Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Editorial

Editorial: November 2022

Welcome to issue #122! And welcome to November, a month I’ve always had mixed feelings about. It’s a time here in the Pacific Northwest when the trees finish transitioning from trees into sticks, when the insects have all tucked themselves away, and the air turns from the mellow gold of fall to the smoked blue of early winter. It is the time when the sepulchral takes hold of the world and our hearts, and reality skews weird.

I use the word weird all the time, plus its allies uncanny and eerie. All three imply a state of affairs that are deeply uncomfortable or un-understandable by the human mind, or at least the ordinary social mind. Every civilization has had its specialists in the weird, often those who isolated themselves in the deepest woods to meditate on the strange connections between the things we can see and the things we cannot.

Weird, uncanny, and strange things can appear in fantasy and science fiction and even literary fiction, of course, but I think there are deep structural weirdnesses horror is willing to explore but other genres resist. There is room within horror for things to make less sense, because the world often stops making sense when terrible and terrifying things are happening.

Those of us who create horror often have a special sense of the weird. In fact, I’d argue that negotiating the weird is a bigger part of our job than simply scaring people, and some kinds of horror deal primarily in weirdness and not in dread, terror, or gruesomeness. This issue focuses on such writers. It is our Weird Issue (although I think we’ve actually had a lot of Weird and bizarro work this year).

With such a theme, it makes perfect sense that we’re opening the issue with a new short story from up-and-coming Weird writer Gordon B. White: “Devil Take Me.” It’s a story about lies and confessions, the difficult business of family, and a most terrifying jelly jar. Amanda Song brings us a short story about the darker side of comedy in “Only When You Laugh.” Sean Noah Noah’s flash story “Ant Twin” mixes the unsettling with natural history, and poet Elizabeth R. McClellan has a SF-horror poem about labor and faith in “For You Were Strangers in Egypt.”

Things return to the Earth in the nonfiction department, where May Haddad discusses empowering endings in horror in her essay “The H Word: Sole Survivor,” and Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito has created a panel interview with a group of writers of the Asian diaspora working across a variety of horror forms. We also have spotlight interviews with our short fiction creators.

It’s a very weird issue, and we hope you enjoy it.

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.