This month we have original fiction from Ray Nayler (“Outside of Omaha”) and Sonya Taaffe (“Tea with the Earl of Twilight”), along with reprints by Kivel Carson (“The Night Has No Eyes”) and Gary McMahon (“My Boy Builds Coffins”). Suyi Davies Okungbowa talks about the difference between Nigerian horror and American horror in “The H Word.” Plus, Terence Taylor reviews some excellent new reads, and of course we have author spotlights with our authors. Our ebook readers will get a very special excerpt from the reissue of Kathe Koja’s classic novel, The Cipher.
In This Issue: Sept. 2020 (Issue 96)
Be sure to read the editorial for a discussion of this month’s terrific content and to get all our news and updates.
You would have hated your funeral reception. Potato-nosed husbands clomping around our parlor in their cheap suits, stinking of naphtha and condolences. Wives with sweat-streaked powder caked in the creases of their necks, like flour-sacks brought to life by a pair of magic dentures. That’s what I kept staring at: dentures, bridges loose over gray gums, gold-mottled molars gleaming in the wells of mouths.
They came at night. And brought with them the trauma and fear of all the babies ripped from their mothers’ arms, beings made less than human in the face of violence and humiliation, brightness turned to darkness and hurt. They came as the embodiment of all that unspent pain, and refused to die, made invincible by the same willful instinct that makes a dying man kick his feet in a last death rattle.
Nigeria in the ’90s had just bounced back from a bloody civil war, and was attempting to transition from a turbulent period of military rule into a democratic government. This period of huge economic uncertainty, freewheeling oppression and ethnic distrust made it effortless to suspect one’s neighbour—or “village people” in Nigerian parlance—of having an occult hand in one’s degeneration.
For the first week, she thought he belonged to the power plant; after that she knew better. She had read the obituaries. She saw him first as a silhouette, one more line of the industrial geometries overhanging the boardwalk of Broad Canal. It had been a wet, dispiriting winter full of gusts and mists, but with January the water had finally hardened into a thick pane of cormorant-black ice.
My Boy Builds Coffins
Susan found the first one when she was tidying his room. Chris was at school, and she’d been sprucing up the house before popping off to collect him after the afternoon session. The ground floor was done; the lounge was spick-and-span (as her mother had loved to say) and the kitchen was so clean it belonged in a show home. The downstairs bathroom was clean enough for a royal inspection.
Book Reviews: September 2020
This month, Terence Taylor reviews new work from P. Djèlí Clark (Ring Shout) and Sam J. Miller (The Blade Between).