Pandora's Nightmare: Are Anthologies the New Genre Mags?


So I just finished reading Pandora's Nightmare: Horror Unleashed from Pill Hill Press. And while I wish the overall quality of the work therein was higher, overall it was a satisfying read. Keep that in mind while a gripe for a couple paragraphs, then we'll get back to my main points.

My primary complaint is the lack of decent copyediting and I have to lay that blame on Pill Hill. I contributed to this anthology and a couple errors I fixed when I received a proof copy made it into the final book. And the editor's story had five typos (that I caught) including, twice, the main character's name.

And some of the stories were underdeveloped or gimmicky and could have used a more rigorous editing process.

(All these points, incidentally, I am trying to learn from as we continue work on Monsters and Mormons.)

That said, there was good work here too. I did like the editor's story, I found the bookend stories a terrific idea, and I left with some favorites including stories by JW Schnarr, Neil Coghlan, Ruth Imeson and Blake Casselman. Some, like Nye Joell Hardy's story, began weakly but ended strongly, and some, like George W. Morrow's, started strong and blew the ending. A few were just bad, but I won't mention those.

Overall, as I said, a good read.

The only genre rag I've ever subscribed to is Asimov's. And while I don't remember typos, otherwise, all my compliments and complaints listed above could be applies as easily to it. Works I thought were terrible. Works that lacked something in the execution but which I still think of eight years later. Works that were unquestionably brilliant. And since, as I understand it, short-story magazines are dying, I'm wondering if anthologies are stepping up to fill that void.

Could be. Some advantages:

1. Those working on the project are not making ongoing commitments, but smaller bite-sized, finite projects which can be begun and finished in a reasonable amount of time.

2. A themed issue gets lost in a sea of covers. A book is its own entity.

3. POD means that the finished volume never has to disappear.


1. Writers get paid even less. (In this case, one contributor's copy.) Meaning less incentive for authors to hone their craft. And meaning that already established authors won't waste their time.

2. Sometimes you have to stretch to fill 250 pages on one topic.

With the rise of ebooks, I think we'll be seeing new ways of packaging short stories, but I do think the rise of the small-press POD anthology is, overall, good for short stories.

Go looking around and buy yourself one today.


Note: My short story is called "The Avon Lady" and I must warn you that it's dang good. I'm just saying.

1 comment:

  1. I have been pondering the same thing, imagining I am in the trenches of the pulp fiction of today.