Dark Wisdom

The Magazine of Dark Fiction

Issue #9

Published by: Elder Signs Press, Inc.

Editor: William Jones

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Some time ago, I wrote a review of Dark Wisdom: The Magazine of Dark Fiction: Issue #8.  The review was such a hit and the magazine’s contents so diverse, I decided to review the very next issue.  Spring 2006 brings us Issue #9 and, just as with Issue #8, the cover art is enough to capture your attention and make you wonder as to the content of the magazine.

            As always, the magazine opens with a letter from the editor.  This issue, William Jones expounds on the genres of fantasy and science fiction and the blurry line that separates the two.  Following this are the letters from readers who seem to love the magazine, but wish it would return to its smaller, digest-like format.  I, for one, disagree with the fans on this note.  The magazine’s new size allows it to be placed alongside other magazines in the standard-size store racks found in magazine/newspaper stands and further makes it easier for bookstores such as Barnes & Noble to display the work.  Also, with a larger format, the art work – both cover and interior – can be more elaborate…more ominous.  I like the larger format!

            There are ten works of fiction in this issue of Dark Wisdom by notables such as Jay Caselberg, Scott Nicholson, Alfred Taylor, James S. Dorr and more.  My favorite amongst these are Acceptable Losses by Simon Wood and She Climbs a Winding Stair by Scott Nicholson.  Acceptable Losses discusses the plight of British Officer Captain James Clelland, leader of a six-man “clean-up” crew at the height of the Second World War, and his deal with a devil of sorts.  She Climbs a Winding Stair is a run-of-the-mill ghost story with a terrific twist at the end.  Scott Nicholson’s descriptiveness throughout the tale makes up for its predictable nature, as does the unpredictable ending.  Other notables are Larry Slaughter and the Order of the Beatniks by Alfred Taylor, a courtroom vampire tale, The Tattletail by Ian Rogers, a sci-fi / fantasy tale that would appeal to younger readers, The Wood, the Bridge, the House by Marie Brennan, a snarling version of Red Riding Hood’s trip to Grandma’s house, and Terror From Middle Island by G. Durant Haire and Stephen Mark Rainey, a horrifying ghost tale spanning generations of American settlers.  Artwork accompanying each work of fiction perfectly exemplifies each tale, giving the reader an idea of the journey he is about to embark upon.

            The regular columns found in Dark Wisdom are just as appealing as the fiction, poetry and graphic tales.  In Writer At Large, Richard A. Lupoff discusses the power of publisher dejection slips.  In this issue’s author interview, Dark Wisdom chats with New Jersey native A.A. Attanasio, author of such novels as Killing With the Edge of the Moon, Twice Dead Things, The Dragon and the Unicorn and more.  In the interview, the author goes into detail about his approach to fiction writing as well as his latest works which are a new twist on the era of King Arthur.  Strange Happenings takes on The Cryptic Plain of Jars.  Writer Bryan Thao Worra brings us to the country of Laos.  Here exists one of the world’s most fascinating mysteries – that of a plain of massive jars of unknown origin scattered across the region, with no known purpose. In the Film Vault, a column dedicated to reviewing over-looked, unusual, or condemned films, Writers Jeffrey Thomas, Steve Vernon, and Michael McBride offer separate reviews of The Machinist, starring Christian Bale.  I had never before expressed a desire to see this film, not really having any idea as to the film’s premise.  After reading the three slightly differing, but equally positive reviews of the film, I have since changed my mind and have added The Machinist to my rental list.

            Also offered in this issue of Dark Wisdom are five samples of dark poetry, reviews of books, movies, games and more, and the finale of the graphic tale What Rough Beast Comes by Kurt Belcher and William Jones.  As always, the poetry is striking in its dark beauty, the reviews highly informative, and the graphic novel - slightly startling in nature. 

            This Spring 2006 issue of Dark Wisdom packs just as much of a punch as the last issue, offering something for everyone.  A quick and enjoyable read, this issue of Dark Wisdom is a must buy!



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