Thursday, 4 June 2009

Phobia #1, ed. Darren Randle

In some ways reviewing this is unfair to everyone involved. It’s a magazine that’s been put together for fun but without any real talent. As a writing group’s internal magazine it would be fine, but thanks to the internet it’s been published in full view of the world, and it doesn’t stand up to such scrutiny.

The stories range from the more or less passable, such as “The Piece” by William J. Piovano, to the Vogonically awful.

For example, “Monday” by Mary C. White is probably the worst story I’ve ever read. I can’t help but feel guilty for criticising it, since it’s really the editor’s fault for putting it out there for people to read – the poor writer should have been left in unhumiliated obscurity – but on the other hand it would be dishonest to let something so appalling pass without comment in a review. Here’s an example of the prose:
“The usual Monday morning call took to the tape on the answering machine, the voice giving birth to the last words quivering in pain. Another bridged pass day, and another last Monday of the month absence would never be removed from a personal file.”
Mary’s bio says that she has several novels set for publication in 2009.

The magazine is filled with mistakes from start to finish. It’s hard to believe anyone has even read this material before publication, let alone edited or proofread it. Story titles include “The Mostquito Woman” and “Echos”, and typesetting errors abound (paragraphs mistakenly centred, tab spaces in the middle of sentences, etc). The writers involved seem to share a complete ignorance regarding the use of apostrophes. Some dispense with them entirely, others add them in the strangest places. For example in “The Lake” Stuart Twyman writes: “The creature cocks its’ head … opens its’ mouth & its’ slavering lips engulf the mans’ face.” Note that he uses ampersands instead of “and” throughout the story.

Overall, despite some moody artwork from Bob Veon, and a striking cover design, Phobia #1 is a mess. It’s a shame, since Darren Randle is a really nice guy. He’s just, on this evidence, a totally hopeless editor.

Phobia #1, Darren Randle (ed.).

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