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Black Static Twenty-Five Oct-Nov 2011
Edited by Andy Cox
Cover Artist: Rik Rawling & Ben Baldwin
Review by Sam Tomaino
TTA Press  ISBN/ITEM#: 1753-0709
Date: 28 November 2011

Links: Black Static / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

Black Static #25 is here with new stories by Allison Littlewood, Christopher Fowler, Ray Cluley, Barbara A. Barnett, and Nathaniel Tapley together with the usual fascinating articles and reviews.

Black Static #25 is another issue that shows why its the best horror magazine on the market.

The first story is "About the Dark" by Allison Littlewood. Adam is new to the area and doesn't know the legends about Dark Cave. His girlfriend, Sasha tells him of people who enter the dark of the cave and do not return. She and his friend, Fuzz, quite understandably, do not want to hang out there. But Adam is attracted to it and has a different view of the place. Is his the correct one? That can be left up to the reader in this quite, chilling tale.

It's always a treat to get a short story by one of my favorite writers, Christopher Fowler and "The Curtain Rises" is him at his best. June Cryer is spending the night at a friend of a friend. It's the type of apartment complex that men own to have trysts in. The power goes out for twelve hour intervals and the owner of the place has valuable paintings that he wants someone to keep an eye on. June meets a man named Doctor Elliot who tells her about the place. They part and June witnesses something which tells her more. Fowler is a master of that quite kind of unsettling horror and this is a good example of it.

In Ray Cluley's "The Travellers Stay", Matt has been on the road with his wife and stepson and needs to stop for the night. He finds a run down place called Travellers Stay and decides to stay there. His wife and stepson aren't happy about it and their disdain is borne out by the cockroaches they see as soon as they enter the room. Matt steps out to get some food and has a conversation with the woman who runs the place. When he returns, the real horror starts. This one wasn't subtle but is sure was effective.

You might think "The Holy Spear" by Barbara A. Barnett is just another zombie plague story but this one is different. Since the plague hit, Eric and his family have been part of group holed up in an apartment building fighting an endless fight against the zombie horde. Eric has just become a casualty by becoming infected. They, justifiably, won't let him back in. He leaves, seeing a poster for an opera production of Parsifal that he was supposed to sing in before Plague Day hit. The next day, he awakes and is surprised to find that he still has a mind. A zombie horde passes him by, ignoring him. A woman tells him that he has a special immunity and he will not become a zombie even though ht is infected. Her name is Indira and she takes him to a hospital with other people like him. She is working on a cure. Eric is pessimistic and leaves on his own mission. The way this story ends is what distinguishes it from the standard zombie tale and makes it worth reading.

The fiction ends with the brief epistolary piece "Best.Summer.Ever" by Nathaniel Tapley. The letter that makes the story is addressed to "Mr David Prosser, BSC (Hons), CEO, Sunbucket Holidays", some sort of resort. We realize quickly that it is being written by a man who is of limited intelligence, hired to wear a foam crab's head to lead a conga line around the pool. It's obvious some of the staff take advantage of him. He is stressed out. How stressed becomes apparent in the second half of the story. This one build nicely to its horrifying conclusion.

I'll say it Black Static, Best.Magazine.Ever!

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