Post October 29, 2015, 05:38:21 PM

A Halloween Issue

When I was running the short story desk (1998-2004) I used to look for seasonal material, i.e. horror for October (Halloween) and something Christmas related for December. As far as I am aware, that practice was not continued by my successor short story editors, and even if it had been, this October issue was preempted by the 200th issue observance.

Nevertheless, all of this months selections, without exception, live up to the October standard I used to strive for.

For example, Telepaths, by Zahid Zahmen. Here we have a super hero with mental powers on a mission of personal revenge. On the face of it, it reads like dark science fiction, but there is a fantastic element and by that I don't mean telepathy. I am referring to fact that the evil-doers who sit on the seat of power are punished for their deeds.

Then there is as-Simak ar-Ramih by L.A. Lyons. This story also reads like science fiction, but there is a religious element, and there is no hope for the living. Good stuff for Halloween (boo!).

The Mist Beyond the Circle by Martin Owton falls into the category of the medieval type fantasy. The tale is rather up beat in tone, but because of the magical elements, it is definitely a go for Halloween.

Mind Control 3 by Alvin Atwater is definitely fantasy with a little kinky soft sadism thrown in and serves to provide a little welcome comic relief for the reader of this month's issue. I missed the first two installments, but no matter, the story stands on its own.

Over in the serial department, we have Voids by Jason Arsenault. It's science fiction but the mood is apocalyptic and horrific. Doomsday stories make good Halloween stories.

Then there is my own sad and silly addition to this month's collection:
I Can't Stop Writing by Cary Semar. This story reworks an often used theme in science fiction, the time dilatation effect of interstellar travel at near relativistic speed. My first taste of this theme came a long time ago, when I read "To the Stars" by L. Ron Hubbard. My own treatment was started quite a few years ago but not finished until recently when I ran across it on an old hard drive and decided to finish it. I was much younger when I started the story, but it took the perspective of time to end it. Does the story of an old man looking back on the wreckage of his life and career fit in with the mood of death and doom appropriate to Halloween? Absolutely!

Happy Halloween, yall.
Cary Semar