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Black Static #1 – September 2007 by Andy Cox
Edited by Andy Cox
Cover Artist: David Gentry
Review by Sam Tomaino
TTA Press  ISBN/ITEM#: 1753-0709
Date: 25 November 2007

Links: Magazine Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

After a two-year delay, Black Static #1, the successor to The Third Alternative arrives with fiction by Simon Avery, Jamie Barras, Daniel Bennett, M.K. Hobson, Joel Lane and Tim Casson, along with a number of fine reviews and articles.

About two years ago, Interzone's sister publication , The Third Alternative ended with the promise that it would soon be replaced by Black Static, a new, darker magazine. The issue has finally arrived. Was it worth the wait? Yes and no, the stories are something of a mixed bag.

The issue's fiction starts off very promising with "Bury the Carnival" by Simon Avery. Set in some time unclear, in a (presumably) European country, dominated by "Purtians", the story centers on a woman reporter for an underground magazine who interviews a man who has run afoul of the authorities. Charousek is a carver of marionettes who produces controversial plays. The "Puritans" have released him from prison, but why? The reporter meets Jaromir, the "son" of Charousek who appears to be carved from wood. What Charousek has been doing, his current plans and the feelings the reporter develops for Jaromir make for a great story.

This is followed by "Pale Saints and Madonnas" by Jamie Barras, which I thought Very Good, set in a Brazil beset by a constant rain. What is the reason for this curse and how things turn out make for a nice, atmospheric tale. Daniel Bennett's "Acton Undream" follows. This concerns two men who experiment with anti-cancer drugs to produce dreams that could change reality. The experiment does not turn out well in a story I found okay but worth reading. I cannot say the same for "Votary" by M.K. Hobson. Votary is a young girl whose father is immensely fat and cannot move. Her mother keeps him fed. The rest of the story just did not work for me.

"My Stone Desire" by Joel Lane concerns a policeman's memory of an area under an old bridge where he used to make love to an old girlfriend. He notices some odd black substance, both in his apartment and at this site. What is going on makes for another story that I just found okay. However, the issue recovers nicely with "Lady of the Crows" by Tim Casson. Grigori Voryzek, a theater manager and former actor has tried to ignore his theater's current production of a play about a woman who murdered two of her husbands and almost murdered a third. The play stars a former lover of his and Voryzek had played the third husband to her murderess years ago. He hasn't seen her in years but events intervene to change things in a beautiful story which I also rate as Very Good.

So was this issue worth waiting for? Based on the first, second and last stories, I'll say yes. The issue is worth picking up.

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