This is only my second issue of Black Static magazine. I was impressed with the previous issue and this one is equally delightful, perhaps even more so thanks to some excellent long fiction. Black Static always goes all out with its cover art and interior illustrations. They work with some of the best graphic designers in the business and the pictures often add extra depth to the stories. It is a beautifully put together publication.
After two non-fiction pieces we jump into Ralph Robert Moore’s story about a magician and his stage partner (a monkey) called ‘Will You Accept These Flowers From Me?’, the pair travel across the US searching for that big break; the gig that will take them to the next level. This is one of those stories where you aren’t really sure where the horror is going to come from. However, When the magician buys a top hat to add to their show they soon find out that magic is very real and that what goes into the hat doesn’t necessarily reflect what comes out. This is a fine, fine tale. I really enjoyed it. The relationship between the magician and his monkey is really quite nice and the ending to this one made me even sadder after everything that had come before between the two. Excellent stuff and a very strong start. I will be reading more from Ralph Robert Moore.
Simon Avery’s tale ‘Sunflower Junction’ was another winner. A man comes into possession of a CD called ‘Sunflower Junction’ by Hugo Lawrence, given to him by his junkie neighbour downstairs – a strange and trippy, Grateful Dead sounding piece of music that when heard takes the listener on a journey. What happened to Lawrence after the recording of this piece of music? Our narrator seeks to find out the truth but along the way he encounters something quite sinister and the body count rises. This was another story I really, really liked. I’d recently read and loved Todd Keisling’s ‘The Final Reconcilliation’ which had a similar tone and was also muscially influenced. This was a great tale too.
Mike O’ Driscoll’s story was also very, very good. A brooding tale of fiction that follows Gillian-a woman struggling with dissociative amnesia. In this strange tale, Gillian keeps videos of her past to help her with her condition. She befriends a man called James Harris, as the relationship becomes more serious, James becomes increasingly uncomfortable with Gillian’s collection and the story ends in horiffic circumstances. I didn’t have much of a clue as to where this one was going, however, the final few pages were damn creepy as the story moves from thriller territory into horror and that ending was just great!
The Chambermaid by Ailya Whitely was perhaps my least favourite. That isn’t to say it is a bad story. It just failed to deliver much of a punch for this reader and after the depth of the other stories, this one was over a little too quickly.
The usual movie reviews and book reviews round off another impressive issue of ‘Black Static’. Whilst only my second read, this magazine is chock full of great, deep, uneasy storytelling and great reviews. Lovers of dark fiction should not pass this up.
Pick up a copy from here.