Current Issue


The Chamber seeks dark fiction, poetry, reviews, essays, and interviews from around the world. New material appears at 10:00 a.m. US central time on the first Friday of each month.


Opening the cover will take you to the stories and poems for this issue. New issues also appear in the blog .

New:

Dark Fiction by E.N. Dunn, Steve Wilcenski, Jesse Rowell, Paul O’Neill, K. Danckert, Peter Portelli, Hareendran Kallinkeel, Rob Plunkett, Trevor Zaple, Curtis A. Bass, and Kelly Jarvis

Dark Flash Fiction by Phil Temples, Louise Worthington, and K.A. Williams

Dark Poetry by Joe Farina

An Interview with Author Russell James

And a Review of Road of Bones by Ryan Tan

Departments

Little Devil screaming The Chamber Magazine: Contemporary Dark Fiction and Poetry

What kind of dark fiction and poetry does The Chamber want?

What is darkness?

The classic of Chinese Taoist philosophy, the Tao T’eh Ching, opens with (depending on the translation): “The way that can be named is not the true way,” Tao being Chinese for way, and meaning, in a broad, nebulous sense, the way of life or the way of the world or the way of the universe. To me, with my, at best, rudimentary smattering of philosophy, this means that words cannot express the Tao/ the way; it is something that one must feel and experience and understand only on an intuitive level. Any attempt to express it in words is doomed to failure

This is like how I choose dark fiction and poems to include in The Chamber. The work must have a dark feel about it, though how to express that is problematic. It’s not necessarily horror. It can be noir or hard-boiled detective or sad or mystifying or any of a thousand other descriptors. It’s something that, although you can’t express it, you know it when you see it. It’s like trying to describe the taste of vodka or describing a sunny day to someone who is blind.

Jimmy Buffett once said “never try to describe the ocean if you’ve never seen it.” Of my ten years in the US Navy, I spent three years, one month, and one day at sea and many of my days ashore, I spent looking at the sea. Jimmy B. was right. It’s hard to describe the ocean to someone who has never seen it, because they just can’t grasp the feeling of power and eternity that it radiates. So it is with communicating the idea of literary darkness, at least to me it is anyway.

Is my work dark enough?

How do you discern then that your work of dark fiction or verse is dark enough for The Chamber? If you feel it’s dark, it’s dark enough. If your friends can read it without knowing what feelings it is supposed to get across, and they say, “Sh*t! This is dark!” It’s dark enough. Submit it. If I do not accept your work, use the opportunity to re-read your work dispassionately and ask yourself, “how can I improve this?” In my experience, that’s one of the best ways of learning to write well.

Critique your own works dispassionately, honestly, and fairly. Read good literature to develop a feel for what good literature is. For me, knowing what good literature is, is also like the Tao, one can only sense it; verbal descriptions are inadequate.

Furthermore…

Other than that, the main things I look for in dark fiction and poetry are excellent, well-crafted, powerful writing, and I have a predilection for lean, muscular writing, though I may work with the author on this to some small degree if the story is powerful enough on the intellectual and emotional levels.

And as you will always hear from all other publishers, read a few issues and read the guidelines.

/s/ Phil Slattery, Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, Chief Cook and Bottle-Washer, Head Honcho, Gofer, and HMFIC of The Chamber