Monday, May 21, 2018

Reading Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, Part 8


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

Contents:

--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
(T.E.D. Klein)
“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.

-JP

Monday, May 14, 2018

Night Cry Magazine: The Covers

The only annual issue of TZ Magazine,
considered as a precursor to Night Cry.
Cover art by Terrance Lindall
Night Cry magazine began life in 1984 with an issue titled TZ Special #1: Night Cry, taking its name from a story by Katherine M. Turney originally published in the November, 1982 issue of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine and reprinted in the initial issue of Night Cry. Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine previously released an annual issue, the only one to appear from the magazine, in 1982 with Great Stories from Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, which in many ways can be viewed as a precursor to Night Cry. 

Intended as a companion to The Twilight Zone Magazine, Night Cry initially served to reprint stories from TZ Magazine with a focus on horror and dark fantasy fiction. Night Cry soon evolved into an influential periodical which featured original fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and artwork from the most skilled practitioners of horror and dark fantasy of the 1980s. Contributing writers included Robert Bloch, William F. Nolan, F. Paul Wilson, Orson Scott Card, Charles L. Grant, Ramsey Campbell, Dennis Etchison, Bentley Little, and many others. The magazine was also the birthing grounds of the burgeoning Splatterpunk movement as authors such as John Skipp, Craig Spector, David J. Schow, and Richard Christian Matheson all published early fiction in its pages. The magazine was notable for its arresting cover images, several of which were created by the World Fantasy Award-winning artist J.K. Potter, who also contributed dozens of interior illustrations to the magazine. An added feature of Night Cry was that new illustrations were commissioned for each story, including reprinted material, which presented an interesting array of artististic interpretations for the fiction in each issue. 

T.E.D. Klein edited the first three issues of the magazine before departing the editorship of both Night Cry and Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine to concentrate on fiction writing. Alan Rodgers assumed editorship of the magazine with the Winter, 1985 issue and saw the magazine through to its end. Night Cry endured for 11 issues (issued quarterly after the first issue) before folding with the Fall, 1987 issue, ending a short but celebrated run from one of the finest horror fiction magazines of that very rich decade. Every issue of Night Cry is available to read on the Internet Archive (archive.org), from which these cover images are taken. Time permitting, perhaps an issue-by-issue look at Night Cry will be forthcoming in the manner of our TZ Magazine read-through. -JP


Cover by Rosie Mackiewicz (1984)
Cover by Frances Jetter (Summer, 1985)
Cover by Manuel S. Morales (Fall, 1985)
Cover by J.K. Potter (Winter, 1985)
Cover by J.K. Potter (Spring, 1986)
Cover by J.K. Potter (Summer, 1986)
Cover by J.K. Potter (Fall, 1986)
Cover by J.K. Potter (Winter, 1986)
Cover by J.K. Potter (Spring, 1987)
Cover by J.K. Potter (Summer, 1987)
Cover by Harry O. Morris (Fall, 1987)

Monday, April 30, 2018

"In His Image"


“In His Image”
Season Four, Episode 103
Original Air Date: January 3, 1963

Cast:
Alan Talbot/Water Ryder, Jr.: George Grizzard
Jessica Connelly: Gail Kobe
Old Woman: Katharine Squire
Man: Wallace Rooney
Driver: George Petrie
Sheriff: James Seay
Hotel Clerk: Jamie Forster
Girl: Sherry Granato
Grizzard’s double: Joseph Sargent

Crew:
Writer: Charles Beaumont (based on his story “The Man Who Made Himself”)
Director: Perry Lafferty
Producer: Herbert Hirschman
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens
Production Manager: Ralph W. Nelson
Art Direction: George W. Davis & William Ferrari
Editor: Edward Curtiss
Set Decoration: Henry Grace & Edward M. Parker
Assistant to the Producer: John Conwell
Assistant Director: John Bloss
Sound: Franklin Milton & Bill Edmondson
Music: stock
Serling’s Wardrobe: Eagle Clothes
Filmed at MGM Studios

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:

“What you have just witnessed could be the end of a particularly terrifying nightmare. It isn’t. It’s the beginning. Although Alan Talbot doesn’t know it, he’s about to enter a strange new world, too incredible to be real, too real to be a dream. It’s called – The Twilight Zone.” 


Summary:
            Alan Talbot is accosted by a religious fanatic in the form of an old woman while waiting for a subway train in the early morning hours. They are alone on the platform. Alan has lately been plagued by discordant sounds inside his head which strike without provocation or warning. As the train enters the station Alan again hears the strange sounds and is irresistibly compelled to push the old woman down onto the tracks. He runs from the scene after committing this terrible act.
            Alan next arrives at his girlfriend's house. Her name is Jessica Connelly and together they are taking a trip to Alan's hometown, Coeurville, so that Alan can introduce Jess to his friends and family. Alan has been in New York City for only a few days and in that time has met and began courting Jess. Alan seems to retain no knowledge of pushing the old woman in front of the train. 
            Alan points out the familiar landmarks of his hometown as they drive by, except things do not always match his memory. The university he works for is not there, buildings have changed or been replaced, and his friends and family have either died or never existed at all. Worse still, there is no record of an Alan Talbot ever residing in Coeurville.
Jess becomes concerned about Alan’s mental state but truly loves him and so tries to help him get to the bottom of this mystery. Alan leads her to the cemetery to visit his parent’s graves. Instead, he finds headstones for a Mr. and Mrs. Walter Ryder, people he does not know.
Later that night, as Jess drives them down the highway, Alan suddenly become ill, strange sounds again whirling within his head. Jess pulls the car over and Alan runs off into the dense undergrowth. He leans against a tree and picks up a large rock. He calls out to Jess, compelled to kill her. At the last moment Alan manages to control his deadly urge and tells Jess to run away. She leaves him there.
Alan runs to the road and is nearly hit by a passing motorist. The motorist stops to help Alan and there, in the light from the headlamp, Alan examines a wound suffered while dodging the vehicle. It is a small slit in his forearm which he opens to expose wires and circuits beneath the skin.  
            Alan locates Walter Ryder, Jr. in the phonebook and goes to his home in the middle of the night. There he finds a man who looks exactly like himself. Walter Ryder, Jr. tells Alan an incredible story. Walter is an inventor and Alan is his invention, a synthetic man built in an attempt to create a perfect version of himself. There was a problem, however, a glitch in the framework which manifests itself as an unpredictable homicidal urge. Days before, Alan tried to kill Walter with a pair of scissors.
            Alan disbelieves. Walter takes him down into a basement laboratory to display the apparatus which was used to create Alan. Alan asks if he can be repaired. When Walter says he cannot, Alan tells him about Jess. Suddenly, the deadly urge again overcomes Alan and he attacks Walter.
            Later, there is a knock on Jess’s door. She opens to find Walter, whom she believes to be Alan. Walter has survived Alan’s attack and has come to continue where Alan left off. They begin their courtship anew, cleansed of the danger which previously lay between them.
            In a final shot we see Alan lying dead on the floor of the laboratory. Despite the violence of the scene around him, his face is set in an expression of peaceful parting.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
“In a way it can be said that Walter Ryder succeeded in his life’s ambition, even though the man he created was, after all, himself. There may be easier ways to self-improvement but sometimes it happens that the shortest distance between two points is a crooked line through – The Twilight Zone.”

Commentary:

“Pete Nolan knew everything about his past life up to the present, but the trouble was he couldn’t find anybody to verify his existence!”
            -original publication tagline for “The Man Who Made Himself”
Original magazine illustration
by W.E. Terry

            In one sense, “In His Image” provides a comparative view of Charles Beaumont’s principal concerns as a fiction writer: the pliable nature of reality, the disorder of perception, and our over-reliance upon memory as the basis of self-identity. Beaumont’s contributions to The Twilight Zone are filled with characters whose senses deceive them and whose memories prove faulty, from the unfortunate astronauts in “Elegy” to the unwary traveler who encounters “The Howling Man” to the man who wakes up as an non-entity in “Person or Persons Unknown.” In Beaumont’s fictional constructs, however, the world around us is confusing not only because we fail to properly perceive it but because it actively changes its nature to harass or destroy us. For Beaumont there is another, often more malevolent, layer to individual existence.
The romantic poet, artist, and philosopher William Blake, in his influential work The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-93), suggests that the five senses of human perception are inlets to the soul and a path to natural truth. It is the nature of perception which writers have relentlessly confronted in the decades since Blake printed his masterwork, but Blake’s metaphysical view of human perception has proven far too restrictive for subsequent generations, particularly in the years after psychology and related behavioral studies became a codified scientific field.
For Charles Beaumont, writing one hundred and sixty years after Blake, the only truth derived from our senses is that our senses alone cannot lead us to truth. These are unreliable, malformed tools we use to perceive something astonishingly complex and our senses are constantly under the degrading effect of outside forces. “In His Image” features a protagonist assaulted with a barrage of disturbances concerning sight and sound, those tools most essential for committing experience to memory. Alan’s homicidal episodes occur when he is disoriented or irritated, accompanied by bursts of jarring noise suggestive of phonophobia, an aversion to loud noise which can cause acute stress and panic in one who suffers from the condition. Walter Ryder, Jr. later characterizes this condition as Alan's lack of inhibition, though we can all sympathize with Alan's annoyance at being accosted by a cloying religious zealot even if very few of us would push the woman in front of an oncoming train.
Charles Beaumont faced many challenges in his short life, from an abusive, transient childhood to the devastating illness which robbed him first of his creative ability and then of his life. "In His Image" presents a form of tragic irony in its story concerning a man who finds the solid foundations of his memory suddenly contorted into ever-increasing unreliability. In 1963 Beaumont began his own tumultuous path down the slippery slope of forgetfulness, a real-life situation not entirely dissimilar to that experienced by Alan Talbot in “In His Image.”
Beaumont’s condition initially disguised itself as the effects of an ever-increasing workload. Beaumont rarely turned down a professional writing assignment and by 1963 he was drowning in deadlines for film and television scripts, essays, stories, and book publications. In the midst of this professional chaos was Beaumont’s increasingly full home life. 1963 saw the birth of Beaumont’s fourth child. Beaumont sought respite in alcohol and one of the few changes Beaumont made in transitioning the story “The Man Who Made Himself” into the television episode “In His Image” is the addition of the shadow of alcoholism. Jess asks to stop for a drink before meeting Alan’s Aunt Mildred. Walter Ryder, Jr. is a drunk, whose alcoholism has dulled his drive to capitalize on his natural intellectual gifts beyond the obsessive desire to create another self.
By the spring of 1963 the effect of the early-onset Alzheimer’s which eventually took Beaumont’s life began to manifest itself. Friends Jerry Sohl, John Tomerlin, OCee Ritch, and William F. Nolan stepped in to complete Beaumont’s writing assignments, including four Twilight Zone episodes, but rarely received credit for their efforts. This was largely by design. Beaumont’s friends wanted the money from the assignments to go completely to Beaumont’s family. By year’s end Beaumont’s writing career was effectively over. The summer of 1964 brought the terrible diagnosis which stated that in some strange, Twilight Zone manner, Beaumont, a youthful man in his thirties, was suffering from a fatal, degenerative mental disease which remains uncannily rare for someone so young. An even crueler twist is that the disease manifested itself at the height of Beaumont's creative powers. The fourth season of Twilight Zone may well be Beaumont’s strongest. Unlike Rod Serling and, to a lesser degree, Richard Matheson, the hour-long format seems to have magnified Beaumont’s strengths as a writer, evident in such episodes as “Miniature,” “Printer’s Devil,” and “Passage on the Lady Anne.”

In another sense, “In His Image” is highly derivative, the culmination of ideas and images previously presented on the series in “The After Hours,” “A World of Difference,” “The Lateness of the Hour,” “Five Characters in Search of an Exit,” and the aforementioned “Person or Persons Unknown.” What elevates “In His Image” above the derivative nature of its plot and theme is the convincing love story at its center and the excellent dual performance from George Grizzard, here portraying a very different character from his comedic turn in the first season episode “The Chaser.” Both of these elements are greatly assisted by the presence of Gale Kobe as Jessica Connelly. Kobe is a familiar face to regular viewers of the series, having previously appeared in the thematically similar episode “A World of Difference” and soon to appear in the fifth season episode “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross.” Kobe (1932-2013) was born Gabriella Joyce Kobe in Hamtramck, Michigan and trained in acting and dance at UCLA, after which she entered television, gracing dozens of shows with guest appearances throughout the 1950s and 1960s, mostly westerns and detective dramas but occasionally genre programs such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Outer Limits. Kobe discovered a second career in the industry when she moved into a producer’s chair in the 1970s, overseeing production on an array of daytime dramas including Guiding Light and The Bold and the Beautiful. “In His Image” offers Kobe her strongest role on the series and she and Grizzard display the finest onscreen chemistry since William Shatner and Patricia Breslin in “Nick of Time.”
The episode is also graced with excellent photography from George T. Clemens, an effective use of stock music cues, and subtle visual effects, including the nearly invisible insertion of future film director Joseph Sargent as George Grizzard’s double. Perry Lafferty was behind the camera for “In His Image” and his work on the episode set a precedence for quality which unfortunately would not be sustained throughout the fourth season. Lafferty was born in 1918 in Davenport, Iowa and initially trained as a pianist at the Yale School of Music before moving into radio production and direction in the 1940s. Lafferty directed a handful of television episodes but is better known in the industry as a producer and network executive. In 1965 CBS promoted Lafferty to the head of their West Coast production unit. Lafferty directed two additional Twilight Zone episodes, “The Thirty Fathom Grave” and “Valley of the Shadow,” both of which immediately followed “In His Image” in broadcast order. He died in Los Angeles in 2005.

The tale of the artificial person (or the person created by artificial means) is a staple of science fiction older than the genre itself, stretching in time from the Golem of Jewish folklore to the increasingly self-aware beings which populate Westworld. The most interesting subset of this story type is that which uses the artificial person to explore questions of identity, existence, perception, memory, and the ways in which these fundamental, yet abstract, aspects of an individual can be changed or altered by near and outlying factors.
As science fiction in America dragged itself out of the pulps writers began to incorporate aspects of mainstream literature to explore themes of the genre. The 1950s, a decade gaining favor in critical circles as the true Golden Age of the genre, saw an uptick in the production of the artificial person story type as writers gradually turned the science fictional lens inward to the mind and self. By the time Beaumont came to write “The Man Who Made Himself” in 1957, he was preceded in his effort by such writers as Ray Bradbury, whose 1949 story “Marionettes, Inc.” allowed henpecked husbands to create duplicate versions of themselves at a fatal price, Clifford D. Simak, whose 1951 tale “Goodnight, Mr. James” (aka “The Duplicate Man”) described a future society in which wealthy citizens created duplicate versions of themselves to perform undesirable tasks, and Philip K. Dick, whose 1953 story “Impostor” featured a protagonist very much like Alan Talbot, an artificial man who does not know his true nature and, owing to Dick’s penchant for political thrillers, harbors within his artificial body a weapon of mass destruction. All of these stories have seen dramatic adaptation, Bradbury’s on radio’s Dimension X and on television’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Ray Bradbury Theater. Simak’s appeared as an episode of The Outer Limits and Dick’s as a 2001 feature film. Dick returned to the themes found in his story for his most famous work, the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep?, filmed by Ridley Scott in 1982 as Blade Runner.
Other examples of this story type abound in and out of the science fiction genre. Beaumont’s own 1953 story “Last Rites” covers much of the same ground despite a fundamental inversion to the theme of the tale. “Last Rites” concerns an artificial man who has found religion and, on his deathbed, calls upon a priest to administer last rites. The story is primarily concerned with forms of the soul and the afterlife but clearly demonstrates that Beaumont was concerned at an earlier date with the themes of “In His Image.” Like the prior story, Beaumont imbues “In His Image” with overtones of spiritual faith. Unlike “Last Rites,” however, Beaumont here presents religion as antagonistic, the symbolism of which (a religious pamphlet) twice triggers Alan’s homicidal outbursts, including what is likely the most shocking opening sequence of the series. There is also the rather obvious choice of the title “In His Image,” taken from Genesis 1:27, the Christian tale of the creation of the human race. “The Howling Man” is another Beaumont episode with obvious religious overtones, though one dealing with the broader sociological question of good and evil.
 The tale of the artificial person is a story type intimately related to the tale of the doppelgänger, the uncanny other which can manifests itself equally as an internal or external being. The most famous treatment of the doppelgänger in English is Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), a work which has been endlessly adapted since its original publication and is directly alluded to in “In His Image.” Stevenson was preoccupied with the theme and his similar 1885 tale “Markheim” was in some ways a trial run for the more complex and satisfying Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Twilight Zone approached similar material with the underrated first season episode “Mirror Image” and to a lesser degree with episodes such as “Long Live Walter Jameson” and “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You,” the latter two episodes derived from Beaumont’s story material.  
Another essential tale to which “In His Image” alludes is Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein, in which a young medical student constructs a man from the parts of cadavers and imbues the creature with life through an ambiguous means generally interpreted to be electricity. Like the young Victor Frankenstein, Alan Talbot declares his early and ongoing obsession with the creation of artificial life. For Alan, however, it is not so much about playing God as it is about creating a perfect version of himself, someone with none of his insecurities, fears, or weaknesses. The fatal flaw in his design, and one with which Dr. Jekyll could certainly relate, is that his perfect self also possesses none of his inhibitions, those learned behaviors developed in our formative years which prevent us from acting upon our baser, more violent instincts. The relationship between “In His Image” and Frankenstein was duly noted by contemporary critics and, unfortunately, resulted in many of these critics writing the episode off as a weak derivation.

Beaumont typically remained very faithful to his own stories when adapting the material for The Twilight Zone and “In His Image” is no exception*. The entire course of events is mirrored almost exactly from the short story and Beaumont lifts large portions of dialogue as well. The changes imposed by Beaumont are those to be expected when adapting from a medium which is primarily interior to one which is primarily exterior. The most notable change is in the title, which Beaumont alludes back to in Rod Serling’s outgoing narration, and in the names of the principal characters. Alan Talbot is Peter Nolan in the story. Nolan, of course, is for William F. Nolan, one of Beaumont’s closest friends who also served as the inspiration for the protagonist Charley Parkes in Beaumont's later episode “Miniature.” Jessica Connelly is Jessica Lang in the story. Again, Beaumont chose the name of an acquaintance, this time the celebrated German expatriate film director Fritz Lang. Beaumont first met Lang when the teenage Beaumont traveled from his home in Everett, Washington to Los Angeles to interview Lang for Beaumont’s amateur fanzine Utopia. The two became friendly and Lang later helped to get Beaumont signed to an acting contract at Universal, though nothing resulted from Beaumont’s attempts at professional acting. Beaumont long intended to write a biography of Lang but the project never came to fruition. Finally, Walter Ryder, Jr. is Walter Cummings, Jr. in the story.
Another change is the way in which Alan/Peter discovers his true nature. In the episode he is nearly hit by a car and suffers an injury to his arm. In the story he angrily punches a tree until the skin breaks across his knuckles. Also altered is the way in which the reader realizes it is Walter and not Alan/Peter who arrives at Jess’s door to conclude the tale. When Walter is attacked in the story, it is his face which is scarred, not his chest. Thus, the reader realizes that the man who arrives at Jess’s door to end the tale is Walter when Jess calls attention to the scar on his face. The episode does provide a nice, if brief, bit of suspense when the audience is unsure whether Alan or Walter has survived the laboratory fight.

“In His Image” begins the fourth season with a very strong effort which operates at a high level in nearly every aspect of production. Though “In His Image” generally does not suffer the pacing issues which plagued the hour-long fourth season episodes, there are some minor pacing problems, particularly in transitioning from Alan’s discovery of his true nature to his encounter at Walter’s home. Some of the production design leaves more to be desired as well. Walter’s basement laboratory is highly stereotypical and William Tuttle’s makeup designs for the aborted attempts which lie upon the laboratory slabs have not aged well. These are small problems, however, and hardly detract from the overall artistry of “In His Image.” This one comes recommended, especially for viewers wary to engage in the hour-long episodes.

Grade: B

Grateful acknowledgement is made to William F. Nolan for information found in The Work of Charles Beaumont: An Annotated Bibliography (revised 2nd edition, Borgo Press, 1990), and to the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (isfdb.org), the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com), and the Internet Archive (archive.org). 

* “The Jungle” is a notable exception. See my review for a story to episode comparison. 

Notes:
---Charles Beaumont’s original story, “The Man Who Made Himself,” was published in the February, 1957 issue of Imagination magazine, edited by William L. Hamling. Beaumont included the story, as “In His Image,” in his 1958 collection Yonder: Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Bantam Books). The story has seen subsequent inclusion in such volumes as The Twilight Zone: The Original Stories (editors: Martin Harry Greenberg, Richard Matheson, and Charles G. Waugh; Avon Books, 1985), Mass for Mixed Voices: The Selected Short Fiction of Charles Beaumont (editor: Roger Anker; Centipede Press, 2013), and Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories (Penguin Classics, 2015).
--Charles Beaumont wrote 17 additional episodes of the series, with another 4 written by other writers under his byline. Among the many exceptional episodes written by Beaumont are “Perchance to Dream,” “Long Live Walter Jameson,” “The Howling Man,” “Shadow Play,” and “Miniature.”
--Perry Lafferty also directed the season four episodes “The Thirty Fathom Grave” and “Valley of the Shadow.”
--George Grizzard also appeared in the first season episode “The Chaser.”
--Gail Kobe also appeared in the first season episode “A World of Difference” and the fifth season episode “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross.”
--Katharine Squire also appeared in the third season episode “One More Pallbearer.”
--Wallace Rooney also appeared in the second season episode “The Rip Van Winkle Caper” and the third season episode “Young Man’s Fancy.”
--George Petrie also appeared in the 1980s Twilight Zone episode “Shadow Play,” a remake of Charles Beaumont’s original series episode.
--Joseph Sargent appeared uncredited in the second season episode “Twenty Two.”
--“In His Image” was adapted as a Twilight Zone Radio Drama starring John Heard.

-JP