Hub is a brand new, glossy magazine with the catch phrase ‘It’s all about the story’. Indeed it does contain 10 stories, along with a whole host of non-fiction to pack out its 80 pages. The first thing you notice though is the shape, an unusual square format that sets it apart from the start. The non-fiction includes reviews of films, books, comics and radio, interviews, and an interesting scientific article about the development of invisibility. There’s also an article about ‘Writers Who Blog’; no mention of me in there though!
As for the fiction, it tends towards science fiction and horror; though a couple could be described as fantasy, they’re not your sword and sorcery type of tale. The five that I particularly liked are, as usual, the more science fictional stories.
First up is a story by Bud Webster that I really enjoyed. Bubba Pritchert and the Space Aliens is the story of an idealistic mechanic and ufologist who receives a visit from a flying saucer with engine trouble. The aliens are a refreshing change from what you might expect and the light hearted humour makes it an altogether pleasing little episode.
Connected, by non-fiction editor Alasdair Stuart, is a creepy tale of how modern technology can be more trouble than it’s worth. It’s very short, but very effective. If you enjoy telephone related stories like this, then it’s also worth checking out At the Tone by J. Alan Brown, on the Aphelion webzine.
A dingy swamp planet is the setting for The Frog Pond by James S Dorr. A resupply mission for a survey group discovered that the native amphibians aren’t as harmless as they might seem, and the outwardly macho pilot isn’t as heartless as he might appear. The outward and inward conflicts are blended into a well-paced story that builds the tension nicely.
Martin Owton and Gaie Sebold tell the tale of Adam’s Lawyer as he tries to unravel the mystery of Adam, a boy of unknown origin brought up in seclusion by a rich tycoon. The whole story is built around conversations in the lawyers office. This way there’s no action or dramatic sequences, but it does create an interesting point of view as we try to figure out the truth and look for a satisfactory conclusion.
The magazine concludes with Eugie Foster’s Wanting to Want. It’s the story of a drug addict who thinks she has found the easy way out of her addiction when the mysterious Magicman offers her a trade, but will the bargain cost too much? It’s quite a brutal description of the life of a junkie, enough, you would think, to put anyone off drugs. The narrative really gets inside the characters head though and you realise things aren’t that simple. A very well written piece.
The remaining five stories are all well-written, leaning more towards horror and in a wide variety of styles. For a first issue it’s a very successful magazine, though a misplaced column and half a dozen typos distract from the content. I think it should do well.