Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free, bite-sized book/magazine reviews.
The Philippines has books, books, books but when it comes to the genre magazines, it's almost like an urban legend, something you often hear about but never seem to get a hold of. Postscripts #16 is the first of its kind for me and thankfully, it lived up to the hype that my fantasies shaped it out to be.
The cover art is intriguing although not too striking. The interiors are competent although at times they seem amateurish. While not overtly cute, there's enough shades of it that can be detracting at times although Wayne Blackburst does make it work such as his illustration for William Alexander's story, "Clockwork Iris".
There are ten stories in this issue and I enjoyed most of them, with only one or two that felt mediocre. All of them contain elements of horror, ranging from the subtle to the readily apparent. There's certainly a diverse set of stories included that reading through the magazine doesn't seem repetitive.
A couple of stories caught my attention but I'll focus on my top three. Opening this issue of Postscripts is John Grant's "Will the Real Veronica LeBarr Please Stand Down?" Using his charlatan skills to perform literary legederdemain, Grant creates a compelling character-driven story with multiple twists and turns. What makes it work is that this isn't an easy story to pull off yet the author manages to convince the reader without showing us all his tricks. This is one of the better stories that play around with the narrator's memory.
T. M. Wright's "The Blue-Faced Man" features kinetic writing that hints at some larger. The language is plain and simple although Wright throws in some poetic lines here and there that works within its context. Reading an exchange of letters has never been so exciting and the author's use of subtlety is to be commended.
The third piece I want to highlight is "One of Nine" by Bruce Golden. Again, this is a difficult story to pull off, at least without seeming didactic yet one can easily discard its moralistic/political layer and still appreciate the fiction. Golden makes us sympathize with the protagonist and gives us a good overview of his sports team. There's not much direct conflict present but the tension subtly insinuates itself into the text. And as far as agenda goes, this is the right way to tell such a story, and ties back into the horror of the piece.
Overall this issue didn't disappoint and met my expectations. If you want well-written fiction with touches of the horrific, then Postscripts #16 is a good example of how to do it right. It's not "perfect" by any means but the bar is certainly high with eight out of ten being great stories.