Weird Tales Vol. 66 no. 4 Issue 360
Edited by Marvin Kaye
Cover Artist: Danielle Tunstall & David Hartman
Review by Sam Tomaino
Weird Tales Magazine
Date: 26 November 2012
Links: Weird Tales Magazine / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
After a long absence in my reviews, Weird Tales is back. It's now under a new publisher and editor with a promise to bring back something of the older versions of the unique magazine. Here is what they say themselves:
"Now published by Kaye and Harlachers' Nth Dimension Media — after a successful run by Betancourt's Wildside Press -- Weird Tales has undertaken to recommit itself to the magazine's original mission -- to publish brilliantly strange material that can't be found elsewhere -- even while bringing its unique aesthetics fully into the 21st century."And about this issue: "Weird Tales #360 is devoted to the Elder Gods and begins with a new novella by the great British fantasist Brian Lumley, followed by Cthulhu-ish stories from veteran authors Darrell Schweitzer and Michael Shea, and newer author William Blake Smith. Also in this issue are non-themed stories by Parke Godwin and Jessica Amanda Salmonson, poetry and a special Ray Bradbury section." So let us get to the stories.
The issue begins with a new novella by Brian Lumley called "The Long Lost Night". As the story opens, our narrator meets an old man with a suitcase and we learn something of their world. In short, the Elder Gods have come back and taken over the Earth. We hear about shoggoths and Hounds of Tindalos and "the Esoteric Order of" something. It is a London of the mid-21st century but humanity is on the wane. The old man leads our narrator down into the subway. He has been down there before but he does not give any details other than his name is Henry Chattaway and he has lost his family to the invaders. Our narrator, who we eventually learn is named Julian Chalmers, talks more to the old man and we learn more of the horrors of the world. It is truly horrifying and not in a quiet way. Lumley is a powerful writer and all his talents are on display here. Now we might make some guesses as to how this is going to end, but that does not blunt the story. This is an excellent way to begin the new Weird Tales and promises much for the future.
Next up is "Momma Durtt" by Michael Shea. Kim and Alex are two young truckers who deliver some toxic waste to an old mine call the Quicksilver. The wastes goes down the hole deep into the earth. As they are leaving. They see s strange menacing guy pull up and stare at them. They leave and we don't see them until the end of the story. Our main character is a thug (the menacing guy) named Lazarian who has the job of disposing of dead bodies for a mobster. Why he has to haul them from New Jersey to California is not explained. But he has two guys carry the bodies deep into the mine where a pool of black stuff is. Then, things get real interesting for everyone. The Great Old Ones get a brief mention but they are kind of unnecessary. Still, this was good chiller.
"The Darkness at Table Rock Road" by Michael Reyes is told by an unnamed narrator who is an Iraq War vet like the author. Our narrator gets a letter from an old Army buddy named Robert Blake (HPL homage) who says he's become rich and invites him out to Wyoming. We are told that our narrator and Blake did a lot of psychedelics back in the day, which does not impress me. On the flight out, he falls asleep and has a dream with the names Azathoth and Nyarlathotep are invoked so we know something is up besides a lot of drugs. Blake picks him up at the airport and they drive out to the desert. Blake tells him that he had gone back to Iraq as a civilian contractor and had picked up some very non-Muslim artifacts along the way. The story ends in typical fashion. Not much new here.
"The Runners Beyond the Wall" by Darrell Schweitzer is the kind of solidly good horror that I have come to expect of Schweitzer. The narrator, Jimmy, tells us it is the 19th century and that he died on a night in October. He did not physically die, but his soil did. He was traveling from America to England to meet a relative named Lord Blessingleigh who had commanded the presence of Jimmy and his parents. Their ship is wrecked off the Cornish coast near Blessingleigh Hall and only Jimmy survives. He is taken in by the stern Lord but not before meeting some ragged children and their mother. At their first meeting, the Lord tells him of their ancestors dating back to the time of Henry the Seventh for whom the first Lord Blessingleigh had done certain things. Later, the ragged children, whose names are Tom and Ameila show up in his bedroom asking him to come out an play with them. Eventually, Jimmy learns why he is there and how he can escape the fate before him. As I have said, another good, solid, classic horror tale.
"Drain" by Matthew Jackson begins with Pam cleaning her bathtub when a small tentacle creature with one bug eye crawls out of her drain. She finds herself looking for her son's old aquarium, filling it with water and putting the creature in it. When she wakes up late the next day, the creature is talking to her in her mind and starting to take her over. Things get worse in this nice little horror yarn.
"The Thing in the Cellar by William Blake-Smith" is a very short story about a young boy who has been reading too much H.P. Lovecraft. One day, he walks down to the basement of his ancestral house to find "a gray tentacular mass of quivering malevolence" near the washing machine. He resolves to do something about it in this hilarious little piece.
"Found in a Bus Shelter at 3:00 AM, Under a Mostly Empty Sky" by Stephen Gracia is a two-page script of tightly printed narrative in a run-on style. It's apparently written by a guy who's done a lot of drugs with his girlfriend. One night, the are visited by someone who walks through a tear in the wall. A drug hallucination? The girlfriend winds up pregnant. What is happening? Nice effective little chiller.
The Unthemed Fiction section begins with "To Be a Star" by Parke Godwin. This one starts out humorously, telling us about Melvin Migran, an untalented wannabe actor who is a jerk besides. He even puts down innocent little Mildred Smoot at an audition. A misadventure renders him dead and he is reincarnated as Mildred's pathetic little Christmas tree. There the story takes a wonderful turn and turns into something beautiful. Godwin's been at this a long time and he shows us, once again, what a marvelous writer he is.
"The Empty City" by Jessica Amanda Salmonson is a beautifully-written fantasy that seems to be taking place in a post-apocalyptic world. Our narrator is a woman named Happiness who does not fit her name. She had been a whore, killed her abusive pimp Gregorio, and had fled across the desert to an empty city. Mostly empty. There she meets a fat woman named Livita and a young man named Fidalgo. She is told that people come to the city looking for something and, when they find it, they disappear. We see how the stories of Livita and Fidalgo end, leaving Happiness alone until she finds what she is looking for. Another great story from a talented writer.
"Abbey at the Edge of Earth" is Collin B. Greenwood's first published story and a nice little one, at that. Artimon takes shelter from the rain in an abandoned abbey. When a stranger sees him, asks what he is doing there and flees back outside, into the storm. I won't give any more detail other than the end provided a nice little chill.
The fiction in the main part of the issue concludes with the short-short "Alien Abduction" by M.A. Brines. I'll just say that when Al and his friend try to escape their captors, things turn out differently than expected. Funny.
This issue flips over for some pages in tribute to Ray Bradbury which include the original version of one of his stories, a poem, a brief essay, a book review and a tribute from Marvin Kaye. They round out issue #360 nicely.
Weird Tales under its new ownership/editorship is off to a fine start. Check them out at their website, www.weirdtalesmagazine.com , and subscribe.