Dark Horizons Issue 52

Dark Horizons Issue 52

The Spring 2008 edition of the British Fantasy Society's biannual publication contains the usual predominance of short stories flavoured with poems and articles (in this instance, just one article; a long interview with Charles de Lint by Jan Edwards). The cover design is by Dan Skinner, and there is a stand-alone illustration: 'More Tea?' by Chris Bell.

I can't say I'm a poetry fan but the contrast they provide with the prose adds to the interest. This time, one of them is traditional: 'The Twa Corbies' (for which a translation of words from Scots is helpfully provided). Most of the others are short and enigmatic; 'A Dinner Party' by Marion Pitman; 'Road To My Soul' by Laura Willis; and 'Pain in Every Measure' by Jo Fletcher; the exception being 'Walt Whitman Did It For Me, And Continues To Do It' by Robert Holdstock, a homage to the famous poet.

So to the short stories:

The Gentleman Assassin by Richard Hudson: a playful tale of a fictional assassin, told from the perspective of his creator.

Star-Changer by Rebecca Lusher (winner of the 2007 BFS Short Story Competition): trainee shape-changers undergo their first ritual test.

Behind the Curtain by Joel Lane: a willing vampire victim in a sordid future.

Withered by Meaghan Hope: an intriguing premise – a woman wakes with no memory of who she is, but realises that she is not human – ends abruptly, as if the first few pages had been extracted from a novel.

Flies by Jim Steel: an ironic tale describing the life of a group of early hominims who are conscious of their evolutionary status and govern their lives using modern management concepts and jargon. It reminded me of a story I read long ago (author and title forgotten), in which hominim mothers were wont to yell at crawling children; "Get up on your legs and walk – you want to undo millions of years of evolution?"

The Bequest by David A Riley: a supernatural horror story of demonic possession in a mundane contemporary family.

Keep off the Grass by Sally Quilford (runner-up in the 2007 BFS Short Story Competition): yet another dystopian future, a Britain run by robots among which the few surviving humans scavenge.

A varied mix of tales. The one which caught my attention most was Withered; I find that kind of plot appealing, and if Meaghan Hope ever extends it into a novel I'll be joining the queue to buy it.

(This entry is cross-posted from my science-fiction & fantasy blog.)