Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Dark – August 2014 Issue 5

The Dark is a quarterly magazine of dark fantasy and science fiction.  The August 2014 issue features original short stories from Stephen Graham Jones, Octavia Cade, Emily B. Cataneo, and Darja Malcolm-Clarke.

The first thing that struck me about this issue was the stunning cover, Stygian Darkness by artist Timothy Lantz.

Stygian Darkness by Timothy Lantz The Dark issue 5

The image of a ferryman crossing a strange river to guide us into unknown territory was a perfect metaphor for this collection of stories.  I was pleased to find tales that did not flow straight down any well charted river of horror, fantasy or science fiction.  These short stories kept me guessing, with intriguing sights and surprises around every bend.

When Swords Had Names by Stephen Graham Jones continued the thrust of the cover art, taking the reader on a tour of the twilight edge between history and myth, civilization and nature.  This unpredictable story had its hooks in me from the first paragraph.

Tommy Flowers and the Glass Bells of Bletchley by Octavia Cade was another dizzying blend, injecting magical realism and emotion into the desperate scientific struggle of World War 2.

Not the Grand Duke’s Dancer by Emily B. Cataneo pirouettes through the industrial age and the dawn of spiritualism into a richly imagined and original fantasy.  The push and pull of a love that defies death provides a beautiful calm inside this whirlwind of tale.

A Fairy Tale Life by Darja Malcolm-Clarke brings the promise and peril of fairy tales into the near future.  Old wounds and new technology combine in surprising ways to force the main character to come to grips with his own story.

Co-editors Jack Fisher and Sean Wallace did a fine job curating this issue, and I look forward to seeing what unknown borders they will guide us through next time.

You can sign up for a four issue trial subscription, get this issue and find back issues for a wide variety of e-readers here.

Find them on Facebook here.

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Lovecraft in Ireland

My story ‘The Hound of K’n-yan’ will appear in A MYTHOS GRIMMLY, an anthology featuring mash ups of folklore and the H.P. Lovecraft mythos.

I have long been fascinated with Cúchulainn, the Irish hero from the Ulster Cycle. Cúchulainn was infamous for his ríastrad, a battle frenzy that would transform his body into a hideous fleshy mass that was invincible.  With that as my folk lore, I knew I had a tale ripe for the Mythos.

Cu Chulainn gets his first nickname by slaying the Hound.

Cu Chulainn gets his first nickname by slaying the Hound.

One of my favorite H.P. Lovecraft stories is ‘The Mound’, and as I researched Irish mythology I was stunned at how the two worlds overlapped. The original term for the faery, aos sí means ‘people of the mounds’!

A foundational book of Irish mythology is Lebor Gabála Érenn, ‘The Book of Invasions’. It describes the different waves of beings that settled Ireland, starting with the Titan-like Fomorians. They ruled until the Tuatha Dé Danann arrived in a dark cloud. They battled the Fomorians, intermarried, and eventually relocated in the bowels of the earth. Their new home was Ildathach, ‘the multi-colored place’; a perfect match for Lovecraft’s ‘blue-lit K’n-yan’.


Of course, beneath K’n-yan there is red Yoth, and deeper still lay blackest N’kai. In the lightless cavern of N’kai the formless spawn of Tsathoggua dwell.   The elder races were known to conduct twisted biological experiments, grafting strange flesh onto their slaves.

Cúchulainn was no Disney character. He slew hundreds of men and women, friend and foe alike. He murdered his father-in-law and killed his son. He was literally a one man army, Rambo without the fine-tuned moral compass.

His nickname was siabartha, ‘the distorted one’. In the heat of battle he would hulk out by imploding and turning inside out. In this terrifying state, no edged weapon or spear point could harm him.


Was he really a champion of Ireland, or a killing machine sent by an elder race?


Check out the full story in A MYTHOS GRIMMLY from Wanderer’s Haven Press this December.  With 25 original works by Joseph S. Pulver, William Meikle, Peter Rawlik and yours truly.

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Deck the Halls with Boughs of Horror

My creepy Christmas story ‘With Their Eyes All Aglow’ was recently singled out in a review on Shocktotem, so I thought I’d share a little research that went into the tale.

O Little Town of Deathlehem, edited by Michael J. Evans and Harrison Graves

O Little Town of Deathlehem, edited by Michael J. Evans and Harrison Graves

Last Christmas time I heard a disturbing factoid reported on the radio: Each Christmas tree brings up to 25,000 bugs into your house.

Okay, tiny mites are icky, but it’s hard to beat spiders for pure terror. I looked at the lights shining on my tree and imagined a cluster of luminescent arachnids. Do glow-in-the-dark spiders even exist?

The glowing spider has only been spotted once, in the deepest jungle of Myanmar in 1923 by Barnum Brown, the curator for the American Museum of Natural History.

“Darkness came on swiftly and my pony began to stumble. Somewhere we had missed the trail…Presently, a few feet away, I saw a ball of light as large as a man’s thumb.

Tying the horse, I advanced as carefully as possible toward the object, which was surrounded by thorny bushes…I struck a match. There in full view was a spider, his large oval abdomen grayish with darker markings. Still he did not move, and as the match flame died out, his abdomen again glowed to full power, a completely oval light, similar in quality to that of the fireflies.

Remembering native tales of poisonous insects and spiders, I wrapped a handkerchief around one hand, parted the brush with the other, and when close enough, made a quick grab. Alas! The handkerchief caught on a stick before I could encircle him and my treasure scurried away. I followed as quickly as possible, but the light soon disappeared under stones, brush, or in some burrow, for I never saw it again.”

I had my spider and my setting. To make things more interesting, I made my glowing spiders more sociable.

Giant spider web forming in Texasbig web 2

Social spiders cooperate like ants or bees. Colonies can spin much larger webs and then swarm to take down prey as large as birds and bats.

(I was going to insert some photos of bats in webs, but I couldn’t find any that were not being feasted upon by giant spiders.  You’re welcome.)

My wife suggested the title for this story be, ‘Spiders get all up in yo’ bidness and then ruin Christmas.’ Yes, these spiders may ruin Christmas for a few unlucky people, but don’t let that stop you from checking out the anthology O Little Town of Deathlehem. You can buy the book at Amazon, and all profits from the anthology will benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

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