In his accompanying letter introducing Sybil’s Garage, Matthew Kressel, Editor and Publisher, describes how issue 7 is the first in full-blown trade paperback anthology format, rather than digest-sized ‘zine’, but that what hasn’t changed is their commitment to making each issue a complete work of art.
The magazine certainly oozes quality and class. Almost two hundred pages, with eighteen orginal stories, nine poems, clearly put together with a huge amount of love and attention to detail. One of the bugbears of semiprozines can be the illustrations, which tend to be not quite up to the class of the fiction. Rather than drawn illustration, Kressel goes for photographic illustration, which is done very, very well, with small but effective and impactful photographs embedded throughout.
One nice touch is that each story is prefaced with a suggested musical soundtrack, although I was made to feel my age a little as only a Stooges and a Talking Heads track struck a chord with me! Pesky youngsters!
The stories are generally short – and my preferences tends to be for longer stories. But they are all very, very well written, and if it’s literary speculative fiction you’re after Sybil’s Garage has it in spades.
Fictional highlights for me were :
- Kathryn E. Baker’s ‘By Some Illusion’ opens with a tender look at a relationship that is sensual in its focus on touch, sight, smell, taste, and whilst it is sapphic it isn’t prurient.
- Swapna Kishore’s ‘The Unbeing of Once-Leela’ takes us to a quite different place, but with humanity still there, with karma and memories to be addressed.
- Hal Duncan’s ‘The Tale of the Six Monkey’s Tails’ provides some Oriental monkey-based relief (which no magazine should be without.)
- M.K. Hobson’s ‘Kid Despair in Love’ takes a slightly skew-whiff squinty look at Big Business and the CEOs who run them.
It’s a handsome magazine, the presentation and content of which you wouldn’t be embarassed by when reading in public, or discussing with colleagues. (I recently had my CEO spot a magazine peeking out of my jacket, and I had to take out a copy of Analog and show him it. Double ewwww.)