BFS Journal #10


My real-time review of the fiction and poetry in the British Fantasy Society Journal – issue 10 (seasonal date unspecified)

Fiction and poetry writers are: Anton Sim, Erik T. Johnson, Allen Ashley, Clare Le May, Mike Chinn, Tammy O’Malley, Jaine Fenn, David Buchan, David Gullen,  Douglas Thompson, Anne Shah, Al Kratz, Zoe Gilbert, Juliet Boyd, Gary Budgen, Richard Farren Barber.

This book was received yesterday as part of my membership of the BFS. As well as the fiction and poetry, there are several articles of interest to BFS members, and this paperback book comprises 176 pages including 8 blank pages at the end.

My previous reviews of BFS publications are linked from HERE.


10 thoughts on “BFS Journal #10

  1. The Light Fantastic by Anton Sim
    “He pictured a separate cloud for smokers…”
    An engagingly amusing modern fable of arrival in Heaven after sudden or unexpected death and the Kafkaesque hurdles to cross to find one’s due place in God’s scheme of things, in interface with what, during life, one hoped for, strived for, failed to strive for, was suitable for, was capable of and to what extent such promise was fulfilled by examining how one measured up. Here it was a musician manqué. The story’s ending threatened or, for me, promised a minimalist tailing off…
    The ‘cloud’ quote above that tickled me also reminded me of Internet speak, as did the phrase ‘performance evals’.

  2. Krug’s Pen by Erik T. Johnson
    “…the woman who could fly away from you and had a touch like an embrace.”
    There are many other puckish touches like that scattered throughout, including a wonderful joke, especially if original, about dates in a cemetery. This is an accessibly brainstorming absurdist fable. Following this book’s previous Kafkaesque fable about self-fulfilment, this second work seems to be an extrapolation on Alan Bennett’s ‘Kafka’s Dick’, here ‘Krug’s Pen’ – about a lonely hearts private detective … and the story ranges through the philosophical implications of ‘found Art’, holy relics, experimental Burroughs-type cut-ups, and real books with real wings (unlike today’s e-ffete books?)…
    Nicely memorable. I was just wondering where ‘slightly asymmetrical’ ended and where ‘nearly symmetrical’ would begin…

  3. How to Make a Monster Cake by Allen Ashley
    In the previous work there were Lifters to makes books fly. Here, Allen is a Riser. To lift the lid on this Free Verse …. In the form of a tasty cake made from a witty recipe of horror trope ingredients. It does not go belly up. Well not yet – after one-third of eternity so far waiting for its reader to be cooked within it, I guess!

  4. Aunt Sadie’s Shoes by Clare Le May
    The excellent front cover image of this book by Pye Parr seems something like Joel Lane’s fictional, often birdish, ‘angel’ force as a metaphor for eternity, pain, aloneness and death (see his stories ‘Albert Ross’ and ‘The Last Cry’ just as two examples) — and the previous three works, in this book, paradoxically strengthened by their black wit and humour, seem to have an aura of apportionable eternity: the rest of eternity, a third of eternity etc. and this next story carries on this atmosphere of a poignant reaching, yearning forward through time, here by means of photographs that many religions place on their memorials; the tombs in this case are shoeboxes.
    This is a darkly charming tale, told by one of those well-characterised entities in the shoeboxes, of a lonely lady, Aunt Sadie, but rumoured to have had lovers, and the girl who used to try her aunt’s shoes on when a small child is now grown into an adult and visits the flat, where the shoeboxes resided, following her aunt’s death. For me, it is tale of fetishism, but the question is: what is the fetishism? That of those wearing the shoes for the shoes or the shoes themselves for those wearing them? Or, on another level: God as eternity or us finite beings reaching for infinity from past childhood photographs?

  5. To Die For by Mike Chinn
    “What is anything for? Why do tailors exist? Wherefore shoemakers?”
    This is a fascinating episodic story that I am not sure I fully understand, but that seems to be a bonus, because by understanding it one diminishes this sort of story. Not that there is anything difficult about it, with well-written and accessible prose, a wonderful conjuration of an antique shop or is it a secondhand exchange and mart or some entities far more cruelly harnessed, exchangeable as a cruelty to be kind? It seems to follow neatly with what I thought about the shoes metaphor in the previous story and the wearing of clothes or the wearing of one’s self as a body or as a mind with detachable exchanges…

  6. image
    The Friend by Tammy O’Malley
    …Or the curse of a perfect sea.”
    A poem that is tantalisingly meaningful in the sense of a conversation with oneself, as if you and you are almost different balanced jewels, one supporting the other. Needs to be read best, however, in the context of this book’s fiction and poetic works so far, with its own contributory sense of balanced eternity, balanced by good against evil.

  7. Crown of May by Jaine Fenn
    “But then Megan startled a blackbird, and it exploded into the golden twilight shrieking its alarm.”
    …again in tune with the Joel Lane-like image on the cover, but here it is used to depict humanity’s emergence from nature’s yearning flight through the amorally pragmatic as well as the spiritual – which serves as an interesting backdrop to the other works so far in this book (cf Chinn’s exchange and mart), and particularly here childhood memories shown earlier as a way toward eternity, here beset with dark perceptions of future uncleanliness. This work has a musically ‘high fantasy’ tone that I enjoyed, where a bridal crown made by one sister for another is tantamount to Aunt Sadie’s shoes that a young girl there tried on in the unreachable past. I admired the mix of base motives and rarefied yearnings that this latest story depicts. An emotional complexity allowed to be plainly felt by the art of fiction.

  8. Sometime After the Night Before by David Buchan
    “I unfurled my body and placed my hands flat against the ground and pushed, thinking that I would be safer on my feet. But I rose too fast…”
    A searing nightmare vision that is wonderfully pointless other than to share that nightmare vision with us – following casual small talk with a stranger in a pub. Wonderful stuff. The image on the cover is again a perfect accompaniment – but pointing downward instead of up. (I had cause to refer to this same cover image here during an as yet unfinished synchronous real-time review of another book.)

  9. Pingback: BFS Journal #10 Fiction Review | David Buchan

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