Review of The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

I was pleasantly surprised by this huge anthology of unusual short stories. I’m not widely read in stories that could be classed as “dark”, and wasn’t expecting a lot from The Weird. It turned out to be a great buy. There are 110 selections, making it one of the largest anthologies you’ll ever come across. The stories have publication dates spanning from 1908 to 2010.

These aren’t your usual fantasy stories populated by the familiar characters of those worlds, but they all have strangeness of some kind. There are pieces from well known writers like Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Neil Gaiman, Angela Carter, William Gibson, Haruki Murakami, George R. R. Martin and many more, as well as many lesser-seen names.

Here are some of the standout stories for me:

  • “Sredni Vashtar” by Saki: A weak, sick, young boy takes solace in an imaginary world with a ferret god. (54% into preview)
  • “How Nuth Would Have Practiced His Art Upon the Gnoles” by Lord Dunsany: A burglar without equal takes an apprentice and they plan what no one has ever planned before. (66% into preview)
  • “White Rabbits” by Leonora Carrington: A mystery woman in the ominous house across the street is interested in spoiled meat.
  • “The Crowd” by Ray Bradbury: A man in a car accident obsesses over how quickly the onlookers gather.
  • “The Long Sheet” by William Sansom: Four groups of captives in four tunnel-like rooms can win their freedom by completing an arduous task.
  • “The Summer People” by Shirley Jackson: A couple extends their vacation at a summer cottage, even though no one has ever stayed on after Labor Day.
  • “The Man Who Sold Rope To the Gnoles” by Margaret St. Clair: An enterprising salesman wants to help himself and the gnoles by selling them rope.
  • “‘It’s a Good Life'” by Jerome Bixby: Little Anthony keeps everyone in perpetual terror, whether he’s trying to help or harm.
  • “The Howling Man” by Charles Beaumont: A sick traveler wakes up in a monastery, tended to by Brother Christophorus, who claims not to hear what no one could fail to hear.
  • “The Hospice” by Robert Aickman: A man, lost and injured, finds The Hospice, a curious boarding house—the staff and the clientele.
  • “Sandkings” by George R. R. Martin: Simon Kress, an exotic pet aficionado, finds a new diversion in an insect-sized life-form with a hivemind.
  • “Soft” by F. Paul Wilson: A father and daughter in hiding could be the key to beating the softness that has spread through the world.
  • “Family” by Joyce Carol Oates: A family history with all variety of darkness.

This is just a few of the interesting stories to discover in this anthology. With so many selections, there’s sure to be something you’ll love. A great place to find something new.