Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction 48 edited by Stephen Theaker and John Greenwood. Zine review

THEAKER’S QUARTERLY FICTION #48 edited by Stephen Theaker and John Greenwood, Theaker’s Paperback Library, p/b, $6.71,

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

In this issue, Stephen Theaker’s editorial column caught my eye more than it did in the last; maybe it is due to me being a reviewer that I felt everything he said rang true for me. The subject is of an established author Christopher Priest reviewing Barricade by Jon Wallace who is a relatively new author on the scene. As other supporters of Wallace’s novel found Priest’s review scathing, it creates a discussion piece on the reviewer’s intention toward the books and whether some reviewers are genuine or not. As Theaker says: “it’s like a potato trying to tell you which ketchup is best. The ketchup isn’t for the potato’s benefit – it’s for the consumer.” This quote goes a long way to explain what reviewers do. If people want to buy a book and want to find out how good, or bad it is, who do they go to the publisher or the independent reviewer? One will be completely biased about the books they have on sale while the other will give a more realistic review of the books, their story, characters and setting (even the cover). Talking about covers, Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #48’s compliments the story The Collection Agent by John Greenwood and gives a good impression of the desolate, water deprived land the story is based in.

Six stories are on the menu this time around, and show the talents of one writer who normally acts as an artist, Howard Watts has contributed the cover art and a story as well’ Contractual Obligations. Antonella Coriander continues her story, Beatrice Et Veronique: Into the Island, Charles Wilkinson with A Thousand Eyes See All I Do, Stephen Theaker’s I Couldn’t See Past The Spider and Tim Jeffrey’s The Riches. John Greenwood’s The Collection Agent sounds like a quiet tale about a man having signed a policy where he is given a large sum of money in exchange for something, yet it isn’t until later on when it is revealed. Agent Bradley is so self-assured that he overlooks the capabilities of an old man. I enjoyed this one in particular for its desolate setting and almost instant character interaction. You know Bradley is going to be a problem from the get go and that is what sets you off wanting to read it further. Howard Watt’s Contractual Obligations has a minister resume contractual obligations with Mr Unus after the problem with their last representative being eaten – readers might understand the plot once they read it and, enjoy the ending.

Editor Stephen Theaker gives readers his brand of horror in a fantasy vein with I Couldn’t See Past The Spider where a man finds himself in unfamiliar surroundings and a spider blocking his vision. Once the spider leaves, he comes across other more unusual things and has to find out how he can get out of his predicament. As a short story it has several neat chapters that serve as a step-by-step guide to the character and what happens to him. Tim Jeffrey’s The Riches has two long-time friends meet a devil, and instead of being killed by him for invading his lair, he gives them both a challenge, the winner gets untold riches, while the other is given a dire punishment. For me, this is one of the best stories in #48. It acts like a fable, a cautionary tale that leaves you smiling.

Reviewers in The Quarterly Review are Stephen Theaker, Jacob Edwards, Douglas J Ogurek and Tim Atkinson and feature The Clockwork Muse which is an invaluable source of information on how to plan book writing, film Edge of Tomorrow which is based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novella, All You Need is Kill, Game of Thrones Season 4 and why the “events and motivation are presented clearly to the viewer,” The Tripod’s Series One, a true 80’s BBC series brings back memories as does the Pixies album Indie Cindy. There are others but what makes this an in-depth read are the stories, the honest and sometimes funny reviews and the insightful editorial with Stephen Theaker.