Datlow, Ellen 1949–

views updated

Datlow, Ellen 1949–

(Ellen Sue Datlow)

PERSONAL: Born 1949.

ADDRESSES: Agent—Writer's House, 21 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10010.

CAREER: Editor. Omni and Omni Online, fiction editor, 1981–98; Event Horizon: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, editor, 1998–99, SciFi.com, science fiction editor, 2000–05.

AWARDS, HONORS: Special professional award, Omni magazine, 1995, for editing; World Fantasy Award in anthology category, 1989, for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: First Annual Collection (with Terri Wind-ling), 1990, for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Second Annual Collection (with Terri Windling), 1992, for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Fourth Annual Collection (with Terri Windling), 1995, for Little Deaths, 2000, for Silver Birch, Blood Moon (with Terri Wind-ling), and for The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest (with Terri Windling), 2003; Hugo Award nomination for best professional editor, 1990–96 and 2000; San Francisco Chronicle award for editing, 1991–92; Bram Stoker Award, Horror Writers Association, for superior achievement in anthology, 2001, for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Thirteenth Annual Collection (with Terri Windling), and 2005, for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Seventeenth Annual Collection (with Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant); Hugo Award, 2002, for best editor based on her work with SciFiction, and 2005, for best editor and best Website; Bram Stoker Award nomination (with Terri Windling) in anthology category, 2002, and World Fantasy Award nomination in anthology category, 2003, both for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Fifteenth Annual Collection. International Horror Guild Award in anthology, 2004, and Locus Award for Best Editor, 2005, both for The Dark: New Ghost Stories.

WRITINGS:

EDITOR OF ANTHOLOGIES

The First Omni Book of Science Fiction, Omni (Greensboro, NC), 1983.

The Third Omni Book of Science Fiction, Omni (Greensboro, NC), 1985.

(With Terri Windling) The Year's Best Fantasy: First Annual Collection, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1988.

Blood Is Not Enough: Seventeen Stories of Vampirism, Morrow (New York, NY), 1989.

(With Windling) The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.

Alien Sex: Nineteen Tales by the Masters of Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy, Dutton (New York, NY), 1990.

(Editor, with Windling) The Year's Best Fantasy, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), published as The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, St. Martin's Press, 1990–2003.

A Whisper of Blood, Morrow (New York, NY), 1991.

Omni Best Science Fiction, Omni (Greensboro, NC), 1991.

Omni Best Science Fiction Two, Omni (Greensboro, NC), 1992.

Omni Visions One, Omni (Greensboro, NC), 1993.

Omni Best Science Fiction Three, Omni Books (Greensboro, NC), 1993.

(With Windling) Snow White, Blood Red, Morrow (New York, NY), 1994.

Little Deaths, Dell (New York, NY), 1994.

(With Windling) Black Thorn, White Rose, Morrow (New York, NY), 1994.

(With Windling) Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears, Morrow (New York, NY), 1995.

Twists of the Tale: Cat Horror Stories, Dell (New York, NY), 1996.

Lethal Kisses, Dell (New York, NY), 1996.

Off Limits: Tales of Alien Sex, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.

(With Windling) Black Swan, White Raven, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1997.

(With Windling) Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers, Harper Prism (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Windling) Silver Birch, Blood Moon, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1999.

(With Windling) Black Heart, Ivory Bones, Avon Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Vanishing Acts, Tor (New York, NY), 2000.

(With Windling) A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY) 2000.

(With Windling) The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Windling) Swan Sister: Fairy Tales Retold, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.

The Dark: New Ghost Stories, Tor (New York, NY), 2003.

(With Windling) The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Kelly Link and Gavin Grant) The Year's Best Fantasy, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), published as The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, 2004–05.

Author's papers, including her correspondence files as fiction editor of Omni magazine and Omni Online as well as some correspondence files from her role as editor of SciFi.com, are held in the Science Fiction Foundation Collection at the University of Liverpool.

WORK IN PROGRESS: The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales, with Terri Windling.

SIDELIGHTS: Ellen Datlow, who served as fiction editor for Omni from 1981 to 1998, is one of the most influential science-fiction and fantasy editors in the United States. Through her years editing anthologies and reading science fiction, fantasy and horror stories, Datlow has been a central influence shaping these literary genres to the twenty-first century. Her work includes three spin-off anthologies from Omni, the annual "Year's Best Science Fiction" series and the "Omni Visions" series. She has also edited a series of stories about vampires, and anthologies of science fiction stories based on the idea of Alien Sex. She has collaborated with Terri Windling on a series of anthologies based on fairy tales, as well as on annual volumes in "The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror" series.

Datlow edited three volumes of Omni, Best Science Fiction, 1991–1993. Each volume presents previously unpublished and reprinted stories from Omni magazine by emerging and established writers. Critics praised the anthologies for their quality writing. She also edited Omni Visions One and Omni Visions Two in 1993 and 1994, supplementing the "Best Science Fiction" anthology series. Carl Hays in Booklist wrote of the first volume: "Although a few of the ten pieces fall short of the superlative, all bear the Omni trademark for extending the boundaries of science fiction into high art." This first volume featured a story by William S. Burroughs, in which a pirate captain hallucinates a relationship with the endangered lemurs of eighteenth-century Madagascar, and another by Joyce Carol Oates, in which she proposes that nightmares are alternate realities. The first two volumes of "The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror" series, which began in 1988, won World Fantasy Awards and critics' praise. Susan Hamburger commented in the Library Journal that "the editors' consistently good choices make this an excellent purchase for all fantasy and horror collections."

Datlow's second major collaboration with Windling began with the anthology, Snow White, Blood Red. In this collection of retold adult fairy tales, writers such as Gahan Wilson, Tanith Lee, and Jane Yolen take a more sinister approach to fairy tales. In Kathe Koja's retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, readers discover what Red Riding Hood was really up to on her way to grandma's house, and an annoyed stepmother turns a family of baseball-obsessed boys into "The Springfield Swans." Meg Wolitzer writing in the New York Times Book Review, wrote that the book "hovers somewhere between childhood and adulthood, not quite possessing either the magic of the unforgettable fairy tales read to us as children or the subtlety of the unforgettable stories we now read to ourselves as adults."

In the second anthology in the series, Black Thorn, White Rose, Midori Snyder tells how to hold onto the romance once "happily ever after" has been going on for a while, and Yolen revises Rumpelstiltskin with a Jewish money lender who helps the wrong princess and gets caught in a pogrom. Reviewing Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears, the third in the series, Roland Green of Booklist complained that "far too many of [the stories] struggle to make old tales fit the Procrustean beds of modern psychology." Nevertheless, Green added: "The whole volume still will reward connoisseurs of superior literary fantasy prepared to slog through psychobabble and political agendas." A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised Black Swan, White Raven as a rewarding anthology for "readers looking for deeper insight into childhood stories." In a review of Silver Birch, Blood Moon, Booklist contributor Roland Green noted: "Datlow and Windling's fifth anthology of stories intended to recraft classic fairy tales onto their original, grimmer roots … actually improves on the preceding four."

In 1989, Datlow published Blood Is Not Enough: Seventeen Stories of Vampirism. The "raison d'etre" of these stories, writes Datlow in the introduction, "is the draining of life, energy, will." Thus there are few literal vampires, except for Wilson's "The Sea Was Wet as Wet Could Be," which revisits the Walrus-and-Carpenter of Lewis Carroll, and Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann's "Down among the Dead Men," about a vampire trapped in a Nazi concentration camp. A critic for Kirkus Reviews wrote: "Good chills, and some unusual imaginings, add up to an admirable collection that should satisfy most horror fans." The sequel to Blood Is Not Enough is A Whisper of Blood. Again, these stories are not about literal vampires; rather, vampires are metaphors for a detrimental relationship. As a reviewer for Publishers Weekly wrote: "Readers looking for shock and horror will be gratified; those who want fangs in the neck must settle for tongue in cheek." In Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's "Do I Dare Eat a Peach?" a secret government agency siphons off the identity of one of its agents. An academic imposes on a colleague's precious creative time to deadly ends in Edward Wagner's "The Slug."

Alien Sex: Nineteen Tales by the Masters of Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy marks the first of Datlow's anthologies to address sex and science fiction directly. In Harlan Ellison's "How's the Night Life on Cissalda," a time and space traveler returns to earth locked in passionate embrace with a monumentally seductive creature. And, in Rick Wilber's "War Bride," blue-skinned aliens leave only rubble after conquering a former pro basketball player. Charles Platt, writing in the Washington Post Book World, praised Datlow for her editorial flexibility: "Datlow seems to have imposed no strictures or guidelines, and her own introduction espouses no position or agenda. In effect she has chosen a fishing net, tossed it into the river, and waited to see what strange creatures might happen to swim in. The result is a jarring mix of voices and moods, but almost all the stories are interesting in their strangeness, and this is, overall, an excellent collection containing something to please just about anyone."

The sequel, Off Limits: Tales of Alien Sex is, according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, a collection in which "the best stories rely not upon interstellar orgies or futuristic sex toys but upon the sexual foibles of human beings on 20th-century Earth." The reviewer added: "This is provocative reading not just for SF fans but for all those who sometimes feel that the opposite sex is just too strange to be from the same planet." Datlow took sex from the world of science fiction into fantasy with Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers, another collaboration with Windling. This anthology features stories by writers such as Lee, Oates, Storm Constantine, Neil Gaiman, Pat Murphy, and Ellen Kushner.

In A Wolf at the Door and Swan Sister: Fairy Tales Retold, Datlow and coeditor Terri Windling present a series of stories for children that are either similar to well-known tales, such as Will Shetterly's "Little Red and the Big Bad," or include folklore in their telling, such as story about a fish that can grant wishes. "In this anthology, noted children's and adult fantasy writers play with the bones of traditional stories, songs, and characters to create thirteen vibrant, imaginative short stories," wrote Susan Hepler in the School Library Journal. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the anthology "an above-average gathering." Writing in Booklist, Hazel Rochman noted that "the ideas are fun."

Datlow presents sixteen stories both by well-known writers and newcomers in The Dark: New Ghost Stories. Among the prominent writers included is Joyce Carol Oates, who tells about a woman riding a subway who is trapped in a recurring death episode in the story "Subway." Writing in Kirkus Reviews a reviewer called the collection "top-drawer." Ray Olson, writing in Booklist, noted that the stories are "agreeably varied in locale, period, and style." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that "this book is sure to provide a yardstick by which future ghost fiction will be measured."

The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm edited by Datlow and Terri Windling, presents seventeen stories and three poems that focus on nature's spirits and sprites. Carolyn Phelan, writing in Booklist, commented that the "stories bring magical elements into modern settings." For example, "CATNYP" by Delia Sherman features two young children who live in a fairy world parallel to the real-life New York City. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote: "This is a treasure chest. Open it and revel in its riches." Sharon Rawlins noted in the School Library Journal that the stories provide "an intriguing look at many different kinds of fairies."

Datlow has continued to serve as a coeditor of the The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror titles. In the sixteenth annual collection, Datlow and Windling offer a wide range of both fiction and poetry. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the anthology includes "an impressively broad array of venues ranging from literary journals to genre publications, on-fine markets and even a rock music tour book." Kristine Huntley, writing in Booklist, commented: "Horror buffs will want this comprehensive collection."

For the seventeenth installment of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror Datlow teams up with new coeditors Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant to present both poems and short stories "that illustrate modern fantasy's breadth and variety," as noted by a Publishers Weekly contributor. The anthology includes stories by well-known writers such as Stephen King and Ursula K. Le Guin. The Publishers Weekly contributor commented that "these stories are proof that the best fantastic fiction is modern mythmaking at its finest."

The eighteenth volume in the The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthology series, once again coedited by Datlow, Kelly Link, and Gavin J. Grant, includes stories by Peter Straub ("Mr. Aickman's Air Rifle") and Chuck Palahniuk ("Guts"), to name but a few of the contributors. A Publishers Weekly contributor especially liked the horror stories chosen by Datlow, noting: "Datlow's well-regarded series continues to take the pulse of contemporary fantastic literature with intriguing results." Writing in Booklist, Ray Olson called the anthology "a terrific collection for sophisticated genre fans."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Clute, John, and Peter Nichols, editors, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1993.

Datlow, Ellen, editor, Blood Is Not Enough: Seventeen Stories of Vampirism, Morrow (New York, NY), 1989.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 1, 1993, Carl Hays, review of Omni Visions One; July, 1994, Carl Hays, review of Omni Visions Two, p. 1928; August, 1994, Ray Olson, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Seventh Annual Collection, p. 2030; August, 1994, Ray Olson, review of Black Thorn, White Rose, p. 2030; August, 1995, Roland Green, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Eighth Annual Collection, p. 1933; December 15, 1995, Roland Green, review of Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears, p. 689; March 15, 1999, Roland Green, review of Silver Birch, Blood Moon, p. 1293; September 1, 2000, Roland Green, review of The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror: Thirteenth Annual Collection, p. 73; August, 2003, Kristine Huntley, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Sixteenth Annual Collection, p. 1969; September 15, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Swan Sister: Fairy Tales Retold, p. 232; November 1, 2003, Ray Olson, review of The Dark: New Ghost Stories, p. 486; April 15, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm, p. 1450; August, 2004, Ray Olson, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Seventeenth Annual Collection, p. 1914; August, 2005, Ray Olson, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Eighteenth Annual Collection, p. 2010.

Bookwatch, November, 2004, review of The Faery Reel.

Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 1988, review of Blood Is Not Enough: Seventeen Stories of Vampirism; September 1, 2003, review of Swan Sister, p. 1121; September 15, 2003, review of The Dark, p. 1142; May 15, 2004, review of The Faery Reel, p. 489.

Library Journal, October 15, 1997, Susan Hamburger, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror; October 15, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of The Dark, p. 102.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February, 2004, Charles De Lint, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Sixteenth Annual Collection, p. 34.

New York Times Book Review, January 31, 1993, Meg Wolitzer, review of Snow White, Blood Red, p. 29.

People, July 30, 1990, David Hiltbrand, review of Alien Sex: Nineteen Tales by the Masters of Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy, p. 18; June 14, 1999, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Twelfth Annual Collection, p. 55; May 22, 2000, review of Vanishing Acts, p. 78; September 4, 2000, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Thirteenth Annual Collection, p. 90.

Planet Pulp, December, 2002, Joe Nassise, "Planet Pulp Interview."

Publishers Weekly, April 6, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of Alien Sex, p. 105; June 22, 1990, Penny Kaganoff, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: The Third Annual Collection, p. 49; July 12, 1991, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Fourth Annual Collection, p. 61; August 23, 1991, review of A Whisper of Blood, p. 44; July 6, 1992, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Fifth Annual Collection, p. 50; August 31, 1992, review of Omni Best Science Fiction One, p. 69; November 23, 1992, review of Snow White, Blood Red, p. 57; May 17, 1993, review of Omni Best Science Fiction Three, p. 72; July 5, 1993, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Sixth Annual Collection, p. 68; November 1, 1993, review of Omni Visions One, p. 72; June 27, 1994, review of Omni Visions Two, p. 71; August 8, 1994, review of Black Thorn, White Rose, p. 392; July 17, 1995, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Eighth Annual Collection, p. 227; December 11, 1995, review of Off Limits, p. 60; May 26, 1997, review of Black Swan, White Raven, p. 71; July 28, 2003, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Sixteenth Annual Collection, p. 83; October 20, 2003, review of The Dark, p. 39; July 12, 2004, review of The Faery Reel, p. 65; August 2, 2004, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Seventeenth Annual Collection, p. 56; July 11, 2005, review of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Eighteenth Annual Collection, p. 67.

School Library Journal, December, 2003, Susan Hepler, review of Swan Sister, p. 148; July, 2004, Sharon Rawlins, review of The Faery Reel, p. 104.

Washington Post Book World, May 27, 1990, Charles Platt, review of Alien Sex.

ONLINE

Ellen Datlow Home Page, http://www.datlow.com (May 22, 2006).

Hellbound Books.com, http://www.hellboundbooks.com/ (April 28, 2006), David T. Wilbanks, "The Questions 10 for Ellen Datlow."

SF Reader, http://www.sfreader.com/ (November 21, 2004), Daniel Blackston, "An Interview with Ellen Datlow."

SFSite, http://www.sfsite.com/ (April 28, 2006), Rodger Turner, "A Conversation with Ellen Datlow."

SciFi.comhttp://www.scifi.com/ (April 28, 2006), brief profile of author.

Writers Write, http://www.writerswrite.com/ (April 28, 2006), "Spotlight On … OMNI Magazine."

About this article

Datlow, Ellen 1949–

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article