I wrote a review of the classic British sci-fi magazine, Interzone, in January on this blog. Although I thought some elements of the format could be improved, it was a really good read with some excellent short stories included. TTA Press have now kindly sent me the sister magazine, Black Static, to review.
Edited by Andy Cox, Black Static (http://ttapress.com/blackstatic) is billed as a Horror and Dark Fantasy magazine, and was originally published in 1994 under the title The 3rd Alternative and has previously won the British Fantasy Award for Best Magazine.
I’m taking a look at issue 32 in eBook (ePub) format, reading on a Nexus 7 tablet using the Aldiko reader app.
Issue 32 includes:
- News & discussion columns
- Seven short stories: The Withering (Tim Casson), Love As Deep As Bones (Ilan Lerman), The Death Drive Of Rita Nee Carina (Ray Cluley), The Anatomist’s Mnemonic (Priya Sharma), Black Sun (Drew Rhys White), What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Z—— (Lavie Tidhar), Bedtime Story (Steve Rasnic Tem).
- TV news and review (UK)
- 24 Book reviews
- 11 DVD movie reviews
Firstly, that’s a lot of content in one magazine. The stories vary in length but the reviews are detailed rather than just a paragraph and rating, so there is plenty of material here.
The introduction and columns are nicely written in a friendly style and give some personality to the magazine. They also highlighted that another magazine, Flux, is being launched in order to publish any good stories that don’t fit under the scope of the other magazines. Good to hear.
The short stories are nicely presented with a cover graphic for each one and a few words about each author. There isn’t as much traditional horror in the stories as I expected, more portrayals of pain and anguish. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled recently in reading some of the classics from Poe and H.G.Wells but I was expecting to be more disturbed, for the stories to be darker or more shocking. The writing is good quality though and I particularly enjoyed Bedtime Story.
The reviews are very well written too, with the film reviews covering recent DVD releases but the book reviews including some older material. There’s a very good interview with Steve Rasnic Tem
. I was surprised to see Spiderman included in the DVD reviews alongside The Dark Knight Rises and Dredd, although I can understand the desire to include some mainstream material.
There are some inconsistencies in the presentation of the eBook, and less graphics than I would ideally like. The print version of the magazine is much more graphical with, for example, images from the movies and cover graphics from each of the books under review.
I personally preferred Interzone overall, but then I’ll always tend to favour sci-fi writing. If you like horror or dark fantasy, or just want to get hold of some well written short stories and analysis of the industry, then check out Black Static.