Black Static 23 Reviewed

Black Static for June / July 2011 contains the usual reviews and commentary, while the stories are mostly by returning regulars.

V. H. Leslie appears for the second time in three issues, and already looks to be the magazine’s most prominent newcomer of the year. In ‘Time Keeping’ Howard believes that he keeps time running smoothly. It’s a demanding time-consuming job, so when he meets Helen, Howard couldn’t shake the feeling of danger. Leslie has an elegant, assured style, and while the story may need more than one reading, the (initially) opaque timeline does eventually come clear, and the reader learns what the danger is. Recommended.


‘Hail’ by Daniel Kaysen is an extremely busy story –there is much more plot than is usual with Black Static stories, which tend to concentrate on atmosphere- but it’s no less effective for all that. The narrator picks up a girl while sheltering under an awning from the rain, and she asks him directly if he wants to go back to her flat. When she has want she wants, she throws him out, from which point the more the nameless protagonist tries to escape his fate, the more tightly he is caught in its web of inevitability. Highly Recommended.


From the moment the protagonist (and therefore the reader) gradually awakens to the sound of the underground, it’s clear that Carole Johnstone’s ‘Electric Dreams’ is something special. Eli is a young man accepting food and shelter, and occasionally –perhaps enough to just get him by- money in return for hearing what people need; whether he can work miracles, is a god, or  previous events are just coincidence, Eli’s supplicants believe that he can

kill the wife’s lover

put the office rival out of action (“You won’t kill him, will you?”)

cure a woman’s mother of end-stage breast cancer

save the rats on the Underground.

Now Eli has to decide whether it’s time to change again. To start again. Two years was a long time –the longest yet- and success bred notoriety. It’s a top-notch story, one of the best in recent months.

World Horror Convention

Robert Davies won the 2011 World Horror Convention / Black Static short story contest, and from its opening line of When Jackson Cade woke and felt his right lung missing, he knew the Harvesters had come again, ‘The Harvesting of Jackson Cade’ makes it clear why. There are a couple of irritating non sequiteurs early on, but the story of physical disintegration at the hands (or should that be at the mandibles?) of the nightmarish Harvesters is unrelenting. Recommended.

Joel Lane ends the fiction for this issue with ‘For Their Own Ends,’ in which Barry awakes from a heart attack in a private hospital to find that patient care has taken a back seat to ‘market awareness.’ Lane’s prose is as precise as ever, allowing him to generate that frisson of fear with the most apparently innocent of phrases: a young man took Barry’s left hand and felt his pulse, then jabbed a needle into the vein of his wrist. Without speaking, he attached the syringe to a drip stand holding a bag of crimson fluid. Highly Recommended.



As always the fiction is enhanced by the quality of the non-fiction embracing it. Stephen Volk’s ‘Coffinmaker’s Blues’ looks at [moving] the debate about so-called “evil” away from the realm of religion and moral philosophy into the realm of science. Christopher Fowler is interested in how Spanish cinema seems to be adopting the mantle of the main maker of horror movies with the power to move audiences. Finally, Mike O’Driscoll studies the work of political philosopher John Grey, whose latest book is a brilliant dissection of our continuing desire to console ourselves with delusions, either in the form of a secular afterlife, or through the deification of humanity by means of “the abolition of death.”



Peter Tenant interviews new horror star Tom Fletcher and reviews his novels, The Leaping and The Thing On The Shore, both Cumbrian-set contemporary horror novels. Other Case Notes feature chapbooks from Joe R. Lansdale, Ramsey Campbell and Gary McMahon, plus three anthologies; Dark Minds Press offer the eponymous Dark Minds, The End of the Line is published by Solaris, while Tor provide an American perspective in Nick Mamatas and Ellen Datlow’s Haunted Legends.


Finally, Tony Lee reviews DVDs and Blu-Rays, such as Natalie Portman’s appearance in Black Swan, and the Stanley Kubrick boxed set Visionary Filmmaker Collection, as well as a reissue of the classic Witchfinder General, starring Vincent Price. It’s a good way to round out another excellent issue.

• August 5th, 2011 • Posted in Reviews • Comments: 0

End Games

People are always talking about the openings of stories. It’s an often quoted truism -especially by me!- that the first dozen lines of a story are critical. They are the unsolicited writer’s escape from the slush pile, or the path to a sometimes bewildered rejection. For the story that has been sold, a poor opening is a potential return to be To Be Read pile, from which there may be no return.

Perhaps as a reflection of that, half of the workshops that ran at alt.fiction were about beginnings, openings, settings, and establishing characters. It’s as though if you get the beginning right, the ending will take care of itself.

But if the beginning is important, how much more important is the ending? If the story works, it’s what the reader remembers. Think of Paul Atreides’ mother standing beside Chani and uttering the line, “history will call us wives,” or –no, better you go and read Alfred Bester’s “The Pi Man,” or John Varley’s “Air Raid,”  or Gardner Dozois’ “Morning Child” — because I’d hate to ruin the ending.

Because to get to the ending, you have to go through the story. The ending isn’t something a writer just tags on the end; it flows organically out of the story, and should tie the threads together and leave the reader with a sense of completion. Context is everything, because the ending isn’t just about the ending. Maybe that’s why the topic is often ignored.

How the writer gets there, of course, is a journey that has as many routes as there are writers. That’s for another time.

we’ll talk more about this later.


• August 3rd, 2011 • Posted in Writing • Comments: 0

F&SF August 2011, Reviewed

The August 2011 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is heavier than usual on the science fictional part, with around half the stories -including most of the longer ones- being SF.  


‘Bronsky’s Dates With Death’ by Peter David is the story of an old man who can’t stop talking about death. Bronsky is the ultimate salesman, because he’s perfectly sincere. Just as he’s sold beauty products, vacuum cleaners and anything else that a man can sell, so he sells people the idea that he’s reconciled to death by never stopping talking about it. Initially irritating, then laugh-out-loud funny, and ultimately poignant. Recommended.


Peter S. Beagle’s ‘The Way It Works Out And All’ is a tribute to the late Avram Davidson, and like its hero, the story meanders like few other writers can manage. As evidence of the authors’ skill, take the word “Overneath” which Beagle uses to portray the magical realm through which Davidson shortcuts in his globe trotting – just that one word sums up all the strangeness of the realm, while the story itself is charming, and the circumlocutory style reminiscent of Lafferty at his best, as well as Davidson. Outstanding.


In Rob Chilson’s ‘Less Stately Mansions’ the last member of the Mannheim family continues farming the land in the face of glacier advances, buy-out offers from Earth’s now-independent colonies, and  greedy grandchildren scheduling a competency hearing. Infused with the spirit of Clifford D. Simak, it strikes a suitably timeless agrarian feel. Recommended.


In ‘The Ants of Flanders’ by Robert Reed, our world faces the strangest alien invasion since Gardner Dozois’ classic ‘Chains of the Sea.’ But the tone is entirely different, and with Bloch, the six-foot-five sixteen year-old “mental defective” who feels no fear, Reed has written perhaps his most engaging protagonist. As well as terror in the face of the apocalypse, Reed writes of wonder and joy in one of the best novellas of the year; Their driver was barely three weeks older than Bloch and barely half his size, nothing could be more astonishing than the extraordinary luck that had put him in this wondrous place. “I can’t fucking believe this,” said the driver, lifting up on the brake and letting them roll forward. “I’m having the adventure of a lifetime. That’s what this craziness is.”


Joan Aiken’s ‘Hair’ is a splendidly Gothic piece about the widower of a young woman who has burnt out and died too young. It manages to unsettle without ever actually offering any overt threat. Outstanding.


Steven Saylor’s ‘The Witch Of Corinth’ is one of F & SF’s regular excursion’s into historical fantasy, but by depicting the setting in no small detail and combining it with a mystery and a true historical event –the fall of Corinth- it’s a considerably above average of the sub-genre. Recommended.


‘Sir Morgravain Speaks of Night Dragons And Other Things’ by Richard Bowes is a curious Arthurian tale filtered through a science-fictional perspective.


Michael Alexander’s ‘Someone Like You’ isn’t quite up to the standard’s of last year’s ‘Ware of the Worlds,’ or ‘Advances in Modern Chemotherapy,’ but it’s still one of the better time travel stories with a new take on The Grandfather Paradox.


In ‘The Ramshead Algorithm’ by KJ Kabza an inter-reality traveller based on earth comes into contact with his family when his father decides to rip out the hedge which is the basis for his being able to slip between planes.


With Book Reviews by Charles de Lint and Elizabeth Hand and Films reviewed by Lucius Shepard,    science from Paul Doherty And Pat Murphy, and humour from Paul Di Filippo, it’s another enjoyable issue, at times edging the sublime.

• July 15th, 2011 • Posted in Reviews • Comments: 0

Crimewave Eleven [Ghosts], Reviewed

A baker’s dozen of atmospheric stories, half from TTA Press regulars including Nina Allan, Christopher Fowler, Cody Goodfellow, British Fantasy Award winner Joel Lane, Alison J. Littlewood and Steve Rasnic Tem, all wrapped in a haunting Ben Baldwin cover.


Dave Hoing is an Interzone regular from TTA’s early involvement with the magazine, but the opening –and closing- story of the anthology, ‘Plainview’ is his first crime story. The opening segment, ‘The Shoe Store’ depicts small–town America 1975; Plainview is archetypically sleepy, so quiet that the sheriff plays finger football with pieces of paper, and the most excitement to be had is that the Farm Expo was coming to the hippodrome in nearby Ridgemont in January. All the latest farm equipment would be on display. When a young girl goes missing, attention focuses on the sleazy owner of the local shoe shop. The second part, ‘The Blood Cools’ which concludes the anthology, is set thirty-four years later and has a very different tone.


Nina Allan’s ‘Wilkolak’ is another of her trademark South East London stories, most recently visited in ‘Silver Wind.’ Kip is an ordinary teenager living in Manor Park who photographs a man he is sure is a paedophile, and becomes increasingly fascinated by the so-called Manor Park Monster; He knew his interest in the monster was growing. He disliked this feeling, distrusted it, but was unable to let it go. He would have liked to have discussed it with Sonia, but was afraid that she might start to think he was weird, one of the lonely serial killer types who bought true crime magazines. Kip has the opportunity to report his discovery, but doesn’t. Utterly compelling.


In ‘The Conspirators,’ by Christopher Fowler, a meeting in one of the new super hotelsof two senior executives and an expensive whore turns deadly serious. Cynical, dryly witty and Highly Recommended.


From a desert to another wasteland for Mikal Trimm’s  ‘Who’s Gonna Miss You When You’re Gone?’ Desmond is a thirty-something jailbird living with his parents in abject poverty, in a metal shack in the Florida panhandle whose floor is rusting beneath the family. There are no great surprises about the revelation of Desmond’s family secrets, but Trimm handles his protagonist’s redemption with great sensitivity, and in the end uses the stereotypes in his story to work something marvellous. Outstanding.


As is Richard Butner’s ‘Holderhaven’ which is packed with red herrings; prestignatory former Black Panther members, the restoration of an old house built at the turn of the last century and the revelation of its secrets in a leisurely stroll through history and house alike.    


‘Eleven Eleven’ by Cheryl Wood Ruggiero offers a child’s eye view of the symbolism of numbers, a murder, amnesia and revelation, all wrapped in the crypto-logic of childhood: No parents were with her that day, so she assumed that she didn’t have any, which ordinary people have, which was more proof that Alsie was un-ordinary.


Ilsa J. Beck’s terrific ‘Where the Bodies Are’ opens in a wintry Michigan cemetery where the local Jewish population are all buried. Miriam watches from her psychiatrist’s office just across the street; Miriam wasn’t particularly morbid –or Jewish for that matter- and she wasn’t one of those sicko graveyard junkies. Just kept an eye on the place. When her old lover is assigned to the case of a young mother brought into hospital bearing signs of recent childbirth, he and Miriam clash, and they take the first steps toward revelation. Outstanding.


Many of the stories in the book deal with child molestation, abduction and murder. ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ by Cody Goodfellow is perhaps the only one to look at ways of stopping it. Set in a deceptively quiet suburb, the narrator is a retired security guard who, since his wife died five years before maintains a lonely vigil over his neighbours, and shows to what lengths the truly committed will go to protect the innocent.


O’Neil de Noux’s  ‘K Love’ is set in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina and its lesser known successor Hurricane Rita. Jodie Kintyre of the NOPD finds a ‘jumper’ who has thrown himself off a roof. The suicide note in his pocket tells of a crime he has committed. Despite the snappy dialogue and rich scene setting the story doesn’t really work, reading more as a fragment of a longer piece than a self-contained narrative.


Better is ‘Living Arrangements’ by Steve Rasnic Tem. Now an old man reflecting on his inadequacies as a father, Monte is invited by his daughter Lacey to move in with her family.  Monte quickly recognizes new man Pete; Monte had been a guy like Pete, pretty much. Monte guessed if he was healthier, he’d still be a guy like Pete. Pete is a mean drunk, as he demonstrates on Monte, Lacey and grandson Brian one night, but then Lacey unexpectedly offers Monte a shot at redemption.


Prison stories have a long and honourable tradition dating back to Dumas, although Stephen King is probably the chief reason for their resurgence. The latest addition to the sub-genre comes from Alison J. Littlewood, whose ‘4A.M., When The Walls Are Thinnest’ features men driven to seek escape, both from prison and from reality.


Joel Lane’s ‘The Hostess’ extends the theme of ghosts to the literal in this short but chilling tale of a horrific murder in Birmingham in the early 1980s that ends with a clever twist. Highly Recommended.


Luke Sholer’s ‘We Are two Lions’ an assassin agrees to teach his lover his trade, until the pupil begins to eclipse his master; full of twists and double-crosses, it’s clear why Sholer has been Edgar-nominated. The story is as cold and unforgiving as each man’s heart.


Crimewave has established a reputation for high quality crime fiction, sometimes with a hint of the macabre. The ghosts in volume eleven are sometimes symbolic, sometimes literal, but always present. The stories are atmospheric, the settings memorable and the characterization acute. They help make Crimewave Eleven a five-star experience.


• July 1st, 2011 • Posted in Reviews • Comments: 0

All Over The Place

Today is the third Monday of my summer job for this year, and my first week solo: My predecessor -and my trainer for the first two weeks- Heather, has moved on. Suddenly I feel like a tightrope walker who’s had their safety net removed. There are a million and one things to remember, and I’ll be  handling cash, which leaves no margin for error, although there’ll be checks on checks on checks.  

My day the same as in the previous years, and indeed my Mondays over the last university year except that I walk Alice around the park before catching the bus three days a week, and the bus is into Bristol, rather than the bus to Bath. The ride is a lot less interesting or scenic than toward uni, as the traffic crawls along through the crammed streets of Bristol.

Geographically I’m very close to where I worked before; the Abbott’s House is just behind the Eye Hospital, that little building crouching among the surrounding behemoths that loom over it. In many other ways though, it’s a million miles away from previous years.

I’m working in a small office that belongs to Above & Beyond, part of a quasi-autonomous operation that’s staffed by only fifteen people, mostly young, and all enthusiastic, so there’s a definite buzz to the place. They are a charity specifically set up to support the nine (or is it eight? Or ten?) hospitals that make up the United Hospitals of Bristol Trust (or UBHT – the NHS likes its acronyms).

But. This year I’m working 3 full days, from Monday to Wednesday, 9 until 5.30. During that time I’m pretty much offline, so virtually all the jobs that I need to do to keep the business ticking over has to be crammed into four days. And that’s before I start writing.

Three, actually; the last two weekends, we’ve spend part of it away. Last Sunday we went down to the in-laws before hurtling back, while on Saturday, I travelled up to Derby (and back). It’s made it almost impossible to work out a routine, and ironically my one absolutely free day -Thursday- has been spent doing odd little jobs that have become overdue during the intervening three days.

I’m gradually easing toward some sort of routine, but I still feel all over the place, both physically and mentally. Somehow I need to find enough energy in the evenings to sort out some of those niggling, time consuming jobs -like ordering printer catridges or posting parcels- during Monday to Wednesday, either during the evening or in my lunch break.

It’s helped that I’ve managed to sort out some problems with a horror story called ‘Razorbill Island’ that I’ve been bogged down with, and get about two thousand words done over Friday and Saturday, and Alt.Fiction has been put to bed for another week. That went very well from the perspective of entertaining and educating the audience -at least I hope it did!- but book sales were on the floor for everyone, except for those offering one and two pound second-hand books. Dark Spires sold no better than anyone else’s work.

I think it’ll  be some time before I’m completely comfortable with the new routine. Who knows? It may take all of the eleven weeks I’m scheduled to be at Above and Beyond….

• June 27th, 2011 • Posted in General • Comments: 0


News of new reviews, interviews and A Sekrit Project.

This morning seems a good time to round up some on-going stuff, some of which I’ve mentioned in passing recently.

First up, I’ve guest-blogged over at Alathea Kontis’ Genre Chick Interview, which was fun; there are some clues within as to when the interview took place, for the mildly curious.

Secondly, Ian Whates’ anthology Further Conflicts has received its first review, and Warpcore SF had some kind things to say about ‘Occupation,’ my contribution.

Finally, still on the subject of reviews and interviews, I’ve received my first commission from a ‘general’ (as opposed to genre) magazine to interview a fellow writer. Unfortunately, I can’t yet identify them, partly because I’m not sure of the etiquette of announcing thecommission, but also for fear of jinxing it. Let’s just say that I’m absolutely ecstatic at actually getting my first journalism commission! (I’ll reveal all nearer the time – honest)

Until next time.


• May 26th, 2011 • Posted in News • Comments: 0

2010 Nebula Award Winners

The Science Fiction Writers of America have announced the winners and runners-up for the 2010 Nebula Awards:

Best Novel: Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Spectra)

Runners Up:
The Native Star by M.K. Hobson (Spectra)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit UK; Orbit US)
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
Echo by Jack McDevitt (Ace)
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)

Best Novella:

“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window”

by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’10)

Runners Up:
The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi (Audible; Subterranean)
“Iron Shoes” by J. Kathleen Cheney (Alembical 2)
The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)
“The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s 9/10)
“Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance” by Paul Park (F&SF 1-2/10)

Best Novelette:

“That Leviathan Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone (Analog 9/10)

Runners Up:
“Map of Seventeen” by Christopher Barzak (The Beastly Bride)
“The Jaguar House by in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s 7/10)
“The Fortuitous Meeting of Gerard van Oost and Oludara” by Christopher Kastensmidt (Realms of Fantasy 4/10)
“Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s 12/10)
“Pishaach” by Shweta Narayan (The Beastly Bride)
“Stone Wall Truth” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Asimov’s 2/10)

Best Short Story (tie):

“Ponies” by Kij Johnson ( 1/17/10) &

“How Interesting: A Tiny Man” by Harlan Ellison (Realms of Fantasy 2/10)

Runners up:
“Arvies” by Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed 8/10)
“I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno” by Vylar Kaftan (Lightspeed 6/10)
“The Green Book” by Amal El-Mohtar (Apex 11/1/10)
“Ghosts of New York” by Jennifer Pelland (Dark Faith)
“Conditional Love” by Felicity Shoulders (Asimov’s 1/10)

Ray Bradbury Award: Inception

Runners Up:
Despicable Me
Doctor Who:
“Vincent and the Doctor”
How to Train Your Dragon
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Toy Story 3

Andre Norton Award: I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett (Gollancz; Harper)

Runners Up:
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
White Cat by Holly Black (McElderry)
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Press; Scholastic UK)
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch (Amulet)
The Boy from Ilysies by Pearl North (Tor Teen)
A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner (Greenwillow)
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse; Simon & Schuster UK)

There are first Nebula Awards for Rachel Swirsky and Eric James Stone, while Kij Johnson wins a second consecutive Nebula for Best Short Story.

At the other extreme, the Best Novel Award for Connie Willis marks her seventh Nebula, equalling Ursula K. Le Guin’s total, and is Willis’s first in eighteen years, after a fallow decade in the 2000’s. However, her wait for a new award is dwarfed by Harlan Ellison’s, who wins his fourth Nebula for a single work of fiction (as opposed to a Grand Master for a body of work), and his first in thirty-three years.

And the tie for Best Short Story is the Category’s first, the first in any Category in forty-four years, and only the third in Nebula history – the previous two occurred in the first two years of the award’s existence.

In the forty-six years of the Nebula’s history, there have never been five different authors winning Nebulas for specific pieces of fiction (this excludes Bradbury & Andre Norton Awards).

• May 22nd, 2011 • Posted in Awards • Comments: 0

Black Static 22 Reviewed

Black Static for April / May 2011 boasts the usual array of superior fiction, comment, news from Peter Tennant and reviews from Tennant on books, and Tony Lee on horror DVDs and Blu-ray.

Stephen Volk

For whatever reason –and it’s really never explained why- this issue sees the renaming of Volk’s column to ‘Coffinmaker’s Blues.’ Volk talks about humanity’s seemingly innate tendency to create narrative from even neutral symbols, and how the preoccupations of contemporary artists overlap massively with modern horror, and urges the next generation to get into art gallerys more and blog less.

Rarely has the title of Christopher Fowler’s ‘Interference’ column seemed more appropriate than now, as he bemoans the number of gatekeepers in media and the way true creativity has been hijacked by celebrities. There’s more here, if you want to read on..


In the Fiction Section

Alan Wall makes an elegant debut with ‘The Salt of Eliza,’ a novelette that’s only marginally horror, but which is very well written. Journalist Jim is offered an outlandish sum of money by a tycoon to write an article on an elderly hotel owner whom the tycoon believes possesses the secret to –if not immortality, then a very long life.

Credulous. That’s the word that’s been used about me, more than once. Open-minded is the term I prefer. Only credulous people once believed the earth spun round the sun. Only the credulous once thought any human being would ever set foot on the moon….

Wall avoids the obvious narrative route, and rather than throwing in vampires or zombies, the story is less about Peshgau the hotelier than it is about Jim’s reaction to him. Recommended.

Tim Lees

Tim Lees returns after an eighteen month absence with ‘Durgen’s Party,’ which sounds like a Jack Vance pastiche; it’s much darker than that – the party is a sort of seance in which a dead pianist is brought back to ‘life’ to give a recital.

            “I brought her back.”

“They don’t have feelings. They’re like CDs, playing the same old tunes, again and again. Little bundles of mimetic memory…Memory of feelings. Not the real thing. They don’t suffer. Not like us.”

            It’s original, beautifully written, dark without being horrific. Highly Recommended.

 Alison J. Littlewood’s ‘Black Feathers’ uses the mythology of the raven –a bird often associated with bad omens and death- as a symbol to examine the relationship between a  little girl and her brother and their friends.

There was a raven at the edge of the woods. It was huge – even its beak looked as long as Mia’s fingers. She stared at it and Little Davey laughed at her. Mia wrinkled her nose. Little Davey was younger than her by a year, but he wasn’t that little anymore….

Filled with fairy-tale imagery, it’s beautifully written, managing to expertly blend both the fairytale and contemporary aspects. Highly Recommended.

Stephen Pirie

‘This Is Mary’s Moon’ by Stephen Pirie turns out to be the most surprising story of the lot. A low-class prostitute, Mary is pimped by the vile Mrs. Anderson, a madwoman who stabbed Mary’s mother years before, and runs her neighbourhood with cruelty and unrelenting brutality: The last of the neighbours to complain Mrs. Anderson hanged by his bootlaces from the eaves of his shed. Suicide, the Chief Inspector had said, as Mrs. Anderson had led him away to one of her special, younger girls – a first-timer just  to the Chief Inspector’s taste.  But from the grim chrysalis of Pirie’s opening, something quite lovely appears, about which it’s impossible to say any more without spoiling it. So just read it, it’s Outstanding.

Simon Kurt Unsworth rings the changes on the theme of dead children and bereavement with ‘Child,’ a short but poignant conclusion to the fiction section. Like the Littlewood, Unsworth’s narrative trajectory never takes the form I expected, and it’s all the better for it. Outstanding.


Peter Tenant interviews Stephen Pirie and reviews his new novel, Burying Brian, while the other Case Notes feature chapbooks from Joe R. Lansdale, Ramsey Campbell and Gary McMahon, plus three anthologies; Dark Minds Press offer the eponymous Dark Minds, The End of the Line is published by Solaris, while Tor provide an American perspective in Nick Mamatas and Ellen Datlow’s Haunted Legends.

Tony Lee reviews DVDs and Blu-Rays, with Gareth Edwards’ Monsters, Dario Argento’s Phenomena and the Irish Savage sounding the most promising titles.

Another superior issue of a superior magazine: Black Static continues to surprise, and to delight.

• May 18th, 2011 • Posted in Reviews • Comments: 2

Monday Morning Anthology Update

Another Monday has rolled around, but I don’t have to be on campus on 1pm, so with the last assignment finished, I’m free to turn my attention back to writing and editing.

I have a feeling that I rather buried the appearance of my story ‘Dark’ in Fearology when I posted Saturday’s blog. So, to repeat — I have a new story out!

I know a couple of the other contributors, having reviewed Gustavo Bondoni’s excellent but off-beat work in Albedo One, and Camille Alexa is another name I’m familiar  with, so I’m looking forward – now I have some time- to reading it.

And on the subject of Aeon Press, (as well as publishing Transtories, my latest anthology, they also publish Albedo One) I’ve been pulling together bios and chasing overdue revisions, so I’m hoping to post an update about Transtories, very soon. Who knows, maybe even some cover art….

• May 16th, 2011 • Posted in Books • Comments: 0


I’m onto the last section of the first draft of my Text Analysis  for Genre – just crime left to do now. The downside is that I’m already 400 words over target, despite cutting the SF section down to the bone (I cut it from 1300 to 900 words, barely enough to cover all the points, one of Anthony’s priorities). I’ve spent close to 30 hours on this damned paper…

But I had a nice surprise this morning; by a lovely piece of synchronicity, as I was working on the horror section, the postman came. Kate put a parcel on the table, which I opened…to reveal…(drum roll)

A new horror anthology.

And I’m in it. I write very little horror, but I do like to keep my hand in. And I’m second on the Table of Contents, with ‘Dark, which is rather nice.’ You can obtain copies from here.

• May 13th, 2011 • Posted in Books • Comments: 0