6) Different Kinds of Darkness, by David Langford
This is a collection of all Langford’s short fiction not collected elsewhere (and also some that is). About half of it consists of his sf stories, ranging from decent to excellent in quality, including the brilliant "A Game of Consequences". Though I was struck that several of them revolved around a nuclear war and post-Holoocaust Britain; I guess we have different nightmares now.
Rather to my surprise the quality of the four pure fantasy stories in the collection is markedly inferior; I found them all somewhat formulaic. Again, rather to my surprise, I enjoyed almost all of the nine horror stories that followed, a genre I don’t normally think of myself as liking much.
But the crowning glory of the collection is the sequence of "BLIT" stories. Langford has taken the idea of the drawings that kill you when you look at them and riffed it four different ways – police procedural ("BLIT"), academic politics ("What Happened at Cambridge IV"), usenet document ("comp.basilisk FAQ") and schoolboy yarn ("Different Kinds of Darkness", which won a Hugo). The third of these actually gives a genealogy of the concept including Fred Hoyle’s The Black Cloud, J.B. Priestley’s The Shapes of Sleep, Piers Anthony’s Macroscope, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and Monty Python’s sketch about the deadly effects of the World’s Funniest Joke. I would add to these H.P. Lovecraft’s "The Colour Out Of Space" and the experiments of Policeman MacCruiskeen in Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman. But I have made that point before.