We continue our ongoing review retrospective of Grimdark Magazine with Issue #4 published in the summer of 2015. Like previous issues, this one has four short stories, two novel excerpts, two interviews, one book review, and one short article.
The standout non-fiction piece is the article by John R. Fultz. Its main thesis is that modern Grimdark fiction is the direct descendent of pulp era Sword & Sorcery. A thesis I fully agree with. Grimdark, at least how I see it has more in common with Conan the Barbarian than Frodo Baggins. This article is the perfect example of what I want from Grimdark Magazine. Intelligent pieces that help develop the intellectual foundation of the subgenre.
The Short Stories:
In Brazen Dreams by Matthew Ward. Outstanding, easily one tied for the top of the hill with Lawrence’s issue one piece. This story has betrayal, murder, isolation, loss of control, and an interesting implied setting in a pseudo-feudal space opera kind of way. I loved this one. It was basically, Littlefinger takes charge of the Borg.
Ashes by Tara Calaby. A well-written piece that I found a bit cliche. The whole dark spin on classic fairy tales is about as cool and edgy as a Hot Topic in the midwest. Its been done to death and overplayed by authors like Neil Gaiman in the 90s where it should have stayed.
Redemption Waits by Mike Brooks. A sci-fi adventure story about a crew of thieves robbing a woman and double crossing another group of thieves in a space casino. Some fast talking, gun fighting, and running about. Decent Firefly like vibe but 100% absolutely not Grimdark.
The Halfwyrd’s Burden by Richard Ford. Serviceable fantasy. I read it a few days ago and forgot everything about it except that I enjoyed it.
Final verdict for Grimdark Magazine #4 is, pick this one up. In Brazen Dreams is a great story and the piece by Fultz is interesting. There is a distinct improvement between issue #3 and #4 when it comes to the quality of stories that makes this magazine worth following.