Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Sep. 2015 (Issue 36)

We have original fiction from Vajra Chandrasekera (“The Sill and the Dike”) and Gwendolyn Kiste (“The Pied Piper Syndrome”), along with reprints by Richard Christian Matheson (“Third Wind”) and Reggie Oliver (“The Skins”). 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 the creators of Dapper Cadaver, one of the best sources for creepy props and Halloween supplies.

In This Issue: Sep. 2015 (Issue 36)

Editorial

Editorial, September 2015

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

Fiction

The Sill and the Dike

Grandmother died when I was seven and aliens raided the village. Their long guns fired out of nowhere, shattering walls and smashing bodies. Father threw me to the floor, shielding me, and I didn’t see Grandmother die, didn’t realize Mother was missing until the raid was over. Father got up and looked outside the house, cautiously; there were shouts of dismay and distress everywhere, and my ears were still ringing from the gunfire. The whole world seemed wreathed in smoke, blurred. My eyes stung.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Vajra Chandrasekera

I wanted to write about a particular time and place, but in a short story you don’t have space to actually explain the history and if it’s not one of the handful of historical contexts you can generally expect a broad anglophone readership to be familiar with, then you might as well write it as an SFnal secondary-world fantasy. So I did.

Fiction

Third Wind

Andy chugged up the incline, sweatsuit shadowed with perspiration. His Nikes compressed on the asphalt and the sound of his inhalation was the only noise on the country road. He glanced at his waist-clipped odometer: 25.7. Not bad. But he could do better. Had to. He’d worked hard doing his twenty miles a day for the last two years and knew he was ready to break fifty. His body was up to it, the muscles taut and strong.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Richard Christian Matheson

I’m a runner and its endorphin trance gives rise to ideas. During a very long run, I began to think about the nightmarish film version of THE RED SHOES, based on Hans Christian Anderson’s bizarre fairy tale. I was also thinking about obsessive types who run 100-mile marathons and about the toxic ambitions that fuel much of L.A. The story began to fall together.

Nonfiction

The H Word: H is for Haunted Houses

Every house is haunted. The question is, by what? Walk into a new house; some are happy, some are not. Like a fine wine, old houses are much more complex. In the summer of 2013, I was sent to Ireland to serve as the resident faculty member for the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing program. I was grateful for the chance to travel and eager for the experience, but I have to confess that prior to arrival, Ireland had never been on my bucket list.

Fiction

Ten Things to Know About the Ten Questions

They say goodbye. They say it with a strange smile like a kid who overheard a secret. But they don’t share what they know. They just walk out the door. Maybe it’s a cabin door. Or an office door. Or a plain screen door in suburbia. They walk out and they don’t come back. My Uncle Ray’s the first in my family to vanish. It happens in the early weeks when the chattering faces on television and the mindless voices online still claim it’s some newfangled fad that will taper off like acid-washed jeans or hula hoops did.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Gwendolyn Kiste

I spent five years in university research labs, coding and analyzing surveys. That probably sounds boring to a lot of people, but the analytical part of my mind really loved it, and I thought it would be fun to write a piece with a psychology questionnaire as a framing device. It took a while and a couple false starts to find the right story to tell this way.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Lauren K. Cannon

Lauren K. Cannon is a fantasy and horror artist. She was born in 1986 and lives in southern New Jersey, on the edge of the Pine Barrens of Jersey Devil lore. She has a BFA but considers herself self-taught, as her college proved to be an expensive waste of time. Working as a freelance illustrator primarily in the publishing industry, she is best known for her work with authors Peter V. Brett and Mira Grant, and for a long tenure contributing to ImagineFX magazine. Lauren’s influences include strange beauty, the brutal elegance of the universe, and creepy dead things.

Fiction

The Skins

I first met Syd and Peggy Brinton in August 1977 on the Sunday after Elvis Presley died. It was a sultry evening at the Pier Pavilion Theatre, Scarmouth, and an argument was simmering before the show in No. 5 dressing room which Victor Bright and I occupied. We had come in early that day to gorge ourselves on images of the doomed star in our shared Sunday papers. Details about hamburgers and drugs, the distended, tawdry glamour of Graceland, were pored over with sickened fascination.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Reggie Oliver

A “skins” role is one in which the performer acts, either singly, or, as in the case of Syd and Peggy, doubly in an animal skin. I myself performed a skins role when I played King Rat in the pantomime DICK WHITTINGTON. There is something peculiar and distinctive about performing a “skins” role. It is when such recollections and preoccupations merge in the imagination that a story begins to form itself.

Nonfiction

Interview: Dapper Cadaver

Tucked away behind an unassuming warehouse façade at the far eastern end of the San Fernando Valley is one of the most gleefully horrific places in Southern California: Dapper Cadaver. Founded in 2006 by husband and wife team BJ and Eileen Winslow, Dapper Cadaver is a horror prop shop that services the film and television industries, haunted attractions, amusement parks, carnival sideshows, private parties, and even disaster preparedness training courses.