Vintage Treasures: Fantasy Annual III edited by Terry Carr

Vintage Treasures: Fantasy Annual III edited by Terry Carr


Fantasy Annual III (Timescape/Pocket Books, May 1981). Cover by Lisa Falkenstern

Today we’re jumping back four decades to Fantasy Annual III, the third volume of Terry Carr’s companion series to his legendary and long-running Best Science Fiction of the Year, which ran from 1972 to the year he died, 1987. Fantasy Annual, which underwent a name change (and a change in publisher) lasted only five volumes, 1978-1982. But it was lauded in its day, and I still miss it.

Fantasy Annual III was one of the stronger installments. It’s anchored by a long story by Stephen King, “The Crate,” originally published in a men’s magazine in 1979, and which has never been reprinted in any of King’s many collections. It’s a terrific tale, one of King’s best works of unapologetic monster fiction, and was filmed as part of George A. Romero’s 1982 anthology film of King tales Creepshow, in a segment staring Adrienne Barbeau and Hal Holbrook.

The remainder of the book also makes excellent reading, with stories by Michael Bishop, Russell Kirk, Harlan Ellison, Walter Tevis, Fritz Leiber, Joanna Russ, Orson Scott Card, and Greg Bear, plus a Traveller in Black novelette by John Brunner, a John the Balladeer tale by Manly Wade Wellman, and The Vampire Tapestry story by Suzy McKee Charnas.

[Click the images to uncrate bigger versions.]

Inside cover of Fantasy Annual III

Terry Carr launched a companion series to his popular and influential Best Science Fiction of the Year in 1978. The first two volumes were published by Berkley Books as The Year’s Finest Fantasy, with a pair of nicely matching covers by Carl Lundgren.

David Hartwell brought the series to his TimeScape imprint at Pocket Books, presumably after it was dropped by Berkley. It was retitled Fantasy Annual, but kept the same numbering system. They skipped 1980 but caught up quickly, publishing two volumes in 1981. The series lasted for only one more volume and folded for good in 1982.

The Year’s Finest Fantasy (Berkley, July 1978)
The Year’s Finest Fantasy Volume 2 (Berkley, July 1979)
Fantasy Annual III (Timescape/Pocket Books, May 1981)
Fantasy Annual IV (Timescape/Pocket Books, November 1981)
Fantasy Annual V (Timescape/Pocket Books, November 1982)

All five book were paperback originals.

Here’s a look at the front and back covers for the first two volumes.


Year’s Finest Fantasy, Volume 1 and 2 (Berkley, July 1978 and July 1979). Covers by Carl Lundgren

As you’d expect, different reviewers have different favorites among the stories within.

Here’s a few accolades from modern readers.

An above-average collection of SF stories… The stand-out story is “The Ancient Mind at Work” by Suzy McKee Charnas who I’d never heard of before. — Frank Richfield, Amazon.

This anthology is top-billed by King’s story, but the strongest piece is Walter Tevis’s “Rent Control” — where time stops for everybody in the world except for the main characters. — Kristine Muslim, GoodReads

Picked it up at a used bookstore and was thrilled to watch as my expectations were so gracefully exceeded. My personal favourites were “The Button Masher,” Amélie Bertrand, “The White Horse Child,” [by Greg Bear] and Trill Coster’s “Burden.” That said, not a single story misses. — Galadriel Swan, GoodReads

I rather enjoyed (still do) the introduction to this work as Terry Carr, as editor, explains the differences between science fiction and fantasy as far as genre go. This was interesting, whether you agree with it or not. — D. Blankenship, Amazon

Good to see a shout out for Carr, who I find always writes interesting introductions. He also offers brief intros for each of the stories, which I appreciate.

New Worlds of Fantasy, Volumes 1-3 (Ace Books, 1967-1971). Covers by Kelly Freas and Kenneth Smith

The Fantasy Annual books weren’t Carr’s first run at an ongoing fantasy anthology.

He edited three volumes of New Worlds of Fantasy for Ace Books from 1967 to 1971. A very fine reprint anthology, it collected stories by the best practitioners in the field.

Although the first book was reprinted in hardcover by Dennis Dobson (as Step Outside Your Mind, 1969), the other two have never been reprinted. They’re well worth the effort to track down.

Here’s volume IV and V of Fantasy Annual.


Fantasy Annual IV and V (Timescape/Pocket, November 1981 and November 1982). Covers by LAF and unknown

Here’s the complete Table of Contents for Fantasy Annual III.

Introduction by Terry Carr
“The Crate” by Stephen King (Gallery, July 1979)
“Collaborating” by Michael Bishop (Rooms of Paradise, 1978)
“Fate’s Purse” by Russell Kirk (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 1979)
“The Things That Are Gods” by John Brunner (Asimov’s SF Adventure Magazine, Fall 1979)
“Flop Sweat” by Harlan Ellison (Heavy Metal, March 1979)
“Rent Control” by Walter Tevis (Omni, October 1979)
“The Button Molder” by Fritz Leiber (Whispers, October 1979)
“The Extraordinary Voyages of Amélie Bertrand” by Joanna Russ (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, September 1979)
“Eumenides in the Fourth-Floor Lavatory” by Orson Scott Card (Chrysalis 4, 1979)
“The White Horse Child” by Greg Bear (Universe 9, 1979)
“Trill Coster’s Burden” by Manly Wade Wellman (Whispers II, 1979)
“Pie Row Joe” by Kevin McKay (Rooms of Paradise, 1978)
“The Ancient Mind at Work” by Suzy McKee Charnas (Omni, February 1979)
Recommended Reading by Terry Carr

Fantasy Annual III was published by Timescape/Pocket Books in May 1981. It is 291 pages, priced at $2.95. It has never been reprinted, and there is no digital edition. The cover is by Lisa Falkenstern.
Our previous coverage of Terry Carr includes:

From the Library of Terry Carr: Own a Piece of Science Fiction History
World’s Best Science Fiction 1965 – 1970, edited by Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr (1965-1970)
The Best Science Fiction of the Year #3, edited by Terry Carr (1974)
The Best Science Fiction of the Year #4, edited by Terry Carr (1975)
The Best Science Fiction of the Year #5-7, edited by Terry Carr (1976-78)
The Best Science Fiction of the Year #8, edited by Terry Carr (1979)
The Best Science Fiction of the Year #9, edited by Terry Carr (1980)
The Best Science Fiction of the Year #11, edited by Terry Carr (1982)
The Best Science Fiction of the Year #12, edited by Terry Carr (1983)
The Best Science Fiction Novellas of the Year 1, edited by Terry Carr (1979)
Year’s Finest Fantasy, edited by Terry Carr (1978)
Classic Science Fiction: The First Golden Age, edited by Terry Carr (1978)
Creatures From Beyond, edited by Terry Carr (1975)
Universe 3: The Golden Age of Science Fiction is Twelve (1973)
Universe 13, edited By Terry Carr (1983)
The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Universe 9, edited by Terry Carr, by Steven H Silver (1979)
The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer: Terry Carr, by Rich Horton
Thomas M. Disch on the Best Science Fiction of 1979
A Return to Terry Carr’s Best Science Fiction of the Year
The Best Science Fiction 1974, edited by Lester del Rey, Terry Carr, and Donald Wollheim

See all our recent Vintage Treasures here.

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Thomas Parker

I had no idea that this series existed. Terry Carr as editor is definitely the mark of quality. Therefore… Ebay, here I come!

Thomas Parker

“I expect you have a lot of the stories in other volumes.”

Like that ever stopped YOU.

Jame McGlothlin

Hear! Hear! I sometimes want to avoid Blackgate because it sends me to Ebay and Abebooks too much!

Joe H.

I _think_ I might have picked this one and/or Fantasy Annual IV off of the library shelf back in the day on the strength of Stephen King’s name. I recognize those covers, but don’t have any specific memories. Weird that The Crate has never shown up in one of King’s collections, although it has been anthologized a few times over the years.

K. Jespersen

King does say in his book about the ins and outs of authorship (“On Writing”? I have too many of the things, so that might be the wrong title) that certain circumstances have led to him not actually remembering writing some of his works. That’s probably a bit unsettling, so if “The Crate” is from that time period and he didn’t enjoy it when he read it back, it would make sense for him to sweep it under the rug.

Todd Mason

On Writing is the title, and it’s his best book I’ve read.

K. Jespersen

Completely agreed! 🙂 The warm encouragement when he offers up a “fossil” makes it a great deal of fun to read and re-read.

Todd Mason

42 years ago. I was in HS, had picked up the first Berkley volume when I’d just finished 8th grade in NH, would pick this one up in the Honolulu BookShop (a chainstore) on my commute home to Kailua from school in the city. Hated the Card story in every way (from reading it in CHRYSALIS 4 the previous year), wan’t too thrilled with the King, but liked to loved the others.

Last edited 2 months ago by Todd Mason

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