Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Quick Look at the Second Issue of Nightmare Magazine

I realize that November is almost over, and the new issue of Nightmare will be out in a matter of hours, at least if you have a subscription.  So I'm behind for the month.  Like you aren't?

Anyway, I wanted to take a look at the second issue since the first was a little different.  It contained four pieces of original fiction.  Starting with the current issue, Nightmare will run two original stories and two reprints. 

So let's take a quick look, shall we?

The opening story is "Construction Project" by Desirina Boskovich.  This one is the tale of two lovers who live in fear of something that is coming to destroy their love and separate them forever.  Ms. Boskovich employs a literary device where you never know which protagonist is speaking.  They will refer to each other in third person in one of them performs a particular act, but often the pronoun the narrator uses to refer to self is "we".  This adds to the sense of paranoia that seems to pervade the story.  Of course, this type of literary trick isn't exactly new.  Alfred Bester did something similar in his classic story "Fondly Fahrenheit".  I've not seen anyone successfully pull it off since then.  Until now that is.

The two reprints are next, with Joe Haldeman's "Graves" leading off.  It's hard to go wrong with Haldeman, and this story in particular is one of his strongest.  I still remember lines from it when I read it the first time, nearly 20 years ago.  It's about a soldier on burial detail in Vietnam who gets called out to the front to recover a particular body.  Only this one isn't like any other corpse he's seen...

"The Ash of Memory, the Dust of Desire" is a bleak tale from Poppy Z. Brite concerning the end of a relationship.  I've not read anything by this author before.  I found the writing to be smooth and polished.  The author captured the voice of the narrator quite well.  I have to admit this one wasn't my cup of tea, although I liked the ending. 

The final new story is "At Lorn Hall", a haunted house story from Ramsey Campbell as only he can write a haunted house story.  Campbell is one of those writers who hits with me about 2/3 of the time.  The rest of the time I can't stand either his characters the bleak or hopeless landscape the move through and occasionally both.  But when he hits with me, I can't put his work down.  This one worked for me.  In fact it was my favorite of all the issue.  If Nightmare only published one story per issue this good, it would be worthy of our support.

The rest of the issue included part 2 of an interview with Peter Straub, an interview and selection of art by the cover artist Maxim Verehin, a column on ghost stories by R. J. Sevin, and an editorial by John Joseph Adams.  Plus each a short interview with each author.

In short, I'd have to say this was another fine issue.  While I the stories in this issue weren't as much to my taste as those in the first, it was still an issue I enjoyed very much.  I'm looking forward to the next one in the next day or so (one of the advantages of having a subscription).


  1. Poppy Brite is a very fine writer. She lives down here so I've met her a number of times. Awesome narrative voice.

    1. I've heard nothing but good things about her, and I was impressed with the writing. The story didn't connect with me very well. I'll give her another try, though. I realize that not every story a writer produces will meet any individual reader's tastes. And if the writer is good and versatile, that's probably the way it should be.