GUD MAGAZINE #0

Reviewed by Sarah Jackson

GUD (pronounced 'good' according to their website) stands for Greatest Uncommon Denominator. Issue 0, released Spring 2007 launches the magazine, and is available in both print and PDF via the website.

It is 5x8, just a tiny bit narrower than a standard paperback, with a matt effect cover and nearly 200 pages of short stories, poetry, art, and even a couple of non- fiction pieces thrown in for good measure.

As with any magazine, established or otherwise, it is inevitable that some of the stories, poems and articles contained within are going to be better than others, and GUD is certainly no exception. Some of the fiction is mediocre, but none of it really disappoints, and it is heartening to see that while there are many recognizable names on the contents page, there are also a handful of new names scattered throughout it as well.

The first story, Sundown by Debbie Moorhouse, is a disturbing futuristic sci-fi tale about a 'tracer' who finds runaway children and returns them to the people who are looking for them for a fee, regardless of the reason they left in the first place. The main character must come to terms with his perception of life, and perhaps the idea that a part of himself is dead inside. Moorhouse writes this story elegantly, and sympathetically, but you do get the feeling that certain elements have been shoe-horned into the story unnecessarily in order to make it sit more comfortably under the sci-fi banner.

John Walters' Painsharing is an interesting concept and is more than worth the read.

Neil Davies' poem A Problem With the Law is one of the highlights of the magazine. The simple repetitive style is almost childlike, but Davies has done something really special here. He creates a wonderful sense of tension and outrage through the poem with this wonderful technique, right up to the heart-stopping final stanza.

Songs of the Dead, co-written by Sarah Singleton and Chris Butler is a powerful and well told horror story , and although at times it may feel as though it has lost its way a little, it is a memorable read.

The magazine contains an exhausting collection of fiction, and no page is lost to advertising, but when you happen across Allen McGill's Invitation to Kaohsiung whilst reading through this collection of fiction, you can't help but feel it seems awkward and out of place. The article is an interesting, informative and well written account of Mr. McGill's expedition to Kaohsiung for the First World Poetry Conference, but it just doesn't fit, which really is unfortunate. The journal extract is followed by one of McGill's poems, Night Watch, which is enjoyable and atmospheric.

Lavie Tidhar's Infinite Monkeys Protocol and Jason Stoddard's Moments of Brilliance are well written and enjoyable pieces of writing. Both are sci-fi, but very different. Tidhar's is about an individual who intentionally distributes a computer virus in the hope that it will spread and mutate. Stoddard's story is set in a futuristic world in which human beings are being dosed with drugs in order to control them- in order to correct the 'Flaw of Humanity'. Told from the point of view of a consciousness residing within a newborn baby, this old concept carries with it a certain freshness.

Kristine Ong Muslim's delicate portrayal of a serial killer in her poem As a Child is thoughtful and intelligent, with a careful balance in the language between understanding of what he is and what drives him, and condemnation of the things he has done.

The second highlight of this issue comes close to the end, with John Mantooth's Chicken. His portrayal of schoolboy antics and the nature of fear is moving, thought provoking and emotional.

The magazine finishes with an article by Robert Peake entitled The Poetry Code. Here, Peake explains why he believes poetry and source code are similar, but unfortunately at times the article comes across as a lecture, and again, it feels out of place.

Other fiction comes from Athena Workman, A.B. Goelman, Shweta Narayan, Charlie Anders, Joshua Babcock, Rusty Barnes, David Bulley, Tomi Shaw and F. John Sharp. Poetry is contributed by, among others, Michelle Garren Flye, Rohith Sundararaman, Benjamin Buchholz and Kenneth Ryan.

Overall, this is a good first issue. There are some great pieces of fiction nestled among the good and the ok. It will certainly be interesting to follow GUD's development.

GUD Magazine #0. 5x8, 196pp, US$10/print and US$3.50/PDF (see website for other subscription rates and non-US prices).

Website: - www.gudmagazine.com


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