“Shadowy shapes moved in the corn, rickety-still shapes bopped and contorted like herky-jerky shadows. Missing people from missing places moving through missing seconds. Ghosts trapped in the good Carolina soil, rising towards Heaven in the corn and always, always falling short.”
-“Corn-Wolf”, by Joshua Reynolds
I’ve made my overall opinion of Necrotic Tissue known in the past (just look at the review of issue #8), so I won’t go into that here. Further, at issue 11 and edging up on their third year in existence, they’ve established themselves as a dependable publication with a quality track record. The only question that matters at this point is: how do the stories in this specific issue stack up?
One of the first things that struck me about this issue was the variety of approaches. While all of the stories do indeed possess some horrific elements, they came from some unexpected places. Do ya like SciFi? How about post-apocalyptic fiction? Something that could be vaguely referred to as electropunk? It’s there, alongside the psychos, man eating beasties and gloppy monstrosities that are par for the course in horror.
Some stories of note were: “Mr. Klein’s Cancer” by T.L Barrett, is a mean spirited (in all the right ways) tale of malignant hatred grown physical and communicable in the body of one bitter man. Eric Hermanson’s “Adaptation” pleasantly reminded me of Scott Smith; there aren’t enough killer plant stories in the world for me. Finally, Stephanie Kincaid (“Today’s Special”) and R.K. Gemienhardt (“One Man’s Pain”) show how good those micro-flash bites can be, while “Little Green Men” (Donald Jacob Uitvlugt) served up a heaping plate of Martian paranoia a la Phillip K. Dick.
My personal favorite this go round is “Corn-Wolf” by Joshua Reynolds (you may have noticed the lyric quote at the beginning of the review). It’s a period piece, set in the civil war during Sherman’s notorious march to the sea, a simple story of the sacrifices made to feed the machine of war. The imagery is powerful, the prose evocative and the dialogue effortless, all while patiently building tension to the point of singing nerves. All of the technical aspects are there in spades, but what really makes this story sing is the passion put into it. Obviously, Joshua was feeling this story and that comes through in the reading. He also has one of the most amusing bios I’ve read in awhile. I earnestly hope to see more from him in the future.
One of the hallmarks of NT has been the advice given to writers (it doesn’t take a genius to notice that writers and those aspiring to the trade tend to buy more literary magazines than the general public) and the “Help Me to Help You to Help Me” section lives up to that standard. Guest Editor, John P. Wilson, provides advice on putting together a quality query letter. Since those are the first thing someone is likely to see of the absolutely genius novel you are trying to sell, they can be a tad important. His advice on the matter is direct and concise without being condescending.
So, does this issue meet muster? Of course it does. Sure, some of the pieces could have been better than they turned out (there were a few dud ending present), too much of the best work was crammed into the back (some readers who go straight from beginning to end may be lost before finding the truly quality work) and I don’t completely agree with the editor’s pick (“Chums” is good, but there were a couple others that whooped its ass). But, I was introduced some new people I want to keep an eye on and got some more from author’s I’ve liked in the past. That’s what I buy these magazines for. Just beware that the price has almost doubled from what they were running last year.