Book review: Black Static #56

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‘Black Static’ is a magazine that has been on my reading radar for some time. Time doesn’t always allow for one to read everything one wants unfortunately and it wasn’t until this current issue (#56) that The Grim Reader managed to peruse and enjoy its contents.

Suffice to say, ‘Black Static’ is indeed a high-quality publication, particularly from a fiction point-of-view. Let’s get a little negative out-of-the-way first and foremost. I wasn’t keen on the opening two non-fiction pieces. I quite enjoyed the article by Lynda E. Rucker but the second piece was more of a ramble and I soon found I lost interest. It was really the stories I was interested in and they certainly didn’t disappoint!

The fiction is, after all, where ‘Black Static’ will ultimately be judged. The editors have a reputation as being hard nuts to crack, from the point of view of the many authors that have tried (and often failed) to get published inside of its pages. Having now read the magazine I feel I am halfway to understanding the sort of dark fiction the editors are looking for. Each piece contains a shimmering dark quality to it. Not the in-your-face style storytelling, but a much quieter approach where tension and atmosphere take centre stage. ‘The Green Eye’ by Scott Nicolay was a very interesting way to get things going. A sort of weird coming-of-age tale that ends rather abruptly before Nicolay then goes on to tell his own personal tale and how some real-life influences impacted on the story. It shouldn’t really work, but it does, really well, and I actually found Nicolay’s own insights to be absorbing and interesting, even more so than the fictitious piece itself. The story by Eric Shaller is a fine, fine piece of supernatural fiction, one that oozes quality in an atmospheric and haunting story that is sure to be remembered once finished. Similarly, with the tale from Danny Rhodes, a story that broods and simmers with quiet unease as a father and son embark upon a camping trip. This story, whilst only short asks many questions. It’s beautifully written and I loved it. An emotional story by Eugenia M. Triantafyllou follows and I am beginning to see why this magazine is so revered.

The rest of the stories have an equal amount of quality to them, leaving this reader very happy indeed. Elsewhere, an in-depth interview with Stephen Volk and some book/movie reviews work well to break things up.

‘Black Static’ has cemented itself at the very top of the dark fiction tree with its impressive stories. As a whole the magazine is skilfully put together, well-edited and the accompanying artworks are superb. I just wish I hadn’t left it so long to discover this great magazine.

4.5/5 stars

Pick up a copy from here.

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