THEAKER’S QUARTERLY FICTION #52 edited by Stephen Theaker, Theaker’s Paperback Library, p/b, $7.63, Website
Reviewed by Sandra Scholes
Even with a shorter issue than normal, this is still better than hot chips and buttered bread and Theaker’s Editorial column comes with his short reviews. The previous issues of Theaker’s were an experiment to see how well his short reviews would fit into the magazine and how the readers would take them. It’s not unusual to have short, sharp reviews that are to the point without giving away any spoilers. Take Goodreads for example, any review of a novel on there has a starred rating from 1 to 5, so reviewers can either post up a short review with a starred rating, or just use the starred rating system without giving a full opinion on a novel. I have actually received good feedback on Goodreads just by putting up starred reviews, so it must work for others. The main reason for Stephen’s shorter reviews is apparent when he mentions he doesn’t have that much time on his hands these days, but I do think he is onto something with the idea of there being shorter reviews to cater to an ever impatient audience with maybe even less time on their hands.
Howard Watts also gets a chance as a guest editor for Issue #54 as well as an advert for contributors to showcase their talents in a short story competition based on the back cover image of the characters, using it as the basis for the story, the best, obviously is to be featured in the magazine later.
Fiction is at its usual best here with Rocking Horse Traffic by Yarrow Paisley where Bobby is being looked after by her father. Bobby misses her mother and her father is evasive when she talks about her, but Bobby has an idea of how to make things right. Quest for Lost Beauty: A Dim Star is Born, Part 3 by Howard Philips lets us into the mind of Howard Philips, a man, in this story’s case who is obsessed by Pierre Samuel, a poet famed for his works and his beauty. Howard finds him only after several fruitless searches, and as we all know, it’s never a good thing to meet your idols. Zom-Boyz Have all the Luck by Len Saculla is where drug culture has progressed to the point where a new band encourages its fans to indulge in using Zombol to “experience” their music in full. Roddy, the lead singer with the Zom-Boyz doesn’t see what he encourages as wrong, giving out the pills by the dozen to eager fans ensures their gigs are always full, but the Zombol is having another strange effect on his fans – one he might not forget. “Surprise Thee Ranging with Thy Peers” by Walt Brunston has two husbands from different realms, Husband One and Husband Two, and they are kept apart for a very good reason. Of all these here, this is by far the strangest, but also the one readers will most remember.
The Quarterly Review has Douglas J. Ogurek, Stephen Theaker and Jacob Edwards telling us which books and movies to take in. Several Dr. Who audio books are reviewed by Stephen, while Douglas reviews films such as The Lazarus Effect, It Follows and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Jacob watches and rates Memory Lane. It is clear that special effort has been taken to cater to different types of reader, the ones who like reading standard reviews, and the ones who welcome the idea of seeing a very short review or only stars to show what they think of the book/movie. This issue of Theaker’s is impressive as it has all the literary ingredients we have come to know and enjoy over the years.