DONALD WOLLHEIM, Editor, with Arthur W. Saha – The 1989 Annual World’s Best SF. Daw #783, paperback original; 1st printing, June 1989. Cover art by Jim Burns.

#9. B. W. CLOUGH “Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog.” Short story. First appeared in Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, June 1988.

   This was Brenda Clough’s first published short story, after four novels, and it’s a good one. Most of her work has been fantasy, but even though it’s told in the style of an rural fantasy, this one’s definitely science fiction.

   It’s about the owner of a comic book store — one who also carries other popular culture memorabilia, as most owners of comic book stores have to do in order to survive — and he’s realizes that he’s found a pot of gold when he begins to get repeat orders, many times over, for the aforementioned memorabilia.

   Not comic books, but X-Men bumper stickers, fuzzy dice, lawn trolls, iron-on decals of Disney characters, commemorative liquor bottles, Deely-Bobbers, and anything at all associated with Elvis, including plush floppy-eared dogs that you could wind up to play … you guessed it.

   Thinking that his new patron– who pays only in cash, brand new twenty-dollar bills — must be a reclusive millionaire, and having never met a reclusive millionaire before — makes the trek out to the wildest part of West Virginia mountain country to pay him a visit.

   What he finds there is the crux of the story, and obviously I dare not tell you. I think I’d react differently than does the teller of this story, but on the other hand, maybe just maybe he’s on to something.


Previously from the Wollheim anthology: FREDERIK POHL “Waiting for the Olympians.”