Fiction Magazine : Issue One
Reviewed By Gareth D. Jones
With the recent demise of both Scifantastic and Here and Now it was time once again for the doomsayers to emerge from the woodwork and proclaim the imminent end of the short fiction market. Fortunately we’re able to counter that with the launch last month of Hub, the forthcoming Murky Depths and this week issue #1 of Fiction magazine.
The team behind Fiction also come with that essential element for the launch of a new magazine – boundless optimism. In the editorial on the first page they acknowledge that the full-colour glossy paper hasn’t actually materialised, but throughout the magazine there’s a vibrancy and positivity that it can only go from strength to strength. The editorial and reviews are written in a friendly, informal style, and there are plenty of comments thrown in between to make you feel really involved in this new endeavour. The whole mag has the feel of a website brought to paper and, like the other two new magazines, this gives it a style and feel that stands out as something different.
So what of the fiction, which is, after all, the title of the magazine? There are three stories in this issue, a little mean I thought, but they are all of decent length and make the magazine a respectable 60 A5 pages.
The first story, Sam, is by Terence W Martin, who is coincidentally the editor of Murky Depths and who even more coincidentally lives about ½ a mile from me. The eponymous Sam is a mysterious old man who befriends and adopts an orphan boy. The two obviously have some kind of connection, and Sam is more than he seems, but while several years are briefly condensed there is still a good feel for the relationship that develops between them. What Sam wants out of the relationship and who he actually is are not startling when revealed, but the story comes across with a warmth and a sense of history that make it a pleasant read.
Paul May’s Motorway Madness is set on the automated motorways of the future. It mixes gadgetry and gimmicks with the old adage of a woman scorned; for the unfortunate chap driving along in his automated car his ex-lover happens to be one of the designers of the system. The tension builds nicely and the pages flashed by as quick as the billboards, keeping me hooked to the end.
An entirely too plausible crusade in the not too distant future is the setting for Martin McGrath’s Soldier of God. It’s full of action and adventure and portrays an air of cynicism and irony that lend it a convincing voice. It adds a nice variety to the collection and I’m looking forward to seeing what they bring us next time.