Jun 11, 2009: The New Bedlam Project is a web zine with multiple authors writing around the same fictional location of New Bedlam. Varying between shorter flash fiction and poetry and longer short stories, every person is free to develop a dark story about the history of this cursed town. Jodi Lee’s entry in the issue, Through New Bedlam, helps to explain more about the idea behind this project.
In the first issue, three of the stories caught my attention above the others. The writing level for the others was good, but they weren’t quite as memorable. First was Garbage Man, by R. Scott McCoy. Starting from the perspective of a nebulous entity, the story quickly moves in in a teen who can pull object into his dream world. This looks like it might play out as a typical revenge fantasy, but the ending veers off in a completely different direction. It’s a nice, creepy touch that pulls the story out of dark fantasy and back into horror.
In Steven Shrewsbury’s Backwash, a university professor gifted with psychometry is called to a dig site to shed light on the location’s distant past. The depiction of the past through Dr. Blackthorn’s eyes helps to explain how the ancient tribes of New Bedlam evolved to become something colder and less sentimental by abandoning "cruder" practices.
And then Louise Bohmer sheds light on a race of fey plaguing a new resident of the town. This one is short and open-ended, implying that there is more to come. I sure hope so. Louise has a talent for whetting the appetite, and I look forward to seeing more entries about the fetch.
I can’t properly review the poems, as I’m horridly illiterate on matters of poetry. But of the two poems offered, I found fivefivefivefivefive by John Irvine to be the more interesting entry.
My only real complaint now is that the issue was a very quick read. I was able to cover most of the issue on the same evening. I guess that’s not really a problem, because now I’ll be waiting intently for the next issue.
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