Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Café Irreal #78 (2021)

The Café Irreal, International Imagination, ed. G.S. Evans and Alice Whittenburg. Issue 78 (May 2021). Online at cafeirreal.com.

Reviewed by Julie Reeser

The Café Irreal
has been publishing irrrealist fiction as a quarterly webzine for over twenty years. The editor team of G.S. Evans and Alice Whittenburg have a long history of cultivating unusual voices, and rightfully take pride in authors returning to them for publication. Irrealism is a philosophical perspective wherein there is no accepted reality, but rather a search for meaning inside the Sartrean fantastic. I visualize it as if a Magritte painting could be navigated, and indeed, the magazine has a superb collection of ekphrastic images on their Pinterest site if one is seeking inspiration and understanding, and there’s more on the site on how the editors define irrealism.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Kearns, The Night Has Seen Your Mind (2021)

Simon Kearns, The Night Has Seen Your Mind. Elsewhen Press, 2021. Pp. 326. ISBN 978-1-911409-65-6. $20.00 pb/$3.99 e.

Reviewed by Jason Kahler

How would House on Haunted Hill have been different if instead of Vincent Price, it was Elon Musk who offered folks a bunch of money to hang out somewhere, and instead of a haunted house, that somewhere were a high-tech outpost in the Arctic Circle? The answer to that question, after a fashion, is The Night Has Seen Your Mind, a novel that replaces the supernatural chills with technological imposition, but still relies on the psychological impact of new places, strange thoughts, and the nearness of strangers to drive its plot and enforce its mood. The book, by Simon Kearns, offers some thought-provoking questions and interesting moments, but its ultimate success will depend upon how well you connect with the characters as they come to terms with their situation.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Ombak issue #3 (October 2020)

Ombak: Southeast Asia's Weird Fiction Journal, ed. Aden Ng. Issue #3 (October 2020). Online at ombak.org.

Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad

Ombak is at first glance a funny little journal, seeming to appear about once a year, slender in pages, and with the front cover missing from the downloadable PDF and e-book formats; there is no editorial or attribution of the editor·s, and no table of contents given (masthead and stories are only printed on the front cover), just the (four, in this issue) stories, one after the other. Although it is billed as a Southeast Asian journal, this issue of Ombak covers international themes: stories are set in Africa, Japan, a non-specific Anglophone setting, and Singapore respectively. The blurb on the website promises themes of life, death and rebirth, and certainly there is a recurring trope of cheating (or trying to cheat) death throughout the pieces in this issue.