Murky Depths #4
Edited by Terry Martin
Cover Artist: Vincent Chong
Review by Sam Tomaino
Murky Depths ISBN/ITEM#: 1752-5586
Date: 23 June 2008
Links: Publisher's Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The new issue of Murky Depths, sub-titled The Quarterly Anthology of Graphically Dark Speculative Fiction is #4 and has its usual mixed bag of stories and art.
After the serialized story, "Dark Gospel" by Luke Cooper (which I will skip for now), the fiction in the issue begins with "Saint Darwin's Spirituals" by D.K. Thompson. This is a Jack the Ripper type story but it has a different twist. It takes place in an alternate universe in which in addition to having written "The Origin of the Species", Charles Darwin (now a Saint) wrote "The Origin of the Spirits", revealing the presence of ghosts and other supernatural creatures. All this makes for a very well-told tale. "Michael A Pignatella's "Miracle" features Elliot Harris who is dying of cancer. He has given up all hope but has a dream that he must go to Ecuador to fulfill some sort of destiny. To afford it, he must turn over his life insurance policy to a disreputable company. Pignatella weaves a nice story that has some surprises.
A graphic story, "Rex the Dog" by Mur Lafferty and Dan Gardner gives us a fun take on the classic basic reader story. In Edward Morris' "First Aid", a man suffers from an unusual plague and Morris very effectively portrays his suffering. "Flave's Formula" by Jason Palmer features a man who goes to great lengths to build up his body in a remarkably chilling tale.
Louise Cypher's "The Man With the Hologram Face" is a brief but well-done look at Peter, who has suffered a horrible disfigurement. While there is a way to compensate for this, Peter's mutilation is more than just skin-deep. "Warped", a graphic story from James Johnson and Leonardo M. Giron gives us a very difficult rescue mission with a very disturbing conclusion.
Next comes "Paternoster Blues" by Richard Barber. A "paternoster" is a type of elevator that seems to be an open "cubicle" on which people just step on as it rises. After that one rises, another follows in a continuous loop. This is the way students get from one floor to the other in a classroom building. Garry is, for some reason, afraid of what will happen to him if he gets on this "lift". Barber is a talented storyteller and has a good one to tell here.
C.S. MacGrath's "Casting Sin" is something of a disappointment. Hedea is a woman who must suffer some torment for sin in a story too brief to really generate any interest or believability. Also, too brief is "Day Boy" by Trent Jamieson. Our narrator is a "Day Boy", some sort of lackey for a powerful man who rules a town. When his master is found dead, he must take action. As I said, the story is too brief to get a real sense of his world.
The issue concludes with another graphic story, "The Visitor" by R.D. Hall and Dennis Pacher. This one is a scary little story about where real horror lies.
All in all, Murky Depths is a good little horror magazine. If you like a mix of art and story, this is for you.
From: Terry Martin