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Issue #3 of Unnerving Magazine rolls around and it’s an absolute doozy! Opening with a fantastic story by Paul Michael Anderson in which he asks: How far will a father go to relieve his daughter from any future pain, both physical and mental? Anderson writes heartfelt dark fiction so well and this story is brilliant and emotional, particularly for myself as my daughter is also called Evie. I got a little something in my eyes at the end which made them water, if you know what I mean?!
A weird little short by Mary Crosbie called Snuffles is next, and it’s a great example of the reader never truly knowing what sort of stories you will find within the pages of Unnerving Magazine. Mike Thorn’s tale of capital punishment by way of a black hole in space is also very cool and it makes me look forward to his short story collection coming later this year. Bill Adler’s Losing Your Fear uses the classic monster in the closet story about a brother that loves to scare his sibling. But when Billy hides inside Debra’s closet, he finds out that he is not alone!
Some good non-fiction work from Gwendolyn Kiste, and there is an interview with Comet Press’ Cheryl Mullenax and Randy Chandler, in which they talk about their forthcoming magazine ‘Red Room’, which sounds great. Also, I enjoyed the piece about literary agents and submissions. For all wordsmiths out there, this is important information from people who know what they are talking about. Writers take heed!
More fiction by the consistent Betty Rocksteady and a great short, weird, slimy tale by William Marchese called Daddy. Read it and squirm, folks! There appears to be a parental theme running through this issue concerning a few of the stories and I like that a lot. There is more besides what I’ve mentioned here, thought you should really be reading this excellent magazine for yourselves. I love fiction magazines. The balance between new stories, thoughtful non-fiction, interviews and reviews provide readers’ with the perfect escape for a couple of hours.
FICTION: Paul Michael Anderson. Compelling tale of what it’s like to be a dad, the bittersweet horror-joy of having a second heart outside of your body, wandering around in the same terrain in which you live every day, but with far less knowledge, much more willing to risk everything. Who designed teenagers that way, btw? What’s the point of it? Snuffles by Mary Crosbie. More than compelling fiction, I love an original voice, and Crosbie’s is that. Perhaps Roald Dahl-ish in its cruel delight. And that was the thing with Roald Dahl: the most disturbing thing isn’t his stories but how much he’s enjoying them! Entropy Major by Mike Thorn: perhaps the story that inspired the cover! Believably extrapolates into a hyperevangelical future where the worst criminals are subjected to a highly imaginative extraterrestrial punishment! Losing Your Fear by Bill Adler Jr has the restless energy and descriptive joy of the best of Harlan Ellison. About a boy named Billy who cries not wolf but uh, tentacles? Awesome! The Botany of Desire by Betty Rocksteady: The title says it all! The floral symbolism weaves nicely throughout this tale without hinting too heavily about just what it might be a symbol of—which is one of many reasons it will engage almost any reader! Daddy by William Marchese is our fourth parent-horror of the mag! :P This mag is speaking to me, personally! (On one hand, I need no encouragement to continue never having kids, but I do enjoy the reminders.) Fracture by Erica Ruppert: cool surreal piece of dark fantasy and our second religion-based horror of the mag! (Again no reminders needed there but always enjoyed!) Two pieces by Leo X. Robertson: lol fave. It’s cool to see the excerpt of my upcoming novella, “The Grimhaven Disaster”, amongst these stories and out of context of the rest of the story. It’s equal parts “Ew”, “WTF”, and “What happens next”, ahahah! With my short story “A Disturbance”, I’ve immortalised Juan and I flailing about our Oslo flat when we heard what we thought was domestic abuse. Update, BTW: there are drilling and screwing and hammering noises upstairs a lot, and I’m pretty sure someone’s building a coffin.
NON-FICTION: - An interview with the editors of Red Room Magazine, something that will be of interest to any horror writer, and - I’ve also been loving Gwendolyn Kiste’s mini-residency at Unnerving. Her highly readable, effusively-written essays about favourite artists haven’t yet failed to make me want to read like fifteen books while watching ten films at once. (Also I hear her short story collection is excellent and was one of many recent drunk Amazon purchases. [I also wrote myself a little message about how much I loved myself. If you’re uncertain about how to do adulthood, look no further: I’ll hook you up!]) Eddie’s Persona-esque artwork for this piece was apt and awesome also. Though all of it was great! - Some sobering advice from agents and publishers. Personally I need to delude myself that it isn’t as competitive as it is to have the confidence to approach them in the first place but who could argue with the crux of the advice, which is: just keep writing, my friend :)
REVIEWS: Eddie and his crew are always reading up a storm, so it’s great to get their picks!
ADS: Super cool to see an ad for Deadman’s Tome: Monsters Exist anthology! I’ve read and can tell you it’s kickass. From Boothill and Braun to ROBERTSON and Tapia, each story is unique and enjoyable ;D Same goes for the Braun-meister’s (Theresa Braun to those of you not in the know) Dead over Heels! Do consider getting a copy of that also. And Mashed: a Short Story Anthology looks like it’ll shape up nicely. (Don’t forget The Grimhaven Disaster by Leo X. Robertson, out August 9th—goes without saying—a must-read, duh.)
CONCLUSION: I’ve enjoyed this mag since the beginning but this is the best one yet. Because I’m in it? Uh, look at the compliments and chat I had for EVERYTHING ELSE in the mag. You should definitely pick this one up immediately. Unnerving has its finger on the pulse of the pulseless thoracic artery of the neck stub of the undead decapitated corpse of the contemporary dark fiction scene. GET INVOLVED!!
Very enjoyable. Read it cover to cover in a day. For my tastes, the fiction doesn't get better than Paul Michael Anderson's opener, although the second story, Entropy, is equally intriguing. They're all very enjoyable though, and the non-fiction gives welcome moments of relief amidst the horror.