforcer" by Reza Negarestani

The masters are well represented. Classics from Lovecraft, Jackson, Blackwood, Ligotti, Kiernan and Barron make these 1,000+ pages a definitive BUY for any genre fan of dark and intelligent storytelling.
Profile Image for Orrin Grey.
Author 86 books305 followers
September 7, 2012
I didn't actually read every word of The Weird. Some were stories I'd read before, others I just didn't get to. I hunted and pecked around, and this is ultimately a book that'll reward many returns, but I don't need to have read all of it to throw five stars its way. This is exactly what it aims to be, a pretty definitive compendium of a certain subgenre of fiction, and since that's a particular subgenre that's very near-and-dear to my own weird heart, I found this massive tome inspiring, and probably also indispensable.
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