Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Jan. 2021 (Issue 100)

It’s our 100th issue! Needless to say, it’s a blow-out of terror—and a double issue. We have original fiction from Stephen Graham Jones (“How to Break into a Hotel Room”), Adam-Troy Castro (“Rotten Little Town: An Oral History”), and Desirina Boskovich (“I Let You Out”) along with a chilling reprint by Tananarive Due (“Last Stop on Route Nine”). Our ebook readers will enjoy bonus content: original shorts by Sam J. Miller (“Darkness, Metastatic”) and Maria Dahvana Headley (“Wolfsbane”), plus reprints from Gemma Files (“Thin Cold Hands”), Carmen Maria Machado (“The Things Eric Eats Before He Eats Himself”), Victor Lavalle (“Up From Slavery”), and Laird Barron (“Jaws of Saturn”). We also have Orrin Gray returning with the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” plus author spotlights with our authors, a book review from Terence Taylor, and a roundtable interview with outgoing editor John Joseph Adams and incoming editor Wendy N. Wagner.

In This Issue: Jan. 2021 (Issue 100)

Editorial

Editorial: January 2021

It’s our 100th issue! Be sure to read the editorial for a discussion of all that terrifying goodness.

Fiction

Rotten Little Town: An Oral History (Abridged)

t’s been over twenty years since the last episode of Rotten Little Town, the smash hit occult western that ran for six seasons between 1993 and 1999, plus one two-hour reunion movie released in 2000 that wrapped up most of the dangling storylines in such dramatic fashion that it remains highly debated today. Completing its planned arc despite the untimely deaths of one creator and two lead actors, plus multiple other mishaps, the show is still fondly remembered as the compelling story of Sheriff Horace T. Booker and his efforts to clean up the frontier town of Sawblade, New Mexico, which is beset by supernatural forces, at the height of the wild west.

Author Spotlight

Fiction

How to Break into a Hotel Room

Javi is short for Javier. Javier is short for Has the Perfect Scam. He hasn’t told anybody about it yet. Especially not the hotels. It’s not the kind of thing you get rich with—one fancy watch or a pair of earrings doesn’t exactly pay the rent—but it is the kind of thing that’s good enough for a smile at three in the morning.

Author Spotlight

Fiction

Last Stop on Route Nine

“I thought you said you wouldn’t get lost,” Kai said. Charlotte’s teeth tightened to match the pressure of her hands on the rented Toyota’s steering wheel. They were already a half-hour late to the luncheon after her grandmother’s funeral in Tallahassee, a drive her navigator said should have taken an hour and five minutes heading west on the I-10. She’d been doing fine until they got off of the freeway and passed the collection of quaint shops on Main Street in the throwback town, but the last few turns had plunged them more deeply into the swampy woods bordering each side of a two-lane road.

Nonfiction

The H Word: Victims and Volunteers

“My kind of horror is not horror anymore,” an aging Boris Karloff laments in Peter Bogdanovich’s 1968 film Targets. And judging by the rest of the movie—which concerns a mass-murdering sniper taking aim at the patrons of a drive-in as they watch a revival screening of one of Karloff’s films—he’s not wrong. “Between 1968 and 1976, all the films that redefined the horror movie were made,” Roy Olson of Booklist observes in his review of Jason Zinoman’s Shock Value, the book that first introduced me to Targets.

Fiction

Darkness Metastatic

The land line rang. Its sound was invasive, all-consuming. A dying machine’s shriek. How had people lived like this for so long? And why the fuck did I still have a land line at all? But I knew why. Because Caleb had wanted one. And Caleb was long gone but the land line was still here, screaming me out of a sweet deep nap, the sound heavy with all the horrors that the call could bring. “Hello,” I said, four rings in. The thing would ring all night if we let it. My ex had hated voice mail, said he preferred “the hit-or-miss nature of pre-cell phone contact.” A man’s small voice asked: “Is Caleb there?”

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Reviews: January 2021

Terence Taylor reviews new novels Whisper Down the Lane by Clay McLeod Chapman and The Route of Ice and Salt by José Luis Zárate (translated by David Bowles). His take? They might be 2021 releases, but they’re packed with 2020 energy. You’ve got to read the column to find out why.

Fiction

I Let You Out

I watch the closet door. I watch around them as they pray above me, their eyes closed and their hands clasped in ecstasy. Their voices drown out all other sounds—like, for instance, the creak of a slowly opening door. So I can’t close my eyes, though my head is aching. I have to watch the door. Their prayers rise and fall and bleed into one other, a nonsense incantation of sacred gibberish. They’re crying and sweating. There is no air conditioning in the old farmhouse, and the humid bedroom is fragrant with their body odors.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Interview: John Joseph Adams and Wendy N. Wagner in Conversation

Outgoing Nightmare editor John Joseph Adams and incoming editor Wendy N. Wagner talk zombies, tropes, and the future of horror in this conversation. Don’t miss it!