As I'm sure the vast majority of you already know, this month was the 60th Anniversary Issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine. Now, I've only been a subscriber for about a year now, but I really enjoyed this issue, and one story in particular: Halloween Town, by Lucius Shepard. This is actually the first short story in the magazine that I have gone back and re-read almost immediately. This was largely because I was so intrigued by the narrative, and wanted to capture all of the juicy details Shepard included, but also, I must admit, because by the time I reached the end, I was a bit confused. My one major critique of the story was that it was hard to follow, though admittedly, I was pretty tired when I read it the first time.
Halloween Town tells the story of Clyde Ormoloo, a man who, through a trick of fate, can suddenly see people's true nature. He wants to escape his life, so he decides to move to the exclusive Halloween Town. To get into the town, which is subsidized by a billionaire rock star/industrialist, Clyde has to apply (the application meeting a hilarious scene that takes place in a bar), because they only let certain people who won't upset the societal balance in. Shepard does a marvelous job creating an entire world for this town, with a well-established pecking order, it's own architectural style to fit the unique location at the bottom of a gorge, and even a unique local economy. During his months in town, Clyde learns all of the town gossip, falls in love with a billionaire's love interest, gets put down a tube and meets...well, I won't ruin the surprise, but there's a reason this is a science fiction story. Ultimately, he has to learn that there is no running from your problems; a change of scenery changes nothing, especially when the people in that scenery are crazy.
I think my favorite part of this short for me was not the story itself, which, while not standard, certainly wasn't Earth-shattering. It was the details that Shepard weaves into the narrative. The cat that gets enemas. The rain pouring down in a specific, cylindrical area. How an entire economy can revolve around walnuts. How annoying insecure girls are. The response "How appropriate." The details make the story, and they are what made me go back and read it again. I'd love to find something else by Shepard.
My favorite line from the story: "..It's not that he's suspicious or jealous. He is batshit crazy and hurts people." And a more accurate description was never written.