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Black Static 12 Aug/Sept 2009

01/05/2011. Contributed by Tomas L. Martin

Buy Black Static # 12 – August 2009/September 2009 in the USA - or Buy Black Static # 12 – August 2009/September 2009 in the UK

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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.

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Issue 12 of dark fiction magazine ‘Black Static’ is a little lower than its traditional quality in my opinion. I respected a lot of the content’s skill and intent, but there wasn’t really anything that connected with me significantly this time around.

The issue opens with ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ by Nina Allen, a story about a boy, who still talks to his dead brother, on a trip to his aunts in Brighton. There’s some interesting family dynamics going on between Martin’s mother and the aunts (who aren’t really related). Whilst they argue over where Martin should live, he heads out onto the beach, breaks his watch and encounters the strange Circus Man. This is a subtle, beautifully crafted story but not quite essential.

T.F. Davenport’s ‘Bryson Feeds Families’ is a clever little tale hidden behind a series of corporate interviews about the new livestock at a factory farm. It’s neatly done, but I felt it pulled its punches a little and could have slipped a little more detail in about the world once the penny had dropped.

‘Flatrock Sunners’ is a beautifully written piece of weird fiction by Sarah Totton. Again, we follow a young boy who, with his father dying, starts to see a bunch of supernatural people near his house. I liked the opening sections of this story, but I felt the later darker sections were a little flat and they didn’t quite deliver on the creepiness building up to them.

‘Stone Whispers’ by Tim Casson is another nicely written piece, with excellent sense of character, about a small island in the British Channel in the 1920s, where a yacht of young adventurers are not greeted friendly by the locals. I particularly liked the characterisation of Celia, an old lady on the island, but I felt the ending again lacked a satisfying conclusion.

In ‘Charles’, Steve Rasnic Tem shows us a mother visiting her son, who is getting married the next day, despite the fact that he died at the age of six. This story has a really nice ending sequence but I didn’t feel any emotional attachment up until that point and everything felt a little too detached to have an impact on me.

The final story is ‘Unearthed’ by Kim Lakin-Smith, where a group of friends meet in Nottingham to confront a dark secret from their childhood. This felt like a story I’d seen a lot before and the text was muddled and confusing. I thought this one was a bit of a misstep.

For the non-fiction contributions in this issue, Peter Tennant’s book review section concentrates on Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels, which he praises, as well as a section on Gary A. Braunback with an interview and a series of reviews. Tony Lee continues his excellent work covering all the latest horror DVD releases. Christopher Fowler talks about Terry Gilliam, Spielberg and film critics in his column, Stephen Volk ponders the relationship between empathy and fiction and Mike O’Driscoll talks about the horror that is celebrity, although the latter column feels like a retrenching of a lot of literary criticism. Overall, I didn’t find anything in this issue to really recommend, which is surprising as usually ‘Black Static’ has a couple of great stories an issue, but not this time.

Tomas L. Martin

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