Neon Books A Literary Magazine And Chapbook Press Thu, 07 Dec 2017 13:09:07 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Neon Books 32 32 116276687 Neon’s 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominations Thu, 07 Dec 2017 13:09:07 +0000 Each year we put forward six pieces from the previous twelve months of Neon Literary Magazine to be considered for the Pushcart Prize. In case you’ve never heard of it, the Pushcart Prize is intended to celebrate the very best of the small press world by collecting together the finest works of fiction and poetry published in literary magazines and anthologies in the previous year.

Selecting just six pieces out of the dozens we’ve published was a near impossible task, and reading back through each issue of 2017 was a joy. After much deliberation, then, here are our six nominees:

“By An English Sea” by Thomas Evans

“Signals Of Fear And Uncertainty” by Eric Shattuck

“You Invent This Invention” by Molly O’Brien

“A Heavy Scene” by James Hodgson

“Daytime Television” by Jake Ristic-Petrovic

“Toni’s Party” by Erica Mosley

We wish each of them the very best of luck, and will be looking forward to the announcement of the selected pieces in 2018. In the meantime, if you want to read all of the nominees, you can still get hold of issue forty-five in print form, and issue forty-four is available to download for a price of your choosing. We hope you enjoy their work as much as we did!

]]> 0 7968
Our 2017 Chapbook: “Fears For The Near Future” By CS Mierscheid Tue, 05 Dec 2017 11:00:32 +0000 It’s been a long year… but just in time for Christmas we’re finally ready to announce the title of our 2017 chapbook. Fears For The Near Future by CS Mierscheid is a brilliant guide to the postmodern disorders of the present day. Think you might be suffering from GPS Directive Disorder? Or perhaps you’ve come down with a touch of Pornography Paranoia? Either way, we’ve got you covered. This incisive pamphlet will help you put a name to that looming sense of dread you’ve been feeling. Finally.

You can read a little more about the chapbook and its esteemed author on its dedicated page. Want a copy? Pre-orders are still open for both physical and digital copies of the chapbook. Order now and you can expect to have it in your hands by the end of January 2018. Stay tuned for an exact launch date, as well as an interview with Professor Mierscheid, and some sample chapters.

]]> 0 7905
Review: “Brief Eulogies For Lost Animals” by Daniel Hudon Thu, 30 Nov 2017 11:00:38 +0000 Publisher: Pen And Anvil | Author: Daniel Hudon | Buy: Amazon USA

Most readers will be able to picture, with some degree of accuracy, a dodo. These flightless birds disappeared from existence sometime shortly after 1660, and are known now only through paintings, sculptures, and displays of their preserved remains. Popularised by various cultural cameos, they now serve as a shorthand for extinction: “dead as the dodo” being one commonly-used aphorism.

But the death of the dodo is just one in thousands. Can you picture a Glaucous Macaw, a Tecopa Pupfish, or a Hawaiian Rail? Probably not… but that’s because you’ve yet to read Daniel Hudon’s Brief Eulogies For Lost Animals, a collection of touching, minutely-observed elegies to species which have been wiped clean from the face of the earth.

The book is comprised of one hundred short pieces of creative nonfiction, each one dedicated to a different extinct animal. The entries are organised according to region, beginning with “Lost Animals Of North America” and ending with “Lost Animals Of The Indian Ocean”. There’s also an appendix which groups the featured species by taxonomic classification, and a second one that supplies a series of interesting notes, along with sources for further background reading.

Does that description make Brief Eulogies For Lost Animals sound somewhat like an encyclopaedia? It’s not. Hudon askes, in the introduction, whether the stories of extinct animals are being told – and concludes that in many cases (high-profile extinctions like the dodo and the passenger pigeon aside) they are not. The book is an attempt to redress that, and it is very much the story of the creatures memorialised here that is the focus, rather than their taxonomic classification, their measurements, their biological facts.

The real power of these vignettes, then, is to render these animals real. A monstrous extinction rate is an easy thing to ignore when you can convince yourself that the thousand species lost last year were probably mostly insects, and probably mostly quite dull anyway. To be faced with a hundred short, vital, often beautiful narratives of the lost creatures, on the other hand, makes their absence a much more difficult thing to shake.

This is all the more the case because of the sheer poetry of Hudon’s writing. Entries range in tone from the dejectedly factual to the keeningly poetic. Quotes are mixed with statistics, vivid descriptions with history. Startling observations await on every page. We are treated to visions of groups of Caribbean Monk Seals basking on atolls “like old men, feeling the warm breeze on their whiskers”, or Huais “flying and leaping in succession to some favorite feeding place far away to the silent depths of the forest.”

The pieces compiled in Brief Eulogies For Lost Animals leave you with a real appreciation of the sheer variety and vibrancy of what has been lost. There’s a bittersweet tang to the beautiful prose and arresting descriptions. As the introduction says, these animals exist only as recordings now. Each and every one is exactly as dead as the dodo, and they’re not coming back.

]]> 0 7660
Five Seriously Creepy Horror Stories To Read This Month Tue, 31 Oct 2017 13:13:22 +0000 When it comes to horror, the short story is the perfect form. Its brevity allows for a swift escalation into madness, but it’s not so short that it’s over before discomfort has had a chance to mount. With the advent of Halloween, we’ve compiled a list of five excruciatingly creepy short stories which you’ve likely never heard of before. Settle in, dim the lights, and be prepared to jump out of your skin if the phone happens to ring at just the wrong moment…

“Wild Swimming” by Elodie Harper

When curating a list of horror-related anythings the temptation to default to Stephen King is a powerful one. We haven’t entirely given in. This epistolary short story by Elodie Harper was the winner of a Guardian short story competition judged by King, and in terms of feel it does certainly have about it the robust creepiness that marks much of his work. When wild swimmer Chrissie ventures to a remote town in rural Lithuania in search of the perfect spot for a dip she ends up waking something that would have been far better off left undisturbed. Gorgeous.

“The Third Bear” by Jeff Vandermeer

The residents of the tiny village of Grommin have already seen off two bears this year, but this third one is something altogether different. It is clever. It is cunning and twisted. And it seems almost to be playing with them. Jeff Vanermeer’s short story begins dark, and proceeds to slowly ratchet up the tension and gore until the narrative is pervaded by a sense of starving desperation. There are no heroes in this tale, no happy endings, and certainly no salvation for the victims of the bear – or whatever else it may turn out to be.

“The Price” by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has written so much brilliant horror that it’s hard to pick just one story of his to include, but this one has always been a special favourite, if for no other reason than its featuring of one of the all-time best ever fictional cats. “The Price” starts off innocuously enough, as the narrator takes in a stray cat that happens to wander by their home. Something, however, is clearly amiss, as every night the cat returns to them savaged half to death. This is one of Gaiman’s least gothic and initially mundane-seeming stories, but the slowly building tension and brilliant ending make it well worth the read.

“One Foot Underwater” by Joey Comeau

Ducks are scary animals, but for all their violence and inhumanity they rarely feature in horror fiction – perhaps due to their inherently absurd appearance or cartoonish associations. Joey Comeau addresses that deficit in his haunting, sad, weird short story “One Foot Underwater”, which follows teenager Melanie as she deals with a somewhat unusual haunting in the wake of a terrible accident. If you’re looking for a story that has equal potential to make you laugh and cry, this one is probably for you.

“Ted The Caver” by Ted (The Caver)

Ted The Caver is the stuff of urban legends. It’s less literary than the other entries on this list, and veers into the territory of creepypasta, but it does so with such convincing style and grim patience that it certainly deserves to be read. What begins as an entirely straight-faced caving diary soon makes the subtle transformation into something altogether more supernatural as the narrator and his friend brush up against something strange and terrible deep beneath the earth. This tale comes complete with photographs, hand-drawn maps, and an authentically awful Angelfire website straight out of the 1990s.

Interview: Cheryl Pearson Thu, 19 Oct 2017 10:00:15 +0000 We talk to Cheryl Pearson, Neon alumni and author of the poetry collection Oysterlight (Pindrop Press) about writing myths and legends, and organising poetry collections.

Oysterlight is a rich collection of poems underpinned by a variety of themes. Myth, legend and nature seemed to me to be powerful elements throughout. What would you say was the main theme or unifying idea behind the collection?

Myth, legend and nature are definitely recurring themes throughout the collection. The unifying theme, I think, is that of transformation. I wanted to explore how things change, how we change – because of time, or love, or weather, or what have you. I’ve always been fascinated by mythology, particularly Greek/Roman mythology, where women are turned into swans, or trees, or spiders in a snap, and the undead can be resurrected, albeit changed. I wanted to explore that, and touch on the consequences of transformation, both “good” and “bad”.

Although there are narrative threads and recurring images running throughout Oysterlight, I felt as though it was a collection that could be picked up and opened at any page. This made me wonder about how you read poetry collections. Do you tend to read from cover to cover, or dip in and out?

I’m so glad you picked up on that as it was exactly what I wanted to do with the collection! When I was putting the collection together, I remember having a very clear image of it as a necklace – where something cohesive was made of a connected string of individual but similar pieces. Where each poem was its own pearl, if you like, and it didn’t matter which one you looked at first. Having said all that, as a reader, I do usually read cover to cover rather than dipping in and out, if only so I don’t miss anything.

Can you tell us a bit about the process of assembling the collection? Were there poems that didn’t make the cut? How much did the shape of the collection change during editing? How did you go about ordering and arranging the poems?

There were definitely poems that didn’t make the cut. Some of the poems I originally included just didn’t stand up under scrutiny, and others didn’t quite hang together with the rest of the collection, so out they went. The shape of the collection didn’t change too much during the editing process – I had assembled the poems originally depending on tone and length rather than along a theme, although I always knew I wanted Railway Station, Platform Two to be the last poem in the book for those who would, like me, read a collection in order. I wanted to end the book with a note of magic, and a sense of changing, of rising out of the ordinary – the darkness becoming a fox, the girl’s breath turning into a hummingbird. I like that it’s not a poem with a definitive ending. I didn’t want a poem that acted like a full-stop.

This is your first full-length collection of poetry. What did you learn from working on a manuscript of this length? What was the editorial process like, and did you spend more time refining individual poems or shaping the collection as a whole?

In terms of editing, the focus with Oysterlight was definitely more on individual poems rather than the shape of the collection as a whole. I was really lucky to be able to work with Sharon Black at Pindrop Press for my first collection. Sharon is a poet herself as well as an editor, so she’s not just looking at the mechanics of a poem but the heart of it. She really worked hard to make the poems as strong as they could be, and a lot of the changes she suggested were ones I hadn’t even realised the poems needed. I was really grateful for that guidance. I hadn’t expected to enjoy the editing process – I thought I’d find it hard to make changes as the poems were all really precious to me. But when you have a good editor, you come to see really quickly that it’s invaluable to have that critical eye. My poems definitely came out of the editing process stronger for it.

How did you settle on “Oysterlight” as a title? Oysters crop up again and again throughout the manuscript, but they’re one of several recurring images. What made you identify them as central, and where did the word “oysterlight” come from?

Once I’d identified transformation as the underlying theme of the book, I knew I wanted a title that would reflect that. I’d been to the beach with my partner just before I sent the manuscript to Pindrop – we  were strolling along, picking up shells and bits of pebble as you do, when he found one perfect half of an oyster shell. He was tilting it in his hand to catch the light, and it was gleaming with that lovely, pearly wash of colour – pinks, and blues, and lavenders, and golds. And the word “oysterlight” came to me, then, and when we got home afterwards, I wrote the poem, “Beachcombers”, which is included in the collection.  Although the word “oysterlight” didn’t end up in the finished poem, I knew I wanted it for the title of the book. Oysters are the ultimate symbol of transformation for me – an irritant gets in, usually a grain of sand or a parasite, and the oyster defends itself by producing a fluid to coat the irritant. This builds up, layer on layer, until a pearl is formed. I love that – and it’s exactly like how I build a poem! A thought or a word starts niggling away, and then I start adding other bits to it, and layering sentences over that, and eventually (hopefully!)  I end up with something beautiful.

Several of your poems revolve around myths, legends or historical figures of some renown. I wondered if you had any advice or thoughts about writing about existing characters like this? Do you find it easier or more difficult than poems which have no footing in history or legend?

I sometimes have to temper my urge to write about mythological and historical figures, because otherwise that’s ALL I’d write. I wouldn’t say they were easier or more difficult to write about than anything else, but they’re very different. A lot of my poems are based on personal experience, or real-world news, so with the mythological and historical ones, I get to put on a different hat. It’s that storytelling aspect I love, where I get to take an existing character or figure and imagine myself into them. I think my only advice when writing this sort of poem is to find something new to write about, or let us see a well-known character from a different angle. In my Medusa poem, for example, Medusa isn’t this monstrous woman who turns men to stone – she’s lonely, and her heart hurts, and she wants what we all want, which is to be loved. I like to humanise characters like that – I want to empathise with them, and find common ground. I like to make them real, I suppose.  I actually  just wrote a new poem, about the emperor from the old fairytale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. Only in my version he isn’t vain and silly, but a man who is tired of his responsibilities and all the trappings and fineries that come with it. And so he chooses his nakedness, he chooses his freedom.

Do you have a favourite poem from the collection, and – if so – what is the story behind it,  and why is it your particular favourite?

Ohhh, tough question. I love all the poems for different reasons, but if I had to choose a favourite, it would probably be “Mam Tor”, which is the first poem in the collection. I like the poem itself, but it’s special to me for the memory that inspired it as well. I hadn’t been dating Chris very long then, and we’d gone camping for the weekend, pretty much in the shadow of Mam Tor. It was also the first poem I wrote to ever win a prize (it placed third in Bare Fiction magazine’s 2016 poetry competition), which gave me such a boost of confidence. I don’t think I’d imagined until then that I could do this seriously, and I still credit that poem and that prize for setting me on the path that would eventually lead to Oysterlight.

Who are your poetic inspirations? What poetry do you tend to read, and did any of these influences help create and define Oysterlight?

Ohhh, so many! I have my staples, like Alice Oswald, and Jean Sprackland, and Ted Hughes, and Sylvia Plath, but I love finding new poets and poems. I read constantly, and subscribe to four or five poetry journals. Twitter is an amazing platform for finding new poets, particularly American poets – writers like Kaveh Akbar, Paige Lewis, Nicole Sealey, Ruth Madievsky, and Lindsay Lusby are doing amazing things with language. I’m completely obsessed with Ocean Vuong, and have followed his posts on Tumblr for years, so it’s lovely to see him now getting the recognition he deserves. In terms of UK poetry, there are SO many poets I’m obsessed with. Helen Mort, Kim Moore, Judy Brown, Liz Berry (who is probably my favourite poet to see read live, she’s just mesmerising)… I could go on and on. I think every poem I read, even the ones I don’t like for whatever reason, influences how I write. I’m interested in what makes a poem work, so untangling a particular poem definitely affects and shapes how I’m thinking when I come back to write myself. I love that about poetry – how it’s perpetually shifting and changing, and how every poet feeds into its evolution. It’s a beautiful thing.


Cheryl Pearson lives and writes in Manchester. Her poems have appeared in publications including 14 Magazine, Tincture, and Skylark Press. She won third prize in the Bare Fiction Poetry Contest in 2016. Oysterlight is her first full-length poetry collection, published by Pindrop Press.

The Big List Of UK Literary Magazines Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:29 +0000 Literary magazines. They’re strange beasts: beautiful, varied and often painfully short-lived. For poets and writers, however, they’re invaluable. Not only do they allow you to get a feel for the writing of your contemporaries, but they also represent one of the most accessible routes to publication.

Some truth: placing your work in literary magazines isn’t going to make you rich beyond your wildest dreams. But it will gain you readers, get your name out there, build your network and confidence, and occasionally leave you with a little extra money in your pocket.

There are too many literary magazines in the world for us to keep track of, so we’ve restricted the list below to those based in the UK. If you’re new to sending your work out for publication, you may want to check out our short guide to the process. And if there’s a magazine we’ve missed, please let us know using the contact form!

A3 Review

Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

The A3 Review is a literary magazine that folds out like a map, and publishes writing under 150 words. Published pieces are selected by means of a monthly competition.


Format: Print | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes poetry and reviews. Acumen is long-established and well read.


Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes poetry and reviews. Agenda was founded in 1959 by Ezra Pound and William Cookson. It publishes regular anthology issues and occasional special issues that focus on just one poet.

Albedo One

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Based in Ireland, this magazine is “Europe’s westernmost outpost” of science fiction writing. It publishes at least one Irish writer per issue, as well as work from writers around the world. They also publish reviews and interviews, and run the annual Aeon competition.

Algebra Of Owls

Format: Online | Frequency: 365 x Per Year

This “no frills” Yorkshire-based webzine updates on a daily basis with new poetry, and also promotes spoken word poetry events in the region. Every month a “Readers’ Choice” and “Editor’s Choice” prize are awarded.

Allegro Poetry

Format: Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

This online magazine publishes four issues each year, two of which are for general poetry and two of which follow a set theme. The editor is Sally Long.


Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

The poetry blog of Poetry Swindon. Publishes new material twice a week, every Monday and Thursday. Open to submissions from writers anywhere in the world.


Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry, artwork and reviews. Ambit has been around for more than forty years. It combines illustration and artwork with prose and poetry.

And Other Poems

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

The aim of this online literary magazine is to give readership to poems which would not otherwise be available: out of print or unavailable poems, poems published in print but not online, competition poems, and unpublished poems.

Anima Poetry

Format: Print | Frequency: 1 x Per Year

Seeks to publish “contemporary poems which dare to look beyond the materialist paradigm of mainstream western culture”. A new magazine, currently seeking submissions for its first edition.


Format: Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

This long-running online poetry magazine is dedicated to publishing the best in contemporary poetry, as well as reviews of books and pamphlets and articles about all aspects of poetry.

A Restricted View From Under The Hedge

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

This magazine from Hedgehog Press has, in its own words, “quite catholic tastes” and is looking to publish “work from every dusty corner of the broadest of churches.” The somewhat-unwieldy title is sometimes shortened to Arfur for simplicity.


Format: Print | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry, reviews and articles. An arts journal. Publishes lots of commentary, reportage and critical articles.

Atavic Poetry

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

An online magazine which specialises in traditional and fixed-verse poetry, as well as poetry in translations, articles and essays. They welcome reviews of UK poetry events.

Bare Fiction

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Despite the name this magazine publishes poetry, theatre and other forms of writing along with fiction. See the website for event listings and details of a planned competition.

Black & Blue

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

This eclectic magazine is looking for “drama, poetry, prose and other”. Its goal is to be a “fresh and vivid counterpoint to the conventional aspects of the literary world”. The editors are willing to give feedback on rejected submissions.

Black Static

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, artwork and reviews with a focus on horror. Originally published as The Third Alternative. TTA Press also publishes Interzone and Crimewave.

Brittle Star

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and articles. Back issues of Brittle Star can be found online on the Poetry Library website.

Bunbury Magazine

Format: Online | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

An arts magazine with a strong bias towards creative writing. Each issue has a theme. Although the magazine has no official website, you can follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

Butcher’s Dog

Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

A new biannual poetry magazine, founded in the North East of England by seven poets who each won a Northern Promise Award from New Writing North in 2010 or 2011.


Format: Print | Frequency: 1 x Per Year

Based in the English Literature and Creative Writing department at Lancaster University this magazine was set up by students in 2009. It features short fiction and poetry from anywhere in the world. Each issue is named after a different kind of cake.

Cannon’s Mouth

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

The Cannon’s Mouth is the quarterly journal of Cannon Poets. It aims to stimulate interest and encourage the participation of members and the wider community in the writing of poetry and its presentation to the public.

Clear Poetry

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

A free-to-read online poetry magazine, that aims to promote engagement with “accessible, approachable, astonishing” poetry. The editor also curates a yearly eBook anthology of the best poems from the site.


Format: Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

This online magazine comes out of North West England but is in no way restricted to that region. The tastes of the editors don’t adhere to a particular school and they aim to publish a range of quality poetries. The site also features news, reviews and articles.


Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

A creative writing magazine produced by live lit organisation Wordsmithery, based in Kent. Aims to publish an equal quantity of works from the Medway Delta and from the world beyond.


Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, artwork and reviews. One of the UK’s few magazines dedicated to crime fiction. TTA Press also publishes Interzone and Black Static.

Dark Horizons

Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and artwork. The magazine of the British Fantasy Society. Only available to members.


Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

This fifty-two-page perfect bound literary publicaton has an international readership, and gives readers the “opportunity to let the imagination run free”. Produced by Indigo Dreams, who also administer a number of other literary magazines and chapbooks.


Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

This magazine publishes three pieces of magical realist fiction and three pieces of realist fiction in each issue, with the goal of creating an interesting juxtaposition of genres. New and established writers are equally welcome.


Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry, artwork adn reviews. Dream Catcher also runs various workshops and events in the East Midlands.

East Of The Web

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Publishes fiction in all genres. One of the most widely-read online publications in the UK.


Format: Print | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes poetry, reviews and articles. Established for more than fifty years. Cinammon Press also publishes anthologies and runs several competitions.

Far Off Places

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

A Scottish magazine which publishes fiction, poetry, drama and illustration, as well as hosting occasional events. Describes itself as “a magazine of written whimsy”.

Fiction Desk

Format: Print | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

The Fiction Desk publishes a regular anthology series dedicated to new short fiction, as well as running a number of other literary projects.

Fictive Dream

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

An online magazine dedicated to the short story, built around the belief that powerful writing ensures that readers never slip out of the fictional world or dream that a writer creates. Open to submission from emerging and established writers.


Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

A beautifully-illustrated literary magazine which aims to feature both powerful writing and bold design.

Fortnightly Review

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

A frequently-updated periodical featuring fiction, poetry and commentary which dates back to 1865, when it was founded by Anthony Trollope. It describes itself as “an editorial experiment”.


Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

This online journal aims to be a haven for poetry and short fiction, featuring work that “thrills, comforts and stimulates”.

Frogmore Papers

Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and artwork. Frogmore Press also publishes several other titles and runs a poetry competition.

Fur-Lined Ghettos

Format: Print | Frequency: Unscheduled

A slim but exciting publication which features a wide range of genres and forms. An online sampler is available in addition to the printed issues.


Format: Print | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and artwork. Each issue is themed around a “spur” word. Print issues are handmade in limited runs.

Gloom Cupboard

Format: Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry, non-fiction, artwork and reviews. International writers welcome.


Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry, artwork and nonfiction. Long-established and well-read. Issues are generally based around a theme.

Here Comes Everyone

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

A Coventry-based magazine with an international readership. Each issue of Here Comes Everyone has a different theme, and the magazine aims to be accessible and supportive to both published and unpublished writers.

High Window

Format: Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

This online magazine publishes work in English by new and established poets from The UK and around the world. Alongside a lively and eclectic mix of poetry, each new issue contains an editorial, a literary essay, a selection of poems in translation, poetry reviews and occasional features.

Ink, Sweat & Tears

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Publishes fiction and poetry. Their website states that “Ink Sweat & Tears explores the borderline between poetry and prose in the digital age”.

Interpreter’s House

Format: Print | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

A long-established literary magazine, which has now been published for more than thirty years. Features short fiction and poetry. Also runs a yearly poetry competition with a top prize of £500.


Format: Print | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, artwork and review. One of the largest sci-fi magazines in the UK. TTA Press also publishes Black Static and Crimewave.


Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and reviews. Iota‘s main focus is on poetry, but it does publish occasional fiction issues.


Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and artwork with a focus on science fiction. Jupiter is available on Kindle. First published in 2003.


Format: Online | Frequency: 12 x Per Year

An online magazine which aims to provide useful feedback for the creators it features. When submitting work writers are asked to provide a comment on one existing piece from the magazine – these comments are then passed onto the relevant author.

Liars’ League

Format: Online | Frequency: 12 x Per Year

Publishes fiction and nonfiction. Accepted pieces are read by actors at a monthly live fiction night.


Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

“We look to publish the best short fiction and poetry emerging from the UK writing scene.” This journal is run by Gatehouse Press (a publishing company based in Suffolk).


Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 12 x Per Year

Publishes fiction. Over 100000 copies are distributed for free around the UK each month.

London Journal Of Fiction

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

This online magazine is a new platform for writers of fiction, poetry and literary essays. It aims to foster new talent and good writing, regardless of style or genre.

London Magazine

Format: Print | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and reviews. One of the oldest literary magazines in the UK, founded in 1732.

Long Exposure

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Long Exposure Magazine is dedicated to new voices, new ideas, and to seeing the world in different and innovative ways. This project aims to explore both the textual and the visual, bringing to light their dialogues and creative possibilities.


Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

This project attempts to explore the various influences of loss in literature, both by collating original fiction, poetry and essays, and by building a canon of important existing titles.

Lunar Poetry

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 12 x Per Year

A young but strong publication. The editors also publish a readable and enthusiastic blog, and put together podcasts and London-based launch events.


Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

A long-running poetry magazine. Each issue of Magma is compiled by a different editor, and adhered to a different theme.

Misty Review

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

A magazine with a focus on “identifying breathtakingly beautiful words”. This new magazine is open to online submissions as well as applications from potential editors.

Monkey Kettle

Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and artwork. Based in Milton Keynes. Also produces records and runs events in the area.


Format: Print | Frequency: Quarterly

The Moth was launched at the Flat Lake Festival in June 2010 and is now winner of a DAA Arts Award. This Irish magazine publishes poetry, fiction and pictures from artists in Ireland and abroad.


Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction and poetry. Publishes only writers who are female, but contains useful articles and entertaining work that can be enjoyed by either gender.


Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and reviews. Included here for the sake of completeness. Neon maintains this list of literary magazines.

New Fairy Tales

Format: Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and artwork. Aims to publish new fairy tales, and is “passionate about good writing, beautiful illustrations, and sharing fantastic new work“.

New Walk

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

From October 2017 this international print journal of art, writing and review will be replaced by a series of pamphlets, available by subscription. During its run the magazine featured poets such as Andrew Motion and Alice Oswald.

New Welsh Review

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry, reviews and articles. New Welsh Review is concerned mainly with writing from Wales. Most feature articles are comissioned, but it is open to submissions of fiction and poetry.

Nottingham Review

Format: Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

A new British digital literary journal, publishing original short stories and flash fiction from around the world.

Obsessed With Pipework

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

A quarterly magazine founded in 1997, and prouduced by Flarestack Poets. The magazine aims to “surprise and delight”. Although it has a limited web presence, back issues can be browsed on the website of The Poetry Library.

Octavius Magazine

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

This literary magazine publishes short stories, drama, poetry and flash fiction written by students based in Scotland. It is open to any form or genre of writing.

Open Mouse

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Originally developed as part of the Poetry Scotland site, The Open Mouse is now an independent online publication which features poems by writers from anywhere in the world.

Open Pen

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

An entirely free magazine that aims to “create a print movement that is interesting and relevant, and encourage the growth of London’s talented, fertile, literary underbelly”. Publishes fiction, articles and columns.


Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and reviews. Primarily a poetry magazine. Welcomes suggestions for features in addition to prose and poetry.

Peeking Cat Poetry

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

This magazine publishes “a fusion of poetry and flash fiction written by people from all walks of life”. It believes that poetry should be accessible and a part of everyday life.

Picaroon Poetry

Format: Online | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

A web journal which publishes unthemed and eclectic poetry. The editor is seeking “rogue” poets, but has a fairly open definition of that term. Picaroon Poetry also occasionally publishes chapbooks.

Poetry London

Format: Print | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes poetry and reviews. Publishes contemporary poets alongside new voices. Runs a competition and regular readings.


Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

A fully-illustrated literary magazine that publishes short stories, flash fiction, and poetry from the literary new blood.


Format: Print | Frequency: Unscheduled

Prole is a print magazine that publishes high-quality, accessible poetry and prose. It aims to challenge, engage and entertain – but never exclude. The publisher, Prole Books, also produces chapbooks.

Quarterday Review

Format: Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

This magazine aims to publish outstanding poetry in multiple formats on the four traditional Celtic quarter days: Imbolc (February), Beltane (May), Lughnasagh (August) and Samhain (November).

Reach Poetry

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

This magazine has now been published for more than a decade, with a stunning two hundred issues in its archives. Features poetry. Produced by Indigo Dreams, who also administer a number of other literary magazines and chapbooks.


Format: Print | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Publishes poetry. Publishes established poets alongside emerging voices. Established in 1984.


Format: Online | Frequency: 12 x Per Year

A journal of creative arts founded by Amy Kinsman in 2017. It releases an issue once a month, and is open to submissions of poetry, short fiction, visual art and experimental media.


Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

Publishes fiction. Seeks “short stories with an undercurrent”. Based in Exeter.


Format: Print | Frequency: 26 x Per Year

This magazine takes the form of a wax-sealed scroll of new poetry and prose, distributed freely around London every fortnight.


Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Each successful contributor to this print magazine has three or four pages dedicated to their work – be that poetry or prose. Produced by Indigo Dreams, who also administer a number of other literary magazines and chapbooks.

Savage Kick

Format: Print | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

Publishes fiction. Seeks writing that displays “misery, joy, psychosis, hope, isolation, disgust…”


Format: Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

An online literary magazine founded in 2015 that aims to provide a home for exciting writers from across the world. Scrittura publishes prose, poetry and dramatic scripts.

Sein Und Werden

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry, reviews and artwork. An experimental literary magazine that seeks to explore the concepts of Expressionism, Surrealism and Existentialism.

Shoreline Of Infinity

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

This science fiction magazine wants stories that explore the uncertain future of the world, and play around with both big and little ideas.

Short Fiction

Format: Print | Frequency: 1 x Per Year

Publishes fiction. Published by University Of Plymouth Press. Also runs an annual short story competition.


Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Publishes fiction and reviews. A crime and thriller ezine.


Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction and poetry. Established in 1952 by Jon Silkin. Has editorial offices at Leeds University and Virginia Commonwealth University in the USA.

Stimulus Respond

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

An online magazine each issue of which revolved around a given theme or “stimulus”. The pieces featured in the magazine form a response to this starting point. Among the most recent stimuli have been “Post-Truth”, “Handmade” and “Toys”.


Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

An online magazine dedicated to the literary short story. Built around a core group of dedicated writers, Storgy also accepts submissions and runs an annual competition.


Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Publishes fiction, poetry and reviews. Regularly updated online magazine that publishes an eclectic range of material.


Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

This magazine publishes short stories, poetry, essays and interviews, and often features slipstream fiction and poetry in translation. Recent interviewees include Ursula K Le Guin and Margaret Atwood.

Tears In The Fence

Format: Print | Frequency: Unscheduled

An international magazine which publishes a variety of contemporary writers. It provides critical reviews of recent books, anthologies and pamphlets and essays on a diversity of significant modern and contemporary English and American poets.

The Letters Page

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 3 x Per Year

Produced by the School of English at the University of Nottingham, this journal publishes correspondence-themed writing, with the letter as its main form.

The Reader

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Established in 1997, The Reader features a mix of poetry, fiction , interviews, thought pieces, advice and research with a focus on shared reading as a therapeutic activity. Their goal is to make shared reading widely available across the UK.

The Red Line

Format: Online | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

A magazine based around a bi-monthly short story competition with a fifty pound cash prize. The overall winner is selected from a shortlist by a different group of judges each time.

Three Drops From A Cauldron

Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

An online journal for poetry, flash fiction, or any hybrid of the two with a focus on myth, legend, folklore, fable and fairytale. The name of the journal comes from a legend about the legendary Welsh sorceress Cerridwen.


Format: Online | Frequency: 26 x Per Year

A micropublication produced by the international media charity Tribe, dedicated to poetry, haiku and very short fiction.

Thi Wurd

Format: Print | Frequency: Unscheduled

A fiction magazine based in Glasgow which aims to give an outlet to those who exist “outside the narrative”. The publisher also organises events.


Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

A new magazine that aims to cut across human borders, eradicating boundaries between nations, ethnic/racial groups, languages and cultures.


Format: Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

A multi-disciplinary arts magazine run by international media charity Tribe. Describes itself as “interested in the art of creativity, not the creativity of art“.

Under The Radar

Format: Print | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

The flagship publication of Nine Arches Press, Under The Radar features fiction, poetry, reviews and articles. The magazine was founded in 2008, and the press began publishing chapbooks and pamphlets shortly thereafter.


Format: Print | Frequency: Unscheduled

A literary journal dedicated to publishing new and experimental work. “Valve will always be a platform for poetry and fiction that doesn’t fit the mould“.

Visionary Tongue

Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction and artwork. Established in 1995 by Storm Constantine. One of few regular British fantasy magazines.


Format: Print & Online | Frequency: 2 x Per Year

Publishes fiction, poetry and artwork. Creative magazine concerned with arts, music and fashion. Also publishes material online on the Volume blog.


Format: Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

Publishes fiction and reviews. Wasafiri has a strong international focus, publishing work with a background in many different cultures.

White Review

Format: Online & Print | Frequency: 4 x Per Year

The White Review publishes material both online and in print, with a focus on fiction and poetry that is “artistically or educationally meritorious”. It also runs an annual competition.


Format: Print | Frequency: 12 x Per Year

A free print publication focussed on life in East London and beyond. Publishes poetry online on its Facebook page, and may possibly feature it in print in the future.


Format: Online | Frequency: 6 x Per Year

Seeks to publish poetry, prose, art and photography. A brand new journal, currently seeking submissions for the first edition.


Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

Publishes fiction, poetry and reviews. 3:AM Magazine publishes a wide variety of work. Its slogan is “Whatever it is, we’re against it”.

404 Ink

Format: Print & Online | Frequency: Unscheduled

A new publication that aims to showcase incredible writing in an exciting and well-designed package. The publisher is funded by Creative Scotland, and has plans to bring out books as well as a literary magazine in the future.

[Back to Top]

]]> 2 7603
The Lit Mag Graveyard: Pindeldyboz Thu, 12 Oct 2017 10:00:37 +0000 The archives of now-defunct literary magazine Pindeldyboz are still, at the time of writing, available to read online… remarkable given that the magazine ceased publication seven long years ago. Although the site has weathered a little with age, it’s still very much intact, and on it you can read a complete history of the publication, along with all of the strange and wonderful stories it published during its run.

In appearance, at least, Pindeldyboz is fairly plain – the design perhaps not atypical of a HTML-based site in 2010 – the year it went off air. Don’t let the lo-fi appearance fool you, though. When it comes to the actual content, the site remains a goldmine of absolute brilliance. Just take a look at the short but thoroughly unsettling “A Return To Silence” by Robert Kloss – or else the bizarre sci-fi vision of an alien arrival painted by Dave Housley in “How We Got From There To Here.”

Those are just two examples. But visit the archives and pick any of the pieces listed there and you’re almost guaranteed a strange but hypnotically brilliant read. Editor Jeff Boison – in his farewell note – says that the goal of the magazine was to offer “very, very good writing.” In that, certainly, Pindeldyboz succeeded time and time again.

Also explained in the battery of editorial goodbyes is the rationale behind the name. The editors were responsible for inventing the word “Pindeldyboz” and the definition they provide is “A feeling of confusion and/or anxiety, when ingeniously anesthetized by obese amounts of levity.” Not, perhaps, the most precise description, but it’s apt: the writing in the archives of Pindeldyboz does indeed induce puzzlement, sometimes fear… although often not without a degree of surreal levity as well.

Quality aside, there’s plenty in the history of the magazine that deserves memorialising. It produced several print editions during its run, as well as at least one poetry issue. It was named Best Online Publication of 2003 in the StorySouth Million Writers competition, and stories originally featured in it were reprinted in Best American Fantasy, Best American Non-Required Reading, and New Stories From the South, The Year’s Best.

The home page details a one-time aspiration on the part of the editors to turn Pindeldyboz into an imprint at one of America’s big publishing houses, enabling them to start bringing novel-length strangeness into the world. Alas, that dream never became a reality – something that should be considered a terrible shame given the uniqueness and ferocity of Pindeldyboz’s repertoire.

The magazine was by no means a brief candle. It burned for almost a decade, from the early days of March 2000 all the way up June 2010. In its lifetime it achieved some staggering things, and it did so with style. Let’s not let it fade from memory just because it’s no longer putting out brilliant new issues.

Review: “2084” Edited By George Sandison Thu, 28 Sep 2017 10:00:53 +0000 Editor: George Sandison | Publisher: Unsung Stories | Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon USA | More: Goodreads

When George Orwell published 1984 (a book that would go on to become his most famous and enduring novel) he wasn’t really making predictions about the future of the world. Instead he was penning a satire – a work of savage imagination that distorted and exaggerated the ills that he saw developing in the world of his day. That many elements of our present reality now resemble features from his dystopian novel is an unfortunate and bleakly amusing state of affairs.

We should hope, however, that our future doesn’t – accidentally or otherwise – come to resemble any of the fifteen outlined by the writers collected in 2084, an anthology of original fiction from Unsung Stories. Although the tales are ostensibly inspired by the work of Orwell, these authors don’t just cough up fifteen tales of an authoritarian dystopia. Instead they present visions of possible future worlds that are strange, enigmatic and utterly compelling.

The stories vary enormously in the degree to which they recognisably resemble the present day. In the opening tale, “Babylon”, Dave Hutchinson tells the story of an immigrant with a powerful but unexpected weapon making the journey into a newly fortified Europe. Later we encounter the fantastic “March, April, May” by Malcolm Devlin – a complicated story that follows several users of a social network as they reflect on their deleted friend. Both of these stories have obvious roots in the preoccupations of today – although in both cases they take elements of our reality and twist them into structures that are strange and unrecognisable, yet brilliant all the same.

Elsewhere in 2084, the stories leave the world of the present behind altogether. “Glitterati” by Oliver Langmead is an ambitiously bizarre vignette from a world in which fashion has become an all-important factor in separating the haves from the have-nots. The ending is as strange as you might expect from that description, but it’s impossible not to admire its boldness and imagination. “Room 149” by Jeff Noon also bears a mention; in this story the caretaker of an off-world archive of memories and other ephemeral data is haunted by the ghosts of things which have been exiled from the world altogether. It trespasses into the realm of horror at times, and science fantasy at others, but is all the more striking for that.

So the stories that populate the pages of 2084 are a wildly varied bunch. They are, however, mostly very strong. “Degrees Of Elision” by Cassandra Khaw and “A Good Citizen” by Anne Charnock stand out in this respect, balancing as they do some fantastic ideas with an engrossing story and brilliant line-level writing. Less well-written, but equally brilliant in its conceptual approach is “Percepi” by Courttia Newland. This story takes us on a blistering ride through a robot uprising, but reads very light on the detail, and ends up feeling like the skeleton of a story rather than something you can truly get lost in, despite its awe-inspiring scope. “Shooting An Episode” by Christopher Priest also felt a little light. Its vision of reality television gone bad was action-packed and fun to read, but felt as though it didn’t quite make the same leaps as other stories in the mix.

I’ve mentioned several of the entries in this anthology so far, but there are still many more that come to mind, whether for their brilliant concepts or their sublime executions. From the lolspeak patois of Lavie Tidhar’s “2084 Satoshi AD” to the virtual reality rollercoaster and the terrifying young people who ride it in “Uniquo” by Aliya Whiteley, there is a wealth of brilliance to be discovered here. The idea that an Orwell-inspired collection might veer towards familiar tales of totalitarian regimes is clearly false. Instead we have a gloriously varied collection that rewards you with a new gem of an idea each time you turn the page.

Editor George Sandison, who has done a brilliant job in assembling this anthology, insists in his introduction that this isn’t a book of predictions, nor one about the future. Instead, he says, the dystopias described are echoes of the fears of today. Perhaps he’s right. Or perhaps 2084 is in equal parts about the present and the future. There’s certainly enough in this excellent collection to leave you wondering about both.

The Ultimate Guide To EBook Retailers (Spoiler: They’re All Terrible) Thu, 10 Aug 2017 10:00:41 +0000 We’re in an odd place with eBooks right now. While Amazon has, without a doubt, established itself as an eBook giant, the jolly orange conglomerate is by no means the only player in the game: there are at least a dozen other eBook retailers scrapping over the marketplace – and most of them, in at least a few respects, are fighting dirty. It shouldn’t really matter where you buy an eBook – just like it shouldn’t matter where you purchase a paperback novel. And yet we find ourselves in a bizarre situation where buying an eBook from the wrong store could mean you never get to read it.

In their rush to corner the market, many eBook retailers are keenly trying to lock in their loyal customers by making it unduly expensive or difficult to ever shop anywhere else. Thus, if you happen to own a Kindle, the chances are you shop at the Kindle Store. Purchased a Nook? You’ll be buying most of your reading material from Barnes & Noble. But are you getting a decent deal? And what can you do if you don’t like the store you find yourself locked into?

Presented here is a simple guide to your options when it comes to purchasing and reading eBooks. Given the range of devices available, we’ve organised it by retailer, and started with the big ones. We’ll keep adding to this guide as we research more eBook stores. Whether you’re trying to decide which eReader device to buy, or looking for another place to shop that will be compatible with your current device, the listings below should be a good place to start.

One caveat though: there’s actually no particularly good option. Every single retailer we’ve looked at has some glaring flaws. At this stage of the game – unless you’re willing to engage in some DRM-stripping (the subject of a future article, watch this space), you’re down to picking the best of a bad bunch. Sorry!

Kindle Store

The Amazon Kindle Store - a great selection, but severe issues with DRM.

Amazon Kindle devices and apps only.

As evil as Amazon is sometimes, there are still some good things to be said about the Kindle Store. It has an excellent range of titles, from bestsellers all the way down to obscure self-published numbers. And it’s great value for money as well – books are priced aggressively cheaply, and often promoted through discount deals and “free” days, when whole books can be downloaded for absolutely nothing. It also allows some limited gifting and lending of purchased books.

Amazon falls down, however, when it comes to DRM. That’s Digital Rights Management – a catch-all term given to the technological attempts to make books difficult to copy, share, or access at all if the original retailer doesn’t like you. Amazon uses a combination of complex DRM technology and a unique book format not recognised anywhere else to ensure that you can only read books from the Kindle Store using Kindle devices or apps. Not only that, but they have a history of remotely taking back books that they feel aren’t being used appropriately. When you buy an eBook from Amazon, you aren’t actually buying it at all – you’re merely purchasing a licence to read the text until such a time as Amazon decides otherwise. Beware.


Smashwords - an excellent eBook retailer with a very limited range.

Any eReader you like!

Independent eBook retailer Smashwords, on the other hand, takes a rather more positive approach to DRM – in that they don’t use it at all. When you purchase a book from Smashwords, that book is yours. They trust you not to copy or redistribute it, but don’t take any technological steps to prevent you from doing so. This means, of course, that you can access books purchased from Smashwords on almost any device or app, or even just from your computer, in some cases without installing or purchasing any extra software.

On the downside, the range of books available via Smashwords is extremely limited. While the store is overflowing with self-published titles, most mainstream novels and popular books are not available via this platform. Similarly the interface isn’t terribly slick or clean, and can sometimes be difficult to navigate. The whole thing feels as though it might break if you lean on it too hard… which isn’t to say it isn’t clever – Smashwords converts books into a huge range of formats, so you can read any way you like. It also offers several nifty features missed out by larger, more corporate competitors, including the ability set your own price for certain titles.

Barnes & Noble’s Nook

Nook Store - a basically decent eBook store, with a few DRM issues.

Any Nook device or Nook app.

Had they made different choices, Barnes & Noble might have been a serious competitor when it comes to eBook retail. They’re slightly more expensive than other retailers, but their prices are still reasonable, and their website is clean, intuitive and easy to use. Not only that, but they have a fairly decent range of titles available, including both bestsellers and more obscure reading material.

Unfortunately, while Barnes & Noble do present their books in the commonly-used EPUB format, they also insist on wrapping them in some awkward DRM shenanigans. The upshot of this is that you may only read Nook books on a Nook device or app, and won’t be able to move your books around freely between devices, or keep your books if Barnes & Noble go bust. That last little detail is a significant one, as Barnes & Noble have already withdrawn support for Nook products from the UK – a move that decimated the libraries of any reader who wasn’t quick enough to download their books.


Kobo - a pretty decent reader that doesn't have quite the same range as the Kindle.

Any Kobo device or app. Some books may work with other devices or apps.

The Kobo Store is among the better non-Amazon solutions for buying eBooks. It does have a number of weaknesses though, not least among them a fairly limited range of titles. If you’re content to forgo some of your favourites, though, you’ll find the store clean and easy to use, with some good daily deals and discount offerings. You can even collect points each time you purchase an eBook and put them towards discounts on future acquisitions. Despite this pleasing infrastructure, however, the Kobo Store doesn’t permit you to give eBooks as gifts, although you can purchase some rather-fiddly gift cards instead.

Some Kobo eBooks come wrapped with DRM and some do not – it varies in accordance with the policies of the publisher. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether the book you’re purchasing will work on the reader you own – if it happens to be a Kobo device you’re probably safe, but shopping in the Kobo Store will be extremely hit and miss with any other device or app. You’re not quite as locked in as you are elsewhere, but the difference is minimal.

Apple Store

iBooks Store - a good option, if you're already a user of Apple products.

Apple devices and apps only.

Apple like to keep their cards close to their chest – their eBook store is a walled garden, to which only those with an Apple device are granted access. This means, of course, that anyone thinking of picking up an Apple device for the purposes of reading won’t know until after they’ve got their purchase home whether they can actually get the books they want on their shiny new machine. Some investigation reveals that their selection is, as it happens, pretty comprehensive, but anyone who has a taste for obscure literature should hesitate before selecting an Apple device as a reading option.

Another reason to pause before shopping with Apple is the tight control they keep over some of the books you buy. When you buy from the Apple store, you definitively cannot access your books in any non-approved manner. While most of the books sold via the Apple Store are in the commonly-used EPUB format, many are also wrapped in a unique kind of DRM, ironically called “Fair Play”. This DRM system is unique to Apple products, and as such you will only be able to access these books from an Apple device. This means that, unless you own a Mac as well as an iPhone, there’s no way to access your books via a desktop, and you’ll have to content yourself with the small screen until you splash out for a Mac.

Google Play

Google Play - easy to use and functional, but with very few books to choose from.

Most devices or apps, with the exception of Kindle and Nook devices and apps.

The Google Play book store isn’t really a serious bookshop. It is, for the most part, something of an afterthought. The selection is extremely poor and prices are generally higher than you’ll find anywhere else. That said it does have a lot of free out-of-copyright titles, and the store is wonderfully clean and easy to use. You can download titles for the desktop, or for almost any device using a process that’s straightforward, quick and intuitive.

The Google Play Store does impart some of its titles with DRM, but it’s among the more user-friendly DRM schemes you’ll find. You should, with some effort, still be able to read your books on most devices, although owners of Kindle and Nook devices will likely be out of luck. Some books come, at the behest of their publisher, without crippling DRM, and as such can be freely copied, backed-up and transferred after purchase. While the Google Store isn’t really an option for the bulk of your reading material, you may be able to find a title or two there to supplement your collection.


The Lit Mag Graveyard: Stranger Box Thu, 29 Jun 2017 14:58:32 +0000 Literary magazines are fragile creatures. They come and go. Some last barely longer than the average butterfly, and many venerable institutions are only ever one bad month away from folding like an origami stepladder. When a small literary magazine shuts its doors, it often disappears so thoroughly that you might wonder if it ever existed at all.

Which is a shame, because each defunct lit mag represents hundreds of hours of work and commitment – both from the editor and the writers featured. Each lost publication is another voice that will no longer be broadcast – another unique vision that will no longer be there for the world to see.

To redress this, we’ll occasionally be memorialising literary journals that bit the dust. This week, an obscure but beautiful little gem: Stranger Box.

Stranger Box was a brief candle, even by literary magazine standards. The last Internet Archive capture (from 2006 – just a couple of years after the invention of Facebook) shows that only three full issues were published, each one featuring half-a-dozen stories and poems, as well as some beautiful and haunting illustrations. Images aside, the site was fairly stark – the content was presented in a single narrow column with no adornments or wasted energy. It was an art gallery of a lit mag.

The magazine also had a seriously strong grip on tone. The submissions guidelines spelled out its mission: “I’m looking for offbeat writing, preferably on the dark side, with a general theme of what Kierkegaard called ‘fear and trembling;’ in other words, the natural sense of dread that comes with knowing our own impermanence.

And, indeed, the featured pieces did seem all to point towards an apprehension that everything was temporary, that the world was – however slowly or strangely – grinding to an end. Despair and dread permeated the narratives on offer. There were derelict houses falling to pieces, lovers losing minds, and widespread literary death and destruction. You can still browse a couple of online issues using the Internet Archive – we recommend “The Door At The Edge Of The World” and “The Clifford Olsen Murder Poems” – if, that is, you can find them in the broken remains of the archived pages.

It was rare, back in 2006, to find an online magazine with such a clear sense of purpose and such a rich, nuanced flavour. Stranger Box knew exactly what it was, and what it wanted to be. It paid for the work it published at a time when few online journals did, and presented its words cleanly and beautifully. It’s a shame it didn’t last – but, then again, for a magazine that’s all about the inevitability of decay, perhaps an ending was always on the cards.