Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Dec. 2014 (Issue 27)

We have original fiction from Tim Lebbon (“Embers”) and newcomer Seras Nikita (“Bog Dog”). For reprints, we have work from Christa Faust (“Bodywork”) and Michael Marshall Smith (“Night Falls, Again”).
In the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” Simon Strantzas talks about the strange and the weird. We’ve also got author spotlights with our authors, a showcase on our cover artist, and a feature interview with Robert Shearman.

In This Issue: Dec. 2014 (Issue 27)

Editorial

Editorial, December 2014

For all the news , updates, and a run-down of this month’s content, make sure to read the Editorial.

Nonfiction

In Memoriam: Karen Jones, Nightmare Art Director

The Nightmare family is sad to report that our art director, Karen Jones, died suddenly in early November, of natural causes. In tribute to her, we offer these words of loving memory from two of her best friends in the field, Jennifer Heddle and John Picacio.

Fiction

Embers

They had known that the pillbox was in the woods, but for some reason they’d never got around to visiting it. Andy thought maybe it was because the older kids went there sometimes, smoking cigarettes and drinking cider and, so rumour had it, getting blowjobs from Mandy Sullivan. He wasn’t entirely sure what a blowjob was—though his older brother Nick seemed to think it was something to do with sticking your tongue into your cheek—but those ideas were enough to keep the pillbox out of bounds.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Tim Lebbon

I live in a lovely part of the countryside, and scattered around where I live (South Wales) there are at least half a dozen pillboxes. These are buildings that were built in WWII—designed as heavily fortified machine gun emplacements—and they formed defensive lines across southern and eastern Britain in case of a German invasion. They weren’t designed to stop the enemy advance, just slow it down. They were always built in line of sight of the next pillbox, and though many have now vanished, there are still lots of these overgrown, solid buildings, usually made of cast concrete and brick. They’ve always interested me.

Fiction

Bodywork

Anna hadn’t even wanted to go to the car show. She told herself that when Ruby called she would bow out, make some excuse. But when the phone shattered the hot stillness of her un-air-conditioned studio, pulling her up from thin, twisted sleep, she knew before she laid a hand on the receiver that she would give in, just like she always did.

Nonfiction

The H Word: The Strange Story

We’ve heard a tremendous amount recently about the rising popularity of weird fiction. How much, or little, this “new weird” shares with the New Weird movement of a few years ago I’ll leave to the scholars to debate. The long and the short of it is that every few years a new thread of horror fiction is held up as being the next great thing, and currently that thing is a strain of weird fiction that draws its inspiration primarily (even if not obviously) from Lovecraft, as well as Chambers, Howard, Ligotti, and so on. We see it combined with other genres, diluted and distorted into various shapes, but at the end of the day, right now the “weird” is king.

Fiction

Bog Dog

My hands were badly chapped that fall, the year we found Bog Dog. At least that I remember. The ground iced in early September, a month and a half early, and we had to dig the turnips from the earth with trowels. The soil was like pebbles of ice and the turnip tops were stiffened with freezing juice that re-froze on our hands as we sliced them off.

Author Spotlight

Author Spolight: Seras Nikita

I work in visual effects (for film) as my day job, so I think that visual storytelling is always a big part of my writing. Narrating is kind of a cheat, in both worlds. It’s cheating to tell a reader what to think, and it’s bossy and flimsy and a lot can go wrong. Better to give them something physical to react to and trust that they’ll arrive at whatever you’re getting at by themselves.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Brom

I wrote an entire novel on dear old Krampus … Hard not to love a figure that revels in putting naughty children in a sack and beating the snot out of them. In addition to his child minding, I enjoy his long history that extends far back to pagan times, long before Saint Nicholas came along and stole the holiday season from him. I love the idea of Krampus returning to reclaim Christmas, which is probably why it’s the premise of my novel.

Fiction

Night Falls, Again

I’m not thinking about where I’m going to sit. I’m not thinking about anything at all. No sir. Not me. My mind is a total blank. I’m just walking into a bar to have a drink, which is a perfectly reasonable ambition. People do it, all the time. Everywhere. That’s what bars are for.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Michael Marshall Smith

Once in a while a graphic depiction of violence is exactly what’s required: all of us, from time to time, will be suddenly and shockingly confronted with the visceral reality of the fact that we’re not disembodied minds, but inhabited bodies, to which bad and terminal things can happen. This violence can also stand in symbolically for harsh mental cataclysms of the type that life hands us. But I’ve always found darkness and eeriness and unease far more interesting and compelling than gore in the long run.

Nonfiction

Interview: Robert Shearman

Robert Shearman has written five short story collections, and between them they have won the World Fantasy Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, the Edge Hill Readers Prize, and three British Fantasy Awards. His background is in the theatre, and he is resident dramatist at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter and regular writer for Alan Ayckbourn at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough; his plays have won the Sunday Times Playwriting Award, the Sophie Winter Memorial Trust Award, and the Guinness Award in association with the Royal National Theatre. He regularly writes plays and short stories for BBC Radio, and he has won two Sony Awards for his interactive radio series, “The Chain Gang.” But he’s probably best known for reintroducing the Daleks to the BAFTA winning first season of the revived DOCTOR WHO.