Ambrose Bierce: Collected Fiction (3 VOLS)




  • Three volumes, sold as a set.

  • Individual volumes available on
  • Edited by S. T. Joshi
  • Cover artwork by P. N. Bueringer, from the San Francisco Wasp (1893).
  • Cover design by Kevin I. Slaughter
  • ISBN 978-1-61498-316-3: trade paper


Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914?) was the leading American writer of weird fiction between Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. Having served in some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, Bierce settled in San Francisco, where he became a fearless journalist and satirist, attacking corrupt politicians, long-winded clerics, wretched poetasters, and others who incurred his wrath. But from the beginning of his career, Bierce wrote stories of all different types—humorous sketches, satirical squibs, and weird tales.

The stories in this volume are presented in definitive texts based on a consultation of manuscripts and early publications. They are edited by S. T. Joshi, a leading authority on Bierce and weird fiction.


Volume 1: Tales of Psychological and Supernatural Horror

This volume prints some of his most memorable fiction—his tales of psychological and supernatural horror. Ambrose Bierce was a profound student of the psychology of fear, and his tales depicted human beings succumbing to the fear of death (“A Watcher by the Dead”), fear of wild animals (“The Man and the Snake,” “The Eyes of the Panther”), and the inhumanity of human beings against their own kind (“A Holy Terror,” “A Baby Tramp”). Other tales venture into the supernatural, introducing the notion of revenants (“The Death of Halpin Frayser”), ghosts (“The Moonlit Road”), and haunted houses (“The Boarded Window”). Some stories are forward-looking tales of science fiction (“The Damned Thing,” “Moxon’s Master”), while others appear to be parodies of the fashionable spiritualism of the day.


Volume 2: Tales of the Civil War and Tales of the Grotesque

Bierce wrote a substantial quantity of short fiction. It took some time for him to process his Civil War experiences and transmute them into fiction, but when he did so, beginning in the 1880s, he produced some of the most memorable stories to emerge out of that conflict. Many of these tales border on the weird, as in the celebrated “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” a masterful tale of psychological terror; the grisly “Chickamauga”; “One of the Missing,” a grim account of the fear of death; and “A Horseman in the Sky,” which mingles realism and fantasy. Another side of Bierce is revealed in his tales of the grotesque, where outrageous scenarios and broad humor are the keynotes. Many of these tales are set in the Wild West, where encounters with bears, Native Americans, and others can lead to horror and death. Particularly memorable are a quartet of stories that Bierce labelled “The Parenticide Club.”


Volume 3: Tall Tales and Satirical Sketches; Political Fantasies and Future Histories

Bierce’s satirical flair is most prevalent in his tall tales and similar sketches, where all manner of human foibles are lampooned: the excesses of the press; the corruption endemic in business; the absurdities of class distinctions; and so on. Several tales depict buffooneries on the open sea (“The Jeannette and the Corwin,” “The History of Windbag the Sailor”), while others expose the crudities of life in the American West (“A Mirage in Arizona”). A distinctive facet of Bierce’s work is a series of political fantasies, several of them taking place in the future, where his skewering of social and political institutions—the dominance of “trusts” or monopolies; the evils of insurance; and the very principle of democracy—are pungently satirized.






This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 19 November, 2020.