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Strangely appealing “Worlds”

Worlds of StrangeneSS No. 2 coverWorlds of StrangeneSS No. 2 review part 8 of 8:

In a sort-of mini version of Parallel Lives, called “It’s a Strange, Strange, Strange, Strange World,” “Mister Gogue” correlates C.S. Lewis with Doctor Who from “the good old, black and white, Patrick Troughton era.”

“Strange Mails” includes letters from Andy Boot, Graham Andrews, and Steve Rock.

Worlds of StrangeSS No. 2 looks good and reads even better. The production values are excellent, the design and artwork good, but the stories and content exceed the expectations set by its first impression.

Graham Andrews’ Sky Lights

Worlds of Strangeness No. 2 pageWorlds of StrangeneSS No. 2 review part 7 of 8:

Not much longer than the magazine’s Micronicles, at two-and-a-half pages, is the issue’s final story, “The Lights in the Sky Aren’t Stars,” by Graham Andrews. It’s stocked with alien factions like Klarts and Emetians, and charismatic characters like Hardball Hannigan and Anna Liffey, but sadly, I wasn’t able to connect the dots of its abrupt ending. My bad.

This review concludes on June 13 . . .

Micronicles No. 4–6

MicroniclesWorlds of StrangeneSS No. 2 review part 6 of 8:

What has become commonly known as Flash Fiction, has also been called twitterature, minisaga, sudden fiction—and in Worlds of StrangeneSS: Micronicles. There are three entries in WOS2, continuing the sequence that began in the first issue—so here we have The Stranger’s No. 4 “Mr. Hide,” No. 5 “Palm,” and on the back cover, Jojo Lapin X’s No. 6 “Spaceman.” All three spend the majority of their precious words to briefly, but quite satisfactorily, set things up for the delivery of their sharp, twisted “punchlines.”

This review continues on June 9 . . .

The Stranger’s Cold Light of Stars

Worlds of StrangenSS No. 2 page 55Worlds of StrangeneSS No. 2 review part 5 of 8:

The Stranger (Nigel Taylor) presents “The Cold Light of Stars,” in which a publishing agent must regrettably pass on the final manuscript of the legendary author of sprawling space epics and notable science fiction. The problem is, despite the author’s prestigious name, The Oviraptors, is unreadable. The agent commiserates at the home of his longtime friend, Bob Butler, who submitted the thing after everyone else in the business had rejected it. For the better part of the evening they reminisce over whiskies, until a plan for what to do with the tome emerges.

The discussion of the author’s career and the two friend’s fond memories of his work is warm and engaging. When Bob snatches a old science fiction digest from a shelf it triggers a memory of a fascinating story, recounted in satisfying detail, and brings the anguish of their dilemma home.

This review continues on June 5 . . .

Parallel Lives: Magritte and Hergé

Children's Digest Oct. 1950Worlds of StrangeneSS No. 2 review part 4 of 8:

Among Greek biographer and author Plutarch’s most famous works is Bioi parallëloi (Parallel Lives). Beyond biography, the work compares the lives of renown Roman and Greek leaders to inspire morality and foster respect between cultures. The Stranger (Nigel Taylor) employs the technique in “Parallel Lives: Magritte and Hergé;” René Francois-Ghislain Magritte, the famed surrealist painter and George Prosper Remi, aka Hergé, the famed cartoonist of Tintin.

Taylor explores their lives as artists, elements of the fantastic in their work, their shared nationality (Belgian), and on a more personal level, his own keen interest in the works of both, that began in his youth. The comparison makes a fascinating and edifying read.

In the US, The Adventures of Tintin were serialized in Children’s Digest from 1966 to 1979.

This review continues on June 1 . . .

Image from Galactic Central.

Franklin Marsh’s Computer Wild

Worlds of StrangeneSS No. 2 coverWorlds of StrangeneSS No. 2 review part three:

Franklin Marsh knows enough about gaming to give his story, “Computer Wild,” an authentic feel. The opening scene inside a game shop sets the tone of this horror yarn.

Curt paused and frowned, pulling a game from the rack.
“Andy? ANDY!!!”
“Wha’?”
“You ever heard of . . . Kill ‘Em All?”
Andy snorted.
“Who?”
Kill ‘Em All. It looks shit, but I thought I knew everything we stocked . . . This don’t ring any bells.”

By the time Inspector Dalton appears, things have turned nasty and it’s up to local law enforcement to get things sorted. Dalton mixes his skills of detection, good fortune, and bad luck to get to the bottom of this techno-terror tale.

This review continues on May 28 . . .

Andy Boot’s Pulped!

Worlds of StrangeneSS No. 2 review part two:

Andy Boot brings an impressive resume to his story “Pulped!” As James Axler he’s written 18 “Deathlands” novels; as Don Pendleton, ten “The Executioners”; two more novels as Andy Boot; as well as four nonfiction books.

Worlds of Strangeness No. 1 cover“Pulped!” begins in WoS No. 1, and concludes in No. 2. Although the ending, which squares the immediate conflicts, leaves the larger ones unresolved and feels very much like a satisfying segment of a much longer epic. Part one is not required reading to enjoy part two, but one certainly informs the other, and the thrill-packed vignettes of “Pulped!” are an integral part of its overall pleasure.

In 1930’s New York, Frank Nugent employs a stable of writers and artists to document the exploits of five two-fisted heroes for his line of pulp magazines. The public believes these accounts are pure fiction, when in fact, the heroes’ death-denying adventures are real.

Much of part one rotates through the exploits of its heroes: Ray “Crash” Flanagan, Pete “The Red Admiral” MacLean, Jenny “The Black Pearl,” Montague “Quarterstaff of the Jungle” John Summers, and occultist Joss Likely. Inevitably, each opposing villain is in league with forces from beyond. Forces that control their minions from an alternate plane, plotting to cross over and conquer our world. Nugent’s pulp imprint seeks to inform the public, avoiding widespread panic, slowing building awareness of the threat.

Boot captures the feel of classic pulp heroics, layering his story within a more contemporary plot, albeit one steeped in mystics and incantations. Action-packed, and great, great fun.

This review continues on May 24 . . .

Nigel Taylor’s Worlds of StrangeneSS No. 2

Worlds of StrangeneSS No. 2 coverNigel Taylor’s World of StrangeneSS is an annual, self-published digest that has appeared round about Halloween since it began in 2016. Its first two issues were printed traditionally, but fellow Brit Justin Marriott’s successful switch to POD with the Paperback Fanatic line of zines has not gone unnoticed at WOS HQ.

Taylor is a frequent contributor to Marriott’s Fanatic and the author of three short story collections: Hellfire Cinders (2011), Collective Invention (2001), and Prodigies and Effigies (1993). Under guise as “The Stranger,” he introduces the issue with a clipped account of mankind’s fascination with decapitation, the subject of the cover art for both issues No. 1 and 2, citing Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found by Frances Larson (2014) for readers’ consideration. It’s followed by his own (uncredited) faux cover story, “The Lost World Lost,” in which a fatally injured explorer drags himself back to civilization to warn the world of a prehistoric danger, his labors cut short by The Stranger who gives him a final jab. Like any good two-pager, it’s the payoff that makes the set-up worthwhile.

Worlds of StrangeneSS website

This review continues on May 20 . . .

Worlds of StrangeneSS #2

Worlds of StrangeneSS #2 coverLate in 2016, Nigel Taylor launched a new zine of horror, science fiction, and fantasy stories: Worlds of StrangeneSS. I suspect the “SS” on end represents deviance and perhaps “Short Stories.” The editor and the zine hail from across the pond, so it was not on my radar until Nigel invited me to review a copy. I will delve into the second issue (October 2017) after I’ve read it, either here or in The Digest Enthusiast book eight (due June 2018), but felt I should share the contents and key specs in today’s post.

Contents
Nigel Taylor: The Stranger Speaks (introduction)
Cover Story “The Lost World Lost”
Andy Boot “Pulped!” conclusion from issue one
Franklin Marsh “Computer Wild”
The Stranger Investigates: Parallel Lives: Magritte and Hergé
The Stranger Presents: “The Cold Light of Stars”
“Mr Hide” Micronicles #4 [Micronicles = Flash Fiction]
Graham Andrews “The Lights in the Sky Aren’t Stars”
Mister Gogue “It’s a Strange, Strange, Strange, Strange World”
“Palm” Micronicles #5
Strange Mails
Jojo Lapin X “Spaceman” Micronicles #6

Worlds of StrangneSS #2, October 2017
Editor: Nigel Taylor
Editorial Assistance: Kev Demant
Technical Assistance: Jon Taylor
~6” x 8” 68 pages, saddle-stitched
Print £8
Worlds of StrangneSS website