The Newsletter of
No. 1 (Janvier-Mars 1998), and No. 2 (Avril-Juin 1998), 160 pp., 65 F./10 euros
Review by Kenneth H. Rogers, University of Rhode Island
France now has a serious SF/fantasy quarterly, featuring both French and non-French writers and commentators. The first story in No. 1, by Jean-Pierre Andrevon, is "Condamne" ("Condemned"): reading it is not unlike listening to Maurice Ravel's "Bolero," the reader wants to scream, not because s/he doesn't know what's going to happen next, but because s/he does know. The tongue-in-cheek yet serious interview with the author by Daniel Conrad, co-editor-in-chief of Ténèbres, is almost as exciting as the story itself. A second story, this one by the Australian Stephen Dedman, is more delicate than Andrevon's piece, but just as gripping.
Each of the first two issues of Ténèbres contains a variety of high-quality stories, interviews, critical articles, reviews, and notices. One of the highlights of issue #1 is Guy Astic's "Rire et horreur: un pot-pourri fantastique," an essay elucidating the many-faceted role of "humor" in horror stories: Astic concludes by saying that humor in such stories is indicative of "A brutal or growing imbalance" (p. 63).
Issue #1 contains stories from the United States and Australia, as well as from France. Issue #2, while highlighting the work of the American Poppy Z. Brite, also contains stories from Germany and the United States as well as France. The issue includes a terrifying story by Brite and Christa Faust ("Saved"), a story in which sex, domination, and gore hold the reader's attention until the end; one by Brite ("Pin Money"); an interview with Brite by Daniel Conrad and Benoît Domis; and an essay by Conrad on Brite's place as the "leader of the modern Gothic movement in the U.S. " (p. 58).
But Issue #2 holds other treasures for its readers. Guy Astic returns with an important essay on "Urban Horror," a study of the uses of the city in Gothic writing, from Stephen King to Koontz. There follows an eerie tale by Pascal Francaix, "When the child appears...", about sex-change operations (?) and vengeance. The interview with Francaix following the story stresses the author's evolution from regional writer to his more universal concerns, and contains a slam or two at Stephen King's recent work (p. 97).
The exceptional quality of Ténèbres: the artistry of the covers, the care in footnoting of the essayists, the catholicity of the works chosen, the scrupulously accurate and sensitive translations--all give the reader reason to expect a long and prosperous life for this new quarterly. Issue #6 (April/June 1999) does nothing to diminish these high expectations. The work of Ian Watson and Ramsey Campbell is highlighted; there is a review of recent Gothic writings by Tyson Blue, which mentions, among others, Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, Tom Clancy (!), and Poppy Z. Brite; and a story by our own Dan Pearlman, "La Chute de la Maison" ("The Fall of the House") (pp. 106-112). Pearlman dissects a late unlamented, horrendously dysfunctional family, from the standpoint of one of its more dysfunctional members, as the wrecking ball mercilessly, or more accurately, mercifully, snuffs out all traces of their abode. One cannot but regret the absence of an interview with Dan, following the story; perhaps in a future issue...
|The Council for the Literature of the Fantastic is based at the Department of English of the University of Rhode Island. We thank the University and the Department for their support.|
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