A Review Asks Only Whether One Can Live With It Or Die Of It

I've been reviewing small press publications on www.bugpowder.com for a few years now. Totemic small presser Andy Luke recruited me; he'd been impressed with my essay, Closing Shots From A Grassy Knoll, and was convinced that I could restore some cheer to the reviews section.

Ostensibly a scoff-mixture, Closing Shots From A Grassy Knoll discusses the pathogenic presence in UK small press of comics creators eager to produce work sterilized by an ambition to be adaptable to the strictures of an intrusive company bent on 'product development', and who derive a vanity-buzz of satisfaction from tucking themselves into deadlines and knocked-off scripts. "This budding hack is fuelled by little more than the desperation for a sense of celebrity," I wrote, "and must be destroyed."

My muscular reviewing-style grated with small press enthusiasts' indulgence in self-satisfied congeniality and writer/artist shape-throwing, but I refused to conveniently dismiss creators with throwaway compliments, employing instead a reviewing discipline based on four simple tenets: 1, perspective is to be achieved; 2, the standards by which one is judging the work are to be made clear; 3, credit is to be given where it is due; and 4, one should not be such a fucking misanthrope, you above-being-human narcissist.

Regularly achieving three of the four principles with my aesthetic evaluations, and quickly developing an obsessive-compulsive urgency for production of symmetrically paragraphed reviews, the meaningless absurdity of opinionative writing soon revealed itself to me. I was not deterred.

John Robbins

Slow Science Fictions #17: From Eduard Mogilowski's Old Typewriter

Posted on August 6, 2008

Social Reality Earthtime 1938: top-level demons and monsters of superhuman power are using Hitler and the axis powers to destroy Christian civilisation with a planned thousand-year Third Reich of militarised paganism. Satan's Spiritual Director on Earth – Sir Michaeal Spearate – sculpts with living flesh (using the blood of dead Jews) and emits a sick and unspeakable goat-fish smell of sixteenth-century Billingsgate as he recruits crop-haired youths with the promise of immortality – jobs for life; and beyond! But Sir Michaeal's enemy, the Nobodaddy (aka God Almighty), sends a beautiful Angel to earth to contact the Cosmic Crusaders – Heaven is at war with Satan, and they are to plan the logistics of defence in the known world.

"You will have no memory of this," says Professor Fergus McQuigley to the Cosmic Crusaders, "but it will be written in your unconscious mind for you to recall in years to come." Similar could be said of Michael J Weller's Slow Science Fictions series as its non-linear saga often lodges shapeless-as-memory in the brain. However, here in #17 the story From Eduard Mogilowski's Old Typewriter (Mogilowski: the series' pulp magazine writer, character and creator of The Cosmic Crusaders) provides a focus more in keeping with conventional narrative-models, and offers immediate satisfaction. With echoes of Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Hellboy, it's an entertaining read; one possessed of a worldly and otherworldly eruditeness.

40 A5 pages, £2 inc p&p, available from www.homebakedbooks.co.uk