Review: Black Light by Jo Perry from Fahrenheit Press

A noir response to the bizarre experience of 2020. Part thriller, part horror, part future shock sci-f, part monologue. Almost impossible to quantify.

A very few copies remain at Fahrenheit Press.

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For those not familiar, Fahrenheit Press have this year launched Fahrenzine. An old school approach to publishing that owes a debt to the original indie pioneers of punk rock. It’s a great format, and is allowing great short stories to be released in to the world that might not otherwise find a way. Limited to 100 copies per issue though, the first zine is already sold out. I would anticipate that this third issue as well as the second featuring a story by Russel Day will be gone soon too.

 A zine’s format is a perfect canvas for a writer such as Jo to let loose her energy and passion. In much the way that Black Light is Jo’s response to these unprecedented times, this is more of a response to the work than a traditional review. Or that’s how it feels to me writing it at any rate.

Black Light defies tradition in its structure and voice whilst somehow embracing traditional tropes. Just one of many contradictions that make it a difficult story to write coherently about. Contradictions that I am convinced are entirely deliberate, and are what make it such an engaging work. I’ve never read anything like it, but I can see tones of Orwell in the bleak near future, as well as so many classic sci-fi movies. The monologue approach is reminiscent of some of Shakespeare’s best soliloquys, Macbeth ridden with guilt, Hamlets descent into paranoia and madness. The idea of loneliness and isolation, what that can do to a person’s mental state and the pain it can cause. Jo goes so far as turn a scream into a character. A scream that reads to me as a cry for help from this unknown individual who is going slowly mad whilst being kept in isolation by a government ordnance. State control of the person and of their space taken to an extreme.

But for all of the desolation, there is an underlying hopeful message in this piece. As bad as things may seem at the moment, they could be a lot worse. And I also take a message of community from the work, of what we stand to lose and the impact that could have if we don’t kick this thing into touch. Of what a lost community would mean, but also of what that community could have achieved if it had pulled together. There is often hope and compassion in dark places in Jo’s work, Black Light is no exception.

Jo is an exceptional noir talent, who deserves the widest possible readership. Jo has an almost instinctive understanding of the power of prose, and in the noir tradition really grasps when to use it and when to hold back, when to let the reader get there on their own, an ability to write stories that stay with you long after you’ve finished reading them. Stories that have a lot more going on under the surface than you may first realise, stories of huge heart and compassion. Black Light highlights the extent of this talent in a way that has never been clearer.

As I said at the top, there are a very few copies of this story left at the Fahrenheit store, the link to buy one again is here.

Support an amazing indie press, and get a thought provoking and unique story to boot.

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