Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Sep. 2013 (Issue 12)

This month, we have original fiction from C.S. McMullen (“The Nest”) and Linda Nagata (“Halfway Home”), along with reprints by The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman (“Alone, Together”) and legendary horror scribe Peter Straub (“A Short Guide to the City”). We also have the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” plus author spotlights with most of our authors, a showcase on our cover artist, and a feature interview with horror author/homicide detective Joe McKinney.

In This Issue: Sep. 2013 (Issue 12)

Editorial

Editorial, September 2013

This month, we have original fiction from C.S. McMullen (“The Nest”) and Linda Nagata (“Halfway Home”), along with reprints by The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman (“Alone, Together”) and legendary horror scribe Peter Straub (“A Short Guide to the City”). We also have the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” plus author spotlights with most of our authors, a showcase on our cover artist, and a feature interview with horror author/homicide detective Joe McKinney

Fiction

Halfway Home

“Those diagrams are terribly optimistic,” the woman in the seat beside me said, eyeing the brochure as our plane climbed away from Manila. She spoke masterful English, clipped with a Filipino accent. “Let’s hope we never have to test that theory.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Linda Nagata

I get on planes all the time, quite calmly, but the morbid thoughts are there. This is ironic, because my dad was a pilot, and as a teen I flew with him up and down the island chain in little two and four-seater prop planes. That never bothered me. I guess I trusted my dad. The problem with being on a passenger jet is that there is literally nothing you can do except hold on if something goes wrong. Of course it’s really not a good idea to think too much about this when you’re 30,000-feet up over the biggest ocean in the world, and hours away from any landmass.

Fiction

Alone, Together

She was dressed like a private detective from a low-budget TV show—a pair of slacks, modest high heels, and the most ridiculous trench coat I’d ever seen, one of the shorter ones, that hung just above the knees. I couldn’t help but laugh, and it was obvious my reaction annoyed her, but she did her best to hide her feelings as she pressed a finger to my lips, quieting me, and gently nudged me back inside my apartment.

Nonfiction

The H Word: In Search of Horrible Women

Long before I found my way to horror, as a reader and a writer, without realizing it, I sought horrible female characters to confirm what I knew. In mainstream fiction I was drawn to transgressors who allowed a glimpse of the monster inside the female heart.

Fiction

The Nest

“Come in, come in!” the man said, sitting like a god in the middle of the room, grinning at me through broken teeth. He levered himself out of his chair, breathing heavily, and then tottered over to the wall and pressed hard against it. Under his hand, ants scurried frantically through their tunnels. “It’s quite safe. Two solid sheets of Perspex, each over an inch thick, layered over the original house’s walls. They’ve got a gap of about four inches between them, for the dirt, but the whole thing is completely sealed. There’s no chance of them escaping.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: C.S. McMullen

The genesis of “The Nest” came from a brief phase I went through, where I decided that I wanted to create a small ant farm using an old television set. I did months and months of research, and became more than slightly obsessed. But the more research I did, the more I realized that any ant farm I built would be pitifully small, and that the ants would probably die after a few weeks. I didn’t really want to take them from their nice home in the ground, put them into a TV set, and then watch them slowly die. As fun as that whole process sounded, it’s not really my idea of a good time.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Fred Fraser

Fred Fraser is a Vancouver-based self-taught photographer and dedicated people-shooter. Two decades into his profession, Fraser took his work old school when he began to experiment with wet plate portrait photography, a technique dating from the 1850s and employing gear older than your grandparents. Its process is arduous, perilous, and unforgiving, and the results are fittingly dramatic: monochromatic, intensely dark, dripping with atmosphere and age.

Fiction

A Short Guide to the City

The viaduct killer, named for the location where his victims’ bodies have been discovered, is still at large. There have been six victims to date, found by children, people exercising their dogs, lovers, or—in one instance—by policemen. The bodies lay sprawled, their throats slashed, partially sheltered by one or another of the massive concrete supports at the top of the slope beneath the great bridge.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Peter Straub

I had picked up a copy of Joseph Brodsky’s Less Than One: Selected Essays, and was reading his great piece on St. Petersburg, “A Guide to a Renamed City,” and realized with a kind of shock that I could write something similar (but more like a guidebook entry) about the city of my birth and childhood, Milwaukee. My feelings about Milwaukee are mixed and cloudy, and they veer back and forth between hostility and acceptance. I thought I could pack all kinds of feelings about the city into this story if I did not stick to the literal truth, to physical accuracy, but instead permitted myself to exaggerate and invent, and by those means perhaps to express another, deeper kind of truth.

Nonfiction

Interview: Joe McKinney

It seems slightly unfair (if hardly inaccurate) to label Joe McKinney one of the reigning kings of zombie fiction, because his work has extended beyond the walking dead into ghost stories (his novels Inheritance and Crooked House), virus thrillers (Quarantined), and hardboiled noir (Dodging Bullets). However, McKinney has found the greatest success with his Dead World series, which consists of Dead City (2006), Apocalypse of the Dead (2010), Flesh Eaters (2011), and Mutated (2012), all published by Kensington Books. In addition to being a Bram Stoker Award-winning (for Flesh Eaters) horror writer, McKinney is also a lifelong Texan, a husband and father of two, the holder of a Master’s Degree in English Literature, and a San Antonio police officer who has also worked as a homicide detective and disaster mitigation specialist. McKinney’s next book, The Savage Dead, comes out this month from Kensington.