Rounding Off Halloween: Black Static 19 from TTA Press, Reviewed

Halloween kickoffs the season of holidays and heralds the beginning of fun and excitement as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year soon follow one another. At the onset of October, planning for Halloween parties begin and every party host puts in great efforts to make his or her party as hauntingly thrilling as possible. Planning has to be done on several fronts like sending Halloween invitations, arranging for decorations, deciding activities, games, party menu and costumes and so on. However, before embarking on the planning activities it is necessary to decide your Halloween party theme. All the other factors will be dependent on the theme you have chosen; if the party is for adults then the scary element can be heightened while a party for kids has to be a mix of fun and little amount of fright.

Horror) describes as ‘the most consistently excellent horror magazine published’ to enter its fourth year.

To celebrate its third anniversary, Black Static shows off the return of American Steve Rasnic Tem, Interzone regular Lavie Tidhar and award-winning Simon Clark make their debuts, while semi-regulars Joel Lane and Ray Cluley add superb stories to the mix.

Black Static 19: Features

Another returnee is columnist Mike O’Driscoll, whose ‘Representing Killers’ examines the way that the media depicted (British) gunmen Derrick Bird, who murdered twelve people apparently more or less randomly selected, and Raoul Moat who blinded a policeman, murdered his girlfriend’s new boyfriend, and tied up large numbers of policeman in a week-long manhunt.

By contrast, Stephen Volk offers his thoughts on Hitchcock’s Psycho, while Christopher Fowler looks at the ‘new rules of horror’ featured in the remakes of the Scream films. Peter Tennant’s White Noise column previews Christmas horror at the BBC, events in London, and new anthologies.

Fiction by Steve Rasnic Tem and Ray Cluley

Steve Rasnic Tem kicks off the fiction with Chain Reaction, in which a lorry driver is swept over the edge of the mountain by an avalanche; when he manages to climb up again, he takes the reader on a tour of the other cars caught by the avalanche. Stylish, elliptical, it needs more than one careful reading.

For you the world has always been shaky and hand-held. Focus, more often than not, is problematic. You’ve never understood how people can pick the most important thing out of a selection of too many. Everything begs for your attention. Every object contains its own mating call. Recommended.

Ray Cluley returns with Beachcombing, a short story that features Tommy, who can read the memories of the last person to handle household objects. He doesn’t always understand those memories, particularly where sex is concerned (the beach where Tommy walks is littered with condoms) but he knows enough to be affected by the emotions, particularly the sadness of the man walking alone on the beach. It’s one of the best stories of the year, both in Black Static or any magazine.

Joel Lane

British Fantasy Award winner Joel Lane specialises in bleak urban landscapes: Beyond the bridge, the road led downhill through an industrial estate. Some of the barred windows were lit from within. Mewing gulls circled over a dump protected by razor-wire. Strips of torn paper flapped from an advertisement board. ‘The Sleep Mask’ is almost as good as the Cluley, although it’s not as accessible, but it’s still beautifully written. Outstanding.

Simon Clark is another British Fantasy Award winner, and his ‘They Will Not Rest,’ like the Lane starts with sleep debt: How long can you stay awake? Twenty-four hours? Thirty-six? The fact is, forty-eight hours without sleep brings headache, disorientation and those first all-too corrosive hallucinations. A rat deprived of sleep is dead within twenty-eight days. Human beings last a little longer. Clark takes the reader to the seaside town of Whitby on a fierce, poignant odyssey. Highly Recommended.

Lavie Tidhar’s ‘The Wound Dresser’ closes the fiction with an offering in which the Hebrew angels appear in wartime Germany to ease the passing of the dying, but even their mercy is overwhelmed by the sheer numbres of the dying. Tidhar has appeared in many different venues this year, and continues to surprise with his versatility. Highly Recommended.

As usual, the review pages round off the issue; Tony Lee’s Blood Spectrum reviews the new DVD/Blu-ray releases, including Grindhouse, Bad Lieutenant and Dario Argento’s 1980 Inferno.

Peter Tennant reviews no less than thirteen anthologies in this issue, an endeavour that spills over onto the TTA Press website. The choices include Datlow’s Year’s Best Horror 2, Stephen Jones’ Best New Horror 21 and Zombie Apocalypse, Joel Lane and Allyson Bird’s anti-bigotry anthology Never Again, and what looks to be a personal highlight Al Sarrantonio and Neil Gaiman’s Stories.

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