In which we take a closer look at each issue of the magazine. For our capsule history of the magazine, go here.
Volume 1, Number 8 (November, 1981)
Special Halloween Issue
Editor: T.E.D. Klein
Cover Art: Clayton Campbell
TZ Publications, Inc.
President & Chairman: S. Edward Orenstein
Secretary/Treasurer: Sidney Z. Gellman
Executive Vice Presidents: Leon Garry & Eric Protter
Executive Publisher: S. Edward Orenstein
Publisher: Leon Garry
Associate Publisher/Consulting Editor: Carol Serling
Editorial Director: Eric Protter
Editor: T.E.D. Klein
Managing Editor: Jane Bayer
Contributing Editors: Gahan Wilson & Theodore Sturgeon
Editorial Assistant: Marc Stecker
Design Director: Derek Burton
Art and Studio Production: Georg the Design Group
Production Director: Edward Ernest
Controller: Thomas Schiff
Administrative Assistant: Eve Grammatas
Director, Marketing and Creative Services: Rose-Marie Brooks
Public Relations Manager: Jeffrey Nickora
Accounting Manager: Chris Grossman
Circulation Director: Denise Kelly
Circulation Asst: Karen Wiss
Circulation Marketing: Jerry Alexander
Western Newsstand Consultant: Harry Sommer
Advertising Manager: Rachel Britapaja
Advertising Production Manager: Marina Despotakis
--In the Twilight Zone: “We get letters . . .” by T.E.D. Klein
--Other Dimensions: Books by Theodore Sturgeon
--Other Dimensions: Screen by Gahan Wilson
--John Saul: ‘Remember, it’s only a story.” Interview by Laura Kramer
--“Because Our Skins Are Finer” by Tanith Lee
--“Carousel” by Thomas M. Disch
--“Heimlich’s Curse” by Evan Eisenberg
--“The Specialist” by Clark Howard
--“Wishing Will Make It So” by Melissa Mia Hall
--“Moshigawa’s Homecoming” by Gordon Linzner
--TZ Screen Preview: Halloween II by Robert Martin
--“Again” by Ramsey Campbell
--Dr. Van Helsing’s Handy Guide to Ghost Stories, Part IV by T.E.D. Klein (as Kurt Van Helsing)
--“The Old Man’s Room” by Juleen Brantingham
--“Tweedlioop” by Stanley Schmidt
--Show by Show Guide: TV’s Twilight Zone: Part Eight by Marc Scott Zicree
--TZ Classic Teleplay: “Death’s Head Revisited” by Rod Serling
--Looking Ahead: In December’s TZ by T.E.D. Klein
--In the Twilight Zone: “We get letters . . .” by T.E.D Klein
-Like Carol Serling in the previous issue, Klein uses his editorial space to discuss the possibility of a letters column which he says will likely appear (and eventually does) if the readers demand it. However, Klein reiterates that the magazine is first and foremost a fiction magazine and he is reluctant to cut back on the pages dedicated to fiction to make room for a letters column since he receives so many excellent story submissions each month. Klein also reveals some data from a reader’s survey. The readership of the magazine is 72.6 percent male, 27.4 years of age on average, and highly literate, spending most of its money on books. Klein proceeds to give capsule biographies of the magazine’s contributors accompanied by thumbnail images.
--Other Dimensions: Books by Theodore Sturgeon
-Without a standout title to highlight this month Sturgeon reverts to his standard method of providing a wide overview of new SF books. He reviews:
-King of the Sea by Derek Burton
Sturgeon begins by describing the unusual and circuitous route of his coming to personally know this author. He says that the “overarching statement of the book has to do with the nature of conviction and the nature of caring.”
-Doomtime by Doris Piserchia
“Her weird images, her startling invention, her almost metaphoric prose might seem impossibly obscure but for the reader’s constant awareness of the depth of her caring.”
-Satyr by Linda Crockett Gray
“despite the fact that it looks like yet another fiend-rapes-housewife Stephen King imitation, is written by a lady who has most obviously a close association with a Rape Crisis Unit ,and not only shows how one operates, but why.”
-The Tularemia Gambit by Steve Perry
“an interesting study of the obsessive competition between two men, one of them crazed and terribly dangerous.”
-Sunfall by C.J. Cherryh
“a collection of cities distant in time, each with its special character.”
-A Quiet Night of Fear by Charles L. Grant
“It’s the story of a near-future tv celebrity, a beautiful and resourceful newshawk, and her embroilment in a murder mystery centering around the presence of some highly unusual androids.”
-Crooked Tree by Robert C. Wilson
“a thick, eerie adventure about a woman and a passel of wild bears haunted by the evil spirit of a long-dead Indian.”
-None But Man by Gordon R. Dickson
“Intergalactic guerrilla warfare in the Dickson style.”
-Clash of the Titans by Alan Dean Foster (movie novelization)
“Alan Dean Foster has done his usual workmanlike job.”
-Doc Savage, His Apocalyptic Life by Philip José Farmer
“a fine example of tongue-in-cheek scholarship.”
-And Not Make Dreams Your Master by Stephen Goldin
“has used the same theme as Jon Manchip White’s Death by Dreaming, reported on here a few months ago.”
-The Cabal by Philip Dunn
“English, pornographic, clumsy, unbelievable, and threatens to become a series.”
-Wyrldmaker by Terry Bisson
“Wonder on wonder, magic against magic, but you have to be Roger Zelazny to pull this off, which Bisson just ain’t.”
-The Entropy Effect by Vonda N. McIntire (a Star Trek novel)
“Ms. V. couldn’t write really badly if she tries, and she sure hasn’t tried here.”
-Sturgeon also looks at three anthologies:
-The Best Science Fiction of the Year #10 edited by Terry Carr
-The 1981 World’s Best Science Fiction edited by Donald Wollheim
-New Dimensions 12 edited by Marta Randall and Robert Silverberg
-Other Dimensions: Screen by Gahan Wilson
-Wilson reviews Dragonslayer (1981), directed by Matthew Robbins and written by Robbins and Hal Barwood. The film stars Peter MacNicol, Caitlin Clarke, Ralph Richardson, and John Hallam. Also appearing in the film is Twilight Zone veteran Albert Salmi (“Execution,” “A Quality of Mercy,” and “Of Late I Think of Cliffordville”).
-Wilson begins his column by providing a humorous account of going to see this film with a lady friend amid the grime of a Times Square theater. He proceeds to admonish the film for its derivative nature, its unfairness in relation to the fantasy elements, and even comments upon what he considers the androgynous appearance of the lead actress. Wilson does applaud the “Go Motion” special effects, stating that it’s an improvement upon the work of Ray Harryhausen, and professes his own love of dragons going back to his boyhood. Wilson also alternately considers the film as an adult and a children’s film.
-John Saul: ‘Remember, it’s only a story.” Interview by Laura Kramer
-John Saul arrived on the crest of the wave of writers who followed Stephen King’s early success in the horror/paranormal genre. Saul’s debut novel, Suffer the Children (1977), was a million-copy plus bestseller. Saul continued with a string of modern Gothics centering on familial secrets, haunted towns, and children with paranormal abilities. Like Stephen King’s The Green Mile, Saul published his own serial novel with the six volume The Blackstone Chronicles in 1997 (both of these series, by the way, owe a debt to Michael McDowell’s excellent Blackwater series (6 volumes, 1983)). Saul is prolific and has proven to have true lasting power in the market with all of his novels reaching the bestseller lists. He has done little to change his style though his subject matter is pliable according to current tastes, though all of his work generally falls within the horror/thriller category. Saul’s novels, though now arriving less frequently, continue to chart as bestsellers. Saul’s dedicated readership is likely comprised of readers who don’t identify as “horror” readers since his work has been disdained by genre fans and critics since his arrival. Saul is very much like the late V.C. Andrews in this way.
-This interview is way more enjoyable than it has any right to be considering Saul comes into it as someone not respected by regular horror readers (something the magazine itself points out). But Saul is simply too likeable a guy and his self-deprecating manner manages to illustrate that Saul takes his work seriously in the only way that matters: he is loyal to his readership. He has little care or concern for his literary reputation outside of pleasing his readers. This interview occurred very early in Saul’s career and he had only four books to his name: Suffer the Children, Punish the Sinners, Cry for the Strangers, and Comes the Blind Fury. At the time of the interview Saul was promoting his fifth title: When the Wind Blow (1981). The fact that the magazine is interviewing him at this early stage proves that Saul was making a noticeable impact on the genre very early in his career.
-Saul covers the inspirations for each of his novels, including his ability to convincingly bring to life settings he’s never personally visited. In recent years, Saul has taken to driving an RV around the country seeking inspiration for new thrillers in out-of-the-way locations. He talks briefly about his literary influences and his lifelong love of reading. If you come to this interview knowing nothing about Saul you’ll likely come out on the other side wanting to check out at least the early novels. I can recommend this interview simply because Saul rarely gets the space afforded to the Kings, Straubs, and Barkers of the world.
-“Because Our Skins Are Finer” by Tanith Lee
Illustrated by Frances Jetter
“Children died. Mothers mourned. The ice ran red with blood. It’s a tale of greed and cruelty . . . yet also, somehow, a tale of love.”
-An embittered, solitary man shoots and kills a beautiful seal on the ice flows which surround his village only to discover that it was of an ancient race older than the advent of mankind. Grade: B
-Tanith Lee returns to the pages of the magazine with this gem of dark fantasy written in the deceptively simple, poetic prose of a fable. Lee apparently held a fascination with legends of the sea as her earlier effort for the magazine, the highly enjoyable “Magritte’s Secret Agent,” also covered some of the same thematic ground but in a starkly different setting. Lee was a hugely prolific author of novels and short stories, mostly in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres. Her star rose quickly in the 1970s through a series of fantasy novels for DAW books and her success continued into the 1980s and 1990s writing dark fantasy and horror novels, including those published under the highly regarded Dell Abyss horror imprint. By the turn of the century Lee’s star began to fade and publishers lost interest in her new works. Lee stated in one of her final interviews that she still wrote every day despite being unable to place much of the work, resulting in a desk full of unpublished manuscripts left behind at her death in 2015.
-“Because Our Skins Are Finer” was included in Lee’s 1985 collection The Gorgon and Other Beastly Tales, as well as in the career retrospective Dreams of Dark and Light: The Great Short Fiction of Tanith Lee (Arkham House, 1986).
-“Carousel” by Thomas M. Disch
Illustration by José Reyes
“Whether fate was kind or unkind, Mr. Martin couldn’t say. But it certainly had a sense of humor!”
-An air traveler discovers that he’s reached the afterlife while waiting for his luggage at an eerie airport. Grade: C
-This very slight tale from Thomas M. Disch is little more than a simple turn on a cliché plot and is not indicative of Dish’s exceptional abilities. Disch was one of the leading lights of the “new wave” of science fiction in the late 1960s and 1970s. Hugely talented, Disch wrote novels, short stories, essays, critical reviews, opera librettos, plays, poetry, and books for children. Some of his better known SF novels include The Genocides (1968) and Camp Concentration (1968). He was also the author of the all-ages work The Brave Little Toaster (1980), later turned into a successful animated film. Disch became the books reviewer for Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine with the May, 1982 issue, following the departure of Theodore Sturgeon. He was the recipient of the Hugo and Ditmar Awards, among others. Disch took his own life on Independence Day, 2008 after suffering a series of personal catastrophes.
-“Carousel” was included in Great Stories from Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine (1982).
-Heimlich’s Curse by Evan Eisenberg
Illustrated by Randy Jones
“How could they have known, those three clowns in the tomb, that Tekni’s divine blessing was also . . .”
-Three archeologists find what they believe to be a tomb only to discover it is an ancient temple which repays trespass with a most desirable form of death. Grade: C
-This one is played strictly for laughs and only marginally successful at that. The title refers to the developer of the Heimlich maneuver and his warning against consuming peanut butter directly from the jar rather than on a cracker or piece of bread. Peanut butter which gets lodged in the throat without being on a cracker or piece of bread cannot be expelled by using the Heimlich maneuver. “Heimlich’s Curse” was Eisenberg’s first published fiction and he published only one other speculative work, a story in the March-April, 1984 issue of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine. Klein states that “regularly he writes music criticism, and is now at work on a book about the sociology of recorded music.”
-“Heimlich’s Curse” was reprinted in the Winter, 1985 issue of Night Cry.
-“The Specialist” by Clark Howard
Illustrated by Earl Killeen
“‘I’m a salesman,’ he said. ‘I sell death.’ The only surprise was the price.”
-A restaurant manager strikes up a deal with a hitman to kill the manager’s wife, with unexpected consequences. Grade: B
-Clark Howard is well-known for his mystery fiction but has, on occasion, contributed a ghost or horror story to an anthology or magazine. In the mystery field Howard has been a mainstay of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine for decades, winning many awards in the process, including an Edgar Allan Poe Award and five Ellery Queen Reader Awards. “The Specialist” is typical of Howard’s output, a breezily written crime story with an ironic ending, one perfectly suited to Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I personally enjoy these type stories even though the ending of this one is fairly obvious to those well-read in the genre. This story will appeal to fans of the Hitchcock show or those who enjoy the crime-based Zone episodes such as “The Silence” or “The Jeopardy Room.”
-“Wishing Will Make It So” by Melissa Mia Hall
Illustrated by Annie Alleman
“Until the final moment, it’s hard to tell the difference between a trick and a treat.”
-On Halloween night, two young girls dare to trick-or-treat at the door of the town outcast only to learn too late the consequences of their action. Grade: B
-This one was a treat: short, sharp, and with a satisfyingly shocking (if somewhat predictable) ending. It is a shame that this one hasn’t been reprinted since appearing in the magazine, particularly considering the wealth of Halloween-themed anthologies which have appeared over the years. Melissa Mia Hall was known for her SF short fiction, for editing the 1997 anthology Wild Women, and for her work as a books reviewer. She also a published poet and frequent essayist. Hall passed away in 2011 under terrible circumstances after she succumbed to the lingering effects of a heart attack which occurred when she tried to lift her dog from the floor. Hall could not afford health insurance so did not seek medical attention when her symptoms worsened. Hall was loved in the horror and SF community for her outreach work and her work highlighting authors, conventions, and publishing trends.
-“Moshigawa’s Homecoming” by Gordon Linzner
Illustrated by José Reyes
“Alone amid the ruins of his castle, he was forced to depend upon the unlikeliest of allies.”
-A samurai returns to the scene of the massacre of his clan. He is ambushed by the leader of a rival clan but survives the ordeal due to some ghostly assistance. Grade: B
-Linzner returns to the pages of the magazine, after “The Inn of the Dove” in the June issue, with another take on the tradition of the Japanese ghost story. Klein’s editorial states: “in time, perhaps, he’ll come to be regarded as a latter-day Lafcadio Hearn.” Hearn (1850-1904) was the Irish-born American writer who popularized Japanese fiction, particularly supernatural fiction, for English language audiences. Klein goes on to state that Linzner “publishes a small, well-illustrated, and wonderfully irreverent fantasy journal called Space and Time.” Linzner edited Space and Time until 2005 and continues to produce fiction, including a story in the 2018 anthology Corporate Cthulhu from Pickman’s Press. Linzner's interest in Japanese supernatural fiction culminated in his 1986 novel The Oni (Leisure Books), about a demon being released from a ceremonial Japanese sword.
-TZ Screen Preview: Halloween II by Robert Martin
“John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Donald Pleasence are together again in Halloween II. TZ’s Robert Martin brings you the story behind this long-awaited remake.”
-Robert Martin, then-editor of Fangoria magazine, returns with another full-color film preview, this time for Halloween II (1981), directed by Rick Rosenthal. Interestingly, the film is labeled a “remake” in the article’s tagline, though it would more properly be termed a sequel since Halloween II picks up exactly where Halloween left off. This profile describes how John Carpenter and Debra Hill, director and producer on the first film, respectively, were coaxed into returning to write and produce this sequel after a court battle with producer Irwin Yablans, who was determined to make a sequel with or without the participation of Carpenter and Hill. Carpenter and Hill did not want to make a sequel and have not participated in any of the later installments in the franchise with the exception of the upcoming reboot from Blumhouse Productions. This feature also covers their process in developing a logical narrative arc extending from the first film and the cast of characters are briefly profiled.
-“Again” by Ramsey Campbell
Illustrated by Brad Hamann
“In which it is suggested that, like true love, sheer lust can live beyond the grave.”
-A man on a hiking trip deviates from the trail and comes across a clearing in which sits a house. A very old, mute woman is outside the house and indicates that she has locked herself out. The man is induced to climb through a window only to discover the inside of the house is a trap filled with gruesome horrors. Grade: A+
-Campbell returns to the pages of the magazine with this stunning shocker that is a must-read for horror fans. It is far and away the best story in the issue and possibly the best (or at least most effective) story published thus far in the magazine. The erotic and gruesome nature of the story may not be to everyone’s taste but if you’re inclined to dark and inventive fiction then definitely check this one out. You likely haven’t read anything like it. The publication of this story in the magazine displayed Klein’s intention as an editor to stay abreast of current trends in genre publishing. As horror fiction became increasingly popular and increasingly graphic, Klein was quick to display this trend in the pages of the magazine. This was also the primary reason for establishing the companion magazine Night Cry, which was unabashedly horror in tone. One of the most important, and delicate, lines the magazine walked was to pay homage to the classic television series without becoming mired in the conventions of that time period. It's important to remember that the so-called Splatterpunk movement began (at least on this side of the Atlantic) in the pages of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine and Night Cry when Klein published early stories from David J. Schow, John Skipp, and Craig Spector, the leading lights of the movement.
-Ramsey Campbell is one of the most honored horror writers in the history of the form, garnering virtually every award for work in the genre. Equally renowned for his novels and short fiction, Campbell’s works include the novels The Doll Who Ate His Mother (1976), The Face that Must Die (1979), and Ancient Images (1989), and the short fiction collections Demons by Daylight (1973) and Alone with the Horrors (1993). He has edited numerous anthologies as well, including the early volumes of Best New Horror (with Stephen Jones) and such volumes as New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (1980), Fine Frights (1988), and New Terrors (1982).
-Here’s what Campbell had to say about “Again” in the introduction to his career retrospective Alone with the Horrors (revised edition, Tor Books, 2004):
“‘Again’ (1980) appeared in the Twilight Zone magazine under T.E.D. Klein’s editorship, although I gather Rod Serling’s widow took some persuading. One British journal found the tale too disturbing to publish, while a British Sunday newspaper magazine dismissed it as ‘not horrid enough.’ Who would have expected Catherine Morland to take up editing? The story saw a powerful graphic adaptation by Michael Zulli in the adult comic Taboo, which was apparently one reason why the publication was and perhaps still is liable to be seized by British Customs.”
-“Again” has been reprinted numerous times, including in Great Stories from Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine (1982), Red Stains (ed. Jack Hunter, 1992), Shudder Again (ed. Michele Slung, 1993), Hot Blood (ed. Jeff Gelb, Lonn Friend, 1996), and Vile Things (ed. Cheryl Mullenax, 2009).
-Dr. Van Helsing’s Handy Guide to Ghost Stories Part IV by Kurt Van Helsing
|Illustration by Tarkas|
“Our learned professor ends his course and bids farewell to readers with a short but heartfelt treatise on the pleasures of the ghost story.”
-Klein concludes his long essay on the history and aesthetic of the ghost story in literature. With this final installment he continues to present his ideas for the reasons behind the reading and enjoyment of supernatural literature and the ways in which this type literature has infiltrated the wider cultural traditions of England and America. The most impressive, and valuable, aspect of Klein’s essay is the numerous quotes he takes from virtually every important supernatural fiction writer who took the time to lay down their thoughts on the form. These include but are not limited to: Henry James, M.R. James, H. Russell Wakefield, Russell Kirk, Robert Aickman, Edith Wharton, Elizabeth Bowen, L.P. Hartley, and A.E. Coppard. The essay in its entirety is worth reading both for those well-versed in the classic ghost story and those just discovering this rich tradition. It is a shame that Klein’s essay has not been reprinted complete in book form as an introduction or afterword to an anthology or as part of a study of the genre. This final installment, like the previous installments, is accompanied by an engaging array of vintage illustrations.
-“The Old Man’s Room” by Juleen Brantingham
Illustrated by Wendy Mansfield
“Which was more terrifying – the unknown world awaiting her across the hall, or the real one she was forced to live in?”
-A struggling, middle-aged woman rejects a chance at happiness through fear of the unknown. Grade: B
-This story was enjoyable due to the level of characterization Brantingham is able to lend the protagonist in so short a space. The story concerns an unmarried, middle-aged woman who is struggling at work and at home. She has no real friends and lives across the hall from what appears to be a disgusting old man but who may in reality be a beautiful young man kept young and beautiful due to a magical portal within his apartment. Klein describes Brantingham this way in his editorial: “Juleen Brantingham’s first supernatural tale appeared several years ago in one of Charles Grant’s Shadows anthologies, but she’d already done much writing for children and for the confession magazines.” Brantingham authored dozens of short stories in the late 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s, most of which appeared in the better known genre periodicals and anthologies.
-“Tweedlioop” by Stanley Schmidt
Illustrated by E.T. Steadman
“He’d been tested once and had failed. Now he’d been given a second chance – and every solution would be wrong.”
-A man recovering from a personal tragedy finds evidence of a strange alien life form in the wilds of Alaska. Grade: F
-This story, the longest in the issue, is ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful. Schmidt is a talented writer and an even more talented editor but this story does not display the qualities of his talent. It concerns a man who loses his family in a house fire. In a healing effort he takes a trip to Alaska. There he finds a squirrel-like extraterrestrial who crash-landed on earth along with several other now-deceased rodent-like aliens. The man decides to take the alien home and fights off a pack of wolves to do so. All of this in a story twice as long as it should have been. Incredibly, Schmidt wrote a novel-length sequel, also titled Tweedlioop, published by Tor in 1986. A Publishers Weekly blurb on the paperback states that “Fans of E.T. should find this novel both familiar and pleasing.” Though I haven’t read the novel this about sums up the short story. I am not a fan of cute alien stories so perhaps if you are fond of such tales you will enjoy “Tweedlioop” more than I did.
-Schmidt previously appeared in the July issue with the equally baffling tale “Camouflage,” suggesting that he was either a personal friend of T.E.D. Klein or Klein simply held an affinity for Schmidt’s off-beat style of fantasy. Schmidt was the longtime editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact as well as an accomplished book anthologist. He has been writing fiction professionally since the late 1960s and continues to produce the occasional novel and short story to this day.
-Show-by-Show Guide: TV’s Twilight Zone Part Eight by Marc Scott Zicree
-The author of The Twilight Zone Companion continues his guide to the original series with the credits, summaries, and narrations for the following third season episodes, all of which we’ve covered on the blog: “It’s a Good Life,” “Death’s Head Revisited,” “The Midnight Sun,” “Still Valley,” “The Jungle,” “Once Upon a Time,” and “Five Characters in Search of an Exit.”
-TZ Classic Teleplay: “Death’s Head Revisited” by Rod Serling
-Presented here is the shooting script for Serling’s excellent third season episode about a former SS commander who escaped justice but made the mistake of returning to the scene of his crimes. A ghostly revenge ensues. The teleplay is accompanied by stills from the episode. We awarded the episode a B (very good) grade and Brian unearthed some fascinating historical background on the episode, including its connection to a very good Rod Serling-penned episode of Night Gallery, so revisit our review here.
-Looking Ahead: In December’s TZ
-Next month’s issue is given shape on this preview page. December’s issue will be anchored by an interview with Harlan Ellison, the award-winning SF writer who served for a time as creative consultant on the first revival Twilight Zone television series. Also in next month’s issue is an essay on M.R. James, master of the antiquarian ghost story, accompanied by one of James’s most disturbing tales, “The Ash Tree.” The issue is rounded out by fiction from Kenneth Goodman, Joe R. Lansdale, Jaspar Witko, John C. McDevitt, David St. Marie, Jeff Hecht, and Haskell Barkin, with a story later adapted for Tales from the Darkside. Gahan Wilson looks at movies, Theodore Sturgeon looks at books, and Rod Serling is represented with his teleplay for the third season episode “The Midnight Sun.” See you next time.