Dark Wisdom

The Magazine of Dark Fiction

Published by: Elder Signs Press, Inc.

Editor: William Jones


Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            From across the room, I spotted the cover art of Dark Wisdom, Issue #8, and was instantly captivated.  The tentacled alien being with multiple eyes and a multitude of fangs pulled me in, daring me to ask, “What’s this all about?”  I picked up an issue and soon had my answer.

            Dark Wisdom is a compilation of science fiction and horror stories, fiction, film and gaming reviews, interviews, commentaries, poetry and more.  The authors of the works presented in this 80-page volume come from a number of sources including both celebrated authors and average folks just like you and me.

            Issue #8 of Dark Wisdom opens with a letter form the editor, William Jones.  In his letter, he discusses the growing debate over whether literature should continue in the printed word format (i.e.) words on paper, or if it is served a greater purpose by coming into the electronic age (i.e.) e-books.  The editor wonders how important such a debate is given the decline in the number of people able to read and comprehend the material in the first place.  Having just discussed this very issue in another review (, I wholeheartedly agree with the editor on this issue.  I send my kudos to William Jones, who not only makes a point, but backs it up entirely, using a recent survey conducted by the National Education Center for Statistics.

            Turning to page six, I come upon a sci-fi / horror story about a futuristic call girl that shocked the hell out of me!  I passed it to a colleague who was equally surprised.  Based upon the way the three-paged tale had begun, we were wholly unprepared for its ending.  I was hooked on the magazine from that very moment.  At that point, there was no putting it down until the very last page was turned.

            The intriguing fictional tales would be enough to make this magazine great, but Dark Wisdom doesn’t stop there.  Just as fascinating as the fiction are the factual articles, such as Writer at Large in which author Richard A. Lupoff discusses how he builds stories around characters.  In the article, Lupoff goes into depth about one specific character, how he came about, how a history for the character was created, and how a story was woven around that character history.  Not only did the process make for an interesting read, but it would make for an extremely helpful tool for any fledgling writer.

            In Strange Happenings, we are given insight into the novel The Serpent Grail, a book written by Philip Gardiner that completely discredits the thoughts behind such works as The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code, using etymology (the study of the origin of words) and history to back up his argument.  Having never heard of the book until reading this article, I was intrigued – most especially when I realized that the author and I shared an important opinion: “The truth of the matter is that our entire history is tainted with the subtle and sometimes not so subtle manipulating actions of people who wish to maintain power…all leaders need a mandate for power and where this is not democratically brought about, then God is imposed as the authority for the mandate.

            Wickedly Entertaining contains the film, game and media reviews, which are well-written and incredibly compelling.  So compelling, in fact, that I have been given the perfect idea for a future birthday or Christmas gift for one of my co-workers.  As the name suggests, Dark Library is all about the books.  Reviews Editor E.S. Magill first offers us a glimpse of what the genre of horror once was and what it has evolved to.  Following this well-written and entertaining piece are book reviews of such caliber as to make books that I previously might have passed up seem interesting enough to check out at the local Barnes & Noble on my next visit.

            Not so enjoyable is Film Vault in which one unusual, overlooked or condemned film is reviewed by three separate individuals.  The rules are that the three reviewers are not allowed to discuss the material prior with each other prior to submitting their review.  While I find the idea of having three separate, independent reviews of  the same film in the same magazine to be an attractive an innovative concept, I noticed that some of the reviewers tended to give too much of the story away.  They often assumed that the audience had already seen the film.  This issue’s review was of Frailty, a movie starring Bill Paxton and Matthew McConaughey.  Had the reviews given limited information about the movie and focused more on the review of the material, I may have found this movie interesting enough to rent.  However, now that I knew so much about the storyline (including the ending), I hardly saw the point of adding it to my rental list.

            Overall, Dark Wisdom is the quintessential magazine for the avid sci-fi / horror fan.  It has a little bit of everything to whet the appetite and leave the reader entirely satisfied for a couple of months…until the beast within yearns for more.  Fortunately, Dark Wisdom is published four times a year, just in time to sate the hungry beast’s appetite.  At $6.00 (U.S.) an issue for 80 pages of intelligent and entertaining prose, I’d say that Dark Wisdom is an incredible bargain and a magazine worth subscribing to!



Note: Cover and interior art displayed are works created by artist Steven C. Gilberts.

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