A rant about books, horror, and the weird. I sometimes take on my love/hate relationship with goodreads and Amazon.
This collection knocked around since the '90s with several publishers, starting with Arkham House, giving up on it. Cemetery Dance brought it out ultimately. It had been so long in the tennis court that Lansdale couldn't find his original introduction and had to write a new one!
The collection is above average but points out the problem with awards. There are just enough 5-star stories to balance the 3-star, hence the 4-star rating. This should be a 5-star collection if these are all award winners, supposedly the best horror stories during each year. The problems with awards like The Stokers is they are awarded by the very same people who write and edit horror stories. The Horror Writers Association (HWA) nominates and awards the prizes. Now what can possibly be wrong with this? Well politics for one: there are too many considerations that go into the award rather than just simply what is the best; who's turn it is, who's hot, who's not, who's been overlooked, who deserves it this time. In many cases these considerations overwhelm the simple consideration of the quality of the work. The short story category isn't as bad as some other categories like anthology or poetry where the number of entrants is so small and you see the same editors and poets in the finals year after year. Therefore you see the same anthology editors or poets winning every two to three years or so.
The problem is the HWA is an insular organization made up largely of the same folks who produce the content for the awards. This results in a back-slapping, hand shaking, circle jerk, chummy, incestuous relationship within the organization. You see the same crap happening in things like the Academy Awards, the Grammys, the Emmys, etc.
This collection just barely made it from 3-1/2 to 4 stars in my ratings and there is no excuse for that in what should be the very best stories. There are, however, a few gems in here.