01/03/2011. Contributed by Tomas L. Martin
Black Static # 11 - June 2009/July 2009. bi-monthly 66 page magazine: UK publisher/editor address: Andy Cox, TTA Press, 5 Martins Lane, Witcham, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB6 2LB. Price: GBP 3.99 (UK). ISSN: 1753-0709.
check out website: www.ttapress.com
Al Robertson’ epic (and long for this magazine) story ‘De Profundis’ kicks us off in this issue of ‘Black Static # 11’. A story of Saul, an adopted police river diver, who finds the dead body of someone familiar floating in the Thames. This is a more plot-driven, thriller-like format than many of the stories found in ‘Black Static’, but that is no bad thing. The mystery and intrigue as Saul unravels the chaotic nature of his real family whilst juggling his adoptive mother’s senility is compelling and this is a great way to start the issue. There’s a bit in the middle that was a little too vague and symbolic, but the ending was shocking and surprising in equal measures.
Will McIntosh, who won the 2010 Hugo for Best Short Story for the brilliant ‘Bridesicle’, has the second story in this issue, a crazy, careening tale called ‘None Had Sharp Teeth’. Short and unbalanced, this story of a woman convinced that the children’s playground toys are killing the children in her neighbourhood is always more than a little on edge with a satisfyingly whimsical and manic ending.
Lawrence Conquest brings us ‘The Likeness’, an eerie tale set in a unspecified past Poland where a young painter, Alexander, is asked to paint the likeness of a beautiful young girl kept captive by Jakowski, an ageing man with a house filled with foreign curios and wonders. Captivated by her beauty, Alexander resolves to free her, with increasingly strange and terrible results. Well-balanced and with some great descriptions, this is a good self-contained and interesting story.
I wish I could say the same about ‘Served Cold’ by Gary Couzens, which definitely left me a little cold. A slasher revenge story about three girls who brutally abuse and kill a girl and their eventual comeuppance, I found this one to be self-indulgent and violent for the sake of violence with no real meaning behind it. I’m not a big fan of ultra-violence and this story had no redeeming features to make it any more than that. Placing this after Stephen Volks’ essay decried the banality of films like ‘Hostel 2’ and the ‘Saw’ franchise feels a little insulting.
Daniel Kaysen’s ‘Off With The Furies’ is written a noticeably different typewriter typeset which makes it stand out. It’s tautly written and compelling about infidelity and mad daydreams. I didn’t feel it quite hung together as well as it could have and the twist was a bit confusing, but the writing and characterisation as a whole was good.
The usual contributions of non-fiction from Mike O’Driscoll, Stephen Volk and Christopher Fowler continue to entertain and illuminate and Tony Lee and Peter Tennant give us the film and book reviews respectively, with an interview with Steve Mosby in the book section. Christopher Fowler’s thoughts on why the ‘B’ movie is slowly growing in popularity as their creators listen more to the fans is particularly interesting.
Our final story, ‘Red Ribbons’ by Stephanie Burgis is about a pair of female vampires in Paris after the revolution, when many of the French aristocracy were beheaded for their position in life. It’s more traditional horror than is normally seen in ‘Black Static’, but the prose is well written and the historical setting a delicious place for a pair of slinky vampires wreaking havoc. The magazine usually doesn’t finish on a duff note and this issue is mostly a success.
Tomas L. Martin
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