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Black Static # 4 - April/May 2008

01/10/2008. Contributed by Tomas L. Martin

Buy Black Static in the USA - or Buy Black Static in the UK

author pic

bi-monthly magazine: UK publisher/editor address: Andy Cox, TTA Press, 5 Martins Lane, Witcham, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB6 2LB. Price: 3.99 (UK). ISSN: 1753-0709).

check out website: www.ttapress.com

As it moves into its fourth issue, 'Black Static' is starting to migrate from being 'the magazine that used to be 'The Third Alternative' to an established producer of dark fiction in its own right. Editor Andy Cox has streamlined the magazine, adding interesting artwork and design styling to its fiction and features.



The first of the stories this time out is Tyler Keevil's 'Cleaning The Western Kittiwake', in which a boat-worker start cleaning and renovating a yacht, the 'Western Kittiwake, which capsized at sea and killed the owner's wife and children. It's a chilling ghost tale of loss that works really well because of its subtlety and I wouldn't be surprised to see it in one of the Best Of The Year anthologies.

Cody Goodfellow's 'Atwater' is a really weird story about a man who pulls off the highway into a LA suburb that shouldn't exist, full of creatures with beehives for faces and other monsters. It's a strange, disconcerting read that forces you onward with breakneck pace and unsettling descriptions. I didn't enjoy it especially but I think some would. The ending adds an excellent new meaning to what has come before.

I didn't like Conrad William's 'Zombie' at all. It's a mess of stream of consciousness, flicking from event to tangled description, coarse and hard. The last story, Barry Fisher's 'This Much I Remember' is better but still a bit lacking to my tastes, a little too slow and too reliant on keeping the reader out of the loop.

The two stories in-between are better. Nicholas Royle gives us an excellent little chill in 'Salt', where a young student goes to meet his lecturer, who has one published novel and some strange behaviour that gets worse as the short story draws to a satisfying climax.

'Ye Shall Eat In Haste' is a play on the old stories of vampire hunter Van Helsing, with a neat twist: Van Helsing is keeping captured vampires alive for their meat. It rings true with its source material and reads well.

The magazine also features its usual collection of non-fiction including movie and book reviews, an interview with Conrad Williams and a selection of articles that are a little too meandering for my taste. Like many magazines, 'Black Static' covers quite a wide selection of dark fiction and I suppose it's not surprising that I have a mixed reaction to much of its contents. Widely variable but there's a couple of excellent stories here.

Tomas L. Martin

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