It's been a while since our last look at what's new on the horror fiction magazine market---so without further aBOO...
SHOCK TOTEM's 3rd issue is a 142-paged magazine (although printed like a trade paperback). The fiction offerings are all over the place, so there's plenty of variety, and the interviews and reviews are well done.
Among my favorite tales this issue were the opener, 'Bop Kabala and Communist Jazz' by Tim Lieder, about a multi-talented Korean preacher; Amanda C. Davis' 'Drift,' a haunting yarn about parents dealing with their son's strange delusions, and 'Mr. Many Faces' by S. Clayton Rhodes, a fresh take on the monster-in-the-closet theme, complete with a slick conclusion. John Skipp also contributes a short and disgusting story told from a worms's viewpoint!
There's a brief but informative interview with bizarro author D. Harlan Wilson and a lengthy conversation with Count Lyle of the band Ghoultown (I had never heard of them either, but have since checked them out online). There's also a nice article about our fear of darkness by Mercedes M. Yardley.
My favorite section is the 13-pages of book and DVD reviews, and it was nice to see so many seldom-reviewed new books covered here.
Despite the slick cover art, SHOCK TOTEM could use some more attractive interior artwork (considering this is technically a magazine); but being the 12+ stories here are of top-notch quality, it's not a major issue. Highly recomended.
The 21st issue of BLACK STATIC is another winner, again steamrolling over every other horror fiction magazine on the market. Among this issue's 5 fiction offerings, James Cooper's 'Cushing' will be cherished by any fan of the late actor, Peter Cushing. Cooper's tale revolves around 4 Cushing films and I couldn't get enough. Ray Cluley deilvers yet another fantastic piece titled 'Pins and Needles.' He has established himself as one of the best authors to appear in this magazine, and has even earned a spot in Ellen Datlow's 'The Best Horror Stories of the year Voume 3' with his tale from last issue.
Peter Tennant once again deilvers some of the most in-depth horror book reviews in the genre, and gives a nice history and Q&A session with author Angela Slatter. There's also enough current DVD reviews to keep you busy for 3 months.
With their well-informed staff of columnists and always reliable fiction, BLACK STATIC seems to be on path no one will be able to top anytime soon.
Although a summer/fall 2010 release, I finally finished the 17th issue of DARK DISCOVERIES. I've been enjoying their recent line of theme-issues, this time taking on dark science fiction.
There's a fine short opening story by the legendary Ray Bradbury, although I found myself enjoying the longer pieces, such as Jeffrey Thomas' 'A Semblance of Life,' and John Shirley's killer 'Raise Your hand if You're Dead' (there's also an interview with Shirley). It was also nice to see authors Bruce Taylor and Jeremy Robert Johnson leaving the bizarro world for a few minutes and delivering two solid tales (although each one strange in their own ways...especially Taylor's 'Metamorphosis Blues). Fans of Ronald Malfi will be pleased with 'Closing In,' and there's the winning entry from a Dark Discoveries short fiction contest by Blu Gilliand.
There's several tribute columns and review sections, and enough eye-candy to keep the pages flipping.