For the next Author Spotlight (featuring contributors to A Darke Phantastique) we are treated to fiction from the nonfiction and critical giant, S. T. Joshi. His short story, “You’ll Reach There in Time”, begins:
“Hey, old man,” he said in a faintly foreign accent.“How far is it to the next town?” He held up the empty gas-can in his hand. “Ran out of fuel. Well, what do you say? Speak, man, speak! Where’s your tongue? How far is it to the next town?”
The old man pointed behind him with his thumb, indicating he keep going along this desert road. “Keep on walking,” he said. “You’ll reach there in time.”
The other did not even say thanks.
And where did this piece of fiction come from?
I wrote the first draft of this story in the prehistoric era of 1974, when I was a lad of sixteen. At that time, I was writing an immense quantity of fiction, variously inspired by John Dickson Carr, Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, and H. P. Lovecraft. I was also very interested in the architecture of a story, and this tale—revised several times in the following decades—exhibits my fascination with a fragmented narrative style that can itself engender a sense of terror and disorientation.
S. T. Joshi is a widely published critic, scholar, and editor, best known for The Weird Tale (1990), I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft (2010), and Unutterable Horror: A History of Supernatural Fiction (2012). But he has also written mystery and detective fiction, including the novels The Removal Company (2009), Conspiracy of Silence (2010), and The Assaults of Chaos (2013), along with short stories that have appeared in such anthologies as The Acolytes of Cthulhu and That Is Not Dead. He is the editor of the Lovecraft Annual, Spectral Realms, and the Weird Fiction Review.