BLACK STATIC #67 (Jan-Feb 2019) edited by Andy Cox. Zine review

BLACK STATIC #67 (Jan-Feb 2019) edited by Andy Cox, TTA Press, Ely, Cambs, UK p/b £5.99 (UK) 96 pages, 

Reviewed by Pauline Morgan

Reading a magazine is like visiting a buffet – there is a varied choice and even though you may not like everything it is all worth trying and there is not a set order for sampling. Here, instead of sweet and savoury there is fiction and non-fiction. The garnish is the artwork, especially Ben Baldwin’s cover for this issue. 

Most readers usually head for the fiction first. Each of the five pieces is skilfully written and has its merits but like tastes in food, not all will suit everyone. The novelette ‘Do Not Pet’ by Ralph Robert Moore, can be regarded as the focal piece as it is placed first. At the centre is an interesting idea. After the death of his son, Karl, now an old man, visits what is effectively advertised as a ghost safari. He wants to be convinced that ghosts are real and this warehouse of captive spectres offers to prove it. It has a great start but I was not completely engaged with it partly due to the style. It didn’t hold my attention in the way that Mike O’Driscoll’s ‘Shore Leave’ did. Set in the seedy docklands of Manila, it also features a man having difficulty dealing with the grief of losing a child. Here, the descriptions evoke the place and there is a feeling that anything can happen. Eric Schaller’s story, ‘All We Inherit’ comes from the opposite direction with David taking the opportunity to strengthen the bonds with his young son during a winter visit to David’s father’s house after the old man’s death. In all three of these stories, memory is important but handled in very different ways.

Of the other two stories, ‘In the Fog, There’s Nothing but Grey’ by Michelle Ann King, has the most impact. It is short but packs a lot into it. One scene, set in a seldom visited pub, reveals much in the few words of conversation when a women comes in out of the fog. ‘The Silence of Prayer’ by Kristi DeMeester is an awakening story of a naïve woman discovering reality. While beautifully written it lacks a context and it is only half way through that its contemporary nature becomes apparent.

The non-fiction elements of this issue follow the same pattern as previous ones with two thought provoking columns by Lynda E. Rucker and Ralph Robert Moore for starters and at the end of the issue, reviews of books and films related to the horror genre. This issue has some very perceptive commentaries.

Any magazine gives the opportunity to taste the work of writers that the reader might not normally come across and should be supported.