Black Static Twenty-Nine – Jul/Aug 2012
Edited by Andy Cox
Cover Artist: Ben Baldwin
Review by Sam Tomaino
TTA Press Magazine ISBN/ITEM#: 1753-0709
Date: 26 August 2012
Links: Black Static / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The fiction begins with "Sunshine" by Nina Allan. This is a first-person narrative, told by someone who is not human, but a member of a race called the hirudin. They feed on human blood and are the basis of the legends about vampires, but have none of the supernatural mythos. They are (mostly) born, not made, and our narrator has been on his own since he tried to rape his mother when he was eight-years old. Hirudin can live around 200 years and feel superior to the humans they feed on. Our narrator kills about 10 people a year, slashing their throats and drinking their blood in the midst of sexual intercourse. Our narrator tells us about one time, some fifty years in the past, when he developed feelings for a human woman named Margaret. There he encounters another horror in this very unsettling tale.
"Horseman" by Renee Carter Hall features an unnamed man who is watching his late wife, Katie's, horse give birth. The birth is not an easy one and the mare, named Carolina, dies. The foal is not a normal pony. The description demon-spawn might apply. At first, the man is horrified but, as we learn the details of his wife's death, we understand what is going to happen. Another tale, briefly but effectively told.
"Chodpa" by Baph Tripp is, we are told, a "first published work of fiction". It, too, is told by an unnamed narrator. He has become bored with his dead-end job and just leaves it. He travels to an unnamed country to just live there until his money runs out. There he encounters some strange people, a strange edifice that seems to be a crematorium with memorial markers, and some truly strange bugs. It's these bugs, of course, that he has the most trouble with. The story does a good job of generating a real sense of unease.
"Shark! Shark!" By Ray Cluley is told in what they call a meta style. The narrator speaks to us directly, telling us that a husband-and-wife director team, who he says to call Bobby and Sheila are directing a shark movie called "Shark! Shark!". We are told some of the details of the movie and about its stars. Then, the stars are brutally murdered while they are in their hotel room, making love. What will Bobby and Sheila do now? That's not what is really interesting about this story and the solution to the murder is a real hoot. All this works well because of the style the story is told in.
The fiction concludes with "The Counterweight" by Tim Lees. Sophie is a twenty-six year old woman, recovering from a busted relationship. She is doing okay, part-time teaching in an adult school where her students are older than her. It is there where she meets and develops a relationship with Barry, an older man who seems to be in decline. But things change. She gets sick and he seems to be healthier. Even though their relationship isn't sexual, it's not healthy and an all-too-familiar name is applied to Barry. The ending is a good one and not a cliché and makes for a good end to this fine issue.
I like the new format of Black Static and like the longer stories, too. It still has the great features, too! It seems they are planning some "TTA Novells", to be published separately. I hope they send me review copies so I can review them. Meanwhile, subscribe to Black Static!