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Albedo One # 32

01/02/2010. Contributed by Pauline Morgan

Buy Albedo One in the USA - or Buy Albedo One in the UK

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pub: Albedo One Productions, 2 Post Road, Lusk, County Dublin, Ireland. 64 page A4 magazine. Price: 3.95 (UK). 4 issue subscription: 19.50 (UK), 36.50 (US). Consult their website as IRCs no longer valid in Ireland.

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Any magazine publishing original Science Fiction on a regular basis needs to be supported. There are not enough of them around.

Any aspiring writer is told to start their career by writing short stories. It makes sense. You do not invest as much of your life in a story as you would in a novel. You can make mistakes and learn your craft by practicing the shorter form and you can hone and develop your talent. So what do you do with these beautifully crafted works of art? You need to find someone who agrees with you. That requires a magazine editor. As each magazine editor is swamped with piles of inferior material, how will they find your masterpiece? The more magazines there are, the better chance you have of your skill being recognised. Magazines will only survive if people buy them and read them. 'Albedo One' has a lot of features that make it worth your while reading.

This particular issue has an in-depth interview with Christopher Priest. From the clues given by the content, and one of the flaws of this magazine is there is no issue or copyright date, it was published after the 2005 World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow. The interview tends to look at current, as pertaining to publication, aspects of Priest's work rather than dwelling on his early travails. So the interviewer, Dav Agarwa, concentrates on themes such as the translation of Priest's novel 'The Prestige' into a film. Dav is an intelligent and perceptive interviewer.

Issue #32 contains seven stories. From this issue, 'Albedo One' changed its payment policy, giving each author a small publication fee rather than a prize to the one voted the best by the readers. The new system benefits all the authors and should encourage more high quality submissions. Only one of these authors is a well-known name. Brian Stableford's story, 'Danny's Inferno', shows how much can be packed into one short piece. The narrator is attending the funeral of his best friend, Danny, when he sees his ghost amongst the tombstones. He is fascinated to learn that ghosts are all around, that most people go to Hell and most qualify for Hell by the time they are seven.

'Unnatural' by John Hogan is a horror story set in the German trenches of the First World War. A demon prowls them making false promises to the soldiers. It has a shaky start but improves as it continues. This story is not for the weak-stomached as it has some very graphic descriptions.

'Blink' by Ruth Nestvold is another story that revolves around death. It is shaped around the idea that a beheaded copse will blink a number of times before brain activity ceases. This is Science Fiction, set in a future where the United States has been split into seven regions. Life in Texas has become more and more repressive and dissidents are now executed by guillotine. Although a neatly told story, there is enough background developed to carry a longer story in the same setting.

'Time's Winged Chariot' by Nicola Caines is an alternative take on the idea expounded in 'The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button' by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In this case, 48 year-old Caroline is apparently abducted by aliens for two hours. What is not in doubt is that after this time she begins to grow younger. To the horror of her grown-up daughter, she embarks on a string of affairs with increasingly younger men and eventually their original roles are reversed with a mature daughter having to cope with a wayward, teen-age mother.

'Katrina's Costumes' by Stephen Owen contains surreal elements and may or may not be the hallucinations of a drunken father. It has good scenes but does not make for a coherent whole.

'Homo Incognito' by Will Sand is set about fifty years from now. An investigative journalist thinks he has the next big story but when he gets close he is duped into co-operation. It is a tightly told story but, unfortunately, the plot unfolds along predictable lines.

'Counting Tadpoles' by Uncle River is a futuristic wilderness adventure. A young researcher, Mark Psymeyer, is given the pointless task of counting tadpoles in streams as part of an ecological survey. As anyone who has tried it knows, counting tadpoles is an almost impossible task. They keep changing places. The subtleties in this story involve the changing of perceptions especially after Mark meets an old man who lives in a ramshackle hut in the conservation area.

These seven stories give a good cross-section as they cover Science Fiction, horror and the subtler forms of fantasy.

The magazine also contains a letters page, the contents of which tend to dwell on a letter printed in a previous volume. It is good to have controversy rather than a column full of praise, of which there is some.

Two reviewers have contributed to 'Albedo One #32'. One of them, Peter McClean, provides thoughtful reviews with a developing insight into the books he is considering. The other reviewer, Andrew McKenna, has provided what looks like notes for a review. It is not just that I didn't like the style of presentation, it was also casual flippancy of the writing that was irritating.

On the whole, 'Albedo One' is a magazine worth supporting, though it would be very useful to have a date for each issue had an acknowledgement from the editor.

Pauline Morgan

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