Volume 35, Issue 4
October–December 2012

Star*Line 35.4 cover
Cover: Sleep Voyeur
© 2012 Skinny Gaviar

Wyrms & Wormholes
Beautiful Terrors

Rilke has said that beauty is only the onslaught of terror. He may be right, but the reverse is also true: there is beauty in terror as well as terror in beauty. How else to explain the appeal of horror, the delectation of an exquisite frisson of fear and/or disgust? Wandering the garden by night, in the tenebrous wasteland left in the wake of months-long drought and the depredations of squash borers and Japanese beetles (themselves gorgeous in the iridescence of their dark armor), pale pumpkins deflate like the doomed hot-air balloons of a miniature humanoid race, collapsing into a ruin of rot; outcast tomatoes squelch underfoot with only momentary resistance, suggesting putrescent organs that even a zombie wouldn’t touch. Farther out, along a moon-gilded road, the fabulously loopy entrails of what had possibly been a raccoon, orange (orange?) and glutinous, seem to glow from the shadows of the drainage ditch. Of course, the horror instantly reaches its zenith when the dog discovers the mess, and tries to roll in it.

Identifying—and creating—beauty in the terrible, the horrible, is the poet’s task. The poet Ross Gay speaks of “the dazzle / of gold-threaded embroidery inside / the hangman’s mask”—not only noticing beauty where its existence might be presumed to be impossible, but generating a surreal juxtaposition with horror. But horror—terror, if it’s done well—in the literary sense is not merely a special effect, not just one of the tools at our disposal, not only a symbol of our collective angst, but, by giving voice to our secret embellishments on darkness, a weapon in the battle that all of us fight against loneliness and despair. Gay ends the poem with these lines:

[…] against which the ascent
of a crow into the night, a tendril of carrion
dangling in the clutched beak,
and a moment, a diamond
of starlight streaking its black wing,
which is what we, against it, are:
golden, longing, gone.

—Ross Gay, “It Starts at Birth”
from Against Which

I keep prodding speculative poets to be more intrusive with respect to the mundane community. Hallowe’en is the perfect excuse for confronting others with zombie poems, vampire poems, werewolf poems, or poems that are just plain weird. Make a practice of actively engaging other literary communities as a genre poet—although whether I bring speculative poetry to my mainstream-poetry crit group or poetry to the speculative fiction group, the cringing, deer-in-the-headlights look on the faces of the other participants is the same. Tell yourself that it’s the beauty that terrorizes them.

—F.J. Bergmann
Star*Line Editor

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Star*Line Staff:

Editor: F.J. Bergmann
Layout: Robert Frazier & F.J. Bergmann
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Table of Contents


  • Wyrms & Wormholes • F.J. Bergmann
  • President’s Message • David C. Kopaska-Merkel
  • From the Small Press • excerpted reviews by Joshua Gage, David C. Kopaska-Merkel, Susan Gabrielle, Edward Cox, Denise Dumars, John Philip Johnson, Sandra Lindow Full reviews
  • Stealth SF • Denise Dumars
  • Cons, etc. • reports & other news


  • Aquarius Regards Orion • Denise Dumars
  • Cognizance: a Triptych • Kurt MacPhearson
  • In This House of Sinners • Isaac Black
  • Three Transits • Ann K. Schwader
  • Seabeds of Mars • Banks Miller
  • Community Pool Rules • David A. Dickinson
  • Trick No Treat • Ian Hunter
  • Burning Down Woods on a Snowy Evening • James S. Dorr
  • (untitled) • C. William Hinderliter
  • (untitled) • LeRoy Gorman
  • Zombie Footwear • Charles Cantrell
  • The Werewolf as Failed Escapologist • Ian Hunter
  • The Franchises of Time • David C. Kopaska-Merkel
  • Fishing Rights • Elizabeth Barrette
  • War Among the Umbilicids • Robert Borski
  • (untitled) • David C. Kopaska-Merkel
  • February, 1962 • Lowell Jaeger
  • The Carolers • G. O. Clark
  • Small-Scale Poultry Keeping • Lisa J. Cihlar
  • Since Breaking Through The Ice • Dominik Parisien
  • (untitled) • LeRoy Gorman
  • The Roads Are Slippery With Oil • D.R. Wagner
  • Wild Rat Prophecy • Chris Lynch
  • Rats Live on No Evil Star • Aaron DaMommio
  • (untitled) • WC Roberts
  • Chrononaut Inductees • Bruce Boston
  • Property of Tesco • Stephen Wilson
  • (untitled) • LeRoy Gorman
  • The Aliens Breathe Chlorine • Kurt MacPhearson
  • New Vaccine Slows Aging • Michael Kriesel
  • Date Night • J.A. Grier
  • I Was Marooned on a Desert Island, See • Shelly Bryant
  • Time Travel • Chazley Dotson
  • As Dark Asda • Cathy Bryant
  • Chupa-ku No. 25 • Juan Manuel Perez
  • Customary Use • Jeffrey Park
  • Dropping By • Ken Poyner
  • Intergalactic Coupling • David S. Pointer
  • In the Man-Cave • Robert Borski
  • Kitchen Strategy • Will H. Blackwell, Jr.
  • What Noah Left Behind • Marge Simon
  • and then Mom said • Alexandra Seidel
  • (untitled) • Dietmar Tauchner
  • Among the Shards • Ann K. Schwader
  • Hunger Hunt • Jennifer Ruth Jackson
  • Recycle • David C. Kopaska-Merkel
  • (untitled) • Lauren McBride
  • (untitled) • LeRoy Gorman
  • (untitled) • LeRoy Gorman
  • Chupa-ku No. 27 • Juan Manuel Perez


  • Wired for Destiny • Randy Moore
  • Future Spark • Randy Moore
  • Space 7 • Denny E. Marshal
  • The Portal • Denny E. Marshall
  • Double Plus Nothing • Randy Moore
  • Mountain Top View • Joshua Gage

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