Poe collects stories that honor Edgar Allan Poe

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Award-winning editor Ellen Datlow's new anthology, Poe, contains 19 tales of suspense, dark fantasy and horror inspired by the work of Edgar Allan Poe and is being published in conjunction with the bicentennial of the great writer's birth.

"I have always loved Poe, and I've always enjoyed pushing the envelope in theme anthologies, so it was perfect timing and the perfect project for me," Datlow said in an interview. Each contributor chose a Poe story, poem or essay and used it as a jumping-off point to create a new story.

Author Kim Newman's follows a wannabe low-budget movie producer who accidentally creates a "Poe plague" that infects every movie being made in Hollywood. "Whether the creators want it or not, they've got elements of the Roger Corman-produced series of movies from the '60s finding their way into everything from The Pink Panther to Doctor Zhivago," Datlow said.

While Newman's story is darkly humorous, Kristine Kathryn Rusch's tale, inspired by Poe's "The Mystery of Marie Roget," is deadly serious. It tells the story of a woman whose life is ruined by a vicious assault. In a similar vein is Suzy McKee Charnas' brilliant contemporary retelling of "The Masque of the Red Death," in which a group of filmmakers and hangers-on isolate themselves outside of Cannes to avoid a modern plague.

One of the great things about Poe is that his work inspires talented contemporary writers to riff on his themes in the most amazing ways, Datlow said. But what's made his work last and continue to inspire readers and writers for 200 years is his ability to tell a ripping good yarn while exploring the human condition.

"[Also,] his flexibility in using different genres to convey those yarns," Datlow said. "And his poetry is memorable. Even if one doesn't care for it, it sure stays with you once you've read it or heard it read aloud."

Two new anthologies edited by Datlow are due out this spring. First is the Nebula Award Showcase anthology, which she edited for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Following shortly after is a middle-grade fantasy anthology called Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales, which Datlow co-edited with Terri Windling.