Friday, November 17, 2017

Reading Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, part 5

In which we take a closer look at each issue of the magazine. For our capsule history, go here. 

Volume 1, Number 5 (August, 1981)

Editor: T.E.D. Klein
Cover Art: Tito Salomoni 

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 Assistant: Eve Grammatas
Public Relations Manager: Melissa Blanck-Grammatas
Public Relations Asst: Jeffrey Nickora
Accounting Manager: Chris Grossman
Circulation Director: Denise Kelly
Circulation Assistant: 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: Unnatural Resources by T.E.D. Klein
--Other Dimensions: Screen by Gahan Wilson
--Other Dimensions: Books by Theodore Sturgeon
--George Romero: Revealing the Monsters within Us by Tom Seligson
--“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” by Reginald Bretnor
--“Tiger of the Mind” by Ron Wolfe
--“A Friend in Need” by Lisa Tuttle
--“Four” by Douglas Jenmac
--“Midas Night” by Sam Wilson
--Writing for The Twilight Zone by George Clayton Johnson
--TZ Screen Preview: Hollywood Cries Wolf!
--“The Hidden Laughter” by David Morrell
--“The Artisan” by Lori Allen
--“Identity Crisis” by James Patrick Kelly
--Dr. Van Helsing’s Handy Guide to Ghost Stories by T.E.D. Klein (as Kurt Van Helsing)
--“The Tale the Hermit Told” by Alastair Reid
--“The Man Who Couldn’t Remember” by David Curtis
--“The Next Time Around” by Paul J. Nahin
--Show-by-Show Guide: TV’s Twilight Zone, Part Five by Marc Scott Zicree
--TZ Classic Teleplay: “The Odyssey of Flight 33” by Rod Serling
--Looking Ahead: In September’s TZ

--In the Twilight Zone: Unnatural Resources by T.E.D. Klein

-As usual, Klein uses this space to provide biographical details about the contributors to the issue. Klein also addresses the mix-up on the thumbnail images of the contributors which I noted from last issue and provides the images again with the correct attribution for each. This issue features a nice mix of established names (Morrell, Kelly, Tuttle, Reid) and unknowns (Bretnor, Wolfe, Jenmac, Curtis, and Nahin) as well as two very interesting feature articles.

--Other Dimensions: Screen by Gahan Wilson

-Wilson reviews The Omen III: The Final Conflict. He gives a recap of his thoughts on the first two Omen films (the first film was directed by Twilight Zone alum Richard Donner and scored by TZ alum Jerry Goldsmith, the latter of whom won an Academy Award for his work on the film) saying that both films were enjoyable, particularly the inventively gruesome death sequences, but that the films contain an artificiality which contradicts their efforts at verisimilitude. Wilson is not so kind to The Final Conflict, finding fault in virtually every aspect of the film, particularly with the dialogue in the script, but praises the performance of Sam Neill as the adult version of the anti-Christ, Damien.

--Other Dimensions: Books by Theodore Sturgeon

-Sturgeon is back with a look at a handful of new science fiction, fantasy, and horror offerings. Here are his thoughts:

-The Cool War by Frederick Pohl
“. . . as deft a tumble into the near future as can be found anywhere.”

-Blue Adept by Piers Anthony
“I’ll state it bluntly: though I’ve always admired Piers Anthony’s competence, I never realized how serious, how penetrating, his thought could be.”

-Magic Time by Kit Reed
“. . . a sort of Disneyland of the future, where the (high) paying customers can act out their fantasies.” Sturgeon describes this novel as a better version of the films Westworld and Futureworld.

-Death of Dreaming by Jon Manchip White
“. . . derives from nothing in this world but the author’s head; if there’s another book remotely like it, I’m unaware of it.”  Interestingly, Sturgeon uses space here to criticize copyeditors who insist on frequent paragraph breaks and who begin new paragraphs with large, stylized letters. This is a practice of the magazine for which Sturgeon is writing.

-Khai of Ancient Khem by Brian Lumley
“Much explicit sex, some amusing, some disgusting, some bloody and violent.”

-The Whiskers of Hercules and The Man Who Was Scared by Kenneth Robeson
Doc Savage novels #103 and #104
“Lord, how I loved these things when I was in high school!”

-Death’s Angel by Kathleen Sky
“An authorized original Star Trek novel with a tough female as the protagonist who goes all sophomore-soft when she gets next to Captain Kirk.”

-The Entity by Frank de Felitta
“. . . about a woman who gets raped a lot by a demon lover that’s ultimately uncovered by a blast of liquid helium – all in the tradition of Stephen King.”

-Nebula Winners Fifteen edited by Frank Herbert
“. . . there are some very fine stories here. . .” 

--George Romero: Revealing the Monsters within Us by Tom Seligson

-Interview of the influential horror filmmaker who recently passed away on July 16th of this year. The interview takes us through Romero’s career up to this point, with his latest film being the urban fantasy Knightriders. Romero discusses the creation of his cult classic Night of the Living Dead and the small independent films which followed, two of which, The Crazies and Martin, have become cult films in their own right. Romero was just coming off the great success of Dawn of the Dead, a film many believe to be his best. He discusses his plans for Day of the Dead as well as Creepshow, his collaboration with Stephen King. A couple of interesting items are Romero’s mention of two additional Stephen King collaborations which never saw the light of day, a feature film of ‘Salem’s Lot (eventually filmed for television by Tobe Hooper) and The Stand, with Romero stating that King had written two drafts of a screenplay and that the two of them would not make the film unless it was completely on their own terms. Apparently, they did not reach those terms with a major studio as Romero’s The Stand remains one of the great unproduced horror films. The Stand was later adapted as a television miniseries by director Mick Garris from a teleplay by King. Romero went on to direct a feature adaptation of King’s 1989 novel The Dark Half. 

--“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” by Reginald Bretnor

Illustration by José Reyes
“The remnants of humanity had expected a messenger from Heaven. But not everyone expected the message he brought.”

-An ecological crisis sends a rag-tag band of religious figures in search of the landing area of a prophesized group of angels. Grade: D

-This offering is a strange mixture of religious allegory and ecological disaster story that never seems to find its footing in terms of theme, setting, or characterization. In a way, it reminds one of the popular fourth season episode of The Twilight Zone, “On Thursday We Leave for Home,” in that it features a man who so loves the dying world he inhabits that he forsakes the opportunity to be rescued from certain death. The religious aspects of the story manage to be both confusing and heavy-handed and the addition of a generic trope of science fiction finds the tale ending with a thud.

-Reginald Bretnor was a prolific science fiction writer best known for his series of short stories, Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot, which appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction throughout the 1970s. Bretnor also wrote novels, poems, letters, essays, and editorials for science fiction publications. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” was never collected in book form. Bretnor died in 1992.

--“Tiger of the Mind” by Ron Wolfe

Illustrated by Robert Morello
“You can’t see it, but it can see you . . . and it’s hungry.”

-A reporter finds a missing politician in a bar in a rough part of town and listens as the politician describes his reason for leaving his old life behind, a story involving nightmares and how those nightmares can invade reality if one invites them to do so. Grade: C

-This tale deals with a common theme seen on the original Twilight Zone series, that being dreams and the way in which dreams affect reality. Unfortunately, Wolfe uses a rather generic nightmare figure, the bogeyman with claws, instead of something more imaginative while also making a lackluster attempt at the humorous reporter story. As such, it stands as a brisk and enjoyable, if unexceptional, monster tale.

-Ron Wolfe wrote three horror novels in collaboration with John Wooley and became a frequent contributor to Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine under editor Tappan King when he provided a continuing series under the uniform title The Other Side. Wolfe published a few additional short stories in TZ Magazine and similar publications, The Horror Show, etc. “Tiger of the Mind” was reprinted in the first issue of Night Cry magazine, the digest-sized off-shoot of the TZ magazine. 

--“A Friend in Need” by Lisa Tuttle

Illustrated by A.G. Metcalf
“A chance encounter at an airport becomes an exercise in memory . . . or imagination . . . or something far stranger”

-A young woman meets another young woman while waiting for a plane at the airport. Both women soon come to realize that they remember each other as the imaginary playmates of their childhoods. Grade: A

-This is far and away the best story in the issue. Lisa Tuttle is one the most fiercely talented science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers to come out of the 1970s. Her first novel, Windhaven, from the novella “The Storms of Windhaven,” was written in collaboration with George R. R. Martin and her short stories are award-winners which make frequent appearances in “best of the year” collections. “A Friend in Need” perfectly captures the strangeness of The Twilight Zone (a character even makes a reference to the Zone when trying to puzzle out the uncanny nature of the situation). The tale plays with the nature of both reality and identity in a completely new way while also exploring themes of guilt, memory, and the innocence of childhood lost. It would have made an excellent segment of the first revival Zone television series. Although “A Friend in Need” was not adapted for the small screen, a few of Tuttle’s other stories did see adaptation on such anthology programs of the time as The Hunger, Monsters, and Deadly Nightmares. “A Friend in Need” was included in Arthur Saha’s Year’s Best Fantasy 8 as well as in Tuttle’s underrated collection, A Nest of Nightmares. Among the many awards Tuttle has won are the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Locus Award, the Nebula Award, and the International Horror Guild Award. A volume of Tuttle’s collected supernatural fiction, Stranger in the House, was released by Ash-Tree Press in 2010. 

--“Four” by Douglas Jenmac
Illustrated by Bob Neubecker
“In which we find a silent parking garage . . . a stalled elevator . . . and a flight of concrete steps that is also a stairway to hell.”

-A businessman gets trapped inside a parking garage of M.C. Escher-like proportions. Grade: C

-This very slight short-short is little more than an interesting diversion about a man who comes from a family line that has suffered an inordinate amount of tragedy who then finds himself trapped in an impossible parking garage and unable to escape from the 4th level. “Four” is the only speculative fiction story published by Douglas Jenmac.

--“Midas Night” by Sam Wilson

Illustrated by E.T. Steadman
“It was one of those nights when a man’s destiny could hand by the handle of a coffee cup.”

-A young man who is trapped inside a diner due to the fact that three hoodlums outside mean him harm strikes up a strange conversation with an even stranger old man who claims to rule the world. Grade: D

-After just a few issues of the Zone magazine it becomes apparent that T.E.D. Klein enjoyed tales of strange encounters in bars, deli, cafés, etc. It gets a bit tiresome and “Midas Night” is another such undistinguished tale concerning a “starving” young artist who happens to save the life of the eccentric old man who controls the world, thus ensuring the young man a life of great fortune. In his editorial, Klein describes Wilson as an occasional writer who is also an aspiring actor. Wilson published a few pieces in the 1980s and returned to writing speculative fiction in the 2000s with the novel Zodiac and a few more short stories.

--Writing for The Twilight Zone by George Clayton Johnson

Illustrated with images from Clayton Johnson-scripted episodes of The Twilight Zone, some of which are outtake photographs.

-This long essay originally served as the introduction (in slightly different form) and title to Clayton Johnson’s 1980 collection of scripts and stories, Writing for the Twilight Zone. Various bits of the essay have appeared in different places, from Clayton Johnson’s introduction to the short story “All of Us Are Dying” in editor Harry Harrison’s Author’s Choice #4 to the later collection George Clayton Johnson, Twilight Zone Scripts and Stories. The essay is a bit rambling but remains a very rewarding piece for both fans of The Twilight Zone and aspiring writers, as Clayton Johnson discusses the genesis of his major episodes (he does not discuss “Ninety Years Without Slumbering”), explains his writing process in great detail, and gives a general, and unfavorable, overview of writing for television.

--TZ Screen Preview: Hollywood Cries Wolf!
Color section of the magazine

-Building upon Gahan Wilson’s review of Joe Dante’s film The Howling from the previous issue, Fangoria editor and film commentator Robert Martin takes a look at three films which came to define 1981 as the Year of the Werewolf: Joe Dante’s The Howling, Michael Wadleigh’s The Wolfen, and John Landis’s An American Werewolf in Paris. Martin interviews all three directors and explores why the time was right for three wide-release feature films on the subject of lycanthropy and how each film differs from the other. Special effects for each film are discussed as well as the literary roots of the werewolf and some of the films (The Wolf Man, Curse of the Werewolf) which have come to define the classical cinematic mode of the theme.

-Director Michael Wadleigh, a documentary filmmaker most well-known for the film Woodstock, used The Wolfen to examine his personal obsessions with Native American mysticism, greatly diverging from Whitley Strieber’s source novel in the process. John Landis and Joe Dante both came to the subject as film fans who believed that the subject of werewolves was pliable enough to be reimagined for the 1980s in a way which spoke to modern audiences. Landis was a producer and director on Twilight Zone: The Movie, directing the first segment, “Time Out,” which remains infamous for the tragic accident which occurred during filming and took the lives of actor Vic Morrow and two young children. Joe Dante also worked on Twilight Zone: The Movie, directing the segment which reimagined the classic Zone episode “It’s a Good Life.” 

--“The Hidden Laughter” by David Morrell

Illustrated by Arthur Somerfield
“His wife had vanished, beyond all reason, beyond all understanding, and perhaps the only clue lay in the lines of a poem.”

-When his wife vanishes, a man cannot bring himself to leave the home which was the last place she visited. Grade: B

-Though this tale is an enjoyable bit of the uncanny, Morrell is trying to do an awful lot in a small space. Taking an excerpt from T.S. Eliot’s poem “Burnt Norton,” the first poem of Eliot’s Four Quartets, as his thematic springboard, Morrell presents a disappearance not to focus on grief and loss but to explore the possibility that other worlds may exist alongside the one we find ourselves inhabiting. Morrell, who lost his young son to cancer a few years later, would explore the grief and insanity of loss much more powerfully in subsequent works. Morrell is well-known for his first novel, First Blood, which became the basis for the enormously popular Rambo films. Much of Morrell’s novels are action-based tales of intrigue and masculinity but his short fiction often explores themes of dread and the supernatural. “The Hidden Laughter” is included in his first collection of stories, Black Evening: Tales of Dark Suspense, which also includes a number of award-winning and award nominated stories. Morrell’s tales of horror work best at novella-length and “The Hidden Laughter” is a bit too short to accomplish what Morrell intended. In later tales, such as “The Shrine,” “Dead Image,” or “Orange is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity,” Morrell comes into his own as a horror writer and these tales, along with those collected in Nightscape, come highly recommended. 

--“The Artisan” by Lori Allen

Illustrated by Charles Walker
“The poems were his, the flowers hers – and wasn’t that a distinction worth dying for?”

-The subjugated wife of a poet takes murderous revenge on her husband when he makes light of both her role in their marriage and her rock garden. Grade: C

-This strange yet generally effective bit of feminist horror reminds one of Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” in that it examines a crumbling marriage in which a wife is oppressed by her well-meaning but ignorant husband while the erosion of her psyche is reflected by an external factor, in this case her well-tended rock garden. The tale turns into an Alfred Hitchcock flavored offering by the end when the rock garden is disturbed to make way for a new sewer line, thus revealing the husband’s makeshift grave.

-Lori Allen wrote a handful of short science fantasy stories throughout the 1980s and 1990s, as well as two important volumes on science fiction, both in collaboration with Dick Allen, the anthology Looking Ahead: The Vision of Science Fiction, and the nonfiction study Science Fiction: Jules Verne to Ray Bradbury. 

--“Identity Crisis” by James Patrick Kelly

Illustrated by Cannone
“It isn’t easy, dealing with fame and fortune – especially when they’re somebody else’s!”

-The life of a common man begins to unravel when he is mistaken for a reclusive celebrity. Grade: B

-This is a unique and surprising study of the fluid nature of identity, as well as how personal identity is little more than the self-image we have created inside our minds. Kelly has been a continuing presence on the science fiction scene since the late 1970s, working mostly in the short story form, for which he has won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Asimov Readers Awards. Kelly is also a novelist and, in collaboration with John Kessel, an anthologist of some important volumes, including Nebula Awards Showcase 2012, Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, and Kafkaesque: Stories Inspired by Franz Kafka.

--Dr. Van Helsing’s Handy Guide to Ghost Stories by T.E.D. Klein (as by Kurt Van Helsing)
Illustrated with images from vintage pulp magazines and periodicals
“The good professor offers our readers a short (if not quite painless) course in the literature of supernatural dread.”

-This long essay is the first part of an erudite and ambitious attempt by Klein to examine the ghost story from earliest antiquity to its greatest flowering in the late-Victorian and Edwardian periods of England and America. This initial portion looks at the tradition of “true” ghost stories as well as the earliest mention of ghosts in ancient literatures of the West and East. Klein briefly comments on the great masters of the ghost story but likely leaves the greater discussion to be had for the following installment.

-Klein had a deep interest in the classic form of the supernatural story. While attending Brown University, in Lovecraft’s town of Providence, he wrote his honors thesis on the works of H.P. Lovecraft and crafted much of his fiction around classic works of horror. His only novel, The Ceremonies, is inspired by Arthur Machen’s celebrated short story “The White People” and its earlier incarnation “The Ceremony.” Other of Klein’s stories, “The Events at Poroth Farm” and “Black Man with a Horn” bespeak of Lovecraft’s influence. Klein also wrote the notes for Kirby McCauley’s anthology of classic horror Beyond Midnight. He is the perfect host for this journey through the classic ghost story and all readers with even a passing interest in the form are suggested to partake of Klein’s knowledgeable introductory offering.

-The Twilight Zone dabbled in the classic ghost story or classic horror story more often than is perhaps realized, evident in such episodes as “Judgment Night,” “The Hitch-Hiker,” “Twenty-Two,” “Mirror Image,” “Long Live Walter Jameson,” “The Man in the Bottle,” “Long Distance Call,” “Deaths-Head Revisited,” “The Dummy,” “Night Call,” “Living Doll,” “The Masks,” and many more. The series was expert at taking a classic supernatural concept and updating it for the latter part of the 20th century. For more on the show’s connection to the ghost and horror story, read our essay on the subject.

--“The Tale the Hermit Told” by Alastair Reid
Illustrated by José Reyes

-This tale, written in verse, describes a young man seduced by a gypsy woman to drink a golden wine which contains the inhabitants of a celebratory fair, which the man carries within him for the remainder of his days. Grade: C

-Reid is clearly attempting to capture the ballad style of the old fairy tales with this amusing but light offering. Reid’s central image, the golden wine which holds the people and music of a country fair, is interesting but underdeveloped. Even so, it is a nice harkening back to an earlier style of storytelling.

-Reid is well-known as a poet and for his work translating South American writers into English. Reid’s speculative works are few and far between, with a handful of poems of fantasy finding their way into anthologies by such noted anthologist as August Derleth and Terri Windling. 

--“The Man Who Couldn’t Remember” by David Curtis

Illustrated by Frances Jetter
“Fred was an exterminator, poison was his profession. But then, one day, he glanced into the pit.”

-A termite exterminator discovers the underground lair of a mutated colony of insects and is forever altered by the experience. Grade: C

-Though I don’t think this story fits the magazine I enjoyed the gonzo quality of the horror and the bizarre nature of the supernatural element in this story. If you’re afraid of insects, this one will make you squirm. Curtis published only a few speculative short stories but is active in the field in other ways, including as an essayist and occasional cover artist. 

--“The Next Time Around” by Paul J. Nahin
Illustrated by Robert Morello
“When you’re speeding down the highway at 70 m.p.h., what better time to think about life . . . and death?”

-A man contemplates the possibility of reincarnation while traveling down a desert highway. Grade: C

-This short-short is funny and surprising but feels a little too much like an extended joke. Klein likely included the story to fill in a couple of needed pages in the issue.

--Show-by-show Guide: TV’s Twilight Zone: Part Five by Marc Scott Zicree

-Marc Scott Zicree continues his guide to the original series by providing summaries, along with Rod Serling’s opening and closing narrations, for the following season two episodes: “Dust,” “Back There,” “The Whole Truth,” “The Invaders,” “A Penny for Your Thoughts,” “Twenty-Two,” “The Odyssey of Flight 33,” “Mr. Dingle, the Strong,” and “Static,” all of which we’ve covered in our ongoing episode guide. 

--TZ Classic Teleplay: “The Odyssey of Flight 33” by Rod Serling


-The complete shooting script of Serling’s underrated second season episode about a commercial airplane with flies backwards in time. Serling brought in his older brother Robert as technical advisor on the episode and it remains one of the most technically sound production of the entire series. Read our complete review of the episode here.

--Looking Ahead: In September’s TZ

-Coming around next issue is an excellent interview with core Twilight Zone contributor Richard Matheson, accompanied by Robert Martin’s look at Matheson in the Movies, Theodore Sturgeon’s look at George Clayton Johnson’s Writing for the Twilight Zone, the special feature Forerunners of “The Twilight Zone, in which Allan Asherman looks at the early genre anthology programs, the next installment in Dr. Van Helsing’s Handy Guide to Ghost Stories, plus a clutch of short stories and the teleplay to the original series episode “Time Enough At Last.” See you back soon!

*Grateful acknowledgment is made to the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (isfdb.org)

--JP

4 comments:

  1. In case you're wondering (or even if you're not):

    That illustration that accompanies "Identity Crisis" is adapted from an actual photograph of Tony Randall removing one of his makeups from 7 Faces Of Dr. Lao.

    I first saw this photo in a book I used to have about fantasy movie makeup; I think the title was Making A Monster, but I can't recall who wrote it or when it was published (sorry).

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    1. Very cool, Mike! I did not know that. Let me know if you find an image of the original and I'll throw it up beside the magazine illustration. And the 7 Faces of Dr. Lao were, of course, achieved by makeup maestro, and Zone contributor, William Tuttle, who won an Oscar for his work on the film. Also, a film script written by Charles Beaumont.

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  2. Excellent work, Jordan! I look forward to these reviews of the magazine.

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    1. Thanks, Jack. Long way to go but these reviews have become some of my favorite posts to write.

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