Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 3

by William Schafer
Release date: August 2020
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: fantasydark fantasy, anthology

Edited by William Schafer. Dust jacket illustration by Dave McKean.

Tales of darkness and inexplicable happenings have always been with us — and always will. In its contemporary form, this sort of story is not only alive and well, but flourishing, and it continues to speak to us in a variety of voices. Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 3 is the latest installment in an acclaimed anthology series, and it brings together ten voices — some familiar, some less so — that are at once distinctive, compelling, and irresistible.The volume opens with award-winning novelist Kat Howard’s “An Orderly Progression of Hearts,” an elegant meditation on the fragility of the human heart; and closes with acclaimed newcomer P. Djèlí Clark’s “Skin Magic,” a stunning account of sorcery and dark magic set in an unnamed third world country. Elsewhere in the anthology, Caitlin R. Kíernan (“Cherry Street Tango, Sweat Box Waltz”) offers a piece of near-future noir in which a “blackstrap” (a hired assassin) contemplates the failure of her latest murderous assignment. “At the Threshold of Your Bedchamber on the Fifth Night” by Sarah Gailey is the tale of a courtship that leads to a most unusual consummation. In “Final Course,” a rare short story by rising star C.J. Tudor, the reunion of old school friends takes a savage and unexpected turn. In addition to these and other stellar tales by the likes of Bentley Little, Richard Kadrey, Stephen Gallagher and Ian R. MacLeod, Tales of Dark Fantasy 3 contains Robert R. McCammon’s “Death Comes for the Rich Man,” a rare novella set in Colonial America and featuring McCammon’s popular “problem solver,” Matthew Corbett.

The limited edition of this superb anthology comes with a very special signed bonus hardcover: Always Going On by Tim Powers. A 14,000 word autobiographical essay of immense charm, it offers a highly personal glimpse into the mind, memories, and personal esthetics of one of modern fantasy’s most durable — and original — artists. Always Going On is both a gift to Powers’ many readers, and an invaluable supplement to an extraordinary body of work.

From Publishers Weekly:

“The striking third volume in Subterranean Press’s series of dark fantasy anthologies comprises 10 masterful, original tales... A woman witnesses the purchase and renovation of her former home in Stephen Gallagher’s brilliant ghost story ‘Twisted Hazel,’ which is told with such finesse as to put readers in mind of haunting masters Shirley Jackson and Daphne du Maurier. The other standout, Robert McCammon’s ‘Death Comes for the Rich Man,’ is a powerful gothic tale of failed parenthood and fast approaching death... Devotees of dark fantasy won’t want to pass up this excellent anthology.”

From Locus:

“The third of an occasional anthology series (previous volumes appeared in 2008 and 2011), William Schafer’s Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 3 offers ten stories by top-notch writers. It starts off with ”An Orderly Progression of Hearts” by Kat Howard, a very short rumination on the vagaries of the human heart. Next up is Caitlín R. Kiernan’s ‘Cherry Street Tango, Sweatbox Waltz’, a near-future neo-noir story featuring Elenore Sakellarios, an accomplished assassin undergoing torture that includes Lewis Carroll and fairytale responses.

“The world as we know it is beginning to fall apart in C.J. Tudor’s ‘Final Course’... Tudor masterfully sets it all up for maximum impact and wickedly plays our own expectations against us.”


  • An Orderly Progression of Hearts — Kat Howard
  • Cherry Street Tango, Sweatbox Waltz — Caitlín R. Kiernan
  • Estate Sale — Bentley Little
  • Twisted Hazel — Stephen Gallagher
  • Death Comes for the Rich Man — Robert McCammon
  • At the Threshold of Your Bedchamber on the Fifth Night — Sarah Gailey
  • Final Course — C. J. Tudor
  • Lamagica — Ian R. MacLeod
  • Razor Pig — Richard Kadrey
  • Skin Magic — P. Djèlí Clark
updated 2020-08-24

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