I seem to spend most of my time repeating myself, whether at work or at home with the kids my life feels a lot like ground hog day. "Put your washing away, take your shoes off". At times it feels life my life is on repeat.
And yet there are some things that make this Ground Hog Day life seem worthwhile. Black Static Magazine is one of these things. Every time this fantastic journal drops through the letterbox I do a little dance of joy. In the few years of collecting this journal I have never once been disappointed in the quality of its production and or more importantly the quality of the fiction, commentary columns and reviews all held within its fine pages. During this period far lesser, but more well now publications have all succumbed to mediocrity, and dumbing down all in the vain attempt to gain readers via the lowest common denominator. Not Black Static, they have consistently maintained the high ground. Not afraid to stick to their guns and produced an intelligent and thought provoking product.
Normally I head straight to the columns section of the journal, however this time I had to read Nicholas Royle's emotionally charged yet strangely uplifting tribute to Joel Lane, who sadly passed away. Concentrating on Joel's writing this moving tribute is a wonderful tribute to a lost talent whose like the genre will never see again.
Stephen Volk gives us another fascinating and heartfelt column where he worries about how quality writers are being pushed out by mediocre writers, the Tesco fiction department and a nation obsessed by TOWIE.
Lynda Rucker's Blood Pudding is quickly becoming a firm favourite. In this installant Lynda bemoans the troubles associated with labelling herself as a horror writer. I'm sure as fans we have all felt the same way and had to justify our love of the genre beyond the preconceived misconceptions of the label.
As for the fiction this is another bumper edition, Andrew Hooks first person narrated story A Knot of Toads is one of those challenging stories that raises more questions than answers. The story's main theme of fate and predestination verses free will is handled brilliantly with the first person narrative adding to feeling of free-wheeling confusion perfectly.
Tim Waggoner's The Last Fear has a similar feel of uncertainty, in this story our protagonist finally opens the door that has been plaguing his dreams. The Last Fear while not entirely original, is nevertheless an enjoyable read.
One of the main things that I love about Black Static is the fact that is it not afraid to introduce us to new readers. The Passion Play is Malcolm Devlin's first published story. The story cleverly uses a Police reconstruction of the known movements of Cathy a girl who has gone missing as the hook for this story, using the actor who is playing Cathy in the reconstruction as the story's narrator. This story that deals with themes of identity and self, uses flashbacks expertly in this extremely well crafted story. going by this début effort, Malcolm Devlin is a talent to watch out for,
Rounding of the fiction segment are strong stories from Maura McHugh John Grant, and Danny Rhodes.
Another are in which Black Static excels is in their wonderful in-depth author features, this time it is the turn of Ginger Nut favourite Gary Fry. Featuring reviews of many of Gary's best work to date and a fascinating interview with the man himself, it is a welcome return of this excellent feature.
Closing of the issue is the ever reliable and genre gold standard review sections from Peter Tennant, and Tony Lee. Their reviews are consistently well written, thoughtful and insightful. Even if I think Tony is talking nonsense with regards to his review of You're Next.
I've said it before and I will y it again, if you are fan of horror and don't yet subscribe to this publication you need to go and do it now.
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