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Black Static

New Horror Fiction BLACK STATIC 82/83 OUT NOW

2014: The Year in Reviewing

8th Jan, 2015

Author: Peter Tennant

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As in the four previous years, it's time for me to take a look back at what happened in the year just gone from a Case Notes review perspective.

In the six issues of Black Static that appeared in 2014 we ran reviews of a grand total of 112 titles, 111 of which I wrote myself, the solitary exception being a guest spot by Stephen Theaker back in #43. That's 10 less than in 2013.

Breaking it down we get:-

  • Novels - 19 (39 in 2013)
  • Short Story Collections - 25 (21)
  • Novellas - 44 (20)
  • Anthologies - 12 (14)
  • Chapbooks - 3 (15)
  • Non-fiction - 5 (6)
  • Graphic/Illustrated work - 4 (4)
  • Novelettes - 0 (2)
  • Poetry - 0 (1)

Looking at the list, it seems that the biggest 'winner' is the novella category, where the number reviewed has more than doubled, while novels have halved and chapbooks have gone down by 80%. The latter I account for by the apparent diminishment of the chapbook market, at least as regards publishers who regularly send us review copies - in 2014 we received only one chapbook from Spectral Press and two from This Is Horror, while Nightjar appear to have ceased publication. As to the other two 'big change' categories, it appears that in 2015 I need to read more novels and fewer novellas.

I also, that I can recall, had reviews of books by Nina Allan and Steve Rasnic Tem that we couldn't squeeze into Black Static appear in Interzone instead.

During 2014 I listed a total of 261 titles received for review, which was 13 down on the previous year, and means that overall, including the two Interzone reviews, 44% of the books sent to us got reviewed.

Of the 112 titles reviewed in Black Static itself, 33 were either written or edited by women (approximately 29% of the total), while 53½ of titles received were by women (approximately 20%). The corresponding figures in 2013 were 25% and 23%.

We reviewed titles from a total of 35 different publishers, of which the following have been reviewed the most often:-

  • DarkFuse - 32
  • PS Publishing - 15
  • Telos - 6
  • Ticonderoga - 6
  • Auteur - 4
  • Hippocampus - 4
  • Pendragon - 4
  • Tartarus - 4
  • Dark Regions/Renaissance - 3
  • Omnium Gatherum - 3

Dedalus, Gray Friar Press, Mortbury, Savoy, Short, Scary Tales Publications, Spectral Press, and This Is Horror all had 2 titles reviewed, and so did NewCon Press, even if those two reviews appeared in Interzone.

Looking at this list, it's apparent that for 2015 I need to cut back on reviewing titles from DarkFuse - I love what they do, but it's unfair to have one publisher taking such a large share of the available review space.

In total I reviewed titles by 91 different writers and editors (the actual tally for writers is much higher, as for anthologies I am only counting the editor), with those who were reviewed the most frequently:-

7 titles - Gary Fry

6 titles - Ramsey Campbell

4 titles - Tim Curran

3 titles - Sam Stone

2 ½ titles - S. P. Miskowski

2 titles - Richard Farren Barber, David Britton, James Cooper, Sandy DeLuca, Tim Lebbon, and Gary McMahon

1 ½ - Angela Slatter and Kate Jonez

One aim I do have, though it's definitely something for the long haul rather than a quick fix, is to reduce the backlog of books awaiting review to more manageable proportions. Some reviews are appearing up to a year after publication, and while e-publishing may have changed our ideas of shelf life, I would prefer it if the reviews were at least a little more timely. When I originally started Case Notes, the intention was that no book would get reviewed once it had been out in the wild for nine months, and I'd like to get back to that, and perhaps even six months, but we'll see. I've never managed to keep a New Year resolution yet.



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