Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Necrotic Tissue #9

I've sunk my teeth into the latest issue of Necrotic Tissue (#9), and I'm pleased to report this magazine keeps on giving.

There's something special about Necrotic Tissue, maybe the attitude. It "feels" like an old pulp magazine, something I imagine to be like the Weird Tales of the '30s and '40s. Indeed, issue 9's editor's choice, "Caretaker in the Garden of Dreams" by David Tallerman, is a work of dark fantasy inhabited by creatures from a Lovecraftian nightmare.

But there's variety within. You can read about the wrong kind of surgery with J. Ventura's "Makeover" or the dense, literary horror of Laura L. Sullivan's "The Butterfly Hunter." Necrotic Tissue invites all styles between its covers.

Being a fan of the short-short form, especially flash fiction, Necrotic Tissue's 100 word bites are a special treat. My favorite from #9 is "Adagio" by Brendan P. Myers, a quick stab of darkness that lingers long after its brief length on the page.

Editor-in-Chief R. Scott McCoy balances it all with some solid non-fiction, including a fine interview with Joe R. Lansdale in #9, as well as an ongoing feature to help writers (and editors everywhere), "Help Me to Help You Help Me". This quarter's installment addresses the magic of ending a short story well. Mr. McCoy has a clean, straightforward and honest delivery in his editorials, too.

At $30 for four issues (one year), I can't think of a better fix for quality short horror fiction in print. Necrotic Tissue is a class act: always on time, always satisfying.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mama Fish by Rio Youers

Here's why you want to read Mama Fish by Rio Youers: you'll be pissed when it's over.

Youers splices together two tales of Patrick Beauchamp: one from high school when Patrick is trying to befriend school oddity Kelvin Fish; the second features an older Patrick, parent of two and beloved husband. Yes, they come together, in a sense. Any more plot points would taint your reading of Mama Fish, and I'm not here to do that.

The prose is delicious, fast, and propels you to the end. Unfortunately, I feel like the end came too quickly--maybe because I devoured it in one sitting. With two rug-rats running around the house, I don't devour much over ten pages in one sitting anymore. Even when the end becomes inevitable, and it does, Youers held my attention, winding it around his easy style and showing not only Patrick's final choice but why he made it (again, no spoilers here).

Some may be put off by the alternating time frames in the book (instead of all the "high school" story followed by the "older Patrick", Youers goes back and forth), but I enjoyed the way Mama Fish unfolded. With Shroud as the publisher, one might expect horror, and the novella has horrific moments, especially when Patrick is younger. But to simply file Mama Fish in the horror bin limits readers. This is slipstream at its best--a little science fiction, a little fantasy, and a dash of horror.

Why was I pissed when I finished? I wanted more. Give me a few Youers' short stories at least. I know I'll be looking for something with his name on it.

Pick up Mama Fish at Shroud or

Monday, January 4, 2010

The New Bedlam Project Issue #4

Issue 4 of The New Bedlam project once more delivers on the little town’s promise to unnerve the unwary reader. Once more we travel through its darkened streets to uncover the evil which lurks within the minds and hearts of those within the city limits.

Natalie L Sin takes a different approach, using her unique love of Asia and everything within it to add a different cultural bent and flavour to the twisted happenings in this writers’ haven. Zoe E. Whitten reminds us that not all the residents are writers but horror isn’t picky when choosing victims. Michael C Pennington allows us to see some hope when the writers fight back. Somehow I see this as opening a whole new can of worms – fat and juicy ones.

Barry Napier and J. Jay Waller take a stab at necrophilia, but from completely different angles – so to speak. I’m sure they’re both fine upstanding gentlemen, but the black twistedness of their imaginations is clear for all to see.

And we have creatures. As regular readers know, the imaginings of the writer residents of New Bedlam are the bread and butter of the horror which walks its streets, and so Kevin Lucia and Louise Bohmer serve up a dog of hell and something mystical and creepy (respectively) just to remind us.

Coupled with an excerpt by Brandon Layng from Courting Morpheus (Can of Worms), and another from Jodi Lee’s novel set in New Bedlam (At the Institute), we have an excellent all round issue with something to please everyone – and it’s free. Go check it out.

by Brenton Tomlinson