Reviewed by Steve Redwood

Thirteen is a monthly magazine with thirteen (!) stories in each issue, mainly horror, but also including other genres. The issue I have is April 2005's, with a solid 80 pages of reading, no illustrations (but colour cover), very similar in size, shape, and font to Gary Fry's Fusing Horizons. Although copies of this issue are still available, there is little point at this stage in discussing every story. I am writing this mainly to draw attention to the magazine: the editor Andrew Hannon, well-known to Whisperers for his excellent The Undertaker, is a bit lax on both 'getting-the-word-out', and on web updating (no ToCs, for example), though this may be partly because his office seems prone to Noah-scale inundations. However, judging by this issue, it is well worth keeping this magazine in mind once the Christmas bills are paid off and Big Brother and sundry begattings return to your screens.

True, there are a few stories which go over too well-trodden unhallowed ground--alien bodysnatching in Sightings, psycho del jour in Rage, boy with special powers which will be used to kill in Forces (but this story has other virtues), phone calls from the dead in Static (I wonder if those damn spirits ever pay for those calls!). These are all competent enough but hardly original. A couple of others have great ideas (Luke Campen's The Unlive, in which an all-powerful computer is doomed because of the very lack of opposition, or RS Pye's On the Underground, in which life or death is decided on a flawed instant assessment of an innocent passenger) but imperfect execution.

But there is another group of stories where the level steps up, starting, on the mezzanine, with Matthew Batham's intriguing Warren and the Vampire (where the vampire is a symbol of hope and adventure more than of terror), then hopping up to the top floor with the humorously understated Jerry by Brett Taylor (an unquiet--literally--spirit finds a most unusual abode), then right into the penthouse with the marvellous Storeroom by Jim Corwell (constant twists and turns that even Tony Blair would be proud of, always the unexpected, all leading to Hell, and a blaster of an ending) and then Lob, Splat, Killshot!, by Vincent Van Allen, which sits right on top of the aerial itself, and deals with... a game of racquetball! through a narrative always full of surprises, with excellent surreal touches, such as the three hellishly gorgeous cheerleaders, a man who travels right round the moon (an abandoned lunar rover comes in handy for a time), a violent demon called Adonis--and a moral to boot! An almost perfect story (almost, because I feel the protagonist's character at first is too caricatured--would anyone really laugh at a guy dying on a racquetball court?).

So yes, well worth sending off for at least a sample copy, I'd say. 169 (13 issues) stories a year is a lot, and as the editor deliberately gives opportunities to new writers as well as more established ones (as does Whispers), not every story will be a masterpiece. But that still leaves a lot of good reading. Besides, the magazine has to be one of the most accessible markets for your own febrile meanderings (even I got in)!!

Thirteen Magazine, edited by Andrew Hannon. A5, 80pp, £3.50 each or annual subscription at £38.50 (13 issues).

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Steve Redwood is the author of FISHER OF DEVILS ( ), THE HEISENBERG MUTATION ( D Press: right here), WHO NEEDS CLEOPATRA? ( ) and of his own downfall.

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