As a reader of classic weird tales, including those in the pages of Weird Tales, I was mighty interested in the Kickstarter campaign for Skelos, a magazine devoted to weird fiction and dark Fantasy. It seemed like they had their heart in the right place, so I plunked down my pledge for whatever level got me the digital copies. I’m usually a physical copy kinda guy, ‘cause I don’t like reading stuff on a computer screen, generally. But I’m also poor, so that’s what I did.
The first issue hit and…I took forever to get it loaded up onto my e-reader, and that only because my amazing partner has more patience and ability with computers than I’ll ever have (and she has the patience to deal with me…so she’s pretty much a saint). So, Skelos became my commute reading for a couple days, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. It’s a mixed bag, just like an issue of Weird Tales or Astounding, or one of the other magazines of those bygone days. Some nice illustrations highlight things, too.
I’ll first mention that I simply don’t get poetry. It’s like abstract art. Occasionally something sparks an emotion in me, and I pick that as one I “like.” But I don’t get it. Thus, I can’t speak to the poetry. But I liked the non-fiction pieces, especially ‘A Sword-Edge Beauty as Keen as Blades’ by Nicole Emmelhainz, which took a very unconventional stance on gender dynamics in Swords & Sorcery fiction.
Both novelettes were quite enjoyable, but I really liked ‘One Less Hand for the Shaping of Things’ by Jason Ray Carney. It captured the spirit of the grand masters of the weird tale, tapping into something of Clark Ashton Smith, a bit of Lovecraft, and some Lord Dunsany and Brothers Grimm, among others.
Having recently read a bunch of Frank Belknap Long, I couldn’t help but feel that Scott Hannan’s The Night Maere caught the vibe of Long’s work. I don’t want to call it ‘filler,’ as I would much of Long’s stories, but it just put me in a similar place. It was perfectly well executed, but didn’t connect. Several of the short stories were enjoyable. I don’t think there were any dogs, though maybe a couple where I wouldn’t seek out more from the author. But as a whole, they worked together to make a very pleasant read. I’m not sure if it was intentional or chance, but there was a strong Norse/nautical vibe to many of the pieces. But not to all, so not enough to say it was the ‘theme’ of the issue.
Finally, there were a few reviews which turned me onto a couple things I want to read. I’d been on the fence about the Chaosium anthology, and I’d never heard of the Mordecai Slate stories. Both are on my list, now.
If you want to read more from me, you can follow me on Twitter at @TheOmegaDork.