BLACK STATIC 44
The cover art is 'Ghost' by Martin Hanford
Going Back to the World by Simon Avery (novelette)
illustrated by Martin Hanford
Jack called Susanna the same night he killed himself. She hadn’t heard from him in a while. They’d been divorced for almost five years now, and while there had never really been any acrimony between them, there was a distance whenever they spoke; that wounded and tentative silence between words after a violent disagreement. Susanna had resolved herself to the fact that little would change between them. Why should it concern her that the only man she’d ever really cared about now only tended to call her at the end of the night and the end of a bottle of Scotch? But it did. Of course it did. She thought she was worth more than that. She thought, deep down, he was better than that.
The Absent Shade by Priya Sharma
illustrated by Richard Wagner
“Calm down now,” Umbra said as she wiped away Thomas’ tears. “Let’s play a game. It’s a secret though. You mustn’t tell anyone about it.”
After that Thomas wanted to play every night, so Umbra would get up from her roll up mattress on the floor beside his bed and move the lamps around to cast shadows on the wall behind them. Then she’d lie beside him and wrap her thin arms around him.
“You start,” she’d say, “make me a shadow.”
The Fishers of Men by Jackson Kuhl
There is no stopping progress. You may buy a plot of land, build a home, raise a family, join a church, and volunteer for the local PTA – but if the authorities determine someone somewhere else is thirstier than you, then they will drown your American Dream with no more effort than turning the spigot counterclockwise. In 1936, when the Norris Dam was completed along Tennessee’s Clinch River, landowners in the century-old trade center of Loyston were relocated and the town submerged beneath the resulting lake. Neversink, New York, population two thousand, was sacrificed to the waves of the Neversink Reservoir after the residents of New York City grew a little too dry in the mouth. When it was decided the right of a Boston Brahmin to flip his tap handle and fill his glass trumped those of plebeians living in Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott, Massachusetts, the four towns disappeared beneath the Quabbin Reservoir. And upon completion of the Saville Dam along a branch of the Farmington River in 1940, the crossroads village of Barkhamsted Hollow, Connecticut – farmhouses, church, and cemetery – vanished underwater so that the citizens of Hartford might wet their lips.
Sweet Water by E. Catherine Tobler
In Saint Louis Cemetery Number One, Marie Laveau drank the flood waters. She drew the moonlit liquid into the cavern of her mouth, swallowing fish, sodden paper, and the dead so that she might live. A shoelace whipped against her rotten cheek as she sucked it in.
Samhain by Tyler Keevil (novelette)
illustrated by George Cotronis
Driving back from the gym, he saw the boys. There were three of them: a kid wearing a black, long-nosed Scaramouche mask, another with a burlap sack on his head, and a smaller boy in a hoody, with the hood pulled up and cinched tight around his face, like kids tended to do these days – as a way of hiding their faces, their identities. The boys’ clothing rippled and flapped about them, creating a flowing effect, so that their figures seemed to shimmer, mirage-like, as they trudged along in the dusk. Until then Tod hadn’t realised just how windy it was. But it was the wind that caused the eerie effect – he was sure of that. He had further proof: the leaves scuttling along the sidewalks, the treetops leaning steeply sideways, the way his car windows would occasionally shudder, as if being pounded on from the outside.
Coffinmaker's Blues by Stephen Volk
“The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.” So said Emma Thompson quoting choreographer Agnes de Mille – or, as Ray Bradbury put it: “Sometimes you have to jump out of the window and just grow wings on the way down.”
But nothing stops you being creative more than the feeling you might be doing something wrong. Working in film and television, you can easily feel everyone is looking over your shoulder: at every turn, someone is marking your homework. Afflicted with the Curse of Pleasing People, it’s sometimes impossible to remember the person you really have to please is yourself.
Notes From the Borderland by Lynda E. Rucker
As I mentioned in my previous column, some of the questions raised in the debate over the design of the World Fantasy Award have more merit than others. “How can we say we welcome diversity while handing out a statue of an avowed racist as an award – sometimes to writers of the very races Lovecraft claimed to loathe, no less?” and “Is Lovecraft’s visage still the best representation of a global award celebrating an enormous variety of fiction of the fantastic?” are worth addressing. Others are not: “Lovecraft is not even a good writer.” And still others seem to miss the point entirely: “Why is a horror writer’s face on an award that’s given out for fantasy fiction?”
Case Notes: Book Reviews by Peter Tennant
A REHEARSAL FOR DEATH: TIM WAGGONER Bone Whispers, Deep Like the River, The Last Mile, A Strange and Savage Garden, The Way of All Flesh, plus author interview; FIVE NOVELLAS Conduits by Jennifer Loring, Mutator by Gary Fry, Differently There by John Llewellyn Probert, The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley, Prisoner 489 by Joe R. Lansdale; EARTHLING PUBLICATIONS The Halloween Children by Brian James Freeman & Norman Prentiss, Everything You Need by Michael Marshall Smith; OMNIUM GATHERUM Autumn in the Abyss by John Claude Smith, A Respite for the Dead by Lucy Taylor, Candy House by Kate Jonez; EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY Zombies: A Hunter's Guide by Joseph A. McCullough, The Squickerwonkers by Evangeline Lilly; GARY McMAHON The Night Just Got Darker, The End; ANTHOLOGIES Poor Souls' Light by Curious Tales writers' collective, Dead Funny edited by Robin Ince & Johnny Mains
Blood Spectrum: DVD/Blu-ray/VoD Reviews by Tony Lee
The Girl Who Knew Too Much; Nekromantik; Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For; Deliver Us From Evil; Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead; Ragnarok: The Viking Apocalypse; Vikings Season Two; True Blood Season Seven; The Strain Season One; The Rover; Honeymoon; Ganja & Hess
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