Black Static #57 – Bonus Material
In the current issue of the magazine (#57) I review two short story collections, Human Maps by Andrew Hook and A Twist in the Eye by Charles Wilkinson. I opted not to discuss three stories in the Hook collection and two in the Wilkinson as I had already reviewed them previously.
For the sake of completeness, I've decided to post my reviews of those stories as they originally appeared.
From my Black Static #31 review of Where Are We Going? edited by Allen Ashley:-
Acronyms based on place names are at the heart of Andrew Hook’s inventive ‘The Human Map’, the story hinting at an unreliable narrator and his attempts to get back to some idyllic past state, with a witty end twist.
From my Black Static #53 review of Darkest Minds edited by Ross Warren & Anthony Watson:-
Andrew Hook’s ‘Bothersome’ is a depiction of somebody’s mental state, in this case I believe that of an elderly woman in a home and suffering from dementia. It’s a torrent of fractured words and imagery, beautifully conveying the muddled thoughts of the story’s protagonist, and engaging on that primal level, but with little to offer anyone in terms of story, the mantra of beginning, middle, and end.
From my Black Static #47 review of Horror Uncut edited by Joel Lane & Tom Johnstone:-
Personal madness and the possibly vain hope for a better world collide in ‘The Opaque District’ by Andrew Hook, with endless queues used as a powerful metaphor for the post-austerity condition of the vulnerable members of society, the story surreal and chillingly effective.
From my Black Static #40 review of Horror Without Victims edited by Des Lewis:-
One of my absolute favourites and among the best stories I’ve read so far this year, ‘Night in the Pink House’ by Charles Wilkinson is told from the perspective of a man employed as an interrogator by Mr Slater, owner of the eponymous desres. There’s the suggestion that the house itself is somehow sentient and possibly malign, while its owner delights in “musical” arrangements formulated out of screams. The amorality of the narrator and the restrained tone of voice in which he regales us with an account of off kilter events, combined with the collision of stiff upper lip value systems and something far more perverse make this into a superb story, and by way of a bonus it is set in my native Norfolk.
From my Black Static #49 review of Strange Tales V edited by Rosalie Parker:-
…opens with ‘The Investigation of Innocence’ by Charles Wilkinson, which is set in a future time when people’s internet searches are closely monitored and only those who appear innocent are granted full access. In attempting to regain the access they once had a couple fall foul of the vengeance of one of the founders of the Institute behind the state. This is an extremely clever story, one that hints at much more than is conveyed, giving us a closely plotted revenge piece in the foreground, but with a subtext that hints at the impossibility of “breeding” politicians and administrators who are beyond corruption and showing how noble ambitions can so easily be twisted out of true.
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