Horror & Dark Fantasy

COSMIC POWERS

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Feb. 2015 (Issue 29)

We have original fiction from Karen Munro (“The Garden”) and Carmen Maria Machado (“Descent”), along with reprints by Halli Villegas (“Fishfly Season”) and Brian Evenson (“Cult”). We also have 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 award-winning author Chuck Palahniuk.

In This Issue: Feb. 2015 (Issue 29)

Editorial

Editorial, February 2015

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

Fiction

The Garden

Waiting on the steps at Changdeokgung for my language study group, I watched a girl in a guide’s vest herding American tourists. She had full cheeks and a broad nose, vanishing eyebrows, sad eyes. It was summer, boiling hot. Her skin was sheened with sweat. As I watched, she slipped the wallet from an American man’s back pocket, extracted some bills, and put it back. In chipper English she called to them, “This way! This way please!” Leading them off, she looked at me and smiled.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Karen Munro

South Korea has a reputation for being a fairly conformist, law-abiding place, and I loved the idea of a very non-traditional Korean woman, popping pills and driving a renegade scooter through traffic. And then poor Darlene is at loose ends in a foreign place, and more or less just tagging along. They seemed like a pretty interesting pair to me, with good potential to get into trouble.

Fiction

Fishfly Season

The bedroom was stifling. The ceiling fan’s soft sucking sound as it moved through the humid air only intensified her discomfort. Of course he was asleep beside her; not much kept him awake. He hadn’t wanted to put the air conditioning in yet, saying it was too expensive, that the nights were still cool enough for sleeping with windows open, that the fan would regulate the temperature. So here she was lying awake in their new home, a perfect center entrance Georgian, hating him.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Halli Villegas

I never write a story with a political or social agenda in mind. The elements come out of my own experiences, what is going on around me (in the media, on the subway, things I overhear) and what has happened to me in the past. However I do think that racism of the type practiced in Grand Beach, so prevalent in “genteel” communities, is the most insidious type of all. How can you protest or cry out against someone politely dismissing you?

Nonfiction

The H Word: Dissonance and Horror

In Toronto for several years I ran a reading series. One of the most interesting phenomena I observed was that if anyone began their reading by suggesting they were about to read a horror story, the effect on the audience was immediate. The listeners became defensive, they crossed their arms, leaned back in their chairs, began to frown. Now many of the listeners were themselves horror writers and so this wasn’t outright disapproval for the genre as one might expect. These listeners were defending themselves

Fiction

Descent

We gathered for the last time in October, under the pretense of discussing a novel that was currently bobbing along in the zeitgeist like a rubber duck at sea. It was unusually cold for October — the summer season had lasted long and hard and then dropped precipitously in a matter of days. Now we came bundled to Luna’s house, sweaters beneath jackets and dishes in chapped hands and the novel tucked into our armpits.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Carmen Maria Machado

I was in middle school when Columbine happened, and I remember very clearly how terror gripped my school and my community. It felt like the news was just saturated with coverage — videos of the kids crawling out of those windows, parents sobbing, the grainy footage from the cafeteria. Then after that was the speculation about the shooters, their parents, the role Marilyn Manson and video games played in their violence, and so on. It felt like it never ended.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Johnny Dombrowski

Comics are what first drew me to art. They were that first peek in to what was possible. When I was younger I was really into superhero comics, but that’s changed a bit over the years. Though I’m still and always will be a fan of work like Batman and Hellboy, I’ve been flipping through stranger stuff lately. A lot of work by French and Italian comic artists from the ’80s, for example. Doesn’t matter if the dialog is in English or not; I can look at those pages for days on end.

Fiction

Cult

It had been terrible from the start. He knew it was a disaster, knew from the very beginning, maybe even from the very first instant, that they were not, no matter what she claimed, MEANT FOR EACH OTHER, that he should get away from her as fast as he could, if not faster. And yet, somehow, he couldn’t. He’d always experienced a certain amount of inertia, but it was something other than that. What exactly it was, though, he wasn’t sure.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Brian Evenson

A friend of mine told me about getting a call from an ex-girlfriend asking if he could come get her from a cult, simply because she didn’t have anyone else to ask. He did, it was a little weird but in the end that was it: he was asked to give someone a ride and he did. Then I started thinking about how differently that might have turned out if both of them had been different sorts of people, how odd it might in fact go, and that led to the story.

Nonfiction

Interview: Chuck Palahniuk

My books do have a sort of romantic community at the end — people coming together. But on a more basic level, I always see them as being about power, in the same way that Harry Potter books are pitched to a population of young people who really have no power. Superheroes are also stories about power. My books are always about someone obtaining a power to replace the previous sort of power that they held.