Planet Scumm is such a nicely produced magazine. The print issue comes in a lovely compact, pocket sized soft bound edition with a full colour cover, and both the print and ebook contain Maura Mcgonagle’s beautiful illustrations, which add a lot to the stories.
This issue is packed full of delightfully dark speculative horror fiction.
Chelsea Muzar’s Cave of the Lost Frog Woman sets a high standard with a story about monsters – what they do, what they look like, and how they make more monsters. This is a theme I love, and I liked the direction Muzar went with the characters.
Carrying on the topic of domestic abuse from the first story, Radio Elsewhere by Lindsay King-Miller is a heart breaking tale seen through the eyes of a little boy.
I love stories about man eating plants, and I love epistolary stories, especially with footnotes, and Fertilizer by Eli Wilkinson has all of these things! It also makes some nice social commentary, and is full of humor and chills. I loved the main character. A real stand out story in a collection of excellent tales.
A Man, Running by Andrew Kozma is full of quiet horror, existential questions, and intriguing science fiction concepts. I loved the Sisyphean feel to the titular Man.
Zombie stories are always going to be a winner for me, and to find one so original AND so full of emotion makes There’s No-One Left to Haunt by Henry Sanders-Wright a tale of pure gold. My favorite story of this issue.
Solid world building, a strong animal/human bond and a huge dose of serial killer vibes, Recesses of Uriel by A. Katherine Black packs a lot into its short word count. This is a world I’d like to spend more time in, and I commend Black for eliciting so much sympathy in such a disturbing tale.
A Christmas themed horror, Pleasant Guests with Better Games by Hailey Piper is a solid story, but felt a little obvious compared to the others in this issue.
The issue is nicely rounded out by an update on the fascinating developments regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) and the US military in Bureaucracy of Weird by Paul C.K Spears, and Sean Clancy shares a fun Scummy RPG variant.
I award Something Up Ahead…