Weird Tales – April/May 2007
by Stephen H. Segal (Ed.)
Edited by Stephen H. Segal
Cover Artist: Anita Zofia Siuda
Review by Sam Tomaino
Wildside Press ISBN/ITEM#: 0898-5073
Date: 24 May 2007
Links: Magazine Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
Well, I could see from the cover that this was a very different issue of Weird Tales. It's got a new logo (which I don't care for) and it promises "Gothic Fantasy & Phantasmagoria For the 21st Century". The new editor talks about how "revolutionary" the magazine was at its inception and promises something true to "Weird Tales' classic spirit. He makes much of the fact that seven of the nine authors are new to the magazine. Just being "new" is not necessarily good and this issue is a very mixed bag. Five of the nine stories got a Very Good from me and while that's technically a winning percentage, it's not much to boast about.
The first story is "Mary Smith" by Paul E. Martens in which a man convinces his friends to help him kill the (supposedly) 3000-year-old woman who somehow lives with his family and may be related to him. I found the characters in this story just silly and the premise unconvincing. I liked the next story, "Faraji" by Will Ludwigsen. Dean is a prisoner in an African jail. He is joined by another man named Faraji who can see the future. Faraji tells him a fantastic story about how his rescue is imminent. I also liked Richard Parks' "The Man Who Carved Skulls". It's set in what I assume is some primitive fantasy culture in which, when people die, their skulls are put on display after they have had great designs carved in them. The man who is the village's "skull carver" has promised his wife that he will carve a beautiful design in her skull when she dies. But what happens if he dies first?
Next comes "Six Scents" by Lisa Mantchev. This consists of six vignettes called "Numb", "Wicked", "Zombi", "Bliss", "Lurid" and "Shattered." These were supposed inspired by actual fragrances but I found them a bore. I liked "Working Out Our Salvation" by Trent Hergenrader, set in a mining community of long ago. Charley Morrel is a dedicated miner who doesn't even let death stop him from doing his job. Veteran writer Scott William Carter contributes "Directions to Mourning's Deep", a nice little short-short about how to deal with the loss of a loved one.
"Wake 2041" by Douglas Kolacki was my favorite story in the issue. An old woman stumbles upon the wake of a man who had no friends. His only mourners are previous versions of himself, travelling through time. This one had a very clever and wonderful ending. The last two stories were ones I did not care for. Kurt Newton's "The Release" is the story of an old insect whom is tired of life. In "Spider Comes Home", a young man named Dia hears tribal stories of "Spider" and goes out to find the truth in them.
As far as the rest of the issue was concerned, I liked the new "Wierdism" feature, a somewhat real-life occurrence. Darrell Schweitzer has a good interview with George R.R. Martin and an interesting take on Franz Kafka. I was unimpressed with the artwork on the cover and throughout the magazine. The main problem is that there was really none of the gothic horror that I enjoy this magazine for. I hope that changes.