The Weird by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer

Updated: 10 May 2012

Time Out says

Rating: 4/5, RM119.90

Subtitled ‘a compendium of strange and dark stories’, this solid compilation of (mostly) sci-fi and horror tales uses the term ‘weird’ as a suitably vague catch-all for everything from Angela Carter to Ramsey Campbell, Mervyn Peake to Stephen King. Most genre aficionados will be aware of classic creepers like HP Lovecraft’s ‘The Dunwich Horror’, while most students of ‘serious’ literature will know Franz Kafka’s short story ‘In the Penal Colony’, but it’s by bringing the two worlds together that the editors keep things interesting: the stylistic and qualitative leaps can be jarring – stories of epic, unearthly dread placed next to crude, unconvincing splat – but overall the standard is high.

Particular highlights are Ray Bradbury’s masterpiece of all- American paranoia ‘The Crowd’, George RR Martin’s old-school but inventive ‘Sandkings’ and Clive Barker’s marvellously messy ‘In the Hills, the Cities’; there’s even room for longer tales such as Daphne du Maurier’s chilly dwarfsploitation shocker ‘Don’t Look Now’. But even these relatively straight stories pale next to genuine one-offs like Lord Dunsany’s brief but brain-tangling ‘How Nuth Would Have Practised His Art Upon the Gnoles’, or cartoonist Gahan Wilson’s phenomenally unsettling, Carroll-inspired ‘The Sea Was Wet as Wet Could Be’. Readers eager to explore a world beyond the ordinary need look no further. Tom Huddleston

Tags: Books