Horror & Dark Fantasy

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The H Word: Babes in the Wilderness

Some years ago I left Alaska, land of my birth. Since then I’ve dwelt in the cities and farmland of the Pacific Northwest, and deep in the mountains of western Montana. At the moment, the trail has led a long and winding way to upstate New York, about as far as one can migrate east and still dwell within the continental U.S.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Connie Willis

I’ve been in love with the sinking of the Titanic since I read Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember when I was fifteen. It has everything—horror, pathos, redemption, courage, appalling decisions, irony. Or as the Onion said in one of its great historical deadlines: WORLD’S LARGEST METAPHOR SINKS. It also has calls for help that aren’t heard, rescue that comes too late, drowning children, self-sacrifice—all the elements of a ghost story. I guess you could call “Distress Call” sort of a first attempt at capturing something of the feeling that the Titanic gave me. When I wrote it, I had no intention of returning to the theme and certainly not of writing a whole novel on the subject, but the Titanic and its meaning continued to nag at me through the years, and eventually resulted in Passage.


Editorial, December 2013

This month, we have original fiction from Sam J. Miller (“57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides”) and David J. Schow (“A Home in the Dark”), along with reprints by Connie Willis (“Distress Call”) and Conrad Williams (“The Owl). 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 master of horror Joe R. Lansdale.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sam J. Miller

As a reader and a writer, I approach unconventional structures with extreme caution, and perhaps a bit of prejudice. A formal conceit really needs to be earned, and I often find that quirky structures are there partially to distract from a story’s other deficits. But then I’ll find an amazing story that really could not be told any other way, and I’ll happily ditch my bias. My Clarion classmate, Carmen Maria Machado, used a similarly unconventional structure for her brilliant story “Inventory,” published in Strange Horizons, and it reminded me that you can use that kind of format to highlight what’s structured out of the story—in the case of “57 Reasons,” the way the narrator’s selfish and single-minded pursuit of revenge blinds him to the reality of the situation, and his own guilt and responsibility.


Interview: Dan Simmons

You can go on certain websites and see the more than 200 bodies that litter all the routes up Mount Everest today. They don’t remove the bodies. Anybody who pays their fifty or sixty thousand dollars—or more now—to be guided up Everest, essentially you’re using a Jumar—a mechanical ascender on a fixed rope—while your guide helps you get up the hill. They go by dozens of bodies, and the damage to the human body from a high fall is comparable to what my character, Richard Davis Deacons, saw in World War I when artillery shells landed right among men. Just blows people to pieces.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Alison Littlewood

So often in life, there are no explanations. We encounter people every day and have no idea of their background or where they’re headed or why. Things can’t always be wrapped up with a neat little bow.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Chris B. Murray

Chris B. Murray had a hunger for art from his earliest years, growing up in a small town in upstate New York. Having ambitiously exhausted his autodidactic options, he then majored in illustration at Rochester Institute of Technology. He now practices in Philadelphia, where he lives with his girlfriend, Emily, and their dog, Chunk. His work has been awarded or recognized by the likes of The Society of Illustrators, Juxtapoz, Hi-Fructose, and Illustration Age, among many others. He has done editorial and promotional illustration for many high-profile publications such as The New Yorker, Boys’ Life, and XXL. Recently, his Adirondacks-exploration series “ADKS” showed at Chicago’s Rotofugi Gallery. His work can be found at chrisbmurray.com and facebook.com/CBMArtworks.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Melanie Tem

Often I know the genre of a story before I start writing, just as I know whether it will be a short piece or a novel or a play. Often, too, I consider taking stories in any of a number of directions. When I teach writing, I invite students to try writing a story in several genres and see how it morphs when written as a science fiction story, a romance, a crime story. Part of the germination process for “Dhost” was determining which “side of the line” would best serve the story.


The H Word: And Then the Zombie Killed the Vampire

Horror fans may have hammered the final stake! The general consensus is: zombies are in, vampires out. Whether or not that is true, zombies have definitely surged to the fore while vampires have seemingly faded into the mist. Which begs the question—Why?

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Dale Bailey

We’re at our most vulnerable when we’re sleeping. Any hidden space—an open door into the hall, a closet door standing just ajar—can serve to terrify us. The bed is worse because you’re right over that hidden space, in the eye of the abyss.