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It’s the PHANTASM JAPAN giveaway contest!

by nickmamatas

A new book is in the office, so it’s time to get them out! Phantasm Japan is coming out next month, but you can have it NOW…if you win our traditional giveaway contest.

It’s very simple: tell us a bit about your favorite short story of all time. Phantasm Japan is a book of short fiction from both Japanese and non-Japanese writers, covering everything from traditional folk tales to the heights of the New Weird, so we are wide open to what’s good. It needn’t be a fantasy or science fiction short story, but honestly, it’ll help if it is.

Write a comment on this post—and it can be in Japanese or Spanish or German or Greek (or English!) in the form of a small essay or poem or riddle or whatnot, and on Friday at noon we will select four winners and send them (or YOU!) a copy of the book. We’re a big company, so we ship anywhere.

Simple, eh? So get to typing and around noon (Pacific time) on Friday, we’ll announce the winners! Get to playing!

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21 Responses to “It’s the PHANTASM JAPAN giveaway contest!”

  1. Nicole says:

    I’ve got a huge love for short stories, and though this is the longest one I’ve read it remains my favorite of the genre: The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster.

    Imagine, if you can, an SF tale from 1909, which only gets more frightening the older it gets. You’ve probably heard it referenced or even read extracts – but nothing prepares you for the eerie, prescient, horrifying truth of The Machine; or the fact that you feel worse when it Stops. You’ve got to read this story to believe it, and then you’ll wish you hadn’t because you do believe it. This story isn’t about being a story, or even being a warning any longer, it’s about being you – a citizen of the world, networked by technology, bolstered by apathy, sitting comfortably in your own home while you communicate with others like you around the world effortlessly…

    The Machine Stops isn’t a warning any longer, not as it was intended. It’s too late for it to be a warning, now. Whenever I read it, I recognize new detail in a blueprint for our present, our future, and our future destruction, and that’s why this remains one of my favorite tales.

    Like all great short stories, it is exactly as long as it needs to be and it’s outstanding that it can be so much in so few words. But then, I guess the most artful thing about this story is how much it originally left to the imagination… and Forster’s grim, unhappy realization that the older the book got the less we’d have to imagine.

  2. Nathan says:

    My favorite short story is “Pal O’ Mine,” by Charles de Lint. It’s an urban fantasy story about two young women who are friends. One of them is fairly average. The other is a bit of a dreamer, but also suffers from depression and eventually commits suicide. The survivor spends the story thinking about her friend, trying to cope with her death, and caring for her dog. The story ends on Christmas, when (thanks to Christian folklore about animals being able to speak at midnight on Christmas) the dog talks.

    It’s a very gooey, sentimental story that always makes me cry at the end, which is a big part of why I love it. It’s not exactly great literature, but I’m a sucker for sentimentality, Christmas stories, and dog stories, and “Pal O’ Mine” has elements of all three, which is enough to make it my favorite.

  3. Ben B. says:

    My favorite short story dates back to when I was a lad no older than nine, or maybe ten. “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe.

    It all really began in my dad’s car. I was home-schooled between the ages of seven and nine. In grade five my dad had my brother and I re-entered into the regular school system. Thus our routine became that every morning he would drive us to school and every evening he would drive us back. En route he would play tons of music, usually prog rock his favorite genre. It was in his car that I first listened to Alan Parsons Project’s first record, “Tales of Mystery and Imagination”. I loved the whole thing, but the real standout song for me was “The Cask of Amontillado”. I expressed an interest in the source material and my dad lent me his complete volume of Poe’s works. The same copy I read from today!

    So I read Amontillado. It blew my bloody nine (Or ten?) year-old mind. It may have been the first story I’d ever encountered that was so explicitly about revenge. And WHAT a revenge! It’s vicious, funny and even creepy. All the stuff one can expect from Poe. From there I devoured the entirety of Poe’s works which in turn led to me developing a real appreciation for the short form of prose story-telling. Amontillado will always be the first and foremost for me though. I can’t imagine a better short story to have started with.

  4. Stephen says:

    My favourite short story is Edgar Allan Poe’s A Descent Into the Maelstrom. The story has interesting plot points, and I think one of the significant ones in the tale is when the mariner realizes something about the vortex and then he begins to find a stillness from the terror that have seized him.

    Here are some lines on the theme. They are inspired by the disappearance of an airplane.

    Debris in the brine of the wine-addled sea
    Leagues and leagues off these barren coasts
    Are a sign of things to come and not to come.
    Which is which ain’t hard to know: Is it
    The depth’s parturition of what on the surface
    Floats or which not it would to shallows
    Throw? All sink which would escape thunder
    And roar to mute abysms that open to swallow
    Down what ailerons roll and bank. Down below
    Underneath all that water finds a loss profound:
    Loss of signal, loss of sign, loss of sound
    And an unabating noise to the ratio of search
    Deployed and given up to seek what went down.
    But what if a gain of cargo and a gain of crew
    And a gain of vehicle showed up instead?
    Were just one voice bade “Good night, all right”
    But two of the same which landings made
    As departed and arrived and delivered freight.
    What then? What if two’s intact and two by two
    Went up the ark ere our postdiluvian bark
    A second coming’s covenant’s promise made
    Of the same fuselage, of the same empennage
    A holographic twin still flies to Beijing?
    In some other place and time there let
    Two of the same missing kindred,
    Two of the same lost son
    Of a friend of a friend of a friend’s friend,
    And four of the same daughter’s eyes
    Looking out in awe
    At just one of us and no spare
    To keep just in case.
    “Just you?” shes say and “Yes” you say
    “Just one of me. Money is tight.
    But my embrace is tighter.
    What I would give to give to you
    A father’s hug and not a clone’s.
    And how was your flight?”

  5. Dinelle Fuller says:

    My favorite short story is “Halves” by Brian Keene. I love this story because it reminds me of an episode of The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone. I love the sci-fi/fantasy feel the story has. I love the fact that the cat saves the day. I’m not good at writing and don’t expect to win a book or anything but wanted this story to be recognized because I enjoyed it so much. Ellie, a sweet innocent girl with what her father seems to believe is an imaginary friend Mr. Chickbaum and the cat Hannibal…there are just so many great things to this story….the ending was amazing and something I didn’t see coming. I highly recommend this story!! I love how at the end of the book the cat Hannibal (who had saved them all from Mr. Chickbaum and his friends) “licked his lips and gazed at his owners with contentment” after devouring the threat…saving Ellie and her family from who knows what Mr. Chickbaum and his friends had planned…I don’t know…It was just the perfect ending to the story :)

    So anyway, yeah….thanks!

  6. Brandi says:

    Trying to pick a favorite is damn near impossible, but one that’s been on my mind a lot lately is “Sticks”, by Karl Edward Wagner. It’s a fun, pulpy story in a Lovecraftian/cosmic horror vein, but what made it especially interesting to me was finding the afterword that noted that the story was (loosely) based on an odd real-life event that happened to illustrator Lee Brown Coye.

    Why it’s been on my mind is that a while back I started working on a bookbinding project that involved compiling “Sticks”, the Coye essay “Scrying Stones and Dolmens” (which inspired “Sticks”), and Andrew Rothovius’ “Lovecraft and the New England Megaliths” (another essay used as source material in “Sticks”). While the project is a few steps away from completed (and will probably remain a private project unless I am able to acquire– and afford– permissions to reproduce the source material), it’s been both enjoyable and educational.

    [Ironically, I now have my own copy of "Scrying Stones and Dolmens" by way of the Centipede Press book of Coye's art, but I will still finish my project for a reading copy, as that book is a massive tome and hard to just pick up and *read*.]

  7. Michael Healy says:

    Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s “Them Ships” from last year’s “We See a Different Frontier”. It made complete and total use of it’s limited space to completely and utterly dismantle all of the imperialist subtext in alien invasion stories. Not only are the western superpowers not saving the world but the aliens having forced everyone into their camps have leveled the playing field for the human race and a great many who lived in poverty before are pretty content with this arrangement.

    No excess time spent on exposition about the aliens themselves (they remain off-screen for the whole story), no long rants spelling out the theme to the reader, no action scenes to break the philosophical tone. Just quick cutting satire of a speculative subgenre with a checkered (at best) past and the prevailing western Anglo-centric view.

  8. CW says:

    Uno de los cuentos que más me ha gustado últimamente ha sido “Autogenic Dreaming: Interview with the Columns of Clouds”, de TOBI Hirotaka. Realmente me sorprendió por lo poético de su planteamiento y la fuerza tremendamente evocadora de sus imágenes, y además tiene un final increíble, terrible y hermoso a la vez.

    No hablo japonés, y es una pena, entre otras cosas porque me encantaría poder leer más obras de TOBI Hirotaka.

  9. Seth Ellis says:

    Roald Dahl’s “Royal Jelly” is probably the only story that’s ever genuinely, physically horrified me. I read it when I was a kid, in some magazine I picked somewhere, and afterwards I forgot the name, the author, everything about it except the nightmares. When I was around thirty, I was flipping through a collection of Dahl’s short stories in a bookstore, and when I realized what story I was reading I actually cried aloud in horror and dropped the book.

    What’s so horrifying about it? Let’s see. The foreboding, the shoe that never drops, the alienness well portrayed, but I think mostly it was the fact that it was a direct pipeline into the mind of an author who was a genuinely unpleasant person. You can’t fake that with craft. I feel sticky just thinking about it. My own personal King in Yellow.

  10. Larry says:

    This is such a difficult question! There’s a short story that I loved to teach, Italo Calvino’s “The Colomber,” and then there’s the one that I loved as a student, William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.” But right now, if pressed, my favorite short story would be one that I’m (slowly) translating into English, Roberto Arlt’s “El jorobadito” (“The LIttle Hunchback”). Below is a snippet from the introductory paragraphs, still in the early draft stage:

    The diverse and exaggerated rumors spread as the result of the behavior that I observed in the company of Rigoletto, the hunchback, in Mrs. X’s house, in time turned many people against me.

    However, my peculiarities did not incur greater misfortunes until I perfected them by strangling Rigoletto.

    Wringing the hunchback’s neck has been for me a most ruinous and reckless act for my interests, one that threatens the existence of a benefactor of humanity.

    The police, judges and newspapers have fallen on me. And at this hour I still ask myself (considering the rigors of justice) if Rigoletto was not called to be a captain of men, a genius, or a philanthropist. Nothing else explains the cruelties of the law in taking revenge on the arrogance of a good-for-nothing, which, in order to pay for his insolence, it is insufficient for a brigade of well-born people to administer all the kicks they can to his ass.

    I am not unaware that worse events occur on the planet, but this is no reason for me to stop watching anxiously the leprous walls of the dungeon where I am housed awaiting a worse fate.But it was written that from a deformed man many difficulties would arise for me.

    Arlt is relatively unknown outside of Latin America, but he was an influence on Borges, Bioy Casares, and other mid-20th century Argentine writers. There is a sense of horror mixed in with a surrealism that makes each re-reading of his stories and novels a new adventure. It is a shame that he is not more readily known, but perhaps this little testimony will make some curious to read more of his work.

  11. Drax says:

    The Laughing Man by Salinger

    God, its elegance, compactness, imagination, visuals—or if you prefer, dear editor—its “descriptions.” There is so much. Childhood, storytelling, laughter, tragic love… and tragedy. The final paragraphs of The Laughing Man brilliantly fuse the “fiction” and the “reality” of the story into a heartbreaking conclusion. On my reverse bucket list of shit I wish I’d written, this would be in the top five.

  12. Ross Presser says:

    My favorite short story … is actually a comic book. It is now so long ago since I had it that I do not recall its name, nor who wrote it nor inked it. It was about “the exterminator of exterminators” — a supremely confident and competent rat exterminator, who was sent into a basement to kill the rats there. The basement had a subbasement, and another subbasement … and the rats kept getting bigger and scarier .. until the rat exterminator met the rat exterminator, which killed him. The last line: “The rats he preyed on — brought in an exterminator of their own!”

    It may have been in an issue of Swamp Thing, or it may have been some lesser book. But the horror I felt reading about those rats … has never left me.

  13. Alex John says:

    I have always really liked the bite-sized nature of short stories. My favorite of all time would probably be 1408 by Stephen King.

    Now, though I enjoy King’s novels, I do feel that they have a tendency to drag on and that King himself has a bad habit of ending stories either anticlimactically or with twist endings. Obviously, the brief nature of short stories means the elimination of any dragging and the mitigation of the feeling of disappointment usually accompanying a unsatisfactory ending. This is why I feel like he’s more suited to short stories, and also why Everything’s Eventual was my favorite King book.

    1408 remains the best story in the book, the best King story I’ve ever read, and my personal favorite short story because it has none of the flaws previously mentioned, while displaying in full King’s most overwhelming forte: the ability to describe the ethereal in a way that makes it feel real.

    That is what 1408 is all about. It starts out simply enough, with the main character, Enslin, talking to the hotel manager about his wishes to stay in a supposedly haunted room in order to research a novel he’s writing. At this point, horror clichés are thrown about with some success, but the story doesn’t really start until Enslin enters the room (or rather, is just about to). The story slowly ramps up from a crooked/straight/crooked door to a general feeling of euphoria, to a language/picture changing hotel menu, before insanity finally takes hold and the room becomes a porthole to hell. What’s amazing about this is that each facet of what makes the room disagreeable, from slightly bothersome to full-on satanic is described in King’s trademark detail, such that the reader actually feel as though they’re the ones staying in and being affected by the titular room rather than just the ones reading about it.

    I love this story. The slow descent into madness, the vivid expressionism, and the exciting climax all combine to create the nearly perfect short story. If this story teaches you nothing else, it will teach you that you don’t need to write an epic to affect readers. In 1408, King takes a simple concept: a haunted hotel room, puts his heart and soul into it, and makes it so much more.

  14. Tanya says:

    So many great short stories out there to choose from, it’s hard to pick a favorite. I have many depending on mood & story style; but for now, I’ll go with Peter Watts’s “The Things.”

    It’s an alternate P.O.V. for the movie The Thing (based on Campbell’s 1938 novella “Who Goes there?”), taking the perspective of the creature instead of the humans. Seeing Earth and our lifeforms as alien, and watching the creature figure out our biology, is intriguing. Even though the reader is seeing through alien eyes & senses, Watts still manages to keep the reader immersed. Though you know (if you’ve seen the film) how the story plays out, finding out how things unfold from the other side is fascinating. It’s reminiscent of some of Hal Clement’s works, but with a more modern writing style & feel.

    This is sci-fi at its best, spinning a tale that is entertaining, thought-provoking, and just a great story.

  15. 耕士 says:

    My favorite short story is “Dancing Babylon” by Osamu Makino. (Title is not sure because this short story may not be translated in English.
    Following comment is in Japanese.

    私の一押しは牧野修 著の「踊るバビロン」です。
    バイオテクノロジで作られた生物たちが人間の制御を離れて作った社会での少年?の冒険譚という感じのSF・・・というと全然違うような気もしますが、物語のぶっとび具合だけでなく、作品中の人物や事象についての独特の命名、たくさんの注など、何がどうなっているのかわかりませんが、圧倒的な迫力です。
    この作品の雰囲気を維持して英語に翻訳するのは至難の技ですが、どなたか頑張ってください。

  16. Lucas says:

    the spiralling thoughts
    all of the authors pile up
    impossible task

  17. BES says:

    Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance

    Jack Vance’s short story collection has the most vivid characters I have ever met in a short story. “Mazirian the Magician” is so vivid that years after the magicians character is still on my mind. If one was to flesh out a character this is the way to do it. Forget the setting. Forget the overarching story. Just you the reader and the character who for reasons unknown attempts to reach for strange and magical power. Whether he is moral or immoral does not matter. Just our relation with human need to possess that which we desire. I do not even need to tell you anything beforehand for you to read this story and come away with your imagination reeling.

  18. Danny B. says:

    My favorite short story (“favorite” being used loosely here since I can’t say for certain it’s my favorite among other short stories I really like) would have to be The Batman Adventures: “Mad Love”, the one-shot comic that told the story of how Harley Quinn, Joker’s girlfriend, came about. When I started thinking about what to say in this essay, I asked myself one question:

    What can one say about “Mad Love?”

    So does answering that question involve me relating to the story on how I met the person who was the embodiment of my dreams and took my breath away? Do I talk about the little twists in the story and how they’re reflected in the big, one-page panels and small, multi-page panels? (It seems I asked myself more than one question…)

    Instead, I’m going to be talking about the small things: the little touches that made this comic stand out to me. And for those of you who haven’t read “Mad Love”, know that I will be spilling spoilers in this essay.

    One of the things I like about this comic is that you can tell that this was planned out. There are moments of calm (especially in scenes with the Joker) where everything slows down a little to let the reader breathe for a second until BOOM! A character goes crazy in the next panel and the ride starts up again, setting off a chain of events that pulls you in by the shirt-collar and gets you excited on what’s coming up next. The story may be a romp set in the world that was originally a children’s show (Batman: The Animated Series) but it’s this kind of storytelling that makes it enjoyed by both children and adults. The comic doesn’t take itself too seriously but it does get serious when it needs to. We are dealing with psychopathic, mass-murdering clowns after all.

    Another thing that stood out for me was the lack of writing in a certain scene. There were no text boxes or dialog bubbles or lettering. The pages just displayed the story and let you see for yourself what drove Harleen into breaking the Joker out of the asylum and reveal herself as Harley Quinn in a big, one page panel, where the scene culminated itself. I believe it was her moment of clarity when she saw how bruised and beaten the Joker was after Batman delivered him back to the asylum. And the creators just let it play out. Perfect timing to not include any writing for a few pages in a comic.

    Reading through the comic, one might think that this another ripping Batman vs. Joker story, but really, it isn’t. It’s Harley Quinn’s story. And I think the Joker can’t stand that. A story where he appears and he’s not even the main villain? Blasphemous! It’s downright preposterous! It’s especially insulting to him when he’s the butt of the joke a few times in this story. Like at the end when Batman and Joker have their final confrontation, Batman says to him, “I knew your massive ego would never allow anyone else the “honor” of killing me. Though I have to admit she came a lot closer than YOU ever did…puddin’.” Oh, that sent the Joker over the edge. They battled it out in fisticuffs until the Joker was eventually defeated. It was an awesome way for Batman drive the knife in a little and twist it. As a reader, you cheer for him as he becomes the hero of the story and regains some traction.

    This is probably quite a long analysis on a small comic that came out in the early 1990s. I had only just read it in June but it really stuck with me with it’s imagery in the panels and the cool subtle hints that an adult can catch and enjoy.

    After my recent bout with “mad love”, you might say that I can understand what was going through Harley Quinn’s mind as she performed these acts in service of her love and have a hard time to escape that love when clearly it wasn’t going to work out. It happens to us all at one point, doesn’t it? To have some of the ice melt from around our hearts and show us that we lived. And in our own way, we would be the better for it.

  19. Aet Tran-Tõnissoo says:

    My favorites change with time, but currently I am thinking of “Minu esimesed triibulised” (my first striped trousers – a metaphor for a beating that leaves stripes on the bottom) by Eduard Vilde.

    Even if the story ends with the historically true beating of an Estonian child to make German rulers satisfied, by the time I was reading it, the fate had swiped off both the Germans and the manor owners.

    It is such a simple story – of a failed attempt of German manor owners to hire an Estonian servant child to play with their spoiled child. And even the language lesson would – hopefully – be something a contemporary child could not use.

    And yet so important for my world-building, essential to remind me from where I come and who I am. And something one needs to leave behind to become a global citizen.

    Why is this that the simple stories often prove to be more thought-provoking and long-lasting than much more elaborate and entertaining ones?

  20. あさみ says:

    宮内悠介「超動く家にて」(創元SF文庫「拡張幻想」所収)

    完全密室の宇宙船で発生した殺人事件。探偵とその助手は犯人拘束のため現場へと向かったが…

    お気に入りはたくさんあるけど誰もが知ってる名作を挙げたって仕方ないよね…という逆張り根性の行き着いた先。それにしたって限度があるんじゃないのかという突っ込みはご寛恕願いたい。
    「新本格」というミステリのジャンルがあります。人間ドラマはほどほどに、謎解きパズルの楽しさとどんでん返しの驚きを、とりわけ後者を重視するタイプのミステリ。とにかく読者をあっと言わせたもの勝ちなので、その作品はしばしばどぎつい悪ふざけの様相を帯びます。どうにかして読者の裏をかいてやろうとする作者と、そうはさせまいとする読者がいたちごっこを続けた結果、このところの新本格というやつはどうやらSFの領域に迷い込みつつあるようです。地上で成立し得ないトリックだというのなら、それが成り立つ宇宙に行けばいいじゃない!
    努力の方向性として正しいのかどうかよくわかりませんが、ある意味で最も切実にSFを必要としているこれらの作品群。中でも突き抜けているのがこの「超動く家にて」です。これ以上は何を書いてもspoilerになってしまうので、ぜひ読んでいただきたいなと思います。読み終わった後、思わず本を投げたい衝動に駆られるかもしれませんが、当方では一切の責任を負いません。

  21. PhilRM says:

    J.G. Ballard’s “Say Goodbye to the Wind”, which I first read as a teenager in the 3rd (and sadly, last) of Terry Carr’s terrific “New Worlds of Fantasy” anthology series. Because it’s spectacularly good. Because it was the first story by Ballard I’d ever read. Most of all, because of prose like: “His dead clothes hung on his muscular body like the husk of some violated fruit.”


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