Black Static Twenty-Four – Aug-Sep 2011
by Andy Cox
Edited by Andy Cox
Cover Artist: Ben Baldwin
Review by Sam Tomaino
TTA Press ISBN/ITEM#: 1753-0709
Date: 28 August 2011
Links: Black Static / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
Black Static #24 is here with some great stuff and one from a master of the genre.
Our reading begins with "Dermot" by Simon Bestwick. The title character is a creepy man who is a special informant for a branch of the police called officially, Special Projects, but derisively, Special Needs. Abbie and Carnegie work for the department and get information about a nest of monsters from Dermot. When the tip pans out and the monsters are killed, Dermot gets his reward. I won't spoil the horror of this but it will certainly get to you. The issue starts off strong.
"A Summer's Day" by K. Harding Stalter is a truly bizarre story, even for this magazine. Our unnamed narrator begins the tale by telling us his names for the doctor's instruments. The setting is an amphitheater in which a doctor shows students medical techniques. Our narrator tells us their names. Macintosh is "long and thin with a razor edge". Kelsey is "blunt and rough". The twins, Carmichael and McKinsey, are "two slender, straight bars of metal". And so on. Who is our narrator is where the real strangeness and horror is in yet another unique, enthralling piece of writing.
The next story is by Ramsey Campbell and I actually read that one last because I knew it would be the best in the issue. I was right. "Recently Used" begins with a man named Charles Tunstall woken up by the ringing of the telephone. On the line is someone calling from his wife's cell phone to inform him that she has fallen down an escalator. He is told that she is being brought to the hospital. He rushes there and starts the search for her room. As he rushes down hallway after hallway, our unease increases and we notice that there seems to be something else happening. This perfectly catches the anxiety the man feels. One can only assume that Campbell, married to Jenny Chandler for 40 years, could really understand this man’s anxiety and that comes through in the story.
The "Still Life" in Simon McCaffrey's stories is not fruit, but dead bodies. Jeff has photographed many of them from wars. He got started during the first Gulf War when the took a picture of a blown-up enemy truck in which two of its passengers had been blown to bits and the third burnt to a crisp. After he took the pictures, he saw a huge jackal nearby, looking at him. It became an obsession with him to show the true horrors of war. His wife, Linda, calls him a ghoul and leaves him. Then, he finds Rachel Callot who is fascinated by his work. I won't tell how this one concludes but it's pretty nasty. This one was anything but subtle but truly horrific.
Last of all, there's "How the Sixties Ended" by Tim Lees is a brief, poignant piece about a man looking back and remembering his childhood friend, Gary He perfectly captures the time and what it was like to have a best friend. I really can't say much more except that this was a beautiful finish for the issue.
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