Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Jun. 2015 (Issue 33)

We have original fiction from Maria Dahvana Headley (“The Cellar Dweller”) and Dale Bailey (“Snow”), along with reprints by Sarah Langan (“The Changeling”) and Chet Williamson (“The Music of the Dark Time”). 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 Lucy A. Snyder.

In This Issue: Jun. 2015 (Issue 33)

Editorial

Editorial, June 2015

Be sure to read the Editorial for a run-down of this month’s nightmarish content and to get all our news and updates.

Fiction

The Cellar Dweller

Buildings were built, in the beginning, everyone knows, to hold the dead down. Every cellar floor was built over the ceiling of something else. Now cellars are used for all sorts of purposes. Roots. Paint cans. Pantries. Workshops. Other. There’s a rhyme someone invented for children. It’s chanted in nurseries in the Banisher’s town. The nurseries are upholstered in chintz, and the walls are padded, as though they’re asylums and the babies inmates.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Maria Dahvana Headley

Shortly after I started writing this story, I flukily moved into a house with actual cellar doors, and a speakeasy behind them. (There’s another nice 1919 reference as to why the words cellar door were considered beautiful — they led to speakeasies, and Prohibition was on!) I’d like to tell you that there’s nothing awful beneath my cellar, but I live in NYC. 1827 was the year that the last slaves were freed in NYC, but New Amsterdam had cellar doors opening onto evil beginning in 1626.

Fiction

The Changeling

She peered through the window at the slumbering cherub. Pale skin and black lashes. A nightlight shone against the red drapes, and tinted the walls bloody. It was warm inside that nursery, she imagined. Snug, like the house where she’d once lived. But that was a long time ago. She did not remember her name anymore, or the person she’d once been. Only the job, the houses she visited each night. The faces of the children she stole.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sarah Langan

I typically thought every piece of advice I got from writing professors was terrible, or at least, not applicable to my goals. But in college, a professor announced to the class that you should never have a twist ending. If you know something, reveal it sooner. This is great advice. Twist endings are stupid. As a writer, if I know something and hold back, I also hold my story back. It can’t evolve because I’m depending on a very static ending (Soylent Green is people!). But if I tell you from the outset what’s happening, then suddenly my characters can grow.

Nonfiction

The H Word: Why Do We Read Horror?

When I was asked to contribute to this column, I thought I’d probably write about cosmic horror — after all, I edit and publish a Lovecraftian magazine (THE LOVECRAFT EZINE). That article was almost completed, however, before I realized that my heart wasn’t in it. So for better or worse, I jotted down what was really on my mind. It’s not fun stuff, but we are talking about horror.

Fiction

Snow

They took shelter outside of Boulder, in a cookie-cutter subdivision that had seen better days. Five or six floor plans, Dave Kerans figured, brick facades and tan siding, crumbling streets and blank cul-de-sacs, no place you’d want to live. By then, Felicia had passed out from the pain, and the snow beyond the windshield of Lanyan’s black Yukon had thickened into an impenetrable white blur.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Dale Bailey

I think most horror fiction adheres to a very strong set of conventions, actually. In most of them some supernatural force (or serial killer or Godzilla or whatever) disrupts the everyday order of the world and is repelled, restoring the status quo. As King says in DANSE MACABRE, horror is as conservative as a banker in a three-piece suit (though I don’t think anyone wears those anymore). But the kind of horror that really interests me is the kind that doesn’t reassure us that way.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Okan Bülbül

Okan Bülbül was born in Turkey in 1979. Since childhood, he has loved drawing and painting. He was encouraged by his teachers to attend an art school, but because he was also good at science his parents convinced him that being an engineer would make a better career. He attended a science high school before entering Middle East Technical University’s Mechanical Engineering department and subsequently transferring to the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering.

Fiction

The Music of the Dark Time

The fear took him by the throat with the first chord. It was the violins and their high, piercing wail that caught him unaware, making the terror vibrate within him as the strings vibrated to their horsehair prod. Tortured, he thought. The bow tortured the strings to make them howl so. The music grew in intensity and volume, and he knew he would have to leave before he *could not* leave, before the soaring, searing music immobilized him like a fly in amber.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Chet Williamson

I’d been listening to Beethoven’s late string quartets, and the image came to me of the prisoner/musicians who played in the death camps playing that particular work, and the story grew out of that.

Nonfiction

Interview: Lucy A. Snyder

Lucy Snyder is one of those rare genre-hopping writers who are equally at home in horror, science fiction, poetry, or nonfiction. Throughout her career, she has (almost gleefully) defied clichés and reveled in contradiction: She was born and raised in what she calls the “cactus-and-cowboys” area of Texas, but her work is often urban in setting and tone; she has published collections of both erotica (ORCHID CAROUSELS) and humorous essays about computers (INSTALLING LINUX ON A DEAD BADGER).