redsine seven

Edited by Trent Jamieson and Garry Nurrish

Prime / 136 pages / (January 2002)

ISBN: 1894815009

A person could certainly get used to the format of Australia’s redsine magazine; after all, our hands are practically frozen into the claw-like grasp perfect for holding a paperback. More importantly, judging by the wide range of fiction in redsine seven, who couldn’t settle down and make themselves at home in this stellar example of small press publishing? And just when is redsine eight due?

Editors Trent Jamieson and Garry Nurris have wisely chosen a broad array of material to fill the coveted slots in the fiction section. As in the best stories, some of these selections leave the reader unsure whether to laugh, shudder, or vomit. Cases in point: “Silicon Cast” by Deborah Biancotti and “Mesh of Veins” by Brendan Connell, both tales of vanity taken to the ultimate extreme. Perhaps the proper reaction to these stories would be a shudder of revulsion, but that’s your call, really.

Before shaking off that shudder completely, give a read to “Louisa” and “Sacrifice of the Pig.” Though both telegraph their punches from the first paragraphs, the abhorrence is not lessened by the advance knowledge. And, if the ending of Jeffrey Thomas’ “Mrs. Weekes” is not a complete surprise, does it really matter? The setting in this short-short holds so much dread for each of us that the psychological impact of that aspect alone carries its own horrific baggage.

For pure enjoyment of language, “The Tale of Wolf Storm Hill” by Scott Thomas is worthy of repeated readings. Thomas’ dark and swirling descriptions evoke a graphic feeling of time and place and inevitability; Laurel’s path is irrevocably set long before she ever sets foot in the ruins of the long abandoned village.

In search of chills? Stepan Chapman’s “The Silent People” is unsettling on many levels, not the least of which is the arrogance and ruthlessness of pure research. The conclusion, though shocking, seems somehow grimly appropriate. The terrifying spectre of major depression is a monster that has probably shaken more people than any legend or film creature ever could, but Gary MacFey’s girlfriend is determined not to let its dark tide pull him under in “What She Wanted.” Keith Brooke’s solution should leave everyone scrabbling for Prozac and Zoloft.

The wisest editing choice of redsine seven? Starting off the magazine with Jeff VanderMeer’s disturbing and sorrowful “Detectives and Cadavers.” Told in almost a hard-boiled detective voice, this glimpse of a possible future offers so little hope and so much to fear. And, in between the gore and the tough-guy dialogue is a wrenching sadness that comes as the last threads of hope play out.

To bring readers back down from the heady fiction, Nick Gevers provides a pragmatic look into the making of fiction with an extensive interview with author Elizabeth Hand. Not to keep us too grounded Gevers delivers a review of some of the latest Decadent Fiction on the shelves.

Seem a lot to pack into one issue? Considering I didn’t mention every story, it certainly is. It’s a neat and not too tidy package — plenty of unpleasantness oozing out here and there. Only the future will see if redsine can keep this kind of quality going, but let’s all hope so.