Monday, September 17, 2018

Reading Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, Part 10

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 10 (January, 1982; Christmas issue) 

Cover Art: Carl Chaplin

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
Design Director: Derek Burton 
Art and Studio Production: Georg the Design Group
Production Director: Edward Ernest
Controller: Thomas Schiff
Administrative Asst.: Doreen Carrigan
Director, Marketing and Creative Services: Rose-Marie Brooks
Public Relations Manager: Jeffrey Nickora
Accounting Mgr.: Chris Grossman
Circulation Director: William D. Smith
Circulation Assistant: Janice Graham
Western Newsstand Consultant: Harry Sommer
Advertising Manager: Rachel Britapaja
Adv. Production Manager: Marina Despotakis
Advertising Representatives: Barney O'Hara & Associates, Inc. 


--In The Twilight Zone: "The sunsets were red . . ." by T.E.D. Klein
--Other Dimensions: Books by Theodore Sturgeon
--Other Dimensions: Screen by Gahan Wilson
--TZ Interview: Frank Belknap Long
--"Influencing the Hell Out of Time and Teresa Golowitz" by Parke Godwin
--"Miss Mouse and the Fourth Dimension" by Robert Sheckley
--"Dream Along With Me" by Reginald Bretnor
--"My Most Memorable Christmas" by Rod Serling
--"Lost and Found" by Connie Willis
--TZ Screen Preview: Ghost Story by Robert Martin
--The Essential Writers: J. Sheridan LeFanu by Mike Ashley
--Required Reading: "An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street" by J. Sheridan LeFanu 
--"Of Sleds and Forty Winters" by Vic Johnson
--"The Autumn Visitors" by Frank Belknap Long
--"Final Version" by John Morressy
--Show-by-Show Guide: TV's Twilight Zone: Part Ten by Marc Scott Zicree
--TZ Classic Teleplay: "The Night of the Meek" by Rod Serling
--Looking Ahead: In February's TZ 

--In the Twilight Zone: "The sunsets were red . . ." by T.E.D. Klein

-Klein's editorial space is his typical rundown of the issue's contents, including capsule biographies of the issue's contributors accompanied by thumbnail images of the writers.

--Other Dimensions: Books by Theodore Sturgeon

-This is Sturgeon's final appearance as the reviewer for the magazine. Robert Sheckley will take over next issue and TZ's review column will field an impressive list of contributors over the course of the magazine's run, including Karl Edward Wagner, Thomas M. Disch, E.F. Bleiler, and Edward Bryant.

Here's a quick look at the books Sturgeon reviews, in the reviewer's words:

-Oath of Fealty by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
"The whole thing is cast in an exciting, swift, and suspenseful narrative - all in all, a fine reading experience."

-Wild Seed by Octavia Butler
"Written with power, passion, and compassion, it is, as well, as unique a story as this field has yet produced."

-Tales from the Nightside by Charles L. Grant
". . . a fine collection of his own work, with a Stephen King introduction and striking drawings by Andrew Smith - the kind of book (like all of the Arkham product) that is a pleasure to have and to hold."

- Starship and Haiku by Somtow Sucharitkul
". . . enjoy this book, with its fascinating suggestion that the great whales produced manlike creatures who infiltrated and interbred with the Japanese and produced their preoccupations with beauty and with death."

-Other Stories and The Attack of the Giant Baby by Kit Reed
"Not since Margaret St. Clair has there been so deft and unpredictable a storyteller. In quality her stories vary from excellent all the way down to good."

-The Keep by F. Paul Wilson
"If you like big moody Gothics, you'll love this one."

-The Former King by Adam Corby
"You've seen it before, of course, and you know the hero always wins. But Corby has the gift; he keeps you wondering when you know you needn't."

-A Dream of Kinship by Richard Cowper
". . . transplant of medieval England into the thirtieth century, replete with the clash of arms and the whispers of intrigue, as the "Kinsmen" strive to sustain a rebirth of faith."

-Quas Starbrite by James R. Berry
". . . just right for the Star Wars trade, or maybe I mean Galactica."

-Hot Time in Old Town by Mike McQuay
". . . is exactly what its cover proclaims it to be: the adventures of a twenty-first century hardheeling private eye."

-Unsilent Night by Tanith Lee
"Between its hard covers are two short stories, ten poems, and one perfectly gorgeous portrait photograph. I rather liked the stories; I found the poetry to be undisciplined."

Here is Sturgeon's farewell message to readers of the magazine:
"I have enjoyed riding TZ's masthead more than I have words or space to convey. You have a good book here, with a good editor; long may they wave. As for me, I'm going to apply my energies and attentions to my own work instead of others'. I have a novel going (for the first time in more than twenty years); the working title is Star Anguish. I do hope you will like it."

-Star Anguish never appeared though Sturgeon's long-gestating novel Godbody appeared posthumously in 1986. Sturgeon died on May 8, 1985.

--Other Dimensions: Screen by Gahan Wilson 

-Wilson reviews the 1981 adult animated fantasy film Heavy Metal, directed by Gerald Potterton from a script by Dan Goldberg & Len Blum. The film is based on material from the American illustrated fantasy magazine of the same name, itself modeled upon the French magazine Métal Hurant.

-Unfortunately for those who enjoy Heavy Metal, Wilson's review is largely unfavorable. It is important to remember that a feature-length animated film for adult audiences was a relatively recent development in the U.S. Wilson feels that fantasy and animation should go well together but rarely does, even in the coveted Disney films, though he does hold these as the standard for success. A radically alternative film like Heavy Metal had virtually no chance of measuring up to that standard. Heavy Metal is by no means a perfect film, or even an entirely successful one, but it is not unreasonable to point to Heavy Metal as the beginnings of the mature animated film in the U.S. 

-Wilson draws upon the rich field of cartoons and animation ranging from newspaper comics to early short subjects like Betty Boop to field his comparison of what Heavy Metal intends to be and what it ultimately becomes: an overly commercial product too eager to please its audience. It is a surprisingly dismissive review from Wilson, himself a talented, respected, and alternative cartoonist. Wilson concludes his review in this way: "I wish the whole picture had been handled better. It could have been a classic of its kind and an inspiration to animators of the future. As it is, the thing is only distasteful. The really unfortunate aspect of it is that, by being unable to convey the magazine's genuine naïve and somewhat crude charm, all that comes through are the magazine's aspects - the juvenile humor, the endless sadomasochism, the silly plots - and you end up with an icky movie." 

--TZ Interview: Frank Belknap Long

"On Literature, Lovecraft, and the Golden Age of 'Weird Tales.'"

-This is a fantastic interview for readers with a taste for the classic era of American weird fiction, exemplified in the pages of Weird Tales magazine. Long (1901-1994) was there at the very beginning and his career somewhat mirrors that of his friend & mentor, H.P. Lovecraft, who, as a subject, takes up a large portion of the interview.

-Like Lovecraft, Long developed his craft in the amateur journalism publications of the day before moving into the pulps with tales of horror and SF. Long was enormously prolific but it may surprise readers to learn that he wrote far more SF than weird fiction. He is, however, largely remembered today for his weird tales, particularly the few "Cthulhu Mythos" tales he wrote in homage to/imitation of Lovecraft's fictional universe. The most notable of these is "The Hounds of Tindalos," which appeared in the March, 1929 issue of Weird Tales. The tale was the title story of Long's 1946 Arkham House volume, a book upon which Long's reputation rests. Another, earlier, Mythos tale, "The Space Eaters," from the July, 1928 issue of Weird Tales, was adapted for television on the syndicated anthology program Monsters by writer/director Robert T. Megginson (1991).

-The interview takes a long and pleasant trip through Long's entire career with much time spent on the amateur journalism, the Weird Tales circle, & the then-current resurgence of interest in Long's work with such volumes as The Rim of the Unknown (1972), The Early Long (1975), & the poetry volume, In Mayan Splendor (1977). Long's presence in the magazine continues later in the issue with a new story, "The Autumn Visitors." 

--"Influencing the Hell Out of Time and Teresa Golowitz" by Parke Godwin 

Illustrated by Anna Rich

"He was a most unlikely hero: a horny young man with an old man's soul and the devil for a sidekick!" 

-An aging man strikes a deal with the devil to return to the glory of his youth and have sex with the young woman who transfixed him at the time. 

-This is a playful and enjoyable story from Godwin (1929-2013) which works upon the established tropes of the deal-with-the-devil story to produce a tale of redemption and honest truth about oneself. In his travels to the past, the old/young man discovers that the young woman he thought he desperately wanted is actually a rather sad and lonely girl who, to his old man's eyes, is not as attractive as he remembered. Instead, he finds himself saving the titular character, a physically unattractive outcast, from suicide once he discovers her amazing singing voice. If the plot sounds like an episode from the revival TZ series it's because the story was adapted for the series as "Time and Teresa Golowitz" by writer Alan Brennert & director Shelley Levinson, broadcast July 10, 1987.  

-Godwin's work in SF yielded a World Fantasy Award in 1982 for his novella, "The Fire When It Comes," from the May, 1981 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. "Influencing the Hell Out of Time and Teresa Golowitz" was included in The Year's Best Fantasy Stories: 9, ed by Arthur Saha (1983) and collected in Godwin's 1984 collection The Fire When It Comes. Editor Marvin Kaye, who collaborated with Godwin on two novels, included the story in his 1987 anthology Devils & Demons: A Treasury of Fiendish Tales, Old and New. 

--"Miss Mouse and the Fourth Dimension" by Robert Sheckley 

Illustrated by Marty Blake

"Never underestimate the power of a woman - especially when it's raised to a power of four!"

-An ambitious experiment with contacting an alternate dimension goes awry when a woman's affections become involved. 

-Robert Sheckley (1928-2005) returns to the pages of the magazine with this short and clever story. Sheckley is remembered for his witty, wry short stories and this one is typical of his output if a bit less effective than his best. The story was included in Sheckley's 1984 collection, Is That What People Do? & reprinted in Mathenauts: Tales of Mathematical Wonder, ed Rudy Rucker (1987). 

--"Dream Along With Me" by Reginald Bretnor 

Illustrated by William Casey

"Her love was unnatural and forbidden, the penalty dreadful . . . and divine"

-An aging cleaning lady on the outskirts of society discovers the joys and horror of being loved by a deity.

-Bretnor (1911-1992), born in Russia as Alfred Reginald Bretnor, fuses the ordinary tale of a lonely working-class woman with the Greek myth of Semele, mother of Dionysus and mate of Zeus who, in some versions of the legends, was consumed in fire after mating with the god. In Bretnor's version, an old woman is revisited by a vision of her youth which manifest itself in her dreams and consumes her in fire in an incident interpreted by those who find her charred remains as an act of spontaneous combustion.

-Bretnor enjoyed a long SF career anchored by his saga of Ferdinand Feghoot, which ran for decades in the SF magazines. "Dream Along With Me" has not been reprinted since its original appearance in the magazine.

--"My Most Memorable Christmas" by Rod Serling
Illustrated by Annie Alleman

"The Twilight Zone's creator remembers a time when two simple words transformed the world."

-This previously unpublished short memoir by Serling during his time with the 511 Parachute Regiment during WWII is a nice piece of nostalgia about the hard scrabble of the war and the simple reassuring nature of the words "It's Christmas" as it is passed down the line during a march. Carol Serling writes in a brief foreword: "When he wrote this, he was a young, newly-returned-home soldier. It is admittedly unsophisticated and ingenuous, but at Christmas there's always room for a little extra sentiment. And I suggest that the story was not only addressed to the men of the 511th, but to all of us who approach this holiday season with hope and faith in the future." The memoir was reprinted in the magazine's only annual volume: Great Stories from Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine (1982). 

--"Lost and Found" by Connie Willis 

Illustrated by Brad Hamann

"You'll know the future's drawing to an end when the past begins turning up."

-Long-lost Christian artifacts turn up at a remote school outpost in a dystopian society, signaling a coming apocalypse. 

-Connie Willis (1945- ), even at this early stage of her career, is so very talented, intelligent, and ambitious that her fiction is instantly engaging even if the reader finishes the story not quite satisfied with how the pieces eventually came together. Such is the case with this story which has the texture of a dream and the seriousness of vision displayed by the best SF of the period. The story was reprinted Willis's 1985 collection, Fire Watch, and reprinted in Bangs and Whimpers: Stories About the End of the World, ed James Frenkel (1999).

-Willis is one of the most honored SF writers of her generation, garnering every important award in the field, most multiple times, for such novels as Doomsday Book (1992) & Blackout (2010). Many consider Willis the finest SF novelist of the last thirty years. It is nice to see her appearance with an early story in the pages of TZ. 

--TZ Screen Preview: Ghost Story by Robert Martin

Illustrated with stills from the film.

"Peter Straub's novel about a shape-changing demoness has undergone some shape-changes of its own on the way to the screen. TZ's Robert Martin covers the transformation."

-Based on Peter Straub's (1943- ) 1979 bestseller, Ghost Story, the 1981 film, is now generally viewed as a missed opportunity to bring literate horror by one of the field's finest contributors to the medium of film. Despite its excellent cast of veteran actors and still-impressive makeup effects by Dick Smith, the film is regarded as a novelty at best and a butchering of a seminal novel in the genre at worst. Either way, this is a thorough rundown of the production of the film from veteran genre journalist, and Fangoria editor, "Uncle" Bob Martin. The article includes interview snippets with Straub, members of the cast, the director, and the producer, all framed by full-color images from the film. 

--The Essential Writers: J. Sheridan LeFanu by Mike Ashley 

"Introducing the shy, reclusive Dubliner whose imagination was haunted by crawling hands, malevolent monkeys, and vampire temptresses."

-This is another excellent essay by veteran genre authority Mike Ashley (1948- ) in an engaging series on the essential writers in the horror/supernatural field. Sheridan LeFanu, born in Dublin (1814-1873), is more essential than most. Many consider him to be the European equivalent of Edgar Allan Poe in terms of influence and ingenuity. LeFanu created the vampire thriller as we know it and largely built the foundation upon with the English ghost story was built. Though LeFanu and Poe have much in common, LeFanu was more willing to engage the supernatural to achieve his effects. LeFanu's supernatural stories, such as the harrowing "Green Tea" or the influential vampire tale "Carmilla," remain effective today. Mike Ashley gives a full account of LeFanu's life, with insights into several of LeFanu's notable tales. This is essential reading for fans of classic supernatural fiction. 

--"An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street" by J. Sheridan LeFanu
Illustrated by José Reyes 

"Stoke the fire, mull some wine, and usher in the Christmas season the way the Victorians did, with this classic haunted-house tale by a master of the form."

-Two medical students move in to an old home in Dublin and are immediately beset by the vengeful ghost of the "Hanging Judge" who mysteriously died in the home some years before. 

-This 1853 tale will strike readers as a typical haunted house tale, related in a straight-forward way with all the hallmarks of the genre. The two students are harassed in a series of encounters with the "Hanging Judge" during the late hours of the night between sleeping and wakefulness. After independently suffering for a time, the students come together with twin tales of ghostly encounters and decide to immediately leave. It is suggested that the haunting continues as the narrator relates the misfortunes of those who later took up residency in the home. This tale was reworked for LeFanu's 1872 story, "Mr. Justice Harbottle," which itself inspired Bram Stoker's 1891 tale, "The Judge's House."

-"An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street" was first published in Dublin University Magazine (Dec, 1853). It was not collected until M.R. James, perhaps the master of the English ghost story, compiled the posthumous volume, Madam Crowl's Ghost and Other Tales of Mystery (1923). Montague Summers included the tale in The Supernatural Omnibus (1931), and it has been reprinted a number of times in ghostly-themed anthologies. 

--"Of Sleds and Forty Winters" by Vic Johnson

Illustrated by E.T. (Broeck) Steadman

"A tale of age and everlasting youth, of the timelessness of newly fallen snow."

-A father takes his son sledding near the father's boyhood home and experiences a disorienting slippage in time. 

-This will be an engaging tale for TZ fans for no other reason than it resembles so many TZ stories about age and youthfulness, of going back in time, and the ways in which memory and nostalgia can capture the mind. In this way it will recall for the reader such TZ episodes as "Walking Distance," "Static," and "Kick the Can," all of which concern themselves with people who have passed the age of youthfulness and long to return to the simpler time of their younger days. The story is really a vignette and so must achieve in atmosphere what it lacks the length to achieve in narrative force. The story generally succeeds in doing so, including an unnerving sequence in which the father seems to lose memory of his adult life for a few moments before his young son can pull him back into the here and now. The story has not been reprinted since its appearance in TZ and Vic Johnson seems to have begun and ended his SF writing with the tale. 

--"The Autumn Visitors" by Frank Belknap Long 

Illustrated by Chris Pelletiere

"A brand new tale of love and transcendence by the subject of this month's TZ interview."

-An aging couple encounter interdimensional beings while secluded at their beachfront home after the summer tourists have departed. 

-This is an interesting and, one feels, a personal tale from the veteran writer though it is not as moving as Long intended it to be. The setup is fascinating: the narrator's wife discovers a piece of driftwood shaped like a child's doll and brings it back to their beach house. Later in the night the narrator is awakened to small sounds in the house and encounters a beautiful girl child reaching for the driftwood doll kept on a high mantle. The child flees and is bodily taken away down the beach by two adult figures. In the story's most jarring moment, Long stops a chase sequence to demonstrate the telepathic abilities of the strange visitors, whose physical touch can incinerate flesh, as the narrator finds out when he witnesses his dog incinerated. The story ends with unconvincing hopefulness in which the narrator and his wife are inspired by their encounter with the "others" to try and have a child of their own.

-"The Autumn Visitors" was collected in the huge retrospective volume, Masters of the Weird Tale: Frank Belknap Long (Centipede Press, 2010), which includes an introduction by Long's fellow contributor to this issue of TZ, Connie Willis. 

--"Final Version" by John Morressy

Illustrated by Nicola Cuti

"God help us, it's another Adam-and-Eve story - and at long last, one that makes sense!"

-A man and woman defiantly confront their creator over the eating of forbidden fruit. 

-As the heading indicates, Adam-and-Eve tales are groan-inducing among SF readers. The Twilight Zone committed itself to a dreadful example of the story type with the fifth season episode, "Probe 7 - Over and Out." Morressy takes a crack at the cliché and generally comes out on top with this fable-like vignette concerning the archetypal Adam and Eve (unnamed in the story) who eat of the forbidden fruit and then refuse to bow before the wrath of their creator over the nonsensical (and unjust) situation of tempting for no other cause than to elicit slavish devotion in return. The story also plays into the larger subgenre of religious SF which was very much in vogue at the time this story appeared as compared to its relative scarcity today. "Final Version" was reprinted in 100 Great Fantasy Short Short Stories, ed Martin H. Greenberg, Isaac Asimov, & Terry Carr (Doubleday, 1984).

--Show-by-Show Guide: TV's Twilight Zone: Part Ten by Marc Scott Zicree

-Zicree, author of The Twilight Zone Companion, which recently saw release of an expanded 3rd edition, returns with his episode guide to the original series. Zicree covers the following episodes in this installment, all of which we have covered here in the Vortex: "A Piano in the House," "To Serve Man," "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank," "The Fugitive," "Little Girl Lost," "Person or Persons Unknown," & "The Gift." 

--TZ Classic Teleplay: "The Night of the Meek" by Rod Serling

Illustrated with publicity stills from the episode.

-Here is the original teleplay of the fan-favorite holiday episode from series creator Rod Serling. You can read Brian's review here.

--Looking Ahead: In February's TZ

-Next month we have Robert Sheckley's first installment as the books reviewer, Gahan Wilson's reviews of the films Polyester and Strange Behavior, and a new column on music by Jack Sullivan. We'll be looking at stories by Charles L. Grant, Richard Christian Matheson, Gardner Dozois & Jack Dann, George Alec Effinger, and others. Filmmaker Wes Craven is the interview subject, James Verniere previews Craven's film Swamp Thing, and Stephen DiLauro & Don Hamerman look at "The Gargoyles of Gotham." The issue is rounded out by Marc Scott Zicree's continuing guide to the original series and Rod Serling's classic TZ teleplay for "A Stop at Willoughby." See you next time!