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Black Static Seventeen - June/July 2010
Edited by Andy Cox
Cover Artist: Ben Baldwin
Review by Sam Tomaino
TTA Press  ISBN/ITEM#: 1753-0709
Date: 26 June 2010

Links: TTA Press / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

Black Static #17 is here with new stories by Suzanne Palmer, Vylar Kaftan, Daniel Kaysen, and John Shirley, ten very short stories as part of The Campaign for Real Fear (selected by Chris Fowler & Maura McHugh and featuring stories by Gemma Files, Kaaron Warren, Alan Morgan, Janos Honkonen, James Burt, Catherine MacLeod, Christine Emmett, Jennifer Williams, Mary Elizabeth Burroughs and Katherine Hughes), together with the usual fascinating articles and reviews.

Black Static is here with #17 with more good stories and the results of The Campaign for Real Fear

The stories in this issue begin with 10 stories of 500 words or less chosen by Chris Fowler and Maureen McHugh as part of The Campaign for Real Fear. Stories this short are not really served well by summarizing. I'll just say that they were all quite good and list the titles: "Copy Degradation" by Gemma Files, "The Rude Little Girl" by Kaaron Warren, "Nice One Truly" by Alan Morgan, "On the Beaten Path" by Janos Honkonen, "In the Night Supermarket" by James Burt, "Shades of Blue" by Catherine MacLeod, "This Is Mung" by Christine Emmett, "The Price" by Jennifer Williams, "The Flinchfield Diaries" by Mary Elizabeth Burroughs and "Sanctuary" by Katherine Hughes. I will be looking forward to he next batch.

There are four regular stories in the issue, too. In "Zombie Cabana Boy" by Suzanne Palmer, Marilou is a widow whose dull husband, Gerald, died suddenly during dinner. She quickly sells his used car business and moves to an island in some undisclosed setting where she enjoys sunsets and something else. She meets Helen and Roberta, like her women of a certain age, and becomes involved in their business: raising young men who have died and making them zombie lovers. The sex itself is fantastic and Marilou enjoys the service and becomes one of the managers of the business. Things are going great (for her, anyway) until she gets too personally involved with one of the zombies. This was quite sleazy and nasty but also very unsettling.

Vylar Kaftan's "Three-Legged Bird" features Jin-Sook, a young woman from Korea who has become enslaved as a prostitute in San Francisco. Life is pretty bad and she owes so much money to her enslavers that she will never get free, when an odd looking bird hits against a high window above the door. It is resting on a ledge and Jin-Sook cannot tell if it is dead or alive. It seems to have three legs and her friend, Ha-Neul, says that it is a samjogo, a sun-bird, a magical creature. Jin-Sook becomes obsessed with the bird and dreams of escape. This was a dark, effective tale with the real horror being Jin-Sook's life.

"The Lady in the Tigris" by Daniel Kaysen features Anthony, a young man who is convinced that people who die in hospitals are cremated. The smoke goes up a chimney where the particles from it are caught by aerials on top of police stations. They are then reconstituted to become policemen. There is also a story hitting the airwaves that aliens have landed on the moon. Anthony is convinced he can find answers to both these things and the war in Iraq through an old trading card game he played as a kid. He comes home to look for them in the attic but is convinced they have been changed as part of a conspiracy. All this leads to a horrifying conclusion that makes for a very unsettling story.

Last of all, there's "Faces in Walls" by veteran writer, John Shirley. Douglas is a young man who is, nonetheless, a permanent patient at the Wemberley Geriatric Sanitarium. A virus and seizures have left him virtually completely paralyzed and he lies in bed all day. His care is indifferent and, worse yet, he is the victim of sexual abuse. He begins to communicate with a ghost named Bethany to find a way out of his situation. Shirley is a real pro and this story is the best of the issue.

Once more, I recommend that you subscribe to Black Static!

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