Midnight Echo Issue 5 February (2011)

Sex :
Violence :
Editor Leigh Blackmore
Publisher Australian Horror Writers Association
Length 123 pages


Leigh Blackmore, editor for Issue 5, presents another jammed packed edition of Midnight Echo as the magazine launches into it's third year. It's been well documented that this Issue has had some delays in getting to the virtual news-stands so the question becomes was the wait worth it? Let's have a look between the covers and make a call.

Festivities kick off with an interesting enough editorial from Leigh Blackmore in which he questions what can be done with horror, and explains his reasoning behind story selection for the Issue. One of the on going discussions around ScaryMinds circles is just what constitutes a horror outing, the changing visage of the genre, and to an extent are the old tropes worn out or do they still have some killing fields in them. Blackmore approaches similar ground and boldly states what he thinks, with of course the included stories (from a massive submission pile) backing up his view point. Special bonus here folks is the inclusion of last year's winners of the AHWA Short Story and Flash competition, and both are very memorable for differing reason. Leigh Blackmore lays down a good foundation for the Issue, well I enjoy a well written editorial at least, and it's on to the shake and bake of the action works themselves.

Guess most people are dialling into the magazine to get their read on with the story selection. Issue Five comes at us with eighteen short story or flash pieces that should get a nod of approval from the punters without too many problems. Included are of course Jason Fischer's award winning flash piece Goggy, I can't praise this piece enough, it's quintessential flash while get a real chill happening. And Christopher Green's simply excellent Letters Of The Once And Newly Dead, that blew away the AHWA Short Story judging panel in 2010. Issue Five is worth an investment on Green's entirely unique take on the zombie yarn alone.

Other stand-out stories in the Issue are Christopher Sequeira's Cthulhu Mythos inspired Too Many Number 16'8, with it's Stephen King style lead character, good mix of an urban cynical character with one of the traditional story threads right there. John Goodrich lays down the gore track with the amazing God Of Chickens, like a good Harold Pinter outing it works but try figuring out exactly how! And for an entirely new twist on a horror standard Rick Kennett's flash piece On The Other Side surprises with a superb twist that had me sitting up and taking notice.

I'm in danger of outliving my welcome here, but allow me to mention a few more highlights in the prose headlights and we'll move on. Jason Fischer has been kicking some goals on the short story front just recently, and Hunting Rufus continues a recent sub-genre trend of the killer kangaroo yarn. Absolutely loved this story with it's almost apocalyptic nod at the conclusion. And finally Felicity Dowker makes a welcome return to Midnight Echo with the wonderfully blood dripping That Which We Create. Makes you wonder what sort of graffiti they have in Melbourne tunnels really. There's a hint of the Lovecraft in this story as well, though I would tend to put it outside the Mythos. Anyway, superb twist on the urban nightmare with victims that have you questioning whether or not they deserve their fates.

For the wine and cheese set there are also twenty four poems to get their teeth into. As stated elsewhere I'm not your go to guy with poetry, limited audience not many of whom actually read ScaryMinds, so have no idea. But worth mentioning for those who weigh their magazine purchasing on content quantity. Sorry if that sounds slightly cynical, but you had to sit through undergraduate poetry you to would be reaching for either a loaded gun or a bottle of single malt. We need a poetry reviewer around these parts!

Issue five contains some pretty cool special features, that had me high fiving the imaginary corpses in the basement. Scott Wilson managed to get an interview with Jeff Lindsay, the Author behind the Dexter books, giving some insight to a Psycho killer writer and a hint of what we might expect in the future from Miami's one man vigilante unit. Another one for the wine and cheese team, artist Chris Mars is interviewed by Juliet Bathory. And to round things out we even get a graphic story from Mark Farrugia & Greg Chapman that pitches an ancient evil onto the battlefields of World War One. Anyone else starting to think that maybe there's something for everyone in what amounts to a sampler bag for horror?

The regular features add the necessary details to our experience. Sinister Reads once again highlights books, and in this case a couple of graphic novels, to keep your eye out for. A couple of titles there that I will be for sure adding to the reading queue. And we get Author and Artist bios for those wanting to explore individual contributors further.

Providing the final gloss to the magazine, Juliet Bathory and David Schembri continue the hight level of artwork Midnight Echo has claimed right from the very first issue. On the visual front you are going to be having a lot of fun with the issue.

Okay so clearly I had a lot of fun with Issue Five, and to answer the question posed at the top of this review, yes very much worth the wait. If you want to score your own copy then browse on over to the AHWA shop and for a low $3.00 you can download a pdf of the magazine or for $11.00 you can order a print version.

ScaryMinds Rates this read as ...

  Leigh Blackmore almost delivers the perfect horror mag, less poetry more movie reviews!