October issue preview! (A tribute to “A Night in the Lonesome October”)

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Illustration for “A Knight in the Lonesome October”; art by Peter Szmer: http://www.peterszmer.com/

The wait is almost over!  The October issue of The Lovecraft eZine will be online in 2 days (Thursday).  As most of you know, the October issue is a tribute to Roger Zelazny’s beloved book A Night in the Lonesome October.

If you haven’t read A Night in the Lonesome October, you’re missing out.  Here’s the synopsis:

Narrator Snuff, a guard dog who performs complex thaumaturgical calculations in his head, has many duties: to keep various Things firmly trapped in mirrors, wardrobes, and steamer trunks; to accompany his master, Jack–he of the magical blade–on weird collecting expeditions into the graveyards and slums of Victorian London; and–for a single hour each night–discuss the day’s goings-on in human speech. Snuff’s neighbors include: Jill the witch and her familiar, Graymalk the cat, with whom Snuff forms a friendly alliance; Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Frankenstein, Dracula, a werewolf, and a satanic vicar. The witches, detectives, doctors, vampires, etc., along with their equally industrious familiars, trade information and scheme for advantage as the full moon of Halloween approaches; at that time, a magical showdown to decide the fate of the Earth will occur. Some of the characters are “openers,” determined to open a magical doorway allowing the Old Gods to reoccupy the Earth; others are “closers,” equally resolved to keep the magical door nailed shut; and a few are involved yet stand outside the Game altogether. Snuff’s problem is to discover who is which. Sparkling, witty, delightful: Zelazny’s best for ages, perhaps his best ever.

This is the second year in a row that I’ve done this, and the tradition will continue.

So here’s a preview of the October issue:

“Introduction”, by Trent Zelazny: Touching words from Roger Zelazny’s son, the crime writer Trent Zelazny.  You don’t want to miss Trent’s reminiscence of his father writing A Night in the Lonesome October: What I do recall is, almost every night, sitting down while my father stretched out on the couch with his legal pad (or pads), each of us having a Pepsi, and Dad reading from this book he was calling A Night in the Lonesome October. Sometimes him reading from it was the first thing we did, sometimes it was the last thing, and sometimes it just hopped in at some point along the way. I remember him laughing more, and smiling a lot more, and one night him telling me, “I don’t think I’ve had this much fun writing in years.”

“He Knew Not the Month Was October”, by Zach Shephard: The next day was October 31st. It was the day the world’s fate would be decided, in a winners-take-all ritual that would either banish the Old Ones to another dimension or allow them to keep terrorizing our planet for the next few decades.  Ricou was the only Player on our side of the struggle. He was the lone banisher against a trio of strong protectors. But if I couldn’t find a way to heal his diseased mind, he’d be useless to us. We’d lose. The Game would be over, and with the world’s human population almost entirely eradicated already, we’d probably never get another chance to play again; the Old Ones and their tentacled horrors would remain unchecked indefinitely, and life as we know it would be a thing of the past.  I had until the moon was full in the sky to fix my broken master. Less than a day to save the world…

“Crash the World”, by Derek Ferreira: He turned to face me, an imposingly massive form, easily broader than Ava and I put together. Something was off about the way he moved, like his muscles bulged in the wrong way beneath his coat, a jerky, half-formed motion that somehow conveyed his unbelievable, predatory strength. My instincts were kicking in, anger subsumed by a clear and primitive flight or fight reaction that was only heightened when I saw his face. The patchwork tones of skin, the faded scars of needlework against his monstrous visage, the way his flesh seemed lumpy and malformed like something riddled with tumorous growths – he terrified me. Ava stared at me with wide, watering eyes, her teeth gritting as he held her like a cruel child mishandling a doll…

“Knight in the Lonesome October”, by William Meikle: “Morgana wants to open the way—and she’s close to being able to do it. I taught her too well, and for too long, and she’s learned a few tricks of her own since then. If she’s not stopped, the Dark Ages will be even darker than before—and there might never again be a possibility of light to come.”  — “No pressure, then?” I’d said, but I’d taken on the job quickly enough. I hadn’t played the Great Game for many a year and in truth, there just wasn’t enough excitement to be had in Tooting, not even on a Saturday night…

“Mother of Monsters”, by Joshua Wanisko: The blob creature fell upon her as she exited through the front entrance. At first I thought someone was playing a joke: the child’s prank, where a bucket full of water is balanced atop the door, and spills its contents on the first unfortunate to open it. My students played that trick on me once. But as she began dissolving, clothing, skin and muscle all melting away, like wax in a sudden inferno, the true horror became apparent. In my memories, it stretches on for hours, but in reality, it was merely moments. She turned towards me ponderously, with something almost like serenity, her head tilted slightly as if she couldn’t understand what was happening. How could she? Her brain was melting. I could see it…

“The Bells of Northam”, by Josh Reynolds: The thing in the casket sat up with a creak of ancient bone and dried flesh, as the bells of Northam rang loud, long and triumphant. It was wrapped in a shroud heavy with the filth of ages and its fleshless jaw sagged, expelling dust and maggots. The head rotated and fiery sparks blazed to hideous life in the black holes of its eye sockets. There was something wrong with the shape of the skull. In life, beneath a mask of flesh and fat and muscle, it would have perhaps not been noticeable. But now, for the most part shorn of such coverings, its malformation was all too horribly apparent.  A too-long jaw snapped, and a sloping brow slid from the hood of the shroud as dead fingers clutched the edge of the lead casket. It pushed itself upright, tearing the shroud as it did so…

“What You Leave Behind”, by Evan Dicken: Thirsty flicked an ear, staring at the mission like she had half a mind to kick it down. I couldn’t blame her–the place just looked wrong. Something about the way the walls came together at sharp angles but somehow still made a square…

On Thursday, the stars will be right for issue #27.  See you then!

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