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Author: Derek Austin Johnson

Derek Austin Johnson has lived most of his life in the Lone Star State. His work has appeared in The Horror Zine, Rayguns Over Texas!, Horror U.S.A.: Texas, Terror Tract, and Campfire Macabre. He lives in Central Texas.
Cozy Catastrophes and Sinister Archaeology: Weird Tales #364 edited by Jonathan Maberry

Cozy Catastrophes and Sinister Archaeology: Weird Tales #364 edited by Jonathan Maberry

Weird Tales #364. Cover by Lynne Hansen

As I write this, Weird Tales falls just two years short of celebrating its centennial — an astonishing feat, given that the fiction magazines in existence at that time, all considered far more prestigious than this lurid showcase of fantasy and horror, have vanished into time and space as if they never existed. (Only Argosy, revived in 2016 by Altus Press, matches it in longevity.) With such august placement in pop culture history, and given the differing tastes of its various editors (from Lin Carter to Ann VanderMeer), one might wonder if recent editions maintain the seminal publication’s pulp sensibilities while meeting exacting modern standards.

Under Jonathan Maberry’s editorial eye, that answer appears to be a resounding yes. With seven stories, four pieces of flash fiction, and two poems, Weird Tales #364 improves on its previous issue in the professionalism and sense of vision each writer brings as well as the sense of history infusing each work. As Maberry says in the introductory piece The Eyrie, “What delights me most as editor is that these stories are so diverse in terms of content, theme, styles, and genre. They don’t belong anywhere else — they are true Weird Tales.”

The magazine opens with Seanan McGuire’s “Too Late Now,” a Wyndham-esque “cozy catastrophe” lacking the coziness Wyndham brings to such works as The Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalids. Alien vegetation has overtaken life on earth, leaving humans to scavenge for non-organic goods (the plant life grows on almost any formerly organic matter) in order to maintain some semblance of society. Boston (people have begun naming themselves after cities and states in an effort to maintain continuity with the pre-Invasion world) is forced to take a team to the place where she lost her partner Jersey. McGuire mixes the worldbuilding she brings to such works as Every Heart a Doorway and Middlegame with adept pacing and suspense.

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