Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Nov. 2014 (Issue 26)

We have original fiction from David Sklar (“Rules for Killing Monsters”) and Maria Dahvana Headley (“Who Is Your Executioner?”). For reprints, we have work from Karin Tidbeck (“Rebecka”) and David Morrell (“For These and All My Sins”). In the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” Stoker winner Eric J. Guignard talks about some up-and-coming trends in horror writing. We’ve also got author spotlights with our authors, a showcase on our cover artist, and a feature interview with Leslie S. Klinger.

In This Issue: Nov. 2014 (Issue 26)

Editorial

Editorial, November 2014

Check out the Editorial for new, updates, and a run-down of this month’s terrifying content.

Fiction

Who Is Your Executioner?

Since we were little, Oona’s collected Victorian photographs. A certain subset of people love them, but I got a library book of them once, just before I met her, and I’ve never not been appalled. I don’t know what a book like that was doing lost in our local library. It’s exactly the kind of thing that would normally have been removed by a logical parent.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Maria Dahvana Headley

The Victorian death photos are straight out of my own childhood. I found a book of them in an Idaho library when I was little. I’m pretty sure I’ve been ruined ever since. They were on a bottom shelf. There were no names in the checkout log. Unlike the narrator here, I didn’t steal the book, but oh, oh, I thought about it.

Fiction

Rebecka

The outline of Rebecka’s body is light against the scorched wall, arms outstretched as if to embrace someone. The floor is littered with white ashes. Everything else in the room looks like it did before. A kitchen table with a blue tablecloth, a kitchenette stacked with dirty dishes. A wrought iron bed, which I am strapped to. I ended up here because I was Rebecka’s only friend.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Karin Tidbeck

I think there are a lot of clichés about trauma and how you’re supposed to respond to it. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” carries with it the expectation that if something doesn’t make you stronger, you’ve failed. Another one is that hardship is a gift/challenge/etc., that is, something you should be grateful for and have to learn from. While it’s true that a lot of people come through a trauma or an illness stronger, countless others are worn down or broken. Many live and cope with pain but do so as very fragile people. Are they strong? What is “strong,” for that matter?

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Jeff Simpson

Jeff Simpson is a concept artist and illustrator living in Montreal Canada, currently working for Ubisoft Montreal. His previous clients include Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex Next Gen), Ubisoft Montreal (Assassins Creed: Revelations, Assassins Creed: 3, Assassins Creed: Unity), Universal Pictures (Snow White and the Huntsman), Lionsgate (The Last Witch Hunter), MovingPictureCompany (various films to be announced), The Mill (VFX concept for several advertisements), Wizards of the Coast (Magic The Gathering).

Fiction

Rules for Killing Monsters

When we started playing LandsBetwyxt, Jerry was all about killing monsters. But Amy was in Drama Club at Hematite High, where we went to school, in the Upper Peninsula, near Lake Michigan, on the dateline, and for her it was about interacting with people we met in the online game. Me, I wanted a chance to not be Jim.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: David Sklar

A lot of things went into this story, but the main thing was reading a news article about transgender teens using online games to explore gender identity. At the time, I’d recently written a story in which a man takes on a female identity online for practical purposes so he could post things he perceived as “girly” without attracting attention. But it hadn’t occurred to me that an online gender swap could be such a powerful tool of self-discovery. So I wanted to explore that.

Nonfiction

The H Word: Horror Fiction of Tomorrow

A time-honored adage amongst writers of the macabre declares, “True horror is timeless.” Things and ideas that scared us centuries ago still retain the same deep-seated dread our ancestors faced: anything threatening us that is beyond our understanding or our control. Whether this be a repulsive creature or a psychological fear of abandonment, loss, or death, certain fears are hard-wired into our collective psyche.

Fiction

For These and All My Sins

There was a tree. I remember it. I swear I’d be able to recognize it. Because it looked so unusual. It stood on my left, in the distance, by Interstate 80. At first, it was just a blur in the shimmering heat haze, but as I drove closer, its skeletal outline became distinct. Skeletal: that’s what struck me at first as being strange.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: David Morrell

In the 1970s, to research a novel called Testament, I spent thirty-five days on a survival course in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. If anyone’s curious, the course was conducted by Paul Petzoldt’s National Outdoor Leadership School and trained its students in a variety of mountaineering skills. At the time, I lived in Iowa City, where I was a literature professor at the University of Iowa. After I descended from the mountains, I drove back home along Interstate 80, but my car developed engine trouble, and in the Nebraska panhandle, I had to leave the highway, hoping to find a mechanic. That’s when I came to this very unusual, very scary town.

Nonfiction

Interview: Leslie Klinger

While most horror authors are content to create chills, a handful are more interested in studying exactly how those chills are manufactured. Leslie Klinger is one of the genre’s most significant nonfiction experts. Although he began his nonfiction career annotating Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales, Les has since become a major figure in the art of nonfiction horror, providing annotations for Dracula, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, and (released in October) twenty-two stories by H. P. Lovecraft.