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Black Static, Issue 25, November 2011
Black Static, Issue 25, November 2011
Black Static
Black Static is the new title for The Third Alternative, which was founded in 1994. With the arrival of Interzone in 2005, it was no longer necessary to publish science fiction and fantasy in The Third Alternative, so TTA Press took the opportunity to focus on its darker side and give the magazine a new title to emphasise the slight shift, and give potential readers a clearer idea of what the magazine was all about.

Black Static

A review by Sandra Scholes

This time around, Black Static Issue 25 boasts of reviews of new novels, anthologies, collections and even novellas plus DVD and Blu-ray reviews and give-aways of free copies. There is a lot of information packed into a sixty-four page issue that tests the boundaries of the unusual, fantastic and truly horrific.

The leading story in this month's fiction section is Alison Littlewood's "About the Dark," where Adam sees his mates inside a dark cave, as it was away from the truant officers who had dragged him back to school so many times before. He doesn't like to come but it is away from possible trouble, yet once the darkness comes, it changes his life forever. Alison Littlewood evokes a dark fantasy story that pulls together all the fears and pain that one boy can feel in such a time.

"The Curtain Parts," by Christopher Fowler is about June encountering a man when the lights go out in an apartment building and he asks her into his own apartment. She feels as though she has been brought into a whole new world, but it isn't one she will mention to others. Consider the artwork of the story by Vincent of the bull's head, and the tinge of Greek mythology. Christopher Fowler, as most can tell, creates an intriguing story without effort and make it into one with an edge of danger that brings out the fear element in any reader.

"The Traveller's Stay," by Ray Cluley has Matt coming to a motel in search of a bed for the night and sustenance for his family. This story relies upon the mystery of the characters, the unusual appearance of unmentionable entities, and the final transformation that, in a dream sequence, amounts to what some would think as a 'gross-out' ending.

Articles and reviews are provided by Stephen Volk with his usual section where he discovers the issue of the spirit world in movies these days, a theme used often in the credit crisis. Christopher Fowler's "Interference," column has the subject of what 'foreign' is. Is it that which we don't understand, or something we fear when we are out of our comfort zone? Mike O'Driscoll's "Night's Plutonian Shore," recounts how the body of horror writers these days have concentrated on the darkest of all emotions and situations in human history, and how such as Samuel R. Delany, Stephen King, and J.G. Ballard were inspired to create narrative-driven stories and novels about the decline of civilization.

Further book reviews are in "Case Notes," by Peter Tennant who directs Toby Venables's "Victory Dead," Daniel Mills's "Revenants," Jacques Cargottes's "The Devil In Here," and Jasper Kent's "The Third Section." Many of the novels are a social comment and show how emotional horror has become over the years. All the novels mentioned are recent.

One section of the magazine stands out from the rest in "White Noise," by Peter Tennant who mentions the London Horror Festival, Slipstream Stories, "Nitrospective," and the World Fantasy Convention. Writers and readers of science fiction and horror could gain quite a lot from this issue and many more to come.

Copyright © 2012 Sandra Scholes

Sandra Scholes looks out at the lovely sunshine, but knows it's a mirage -- when she gets out it's freezing. Damn you, vile mirage! She's currently doing some reviews for Love Vampires and The Chronicles, and some articles for Love Romance Passion.

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