Sunday, 2 March 2014

Zine Reviews, February '14

Stories From Space Camp #1
Edited by Will, London –
Subtitled “reclaiming speculative fiction for the rest of us”, this science-fiction and fantasy quarterly zine is for people who sometimes feel unwelcome in mainstream sci-fi and fantasy culture.  3 long pieces of sci-fi flash fiction take up a large proportion of the zine, and while I’m not usually a fan of flash fiction, I actually really enjoyed reading them.  The editor writes an interesting piece about how NASA would never allow sick or disabled people into their space programmes, but that this isn’t an issue in science fiction – Will writes, “The fiction part of science fiction makes me welcome”.  There’s a funny piece titled “Dear Robots”, issuing robots pointers on how to assimilate into human culture, and following this a review of a nuclear bunker leaflet from the 1980s.  My personal favourite part of this zine is an amazing article about the sexist depiction of female companions in Steven Moffat’s ‘Doctor Who’ - as a feminist Whovian, I found myself punching the air while reading this!  I adore the concept of this zine, and the content was so well-written and smart. (I hope to eventually get my butt into gear and submit something myself).  Get your hands on your own copy at their tumblr.  Also, if you are into tumblr, I highly recommend following them, as they reblog some awesome and right-on stuff.

One of My Kind #2
Edited by Sofia, Rose, Heiba and Sabba, London –
One Of My Kind is a visual feminist compzine, the content of which “pivots upon the imaginations, creativity and spirituality of women”.  This issue focuses on the role of print in art and activism, and features artists and artwork that explore issues including race, body image, sexualisation, spirituality, poverty, DIY activism, entrepreneurship, and more.  Also included are pieces of original artwork contributed by female artists, which include illustrations, lino prints, posters, textiles, and photography (digital and Polaroid).  Visually, the zine is difficult to describe – with its clean magazine-style layouts, colour photos, length (112 pages!) and professional binding, it feels more like a book to read, although the nature of the content is very ziney.  I thoroughly enjoyed OOMK; there’s plenty of varied content, and it focuses on some really important issues.  You can read a free online preview here, or purchase a copy at one of these stockists.

Elderflower #1
Sarah, Coventry –
A warm, cozy little zine created by the author of zine series ‘Elderflower Tea’, this new zine series represents a more honest look at the author’s life, rather than “hiding behind a rose tinted version”.  I loved this line from the opening page, which I felt was a really nice summation of her writing in this issue: “I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be”.  Sarah writes about some recent difficulties in her life, including a mental health relapse, developing chronic pain and fatigue, and heartache.  She then discusses the ways she is trying to heal and care for herself.  The layouts are beautiful – stickers and dainty backgrounds and typewritten text.  Email Sarah to buy or trade a copy. 

The Monkey Wrench Manual vol. 1
Spike, London –

One of the more inventive zines I’ve read for a long time, The Monkey Wrench Manual is a survival guide for people who find themselves “alive at the peak of industrialised civilization”.  It’s a satirical look at modern capitalist culture, with guides on sabotaging industrial machinery which are “destroying your natural habitat”, a stink bomb recipe, instructions on how to vandalise a self-service checkout, and thoughts on how parts of our body are reduced to ways in which they are “economically exploitable”.  There’s also a very inventive poem about the decline of civilization created with brand name - “THE SUN in the SKY has a new ORANGE glow, that fails to make APPLE or BLACKBERRY grow”!  Also included near the end are post-apocalypse survival tips, including how to survive without electricity and how to clean your water supply.  The visual style is so so cool – it’s all printed in a broadsheet folded-newspaper style, folded down to slightly bigger than ¼ sized, entirely letterpressed in red and black ink (I instagrammed some pictures from the interior pages if you're interested to see more).  It folds out really nicely too, with each unfolding revealing new content (i.e. you don’t have to unfold the whole thing and then read it like a broadsheet from cover to cover).  The zine is free when you order something from the store above, so get your buns over there.

Playerist #3
Edited by Martin, UK -
Playerist is a literary (maga)zine featuring poetry, prose, and artwork that “supports the best practice of established and emergent artists and writers from the UK and world-wide”.  On their Facebook page, the editor writes that this issue is on the broad theme of “comedy”, though as enjoyable as the content was, I wouldn't describe any of it as funny exactly (except perhaps the ‘Pasta Phelps’ sauce illustration, which was very good!).  The zine itself is very stark – black typewriter-like font laid on white background, printed in a neat and uniform way.  Each piece is presented on its own with no title or author name (these are all listed at the front), and all contributor biographies are available to read on the facebook page instead.  I would have preferred to have been able to read the contributor biographies in the zine itself - perhaps people enjoy that kind of multimedia approach, but it’s not for me; I like zines to be little self-contained universes that you can get lost in, with more info about the people behind the words.  Unfortunately, Playerist didn’t contain enough content for me to really get my teeth into. 

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