black-static-46Black Static #46
Various authors
Reviewed by C.M. Saunders

Edited by Andy Cox, Black Static has been a cornerstone of the UK horror scene since it rose from the ashes of the Third Alternative back in 1994, itself a groundbreaking small press title. It is a consistently brilliant mix of dark art and contemporary fiction, topped off with liberal doses of comments and reviews from the biggest names in the business. One of the highlights for me are the horror-themed series of essays by Stephen Volk, the man who will always be remembered (by me, anyway) for writing the infamous BBC mockumentary Ghostwatch. Light years ahead of its time, it caused such a stir when it was aired on Halloween night 1992 that it has never been repeated. Here, he discusses horror on the big screen.
After some more comments – this time a thoughtful, punchy effort about reviews (what are they good for?) by Lynda E. Rucker, the first slab of fiction hits you like a sledgehammer. So Many Heartbeats, So Many Words is a 7,900-word novelette by Steven J. Dines about the bond between father and son told with such empathetic sincerity you can’t help but be drawn in. Dines is a writer who has paid his dues and is now getting the credit he deserves having just had a story included in the Best British Horror 2015 anthology.
For me, the stand-out story in this volume is The Secret Language of Stamps by Neil Williamson. It starts as a slow-burning, improbable romance but builds to a jarring climax reminiscent of vintage MR James. Black Static doesn’t do gross-out. The stories typically found here are more sophisticated, understated, and in many ways, quintessentially English. There is, however, invariably a sting in the tail. Meaty slabs of fiction by Damien Angelica Walters, Gary McMahon and Sarah Read whizz by, brought to life by the beguiling artwork of Richard Wagner, Vincent Sammy and Ben Baldwin, before the issue turns into something of a Ralph Robert Moore showcase. One of his stories closes out the fiction section of the magazine, and Peter Tennant’s enlightening and consistently brilliant back section Case Notes features an extensive interview with the British Fantasy Award nominee, along with a review of his latest book, Ghosters. Tony Lee’s regular round-up of DVD’s and Blu-rays closes out yet another fine issue of Black Static. And long may they continue.