Editor-in-Chief by: Dani Hedlund
Published By: Tethered by Letters
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Every once in a while, I peruse the magazine section, looking for something that catches my eye and might be something our readers might want to know about. In the “creative writing” section (for lack of a better way of describing it), I found a magazine that seemed rather interesting. The cover featured bolts of lightning, seemingly caused by a female, towering above a desert where a young man with a hooded sweatshirt hunches against the wind and a woman has just lost her umbrella. Interesting cover to say the least. Perusing inside made me purchase F(r)iction Series: Volume 8 and check it out.
Initially, I had thought this magazine would be made up of dark fiction, but it seems that the magazine is open to any genre of fiction so long as it has peaked someone’s interest. The volume contains short stories, poetry, contest winning essays and fictional tales, a book review and an illustrated graphic novel of sorts. At 120 or so pages, featuring quite a few illustrations, this is not a light-weight magazine.
It begins with a short story called What Is There to Say by Brandon Getz in which an elderly man, dying of a debilitating disease spends his time tinkering on some sort of machine he is building. Perhaps this is his legacy to his estranged daughter who has come to live and care for him. Things get a tad weird when the elderly gentleman opens up his skull and a miniature creature comes out. Speaking English, the creature often tells the daughter what his person means and feels, expressing things the old man can seem to express himself. The daughter wonders just what sort of being might be living inside of her. In fact, she is certain of it…perhaps she should find out.
This tale was a tad on the weird side, but just what the doctor ordered when it comes to dark fiction. I was actually happy, thinking that this magazine would be along the lines of Cemetery Dance Magazine or Dark Wisdom, a now-defunct dark fiction magazine that I have been missing. I read on. I wasn’t too jazzed with the poetry, but I found some comfort that there would be some good fiction to read here. Quartet in D Minor, Opus 30: A Ghost Story is a short story contest winner by Noah Weisz. This is a mystery/thriller in which a brilliant student and composer in his own right becomes obsessed with the quartet composed by a similar young man who completed the quartet just before he was taken away by the Nazis during the great purge. The tale of Viktor’s disappearance is told by the last people who saw him on the night in question. Each provides a piece of the puzzle as to how he disappeared.
Loving You Darkly by Mercedes M. Yardley is a tale set in a post-apocalyptic magical kingdom in which monsters known as Breeders have taken hold and destroyed the land of the living. One survivor, Silva, decides she is lonely enough to create a companion – one made entirely of the bones and sinew of the dead in the Killing Fields. There has to be some sort of magic left in the world, because, upon completion, the skeleton comes to life, complete with the memories of all those he was made from. But when an actual living being comes into their lives, will Silva leave one companion for another…or will she lose everything to the monsters that now rule her lands.
I also found Goth Western featuring a story and artwork by Livali Wyle quite interesting. The artwork is very good and the story of two women who are lovers in a seemingly old west setting was rather interesting. When one of the lovers is murdered, the other seeks out the old gods in an effort to bring her back to life…but at what cost. Problem is, we don’t know – this is only the preliminary part of the tale and we don’t know the rest. It was intriguing though…enough so that I want to know what comes next for the two, so that’s saying something.
There were some other stories and poetry and an excellent review by Dani Hedlund of a novel called The Driver, complete with a chapter excerpt and Q& A with author Hart Hanson, but the tales listed above were my favorites. In fact, for the $15.00 I spent on this magazine, I felt like I hadn’t gotten much for my money. While I do believe F(r)iction is somewhat set up along the lines of Cemetery Dance and Dark Wisdom, I think it focuses a bit too much on dark poetry and less on stories. I like the flash fiction and short story contest winner inclusions along with short stories by established writers. It gives fans of dark fiction some fresh faces to look for in addition with established favorites. And I loved the illustrations – colorful and unique. That being said, I found the price rather steep and I don’t think I will be partaking in Issue #9 in the future.