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Black Static # 5 - June/July 2008

01/02/2009. Contributed by Tomas L. Martin

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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.

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UK dark fantasy/horror magazine 'Black Static' is gradually growing in stature and confidence. This fifth issue continues its trend of decent non-fiction and a mix of OK, good and the odd excellent short story.

I often feel like Stephen Volk and the review department are keeping the other columnists afloat when I read the magazine. A good featurette with the underrated Jack Ketchum is the highlight of this issue's sizeable review columns.

The stories are good value though. Kathleen Winter's 'How Deep Is Loneliness' epitomises the kind of story I've come to expect from Andy Cox's editing: a dark, almost depressing story set in a world just east of normal with a dark twist emerging from the trepidation. Like many of the selections, he does this well.

'The Second Death Of Johan Kluge' by Tim Casson is a wryly humorous tale of a town of flesh hungry undead in a historical setting. The witty story of Johan's after-life in the town is well done and a nice change in tone for the magazine. Tony Richards continues in this vein with a great funny twist to his story 'Night Game'.

Daniel Kaysen's 'The Rising River is a well-told story of a woman going mad but it's a little predictable. Joel Lane gives us a short but sweet tale of a boy with a disturbing infection in the compelling 'Winter Journey'.

Gary McMahon's 'Slap' is a grim but satisfying surreal exploitation of the 'happy slapping' trend where teens video the reactions of passers-by after receiving a blow to the face. The story finishes with a H.P. Lovecraft themed story. I've never been a big fan of stories that play on old classics - they are remembered for good reason and it's very difficult to live up to their standards. This was a poor story to end on in my book, in what is otherwise another solid offering from the 'Black Static' team.

Tomas L. Martin

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