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Editorial: April 2022

Welcome to Nightmare’s 115th issue!

A few days ago I was writing something about the 1980s, and a bit of mental math made me stop in my tracks. Somehow, despite all the birthdays I’ve celebrated over the years, I hadn’t put it together that the ’80s are now forty years ago. Yes, Fast Times at Ridemont High is officially middle aged, as is The Thing, Poltergeist, Beastmaster, and The Dark Crystal. If there had been a Nightmare Magazine forty years ago, readers of the April editorial would have probably been rocking out to Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ’n Roll,” as it was crushing the charts at the time.

I was only four years old in 1982, so I don’t have a strong sense of the zeitgeist. But it was definitely a different era. No internet, no social media—heck, ninety percent of Americans didn’t even own a VCR. I’ve watched Stranger Things, and I’m pretty sure it’s only showing me the frosting of nostalgia.

In forty years, what will we remember about our current time? When I’m in my mid-eighties looking back on the late 2010s and early 2020s, what will spring into my mind? Will it be specific disasters and wars or the endless school shootings and strip malls? Will I remember the first time I entered my pronouns beneath the black box of my Zoom icon? Will I remember going to the grocery store wearing a mask and following the directional arrows on the floors so I wouldn’t cross paths with any contaminated strangers?

If I ever have grandkids who want to know what life was like in 2022, I think I would hand them this issue of Nightmare. Each of these pieces uniquely captures the flavor of this particular moment in time, even Shaoni C. White’s story of a historical evil communicated through song (“Where the Heather Grows”). Prepare to be horrified by what unfolds in a Zoom classroom in Shannon Scott’s unsettling short story “Synchronous Online.” In the Horror Lab, we’ve got a creative nonfiction piece (“Homeless Ghosts”) from Victor T. Cypert, which explores the importance of local geography and the way our communities lose their identities to big box stores. Our flash piece this month is “√i,” by Nightmare alum Martin Cahill. It’s about a wholly irrational experience in one high school’s math class, and it’s particularly current.

For nonfiction, we’ve got the latest book review column from Terence Taylor, plus an H Word column from Richard Thomas (it’s about recent trends in horror films). Our spotlight interview team has put together some great interviews with our authors, too.

It’s all very, very au courant, and I hope you will enjoy it.

And who knows? Maybe this issue will inspire you to make your own little time capsule. You’ll need some way to terrify your grandkids, after all.

Wendy N. Wagner

Wendy N. Wagner is the author of the horror novel The Deer Kings and the gothic novella The Secret Skin. Previous work includes the SF thriller An Oath of Dogs and two novels for the Pathfinder Tales series, and her short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in more than fifty venues. She also serves as the managing/senior editor of Lightspeed Magazine, and previously served as the guest editor of our Queers Destroy Horror! special issue. She lives in Oregon with her very understanding family, two large cats, and a Muppet disguised as a dog.