Sunday, March 28, 2010

Black Static #15

Black Static #15
(TTA Press)

British magazine Black Static continues to print high quality stories, adding to the fiction section a solid non-fiction one. Book reviews by Peter Tennant have breadth and versatility, and the Tony Lee section about latest movie releases on DVD and Blu-ray wins over both the quality and quantity. A little frustrating thing is that a sufficient number of low-budget films mentioned in the review is only available for British film fans.

The main part of the magazine is fiction. 5 stories of different levels authors, from the already those who have a few published books, and those who have never before been published. The beginning of this issue is James Cooper with the brutal novelette «Eight Small Men» from his forthcoming book. The two brothers who had grown up (one of them is the narrator) are going after so many years to visit the house of his stepfather to remember that they have experienced many years ago. This "memory of the past" method does not add anything to the story but helps to set pauses in the right places in the strained narrative. Cooper is able to catch up with horror, accurate in psychology, he has a good style. Brutal-viscous prose is the meat, which makes the story tasty and juicy. However, the «Eight Small Men» is more naturalistic mainstream story than horror. The ending, only in which horror element does occur, is somewhat far-fetched, and eight small men - it is still deus ex machine. However, such turn does not disappoint. Everything defines the atmosphere and the tone. (Review of the coming out soon in Atomic Fez book by James Cooper «The Beautiful Red», which includes the «Eight Small Men», will be soon.)

«Maximum Darkness» by the newcomer Alan Scott Laney is not a bad sketch about the power of books over people and obsession. The author has the ability to construct the plot, write proper atmosphere, but the heroes of the story, the brother and the sister, are stilted to details, and the writer fails to draw on the story on the heroes, already not too original. This is a weak story by the author which later seems to be able to write better.

«Babylon's Burning» by Daniel Kaysen is a great example of humor and horror in one bottle (just horror and humor, not humorous horror). The elder brother who works in an office with doubtful activities related to witchcraft calls young one to the party. He was stubborn at first, but then, after learning about the opportunity to have sex with girls working in the company, agrees. With one of them, Evelyn, they look circus show with cutting off hands, but it is more terrible: hand cut off for real.
Kaysen mixes black humor, ancient curses, the elements of noir in the proportions that make the story is a good entertainment.

The ending of the issue is «Death By Water» by Sarah Singleton. Succeeding in creating an atmosphere of despair, the author seems to have forgotten to diversify the plot, making it a mere formality. Ian, who lost a year ago his wife, is looking for a medium that could give him a chance to have last talk with his wife. Ian should pass three mediums, each of them carefully and lovingly written out, eclipsing the narrator. However, except for throwing and suffering of the hero, we do not see more in the story. Ian would still be able to talk to his wife, but in the title there is the word “water” for a purpose - at the end of the story too much of it, so that the effect of neatly written out the characters and a dark embankment unfortunately washed away.

We should watch for further works by James Cooper and Daniel Kaysen.

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