Wednesday, February 19, 2003

The Third Alternative, Issue 32

In the last entry I talked up TTA as "possibly the best SF/Fantasy/Horror magazine publishing right now." (Uh-oh; he's quoting himself. Stand back, folks.) It occurs to me that I ought to explain. Firstly, the look of this magazine is beyond any other. Truly professional art, with amazing covers, great layout designs, readable type. Only Realms of Fantasy comes close, really, and TTA isn't plastered with ads like ROF is. Second, and probably most important, the fiction is better overall than any other magazine I read regularly. Perhaps I'm just the demographic, but the darkness of these tales hits me where I live, in ways that F&SF, Talebones, etc. don't.

Joel Lane's "The Hard Copy" is a strange, spare story about something like love but which would never call itself that. I think it's about denying, even to yourself, certain difficult truths. It's a quiet story, but it's well done.

Graham Joyce's "The Coventry Boy" is an excerpt from a novel which recently came out in the UK called The Facts of Life which has nothing to do with Tootie or Blair so sod off, as Graham might say. I don't mean to imply that I know the man, but I met him at the World Fantasy Con in October and he's something else in person. Not that it has any bearing on his writing, so I'll shut up about how I'm jealous of his craggy good looks and all that. Because Graham Joyce isn't in this story, at least, not in any way which would make you think, "Oh, this guy's up to something." Nope. This is about the blitz, and about a girl who knows when it's going to come to Coventry, and what she does on the night it arrives. Glenn Miller is part of the story, and a boy who may or may not be dead, and radio waves. As I say, it's only an excerpt, from a novel we haven't yet seen on this side of the pond. I'll be waiting.

In addition to the stories, this issue of TTA has interviews with Mark Chadbourn and Neil Gaiman, an essay on film by Christopher Fowler, an essay on Japan's dark arts by John Paul Catton, book reviews by various and sundry, Allen Ashley's regular misanthropic column and a piece on the works of eccentric and intermittently genius filmmaker Guy Maddin by my good friend Derek Hill.


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