In celebration of the release of Carrie Vaughn’s final Kitty Norville book KITTY’S MIX-TAPE, Tachyon presents glimpses from the book that is “comfort food for the urban fantasy soul.” (Seanan McGuire, author of Come Tumbling Down and Every Heart a Doorway)
In celebration of the release of THE MIDNIGHT CIRCUS by Jane Yolen, Tachyon presents glimpses from the book that “draws readers into fully realized worlds with strong characters who reflect the strengths—and the darkness—in all of us.” (Susan Vaught, author of Trigger and Freaks Like Us)
Dog Boy Remembers
The Dog Boy was just a year old and newly walking when his father returned to take him into Central Park. It was summer and the moon was full over green trees.
The only scents he’d loved ’til then were the sweet milk smells his mother made, the fust of the sofa cushions, the prickly up-your-nose of the feathers in his pillow, the pure spume of water from the tap, and the primal stink of his own shit before it was washed down into the white bowl.
When his father came to fetch him that first time, his mother wept. Still in her teens, she’d not had a lot of knowledge of the world before Red Cap had taken her up. But the baby, he was all hers. The only thing, she often thought, that truly was.
“Don’t take him,” she cried, “I’ve done everything you asked. I promise to be even more careful of him.” Her tears slipped silently down her cheeks, small globules, smelling slightly salty, like soup.
His father hit her with his fist for crying, and red blood gushed from her nose. He hated crying, something Dog Boy was soon to find out.
But Dog Boy had never smelled blood like that before, only his mother’s monthly flow which had a nasty pong to it. His head jerked up at the sharpness, a scent he would later know as iron. He practically wet himself with delight.
His father watched him and smiled. It was a slow smile and not at all comforting, but it was all Dog Boy would ever get from him.
“Come, Boy,” his father said, adjusting the red cap he always wore, a cap that was the first thing Dog Boy recognized about his father, even before his smell, that odd compound of old blood and something meaty, something nasty, that both repelled and excited him. Without more of an invitation, his father reached into his pocket and pulled out a leather leash, winding it expertly about the Dog Boy’s chest and shoulders, tugging him toward the door. And not knowing why, only that it would surely be something new and interesting, Dog Boy toddled after him, never looking back at his mother who still simpered behind them.
Alec Checkerfield Uncategorized elizabeth story, everything I needed to know about christmas i learned from my grandma, excerpts, john coulthart, life in the fast lane, no brainer, Peter Watts, peter watts is an angry sentient tumor, preview, the least unlucky bastard, why i suck
In celebration for the release of the irreverent, self-depreciating, profane, and funny PETER WATTS IS AN ANGRY SENTIENT TUMOR, Tachyon presents glimpses from the essay collection.
The previews included:
- Everything I Needed to Know About Christmas I Learned From My Grandma
- The Least Unlucky Bastard
- Life in the FAST Lane
- No Brainer
- Why I Suck
For more info about PETER WATTS IS AN ANGRY SENTIENT TUMOR, visit the Tachyon page.
In celebration for the release of THE VERY BEST OF CAITLÍN R. KIERNAN, Tachyon presents glimpses from some of the volume’s strange and macabre tales by the “reigning queen of dark fantasy.”
Season of Broken Dolls
by Caitlín R. Kiernan
16, 2027 (later, 11:47 p.m.)
came back with a bag full of Indian takeaway, when she’d gone out
for sushi. I really couldn’t care less, one way or the other, these
days food is only fucking food—curry or wasabi, but when I
asked why she’d changed her mind, she just stared
at me, eyes blank as a goddamn dead codfish, & shrugged. Then she
was quiet all night long, & the last thing I need just now is
Sabit Abbasi going all silent and creepy on me. She’s asleep,
snoring bcause her sinuses are bad bcause she smokes too much. &
I’m losing the momentum I needed to say anything
more about what happened @ CeM on Sat.
night. It’s all fading, like a dream. I’ve been reading one of
Sabit’s books, The
Breathing Composition (Welleran Smith, 2025),
something from those long-ago days when the avant-garde abomination
of stitch & snip was still hardly more than nervous rumor &
theory & the wishful thinking of a handful of East Coast art
pervs. I don’t know what I was looking for, if it was just research
for the article, don’t know what I thought I might find—or what
any of this has to do with Sat. nite. Am I afraid to write it down?
That’s what Sabit would say. But I won’t ask Sabit. What do you
dream, Sabit, my dear sadistic plaything? Do you dream
in installations, muscles and tendons, gallery walls of sweating pig
flesh, living bone exposed for all to see, vivisection as not-quite
still life, portrait of the artist as a young atrocity? Are your
sweet dreams the same things keeping me awake, making me afraid to
sleep? There was so goddamn much @ CeM to turn my fucking
stomach, but just this one thing has me jigged and sleepless and
popping your blue Peruvian bonbons. Just this one thing. I’m not
the squeamish sort, and everyone knows it. That’s one reason the
agency tossed the Guro/Guro story at me. Gore & sex and
mutilation? Give it to Schuler. She’s seen the worst and keeps
coming back for more. Wasn’t she one of the first into Brooklyn
after the bomb? & she did that crazy whick out on the Stuyvesant
rat attacks. How many murders and suicides and serial killers does
that make for Schuler now? 9? Fourteen? 38? That kid in the Bronx,
the Puerto Rican bastard who sliced up his little sister & then
fed her through a food processor, that was one of Schuler’s, yeah?
infinitum, ad nauseam, Hail Mary, full of beans.
Cause they know I won’t be on my knees puking up lunch when I
should be making notes & getting the vid or asking questions. But
Sabit, I’m dancing round this one thing. This one little thing. So,
here there’s a big ol’ chink in these renowned nerves of steel.
Maybe I’ve got a weak spot after fucking all. Rings of flesh,
towers of iron—oh yeah, sure—fucking corpses heaped in dumpsters
and rats eating fucking babies alive & winos & don’t forget
the kid with the Cuisinart—sure, fine—but that one labeled #17,
oh, now that’s
another goddamn story. She saw something there, & ol’
Brass-Balls Schuler was never quite the same again, isn’t that the
way it goes?
you laughing in your dreams, Sabit? Is that why you’re smiling next
to me in your goddamn sleep? I’ve dog-eared a page in your book,
Sabit, a page with a poem written in a New Jersey loony bin by a
woman, & Welleran Smith just calls her Jane Doe so I do not know
her name. But Welleran Smith & that mangy bunch of stitch
prophets called her a visionary, & I’m writing it down here,
while I try to find the nerve to say whatever it is I’d wanted to
say about #17:
and bellies knitted & proud and all open
watching spines and bellies and the three;
& buckled, ragdoll fusion
of you so conjoined, my eyes from yours,
hallways knitted red proud flesh
and straining for cartilage & epidermis
taking, we cannot imagine
many wet lips, your sky Raggedy alchemy
all expecting Jerusalem
Welleran Smith, he proclaims Jane Doe a “hyperlucid transcendent
schizo-oracle,” a “visionary calling into the maelstrom.” &
turns out, here in the footnotes, they put the bitch away bcause
she’d drugged her lover—she was a lesbian; of course, she had
to be a lesbian—she drugged her lover and used surgical thread to
sew the woman’s lips & nostrils closed, after
performing a crude tracheotomy so she wouldn’t suffocate. Jane Doe
sewed her own vagina shut, and she removed her own nipples & then
tried grafting them onto her gf’s belly. She kept the woman (not
named, sorry, lost to anonymity) cuffed to a bed for almost 6 weeks
before someone finally came poking around & jesus fucking christ,
Sabit, this is the sort of sick bullshit set it all in motion. Jane
Doe’s still locked away in her padded cell, I’m
& worshipped by the snips—& maybe the woman she mutilated
is alive somewhere, trying to forget. Maybe the doctors even patched
her up (ha, ha fucking ha). Maybe even made her good as new again,
but I doubt it. I need to sleep. I need to lie down & close my
eyes & not see #17 and sweating walls and Sabit ready to fucking
cum bcause she can never, ever get enough. It’s half an hour after
midnight, & they expect copy from me tomorrow night, eight sharp,
when I haven’t written a goddamn word about the phony stitchwork @
Guro/Guro. Fuck you, Sabit, and fuck Jane Doe & that jackoff
Welleran Smith and the girl with peacock eyes that I should have
screwed just to piss you off, Sabit. I should have brought her back
here and fucked her in our bed, let her use your toothbrush, &
maybe you’d have found some other snip tourist & even now I
could be basking in the sanguine cherry glow of happily ever fucking
For more info about THE VERY BEST OF CAITLÍN R. KIERNAN, visit the Tachyon page.
In celebration of the release of Jo Walton’s STARLINGS, Tachyon presents glimpses from some of the volume’s magnificent tales.
This week’s previews included
For more info on STARLINGS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story
Alec Checkerfield Uncategorized Ann Monn, anthology, clive barker, dan simmons, darkness, Ellen Datlow, excerpts, George R. R. Martin, horror, humble bundle, joe hill, joss whedon, kathe koja, max brooks, neil gaiman, robert r mccammon, short story, stephen king, teratisms
With award-winning, superstar editor Ellen Datlow’s “superb sampling of some of the most significant short horror works published between 1985 and 2005” Darkness being featured as part of the Humble Horror Book Bundle, we’re sharing excerpts from nine select stories over the next seven days.
Our next glimpse comes from “Teratisms” by Kathe Koja.
“Beaumont.” Dreamy, Alex’s voice. Sitting in the circle of the heat, curtains drawn in the living room: laddered magenta scenes of birds and dripping trees. “Delcambre. Thibodaux.” Slow-drying dribble like rusty water on the bathroom floor. “Abbeville,” car door slam, “Chinchuba,” screen door slam. Triumphant through its echo, “Baton Rouge!”
Tense hoarse holler almost childish with rage: “Will you shut the fuck up?”
From the kitchen, woman’s voice, Randle’s voice, drawl like cooling blood: “Mitch’s home.”
“You’re damn right Mitch is home.” Flat slap of his unread newspaper against the cracked laminate of the kitchen table, the whole set from the Goodwill for thirty dollars. None of the chairs matched. Randle sat in the cane-bottomed one, leg swinging back and forth, shapely metronome, making sure the ragged gape of her tank top gave Mitch a good look. Fanning herself with four slow fingers.
“Bad day, big brother?”
Too tired to sit, propping himself jackknife against the counter. “They’re all bad, Francey.”
“Mmmm, forgetful. My name’s Randle now.”
“Doesn’t matter what your name is, you’re still a bitch.”
Soft as dust, from the living room: “De Quincy. Longville.” Tenderly, “Bewelcome.”
Mitch’s sigh. “Numbnuts in there still at it?”
Another sigh, he bent to prowl the squat refrigerator, let the door fall shut. Half-angry again, “There’s nothing in here to eat, Fran — Randle.”
“So what’d you eat?”
More than a laugh, bubbling under. “I don’t think you really want to know.” Deliberately exposing half a breast, palm lolling beneath like a sideshow, like a street-corner card trick. Presto. “Big brother.”
His third sigh, lips closed in decision. “I don’t need this,” passing close to the wall, warding the barest brush against her, her legs in the chair as deliberate, a sluttish spraddle but all of it understood: an old, unfunny family joke; like calling names; nicknames.
The door slamming, out as in, and in the settling silence of departure: “Is he gone?”
Stiff back, Randle rubbing too hard the itchy tickle of sweat. Pushing at the table to move the chair away. “You heard the car yourself, Alex. You know he’s gone.”
Pause, then plaintive, “Come sit with me.” Sweet; but there are nicknames and nicknames, jokes and jokes; a million ways to say I love you. Through the raddled arch into the living room, Randle’s back tighter still, into the smell, and Alex’s voice, bright.
“Let’s talk,” he said.
Mitch, so much later, pausing at the screenless front door, and on the porch Randle’s cigarette, drawing lines in the dark like a child with a sparkler.
“Took your time,” she said.
Defensively, “It’s not that late.”
“I know what time it is.”
He sat down, not beside her but close enough to speak softly and be heard. “You got another cigarette?”
She took the pack from somewhere, flipped it listless to his lap. “Keep ’em. They’re yours anyway.”
He lit the cigarette with gold foil matches, JUDY’S DROP-IN. An impulse, shaming, to do as he used to, light a match and hold it to her fingertips to see how long it took to blister. No wonder she hated him. “Do you hate me?”
“Not as much as I hate him.” He could feel her motion, half a head-shake. “Do you know what he did?”
“Besides the cities.” He did not see her fingers, startled twitch as he felt the pack of cigarettes leave the balance of his thigh. “He was down by the grocery store, the dumpster. Playing. It took me almost an hour just to talk him home.” A black sigh. “He’s getting worse.”
“You keep saying that.”
“It keeps being true, Mitch, whether you want to think so or not. Something really bad’s going to happen if we don’t get him —”
“Get him what?” Sour. No bitter. “A doctor? A shrink? How about a one-way ticket back to Shitsburg so he —”
“Fine, that’s fine. But when the cops come knocking I’ll let you answer the door,” and her quick feet bare on the step, into the house. Tense unconscious rise of his shoulders: Don’t slam the door. Don’t wake him up.
Check out the Humble Horror Book Bundle which includes works from Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Joss Whedon, Joe Hill, Max Brooks, Robert R. McCammon, and Dan Simmons.
For more info about Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Ann Monn.
Alec Checkerfield Uncategorized /film, anthology, Ellen Datlow, excerpts, horror, Illimitable Dominion, josh beatman, Kim Newman, movie, short story, the cutting room, the cutting room: dark reflections of the silver screen
Over the next two weeks, in celebration of Halloween and the new anthology The Cutting Room: Dark Reflections of the Silver Screen, Tachyon and editor Ellen Datlow present excerpts from a selection of the volume’s horrifying tales.
The final selection comes from “Illimitable Dominion” by Kim Newman.
Okay, you could say it was my fault.
I’m the one. Me, Walter Paisley, agent to stars without stars on Hollywood Boulevard. I said “spare a thought for Eddy” and the Poe Plague got started …
It’s 1959 and you know the montage. Cars have shark-fins. Jukeboxes blare the Platters and Frankie Lyman. Ike’s a back number, but JFK hasn’t yet broken big. The Commies have put Sputnik in orbit, starting a war of the satellites. Coffeehouses are full of beards and bad poetry. Boomba the Chimp, my biggest client, has a kiddie series cancelled out from under him. Every TV channel is showing some Western, but my pitches for The Cherokee Chimp, The Monkey Marshal of Mesa City, and Boomba Goes West fall on stony ground. The only network I have an “in” with is DuMont, which shows how low the Paisley Agency has sunk since the heyday of Jungle Jillian and Her Gorilla Guerrillas (with Boomba as the platoon’s comedy-relief mascot) and The Champ, the Chimp, and the Imp (a washed-up boxer is friends with a cigar-smoking chimpanzee and a leprechaun).
American International Pictures is a fancy name for James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff sharing an office. They call themselves a studio, but you can’t find an AIP backlot. They rent abandoned aircraft hangars for soundstages and shoot as much as possible out of doors and without permits. At the end of the fifties, AIP are cranking out thirty to forty pictures a year, double features shoved into ozoners and grindhouses catering to the Clearasil crowd. They peddle twofers on low-budget juvenile delinquency (Reform School Girl with Runaway Daughters!), affordable science fiction (Terror from the Year 5,000 with The Brain Eaters!), inexpensive chart music (Rock All Night with The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow!), cheapskate creatures (I Was a Teenage Werewolf with The Undead!), frugal combat (Suicide Battalion with Paratroop Command!) or cut-price exotica (She-Gods of Shark Reef with Teenage Cave Man!). When Jim and Sam try for epic, they hope a marquee-filling title—The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent—distracts the hot-rodders from sub-minimal production values and a ninety-cent sea serpent filmed in choppy bathwater.
The AIP racket is that Jim thinks up a title—say, The Beast with a Million Eyes or The Cool and the Crazy—and commissions lurid ad art, which he buries in hard-sell slogans. He shows ads to exhibitors, who chip in modest production coin. Then, a producer is put on the project. Said producer gets a writer in over the weekend and forces out a script by shoving peanuts through the bars. Someone has to direct the picture and be in it, but so long as a teenage doll in a tight sweater screams on the poster—at a monster, a switchblade, or a guitar player—no one thinks too much about them. Sam puts fine print into contracts that makes sure no one sees profit participation and puffs cigars at trade gatherings.
Roger Corman is only one of a corral of producers—Bert I. Gordon and Alex Gordon are others—on AIP’s string, but he’s youngest, busiest, and cheapest. After, to his mind, wasting half his budget hiring a director named Wyott Ordung on a 1954 masterpiece called The Monster from the Ocean Floor, Roger trims the budgets by directing most of his films himself. He seldom does a worse job than Wyott Ordung. Five critics in France and two in England say Roger is more interesting than Cukor or Zinnemann—though unaccountably It Conquered the World misses out on a Best Picture nomination. Then again, Mike Todd wins for Around the World in 80 Days. I’d rather watch Lee Van Cleef blowtorch a snarling turnip from Venus at sixty-eight minutes than David Niven smarm over two hundred smug cameo players in far-flung locations for three or four hours. You don’t have to be a contributor to Cayenne du Cinéma or Sight & Sound to agree.
After sixty to seventy films inside four years, it gets so Roger can knock ’em off over a weekend. No kidding. Little Shop of Horrors is made in three days because it’s raining and Roger can’t play tennis. He tackles every subject, within certain Jim-and-Sam-imposed limits. He shoots movies about juvenile-delinquent girls, gunslinger girls, reincarnated-witch girls, beatnik girls, escaped-convict girls, cave girls, Viking girls, monster girls, Apache girls, rock-and-roll girls, girls eaten by plants, carnival girls, sorority girls, last girls on earth, pearl-diver girls, and gangster girls. Somehow, he skips jungle girls, else maybe Boomba would land an AIP contract.
The thing is everybody—except Sam, who chortles over the ledgers without ever seeing the pictures—gets bored with the production line. Another week, and it’s Blood of Dracula plus High School Hellcats, ho hum. I don’t know when Roger gets time to dream, but dream he does—of bigger things. Jim thinks of bigger posters, or at least different-shaped posters. In the fifties, the enemy is television, but AIP product looks like television—small and square and black and white and blurry, with no one you’ve ever heard of wandering around Bronson Cavern. Drive-in screens are the shape of windshields. The typical AIP just lights up a middle slice. Even with Attack of the Crab Monsters, The Amazing Colossal Man, and The She-Creature triple-billed, kids are restless. Where’s the breathtaking CinemaScope, glorious Technicolor, and stereoscopic sound? 3-D has come and gone, and neither Odorama nor William Castle’s butt-buzzers are goosing the box office.
Jim or Roger get a notion to lump together the budgets and shooting schedules of two regular AIP pictures and throw their all into one eighty-five minute superproduction. Together, they browbeat Sam into opening the cobwebbed checkbook. This time, Mike Todd—well, not Mike Todd, since he’s dead, but some imaginary composite big-shot producer—will have to watch out come Oscar season. So, what to make?
For information on The Cutting Room: Dark Reflections of the Silver Screen, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Josh Beatman.