There are not many things outside of my family that constantly bring a smile to my face. One of these rare things is the now identifiable sound of the latest issue of Black Static Magazine dropping through my letterbox every two months.
This quality publications has over the six or so issues since I started reading it become my must read genre publication. This is a magazine that treats the genre with level of respect it deserves. With each issue of Black Static you get a perfect mix of reviews, fiction thoughtful opinion columns and excellent interviews.
I'm sure I have said it before, but just how the review team of Peter Tennant, Tony Lee and Mike O'Drisscoll, manage to consistently produce such comprehensive and well written set of reviews is beyond me. Their dedication to reviewing is joy to read.
In this issue there is a wonderful and expansive feature review and interview with S.P.Miskowski, where she talks about the importance of the "wise woman", the effect of the economy on her fiction, and her time as a playwright.
The comment columns from Stephen Volk and Christopher Flower have always been one of my personal highlights of the magazine. It is always a pleasure to to read such informative and thoughtful pieces from two the genres leading lights.
Stephen Volk's column is a beautifully moving companion piece to his brilliant novella Whitstable, available from Spectral Press. Sadly, this issue also sees the last ever column from Christopher Fowler, who has had to drop this column due to work commitments.
And now we come to the fiction, Black Static has always shown itself to be an excellent repository of diverse genre fiction. Since reading the magazine I have discovered quite a few new authors who have made it onto my must read list. James Cooper is one of these authors, his story Stray Dogs, is a moving and creepy tale all those of us who are the stray dogs of society. This is an unsettling story that manages to run an icy finger down your spine without ever resorting to obtuse shock tactics.
Gary McMahon's Sometimes Everything Gets So Strange it Starts To Make Sense not only wins the award for the longest title in the magazine, but also for the most chilling and head scratchingly brilliant story of the magazine.
Michael Kelly's Turn The Page, is the shortest story here, is a deeply moving story that all bibliophiles and writers will feel a strong connection to.
Andrew Hook's Rain From A Clear Blue Sky is another strong story. A mountaineering story with shades of the Body snatchers.
Carole Johnstone's Sign's of The Times, gets the prize for the discovery of the issue. In this intriguing story about the return of the Dog Faced men, the narrative moves from a hartwarming story about a friendships across the barricades, to a story about the End of Days seamlessly. This story is so good I will even forgive Carole for being a Hibs fan, everyone knows that the only team worth supporting is East Fife.
Sadly not all the stories worked for me, Tim Casson's Dust Storms, just didn't do it for me. For some reason I just couldn't get into the rhythm of the piece and had a hard time reading it.
However for £4.99, you really cannot fault this impeccable publication. Black Static has never failed to impress me with it's quality of writing and just sheer value for money. If you are a fan of the genre then you really need to head on over to their website and grab yourself a subscription. You can thank me later.