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Burnt Offerings

Burnt Toast#8, 1991

The English Language is a wonderful thing.

Of course it has a couple of minor shortcomings: it's phonetically unsound (if you know what I mean), it has too few letters (and even so, one of them is superfluous -- the letter 'C' kan be replased in almost all instanses by 'K' or 'S' without loss of meaning) and even too few swear words. It also has several strange omissions, such as the words 'surreal' and 'knives' (though there seems to be some dispute over that one), and several strange variations ('mouses' is the correct plural in computing). But while debate over correct usage of words is, I suppose, important, it can also get really pedantic and boring.

The language is a tool for communication, a vast morass of meaning that is easily misused, but in the right hands can be the most delicate and precise of instruments.

In the short term TV and cinema have all the advantages over prose because of sheer visual impact (assuming it's done well, of course) but in the long term, when it gets down to characterisation and plot, the balance is reversed. And even so, I've read some bloody good paragraphs in my time.

There's lots of fiction in this issue of Burnt Toast, no less than twenty-four stories (twenty of which are, admittedly, rather short), which wasn't really supposed to happen. But my review of Absalom Daak: Dalek Killer was hampered by the fact that it doesn't seem to be sold in Australia, and my overview of the Australian horror industry was hampered by the fact that there isn't one (still, go see Picnic at Hanging Rock, Razorback, Howling III, Outback Vampires and, peripherally, Mad Max, all of which are, at the very least, worth watching [or see here for proof there is very much an industry]).

I hope you don't mind, and perhaps some of you will, because I read a review of BT recently that said BoJ was the best bit. It doesn't worry me much, because fiction is what it's all about, we're not talking about the horror field, we're doing it.

Manipulation of the English language, permutations of twenty-six basic symbols plus punctuation, all mixed in with connotation and cultural background. And while I can't promise any surgical precision within, we'll see if we can't do some damage.

Of course, all this argument about word versus image sort of breaks down when you consider S26, the driving force behind this little 'zine, but that's the nice thing about life, it's as inconsistent as all hell. The first one to mention BT publication dates gets shot.


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