Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Apr. 2015 (Issue 31)

We have original fiction from Desirina Boskovich (“The Island”) and Charles Payseur (“Spring Thaw”), along with reprints by Usman Malik (“Ishq”) and Nancy Kilpatrick (“The Age of Sorrow”).
We also have Seanan McGuire penning the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” plus author spotlights with our authors, a showcase on our cover artist, and a feature interview with author and founder of Cemetery Dance Publications, Richard Chizmar.

In This Issue: Apr. 2015 (Issue 31)

Editorial

Editorial, April 2015

Check out the Editorial for a run-down of this month’s terrific content, and all our news and updates.

Fiction

The Island

I was five when we moved to the island. Mommy and Daddy knew that the end was near. There were harbingers, omens, and dire events: poisoned apples, collapsing buildings, broken sidewalks, and the ever-present idiot boxes, a parade of heathens that prayed in tongues. A riot over papayas and saddle shoes broke out in the fifth quarter, and half the city burned. In a far-off desert, our soldiers fought the sand worms.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Desirina Boskovich

I remembered what it felt like to be four or five or six years old, when everything about the world is as garbled and surreal and strange as it will ever be. Historic events unfold around you and feel mundane, while mundane events take on historic proportions. Adults argue in hushed tones above your head or explode into screaming fights you can’t understand. Everything is insane and magical and terrifying.

Fiction

Ishq

They whispered: Parveen is in love with the shakarkandi vendor. Figures, said the shocked neighborhood women. Fitting that the girl with polio, this seventeen-year-old with the face of an angel and the leg of a hobbled horse, who stood at her window every night staring into the ghostly depth of Narrow Alley would steal glances at the bright-eyed boy with muscles sharp and confident in his back and a perpetual smile on his face.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Usman T. Malik

The word “ishq” means “passionate love.” However, in Urdu, Arabic, and Farsi at least, it has mystical connotations. In Sufi circles, some writers in the Naqshbandi tradition have written that the word is derived from “ashiqa,” which is a creeping vine. When the vine of Ishq takes root in the heart of a lover, all other-than-God is effaced. The epitome of Love is when the Lover is annihilated unto the Beloved and the drop returns to the Ocean. That pain and longing for one’s beloved, whether human or divine, is part of its meaning.

Nonfiction

The H Word: Dropping the Vial

The true horror of disease is not the late stages — not the bleeding and the internalized necrosis and the uncontrollable rage, although those things can be terrifying. For me, the true horror of disease comes from the silent way it moves through the world, taking what it wants, touching everyone in its path. Disease is not a 1980s slasher, coming for those who fail to subscribe to some cinematic subset of Puritan values. Disease is not a killer shark, waiting for foolish swimmers to dive into the sea. Disease is a part of the natural world.

Fiction

Spring Thaw

When Lucas walked in and nodded toward the Ice Bus, I thought for a fleeting moment he was finally going to make a move. Not that there was much of a dating scene in the small research station, but sometimes I would walk a short way away from camp and lie on my back and watch the stars and imagine that I could feel the Antarctic ice streams moving beneath me. And every time I would wish someone else was there with me, to let the sound of their breathing tether me to the Earth while my mind wandered among the distant lights.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Charles Payseur

This story is basically my Wisconsin spring story. Spring normally hits here in May. For the last two years we’ve had snow well into May, and last year was the worst winter in a long time. We had something like a foot and a half of snow on the ground for three months. It was . . . not fun. So the moment it was warm enough to go outside my partner and I were biking on the trails around town. And the first thing you notice here in the spring is the deer corpses.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Dariusz Zawadzki

Dariusz Zawadzki was born in Poland in 1958. Since childhood, he has built surreal worlds in his imagination. At eleven he started painting and has never looked back. Growing up, he wanted to attend an artistic secondary school, but was told his eyesight was too poor. Refusing to let others stymie his artistic development, Dariusz taught himself the ins and outs of painting, and developed his own techniques.

Fiction

The Age of Sorrow

Grief had taken hold of her long ago. Long before the cataclysm. Long before everything had disintegrated: the planet, its people, her life. Hope for the future. She crouched at the top of the hill, turning her head slowly from side to side, seeing only what the UV aviator goggles allowed her to view, scanning 180 degrees of verdant landscape, watching. Always watching.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Nancy Kilpatrick

In some genres, particularly horror, females are not popular protagonists unless they are either helpless victims or ball-breaking, kick-ass kung fu masters. Most of the women I know are like me, they get the job — whatever it is that has to be done — done, and they live their lives as women, for whom menstruation, menopause and sometimes childbirth are natural physical and psychological and emotive occurrences, and part of being female. Women take these experiences for granted.

Nonfiction

Interview: Richard Chizmar

In 1988, a college student named Richard Chizmar decided to start a horror magazine. Now, more than a quarter-of-a-century later, that magazine — Cemetery Dance — has become one of the horror genre’s longest-running print magazines, and Chizmar has become a respected publisher, editor, author, and screenwriter. Cemetery Dance Publications recently published its 300th book, and Chizmar’s Hollywood work (with co-writer Johnathon Schaech) includes an adaptation of Bentley Little’s “The Washingtonians” for Showtime’s Masters of Horror series.