The second issue of Grimdark Magazine features some stellar short fiction, reviews and compelling interviews. My favorite pieces of short fiction were The Knife of Many Hands by R. Scott Bakker and The Line by T.R. Napper.
The Knife of Many Hands is a Second Apocalypse story set in Carythusal, the stronghold of the feared Scarlet Spires school of sorcery. R. Scott Bakker’s brilliant prose shines here:
They would stand leaning out against
the hemp ropes, row after row, forming a sleeve of
dendritic gills, and it would seem the Pit was some
kind of obscenity from the deepest sea, a cold
encrustation about tissue hot and living, filtering
whatever nourishment provided by his murderous
But thoughts were like rivers: the more they forked, the more they made swamps of what was sensible ground. Wisdom was naught but cunning made
grand, a weapon forged to win empty battles.
The main protagonist is a pit fighter, a barbarian who is so much more than just a barbarian. Second Apocalypse readers will love this story, but it can be enjoyed by those who haven’t read any of R. Scott Bakker’s books and give a good glimpse of what to expect.
The Line by T.R. Napper is a futuristic sci-fi dystopian story featuring a pit fighter, just like The Knife of Many Hands, but in a whole different setting. It vaguely reminded me of the Neuromancer by William Gibson, which is my all time favorite sci-fi novel. Gritty realism of this story comes quite close to our own.
The Dark Defiles excerpt by Richard Morgan is another nice piece of short fiction in this issue. Egar, a barbarian Majak warrior, uses his street cred to stop the thuggish behavior of his compatriots who invaded a foreign town, and it was a delight to read the witty dialogues and great fighting scenes.
Interview with Richard K. Morgan is about the grimdark subgenre and brings up good points of discussion.
The review for The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller got me intrigued to buy the book and start reading the series. I think Asoiaf fans need to check it out, the series sounds very promising and as a huge fan of Asoiaf, I am excited to learn about it. I think the fantasy readers who are into historical fiction would appreciate it as well.
Another nice review is for The Heresy Within by Rob J. Hayes, which sounds like the fix for my The First Law hangover.
The interview with Kameron Hurley discusses grimdark, grey characters, short fiction, genre bending and and decnstructing gender concepts in grimdark fiction. It gives good insights and a good idea of what to expect from reading Kameron Hurley’s works. After this interview, I moved The Mirror Empire to the top of my TBR and looking forward to reading it.
The further content in this issue is a short story, Drone Strikes for Fun and Profit by Aaron Fox-Lerner, Grimdark: Onscreen by Layla Cummins and Kyle Massa discussing the grimdark elements in TV and movies.
I am quite impressed with the quality of the content and the short fiction in this issue, especially the crown jewel which is the R. Scott Bakker story. I highly recommend Grimdark magazine, Adrian Collins gathers some of the best talent and delivers high quality content.