Beneath an Oil-Dark Sea

by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Release date: November 2015
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, short stories

Dust jacket by Lee Moyer.

In his Locus review of Two Worlds and In Between — the first volume of The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan — Gary K. Wolfe wrote, “ makes you wish the second volume were here now.” Well, the long wait is almost over. Beneath an Oil-Dark Sea: The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan (Volume Two) completes this ambitious undertaking, collecting the finest of Kiernan's stories from 2004 to 2012, selected by the author herself. The book includes twenty-five short stories and one poem, plus the short novel Black Helicopters — over two hundred thousand words of fiction, including the World Fantasy Award-winning “The Prayer of Ninety Cats.”

In his introduction, S. T. Joshi writes, “Caitlín R. Kiernan does not care to be called a 'horror writer,' and with good reason: that term is far too crude and blunt to convey even a fraction of all the diverse elements that make her work unique. Perhaps she wishes to be a writer of what Lovecraft called 'weird fiction'; or maybe she prefers Aickman’s coinage 'strange stories.' These terms seem sufficiently broad and ambiguous to encompass the multiplicity of tones, moods, manners, and motifs that make up Kiernan’s short fiction, and in this volume you will find the full range of her work amply displayed. Her output to date has already placed her at the head of her field; she has nothing more to prove. Any subsequent work can only augment her achievement.”

The collection includes the first complete bibliography of Kiernan's writing (1985-2015), and the limited edition will included a new hardcover (over 25,000 words) of unpublished material, False/Starts II: Being Another Compendium of Beginnings.


  • Introduction by S. T. Joshi

PART ONE (Atlanta, 2004-2008)

  • Bradbury Weather
  • Pony
  • Untitled 17
  • A Child’s Guide to the Hollow Hills
  • The Ammonite Violin (Murder Ballad No. 4)
  • A Season of Broken Dolls
  • In View of Nothing
  • The Ape’s Wife
  • The Steam Dancer (1896)
  • In the Dreamtime of Lady Resurrection
  • Pickman’s Other Model (1929)

PART TWO (Providence, 2008-2012)

  • Galapagos
  • The Melusine (1898)
  • As Red as Red
  • Fish Bride (1970)
  • The Mermaid of the Concrete Ocean
  • The Sea Troll’s Daughter
  • Hydraguros
  • Houndwife
  • The Maltese Unicorn
  • Tidal Forces
  • And the Cloud That Took the Form
  • The Prayer of Ninety Cats
  • Daughter Dear Desmodus
  • One Tree Hill (The World as Cataclysm)
  • Black Helicopters
  • Epilogue: Atlantis
  • Bibliography/Publication History
  • Illustrations (Bonus in Limited)
updated 2015-11-29

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