Picks and Pans Review: My Favorite Thrilling Tales

UPDATED 05/12/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/12/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

MICHAEL CHABON The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavaiier and Clay and editor of the new anthology McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales recalls some classic genre short stories:

Edith Wharton, "Afterward." This poignant, lyrical ghost story about a deluded and self-deluding wife whose husband has disappeared is one of Wharton's best short works.

H. P. Lovecraft, "At the Mountains of Madness." With its epic sweep and controlled tone of cosmic hysteria, this was among the inspirations for my Antarctic sequence in Kavaiier & Clay.

Ray Bradbury, "The Rocket Man." The narrative of the young son of a rocket pilot, when I first encountered it at the age of 10 or 11, determined me to be a writer. I still hold up everything I write to the impossible standard of producing the same wondrous shudder of sorrow in a reader that its ending produced in me.

Raymond Chandler, "Red Wind." This is his best story—taut, dark fun.

Cordwainer Smith, "Scanners Live in Vain." The scanners are men who have sacrificed their humanity, in a manner whose depiction is creepily convincing, to enable human beings to navigate the stars.

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