Albedo One #33

The latest issue of Albedo One looks good on the outside, as have recent covers, and the mag is celebrating the inclusion of its first story in Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best, so on those two counts, along with the usual New Year’s Rezzer to read more, I decided to plonk myself down and read the fiction in the issue.

Simon Kewin. Live from the Continuing Explosion.

Kewin scores highly with a very vivid central image and conceit. The main concourse at Grand Central Station is the scence of a slowly unfolding atrocity : a bomber has triggered a huge explosion, that due to quantum whizzery, creates a globe within which time passes at a crawl, enabling the viewing of the impact of the explosion on those caught within the sphere to be done at leisure.

With a nod to the classic Tiptree ‘The Man Who Walked Home’, we find out who the bomber was, why he did it, and the impact on those with family and friends inside.

Michael Mathews. A Trail of Stars Swirling.

A watery death awaits young Jeanee, night after night. Her mother and father struggle to understand why the deep lake will not keep its victim, as the young girl returns, waterlogged, and very, very dead, every night. Her father finds out from a man on the lake just what might lie in its depths, and its cold, dark clutches embrace him.

It’s fine as far as it goes, with more to find in it if you’re a fan of the horror genre.

Geoffrey Maloney. Blonde on Blonde : an American Fable.

Carl Akely achieves fame by mounting, in public, a gorilla and Jayne Mansfield. It’s not a criminal offence though, as he’s a taxidermist and they’re both dead. It’s a tongue in cheek alternate history, with a dig at the current US administration who are keen to spend/waste (delete as appropriate) money on a manned trip to Mars, when people of dying in large numbers from a basic want of food.

Matthew Sanborn Smith. Marissa, Marissa.

Smith ponders what might happen if a woman were to give birth to a child, who in utero began a process of cloning by cell division, which continues after birth. Where would it end? Well, actually the two sides of A4 quickly whizz through the diagnosis, birth, early media attention, and posits the final question and leaves the reader to work the rest out. An interesting idea, but one which could have been worked up in more detail.

Ed Wood. Oisin in Templeogue.

More than a touch of the blarneys – the story is quite short but I think I wasn’t quite in tune with what Wood was trying to achieve. All hail to Wikipedia for quickly clueing me in that this was a modern retelling of an Irish folk tale, so if you were up on this fact before reading the story, then, to be sure, more enjoyment would have been had.

Andrew McKenna. Barrelhouse.

Tobias is welcomed in to the dark embrace of a religious group. All a bit dark and unpleasant.

Anil Menon. A Sky Full of Constants.

Numinous SF of the type that people like Egan do quite well. Menon has a good go at it, though, with some nice touches, such as a sentence that I’ve taken the time to make a note of, on account of it just pleases my perverse sensibilities : ‘Her nipples were enthusiastic votaries to a rigorous, and essentially Judeo-Christian God.’

S.K. Twyford. The Genie.

Be careful in what you ask for, as it might come true, as is oft stated. Wishing you could satisfy your wife sexually, but finding out that this is accomplished vicariously through the auspices of a three foot high goblin, illustrates the point (hmm, I’m sure I saw a website featuring such content….)

Aongus Murtagh. Ticket to India.

Feel free to call me a miserable old git – actually, I insist that you do – but I give short shrift to stories in which there is too much dialog. Prolly half of this story is simply transcripted dialogue, and, to be honest, I couldn’t be arsed.

Conclusion.

A pretty good collection all in all, with only a couple of stories that leap up and shout ‘semi-pro’. Front cover good. Back cover bad. A range of reviews and interviews. It’s not quite up to kicking Interzone’s arse, but as the redoubtable English mag takes strides forward under its new leadership, Albedo One is keeping up with the pace and is at least in sight of those coat tails, if not in grabbing distance. And you can buy it via Paypal and also get it much cheaper as a PDF version on the Albedo One website. I’m not sure, call me a cultural imperialist, but I think in Ireland they have different rules on accessibility of websites, and what constitutes a reasonable amount of text on a website and at what point a home page scrolls down just that bit too much. Or maybe they don’t like a [more..] option.

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