Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Redsine, Number Ten

This is the most recent issue of Redsine, but hopefully not the last. According to the website, they're looking for a new publisher. Good luck, guys.

Once again, James Sallis shows up in this issue, tying Brian Hodge for most-reviewed writer on this young site. His story "When Fire Knew My Name" is a numbing look at a bleak urban landscape of the future. It walks a line between the poetics of the wasteland and the utilitarian prose of dickian disintegration. As such I found it difficult to get a handle on--how literally should the idea of construction and deconstruction be taken, and how real are the signs of the apocalypse of civilization? Is there really a fight to be won, or is it already lost? This confusion dulled my enjoyment of the story only a little. Sallis is adept with language, and there are many powerful images here. An intriguing, if frustrating, story.

"Rake at the Gates of Hell" by Dirk Flintheart (this can't be a real name, right?) is a sort of afterlife twist on "The Ransom of Red Chief." Captain Bernard Devlin MacFlannery, late of the Spanish Foreign Legion, shows up in hell determined to suffer for his sins. The problem is, no one in hell is tough enough to give the Captain the torment he insists that he deserves, and he tears the Nine Circles apart in search of the people in charge. When things get sorted out--turns out that the late Captain isn't as late as he feels--the hosts of Hell are granted a reprieve, but it may only be a brief one. An enjoyably over-the-top tall tale.

Monica J. O'Rourke's "Eye Contact" is, as Hobbes once described the life of man, "nasty, brutish and short." Not graphic, exactly, but shudder-worthy nonetheless, and therefore effective.

"The Random Breakfast Generator" by Paul Hassing is absurd and satirical and mean and very enjoyable. I won't give anything away here; the title should be inducement enough to read it.

Hertzan Chimera and M.F. Korn collaborate on another story (as they did on "One Day at a Time" back in Redsine Number Eight) called "Is There Life on Mars." This one is a little more scatalogical and a little more successful than the last, though as with the last the weirdness piles on to such ridiculous extremes that my eyes were glazing over by the end.

There is also an interview with Brian Stableford in this issue.

I'd like to note briefly that I skipped several stories in this volume, and chose not to comment on some of the ones I did read. There are two reasons for this, though both don't apply to all the stories in question. Firstly, I didn't feel right commenting on stories when I didn't feel like I could say a single nice word, and secondly, many of the halfway decent stories in this volume left my critical faculties at a loss, as they were simply one-dimensional. I have to admit that where I thought that issues #7-8 of Redsine had a lot of thought-provoking fiction, the proportion of that to dull and amateurish horror has shrunk considerably in the last two. I do hope Garry and Trent find a new home for their magazine, but I hope even more that they find some better fiction.


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