Things Beyond: February 2023

(Cover by Joe Tillotson. Fantastic Adventures, October 1951.)

I have to admit I take really niche pleasure in writing these forecast editorials. I suspect reviewers have a to-read list and just tackle shit when they feel like it, but I myself prefer to plan things out. Funny thing is that aside from these forecasts I don’t have a to-read list, anywhere. All this stuff is either in my noggin or it’s not shown up on my radar yet. Hell, I only started keeping a list of things I did read this year. I’m mostly a spontaneous reader, so let me have this one little bit of scheduled activity.

No gimmicks this month. Well, there is one, but you wouldn’t know it at first glance and I’m not even sure it counts. You see, I have a major soft spot for SF-horror; I love SF, and believe it or not I love horror too with almost equal passion, so what happens when you combine the two? This month’s short stories are crossbreeds of horror and science fiction, one by the most famous horror author of all time, the other by someone whose name probably doesn’t ring a bell but who really deserves more recognition.


No more wasting time, let’s see what’ll be on my plate!

For the serials:

  1. The People of the Black Circle by Robert E. Howard. Published in Weird Tales, September to November 1934. Started this last month and now we’re gonna finish it. It’s been a fun ride so far. Howard only wrote about Conan the Cimmerian in the last four years of his life, but like with everything else he wrote a lot of it, and this is one of the longer Conan tales. Due to the episodic nature of the series it’s not necessary to have read previous Conan stories to enjoy this one.
  2. Needle by Hal Clement. Published in Astounding Science Fiction, May to June 1949. Clement had already been active for several years, but Needle was his debut novel, and it would be published in book form in 1950. Clement is one of the founding fathers of what we’d call hard SF, with Mission of Gravity especially geing a genre-defining novel, but Needle seems to not fall into that mold; rather it’s one of the earliest known attempts at mixing SF with the mystery genre.

For the novellas:

  1. “Dancing on Air” by Nancy Kress. From in the July 1993 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. Hugo and Nebula nominee for Best Novella (well, Best Novelette for the Hugo, I guess voters were confused). Kress is one of those authors I’ve been meaning to read more of, and I’ve been making progress… slowly. Like all great authors Kress seems very fond of the novella mode, but rather than go for one of her award-winners I’m going for a slightly deeper cut. Just slightly.
  2. “Medusa Was a Lady!” by William Tenn. From the October 1951 issue of Fantastic Adventures. Tenn is supposedly one of the great comedians in SF from the late ’40s to his semi-retirement from the field in the late ’60s. Unusually for Tenn, “Medusa Was a Lady!” (also reprinted as the lamer-sounding “A Lamp for Medusa”) ventures into fantasy adventure territory. And look, I’m weak for a good cover, and the Joe Tillotson cover shown above convinced me.

For the short stories:

  1. “Let Me Live in a House” by Chad Oliver. From the March 1954 issue of Universe Science Fiction. Oliver is one of those forgotten authors who popped up on my radar recently, with this story especially catching my interest. Oliver started young and was one of many authors who rode the wave of ’50s magazine saturation before quieting down circa 1960. While Ursula K. Le Guin is rightly praised for her anthropological SF, Oliver was a major forerunner in that vein.
  2. “The Jaunt” by Stephen King. From the June 1981 issue of Twilight Zone Magazine. Does King need an introduction? Not really. Anyway, an SF Discord (shoutout to Media Death Cult, by the way) I’m in has “The Jaunt” on a list of short stories the group’s covering this month, and it’s one of the few on the list I had not read before in all honesty. Rather than just read and make a few remarks on it, I do believe I’ll give it the fancy long review treatment…

So it’s a short month. Only two serials, two novellas, and two shorts. I have something special in mind for March, but for now I’ll enjoy this calm before the storm. Nothing too gimmicky this month! Just catching up with some authors I’ve been meaning to do that with, plus some horror thrown into the mix—which may or may not be foreshadowing.

Won’t you read with me?


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