Black Static Twenty-Three – June-July 2011
Edited by Andy Cox
Review by Sam Tomaino
TTA Press Magazine ISBN/ITEM#: 1753-0709
Date: 27 June 2011
Links: Black Static / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
Black Static #23 is here with more of today's best horror fiction..
Our reading begins with "Time Keeping" by V.H. Leslie had a fine opening, "Time waits for no man. But Howard wasn't any man and Time would wait if it had to." Howard is a man who is obsessed with keeping time and has a special room in his house in which he does so by a series of hour glasses. He must turn them on a regular schedule and only can be absent from his house for two hours a day. Things change when he meets Helen who he lets into his world. This gradually builds into a classic kind of horror, both familiar and new.
In "Hail" by Daniel Kaysen, our narrator meets a mysterious foreign woman during a hail storm. She takes him back to her place and, even though she seems very cold, they make love so special that their two souls become one. She, then, asks him to leave and he goes home. Now, he can't warm up. He finds he is under a curse with only one way out. But that is not easily done. Kaysen gives us a very different but very unsettling tale here.
"Electric Dreams" by Carol Johnstone is set in London's Underground where an unusual young man named Eli rides train after train. He meets many people who ask him to do different things for them. We learn more about his special powers and how he wants to use them, in, yet another great story in this issue.
"The Harvesting of Jackson Cade" by Robert Davies is the winner of the World Horror Convention 2011/Black Static Short Story Contest. Jackson Cade awakes to discover that some group called the Harvesters had taken his right lung overnight. This wasn't the first time this had happened. Months ago on one of a hot August day, the kind "that made you want to punch your mother in the mouth." (Huh?), he noticed his liver was missing. In a totally unrelated event, his wife Sheila abruptly left him. More body parts disappear and somehow Jackson stays alive. The only way to interpret this is as a descent into madness and it's reasonably effective that way. However, it seems to rely a bit too much on gross out for the usual standards of this magazine.
The fiction concludes with "For Their Own Ends" by Joel Lane. Barry, recently unemployed, is suddenly stricken by a heart attack and winds up in a very curious hospital. He can't seem to get any answers, or even get looked at by a doctor. We are told that the story "was written in response to the current Government's White Paper on health policy". Even though that refers to the United Kingdom, it's easy enough to see what the author is driving at. That's because the story is a bit too obvious and polemical for its own good.
Whatever issues I had with two of the stories does not detract from my enjoyment of this issue of Black Static. In addition to the stories, the usual fascinating articles and reviews are one of the things I like best about the magazine. Subscribe!