Thought I'd give a quick shout out to an issue of a magazine that's really impressed me recently - issue #21 of Supernatural Tales is stuffed to the rafters with excellent stories. Often when I read short story magazines there's a few I think good, a few average, and a few I can't stand. If I'm lucky they'll be one up there in the very good category. ST21's worst story was a good one, and some of these tales were really very good indeed.
I've mentioned both Iain Rowan and Adam Golaski on this blog before (Golaski as the first author in my 'strange stories' series and Iain Rowan so many times he could probably claim squatter's rights) so I was expecting to very much like their contributions, and neither disappointed. Rowan's The Edge Of The Map was a short and very effective story which, in it's final sentence manages to pull off a volte-face in terms of mood and meaning - something about it really got to me. Golaski's Translation by contrast is a longer and more ambiguous tale, and dense and hard to fully grasp on first reading
But what was also nice was to find other equally good stories by authors new to me. As I said, all of them were at least good:
Steve Rasnic Tem's story These Days When All Is Silver And Bright is as good as it's title, which about says it all.
Virpus is a more tongue in cheek tale, funny in that way that horror can be (and which seems to be missed by so many people). It still plays successfully on a very modern fear, thought. (This one was by Bill Reid.)
S.P. Miskowski's A.G.A. was told almost entirely in dialogue and all the more effective for it. I really liked this one.
Steve Duffy's The Purple Tinted Window was disturbing rather than frighting, in that the supernatural element was provides relief from the horror of the protagonist's mundane life, rather than the other way round.
The Last Fight by Sam Dawson is about the sacrifice and responsibility of those who went to fight the Spanish Civil War, and perhaps our own lack of such virtues.
And Stephen J. Clark ends the mag with The Vigil - an almost Lovecraftian horror tale this, filtered through The Twilight Zone perhaps. A good one to end on.
You can buy the magazine from Lulu or take out a subscription from the Supernatural Tales site itself. And when I say "you can" I mean "you should", obviously.