Shock Totem #5
edited by K. Allen Wood
Shock Totem (2012)
If there is a go-to place for me when it comes to horror stories, it's Shock Totem. The ST gang have carved out a niche for themselves in the short fiction landscape by honing in and highlighting some of the best dark fiction you can find in short story form.
"In Deepest Silence" by Ari Marmell kicked things off story-wise with a Lovecraftian tale set in a nuclear sub of all places. The claustrophobic atmosphere was handled well, with plenty of navy jargon that didn't feel overwhelming, and a cool premise of literally not being able to see the indescribable horror swimming in the ocean's depths. Cool stuff.
Before that though, there was a brief defense of the horror genre from Mercedes M. Yardley. Not her most heart-wrenching essay in ST's pages, but one I found myself agreeing with wholeheartedly. People may not want to call it "horror," but it's out there--and it's everywhere. There's plenty more nonfiction to be found in this issue as well, including an interview with Jack Ketchum.
Back on the story front, the assortment varied in styles, but kept a similar stark tone. From D. Thomas Mooers' "The Girl and the Blue Burqa" and its paranoia gone wild, to what may be my favorite from the offerings, Joe Mirabello's "The Catch." An quirky, creepy, otherworldly bit of horror that would fit in well with The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, with an annual fishing trip through time--and a Viking chauffeur. Plus, there's the other stories from F.J. Bergmann, Nick Contor, Kurt Newton (accompanied by some stunning artwork), Darrell Schweitzer, Jaelithe Ingold, Anaea Lay, Mekenzie Larsen, and Sean Eads.
ST ought to be on your radar if you love horror or short fiction. And if you love both, then you have no excuse. Really good stuff, and I already have Shock Totem #6 on my Kindle, and waiting for #7.