The Alarmist #2 (3 stars)

The Alarmist #2

The short story magazine features great design but lacks a strict editorial policy

Good design matters in publishing, and the editors of The Alarmist have taken this to heart. There’s no faulting the quirky text layouts and illustration, and the attention to detail is great – the white-on-red MOVE ALONG on the inside front cover, with matching NOTHING TO SEE HERE on the inside back cover, is particularly charming. Unfortunately for a literary magazine, the fiction and poetry are not always as strong as the visuals.

There are some gems to be found. David Hartley’s ‘Tyson/Dog’ is the bizarre and memorable monologue of a robot dog. It’s smart, sad and rather wonderful. David Bryant’s longer story ‘The Private Museum of Peter Gandalf’, about a retired loner who constructs elaborate chess sets, contains excellent and scathing points on the nature of art, idealism vs reality, and the problems of building a friendship. Despite its slightly disappointing ending, the descriptions of the chess sets are hauntingly vivid.

The weaker stories are those that emphasise humorous confessions over depth of content. Although they might not be groundbreaking, these stories do entertain, making them ideal for a quick read during a commute – and the gorgeous cover means that fellow passengers will try to read over your shoulder.

With such good design and production values, a stricter editorial policy could ensure that future issues of The Alarmist have as much substance as they do style.

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