Black Static #29 Jul-Aug 2012 (magazine review).

There are some who will wonder if there is any point in reviewing a magazine at this distance from the publication date. In the case of some that would be a fair comment as the contents date rapidly but in the case of anything that contains fiction stories can remain current. There are collectors of magazines containing the early stories of authors that later become extremely popular and collectable. While many weekly magazines disappear from the shelves on the publication of the next issue, ‘Black Static’ has the range of issues available on-line.

Nina Allan is already gaining recognition, having been nominated for and won awards for her fiction. The story here ‘Sunshine’ is a vampire story with a difference. There are a number of denizens of the natural world which feed on blood. One of these is the leech. Imagine if, at the same time as mammals were developing intelligence, the leeches’ evolution was running on parallel lines. Daniel is hirudin. In ‘Sunshine’ he describes what it is like to be him and the relationship he developed with a human.

A number of stories in this issue explore an animal theme. ‘Horseman’ by Renee Carter Hall begins with a mare struggling to give birth. The unnamed lead character is unable to help. It was his dead wife’s horse and he is unsure what to do. The colt, when born, survives its mother but is a monstrous creature. Consider that the mounts of the four horsemen of the apocalypse had to come from somewhere. This colt grows rapidly to become a black stallion. This is a clever, subtle story.

The creatures of Baph Tripp’s story ‘Chodpa’ are more insectile. The narrator does something that many of us consider at one time or another and usually don’t. He chucks in his job and flies off to a remote place where no-one knows who he is and without leaving a forwarding address. Where he ends up is pot-luck. The place seems fine at first until he starts noticing the insects. This is not a story for anyone who has a phobia of creepy-crawlies, especially those that resemble cockroaches.

‘Shark! Shark!’ by Ray Cluley, continues the animal theme of this issue. This story was the winner of the BFS Short Story Award for 2013. The central theme is a couple trying to make a horror movie involving sharks that is different from ‘Jaws’. It pokes fun at the movie business while managing to surprise the reader with its ending.

‘Counterweight’ by Tim Lees is the exception in that there is no animal theme, just animalistic behaviour. When Sophie first meets Barry she finds him distasteful. He is, though, a kind of vampire in that he sucks from her her good luck. As her life deteriorates, his improves. As the title suggests, it is a story about balance.

All issues of ‘Black Static’ also contain two articles pertinent to the horror field, here by Christopher Fowler and Stephen Volk as well as book and film reviews. As ever, the magazine showcases the artwork of several artists. It is worth getting back numbers of Black Static and, in this case, if only for Ray Cluley’s story.

Pauline Morgan

June 2019

(bi-monthly 96 page magazine: UK publisher/editor address: Andy Cox, TTA Press, 5 Martins Lane, Witcham, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB6 2LB. Price: £ 3.95 (UK). ISSN: 1753-0709)

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