Zencore: Scriptus Innominatus. Nemonymous 7. Megazanthus Press, 2007. Pp. 209. ISSN 1474-2020.

Reviewed by The Exploding Boy

Zencore! is the latest anthology of Nemonymous Magic Fiction and Magical Realism from Megazanthus Press. The collection arrives in the same mysterious fashion as its predecessor, seventeen short stories by various authors, all listed on the back of the book, the stories inside unassigned to each writer until the following anthology.

This concept may, at first glance, seem a little strange, but in reading the collection, it somehow 'frees' the stories, allowing each piece to live and breathe as pure narrative, unattached to any particular author. It comes across as a fitting form for the simple art of storytelling.

Overall, the quality here is of first-class standard, with some fascinating ideas contained within its 200 odd pages. All the stories hold an elliptical and engaging air, never dipping below interesting. Nothing here is obvious and all the writers skilfully avoid cliché. From the charming snail-crunching vignette ‘Torzion’ to the scalpel-wielding ‘Word Doctor’, Zencore! does not disappoint, presenting us with a brilliant slice of independently published fiction.

And there are several gems besides. For my money, the standout stories here are all highly enjoyable and genuinely deserving of mention. The mysterious and quirky tale ‘MMM-Delicious’ is rather captivating, with a lovely thread of sinister humour throughout, never plumbing for the obvious and leaving the reader with a pleasant, if mystified aftertaste.

‘The Awful Truth About the Circus’ and ‘Red Velvet Dust’ are both excellent, well-written stories, nimbly capturing what magical realism is all about, turning the reader's eye inward to the human condition, describing hope and loss with delicate brush strokes. ‘Mary's Gift, the Stars and Frank's Pisser’ is a wonderfully original yarn, full of sadness and dreams, the story of tramps intertwined with fate and the cosmos, a juxtaposition that is both fascinating and grim.

Favourite story ‘England and Nowhere’ has a beautifully erotic slant, with excellent characterisation and a plot that keeps the reader guessing well after the end. This story, for me, was seriously moving and lifted the collection to new heights.

All these mentioned stories linger long after turning the page, though one gets the impression that readers will discover their own personal favourites within such a diverse and appealing collection.

Zencore! is well worth a look. This satisfied reviewer looks forward to the next anthology in the series with bated breath.

Buy this book from Megazanthus Press

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