The first thing that jumps out at you as you behold this journal is the overall quality of the physical product itself. It has a really nice glossy cover, perfect binding, and a convenient 1 placed on the spine, ensuring it will look spiffy on a bookshelf(which is exactly where editor K. Allen Wood wants you to keep it, he says so in his editorial).
There is a refreshing level variety in the fiction. The quality is consistently high but the stories vary greatly in tone and subject. They range from creepily whimsical (“Music Box”) to funny (“Murder For Beginners”) to devastating(“Thirty-Two Scenes from a Dead Hooker’s Mouth”) , and cover topics as ranging from acute paranoia (“Complexity”) to the zombie tale (“The Dead March” one of my favorites…and here I am thinking I would never give a crap about a zombie story again). Hats off the the readers, this is truly the best of what’s out there.
There are some very insightful interviews as well (the stand out being John Skipp, which had me on ebay the second I finished it, looking for some of his older collaborations with Craig Spector) and some very persuasive reviews (many things covered made their way into my Amazon wishlist).
One other interesting feature of the mag is the inclusion of “the stories behind the stories,” in which the authors talk about the origins of their works. A truly inspired idea.
The issue is available for only SIX BUCKS. That’s ridiculously cheap, six dollars for 100, ad-free pages. I know next to nothing about the publishing biz but I pray there is enough of an audience out there to make this a success, especially considering its modest price. The editorial decision to make the journal bi-annual was probably another wise one: over-ambition has been the kryptonite for far too many print magazines.