The entire concept of Devolution Z works for me on several levels. Creative exploration of the horror genre? Check. A collection of short stories? Check. The involvement of up-and-coming writers from all over the world, leveraging the Internet to it’s fullest advantage? Check and check. The best part is that, as a monthly release, you can depend on fresh new content every time, so if nothing really hits you hard this time, next month almost certainly will.
Devolution Z is a Canadian-based publication, although that means little in today’s connected world. Hard-copes can be ordered from their website, but their talent pool of submissions extends across the globe, from America to South Africa.
The Devolution Z issue we got to review, Issue 7, demonstrates the range that the publication seems to be aiming for. There are, of course, quite a few zombie stories and poems – perhaps one or two too many, but I guess that’s just how the zeitgeist goes. At least there’s a bit of range with them – one from a zombie’s point of view, one from survivors, etc. The better stories are however the ones that feature a bit more interesting or unusual subject matter. Unspeakable monsters from the beyond always make good subject matter if you know how to handle them right, and there’s a couple stories in here that touch quite well on those.
I wasn’t genuinely frightened by any of the stories, but then again, I am just a bit over-exposed these days. There was one that did creep me out – involving transformation and body-horror; always a good approach to take in creeping someone out. The under-appreciated sub-genre of comedic horror got a good representation from South Africa’s own Sergio Pereira, in his story about a bloodthirsty goblin claiming in a court-case that the world of humans is “goblinphobic.” I enjoy juxtapositions like that.
I feel that as the editors of Devolution Z magazine get a few more issues in and build up their confidence, we’ll see an increase in such diverse settings, subject matter and tone. As it is, a few too many of the stories sound like they might come from the same sort of peer-group, but it’s not the worse problem in the world. Just one that I hope they work on.
I admire everything about Devolution Z, and I hope that as their readership and their critical skills grow, it will increase in quality each month. It’s an old-fashioned style of literary input, remodeled for the Internet generation, and I wish them the best of luck in their work for the horror genre.