01/02/2010. Contributed by Gareth D Jones
pub: Albedo One, 2 Post Road, Lusk, County Dublin, Ireland. 64 page A4 magazine. ISSN: 0791-8534. Price: 5.95 euros.
check out website: www.albedo1.com
I like 'Albedo One' - they send the friendliest rejections. It's a nice looking magazine, too, with a colour cover and clear interior layout. The majority of space is given over to the fiction with just a few book reviews at the end and an interview at the beginning. It's an interesting interview with Greg Egan, an author whose work I always enjoy. A generous seven stories pack out the rest of the pages.
Robert Reed's opening story 'Safe' deals with the multiverse idea in a new light. There's no physics and maths here, but the discovery of a myriad parallel universes has given rise to the practice of transplanting unwanted foetuses from this world into empty wombs elsewhere. The bizarre morality and philosophy that stems from this form an intriguing idea that Robert Reed expounds skilfully to develop a number of possibilities. A thoughtful start to the magazine.
A gloomy post-apocalyptic future is the setting for Sarah Joan Berniker's uncompromising story 'Sing A Seller's Song'. A young boy is obliged to engage in a most distasteful business in order to help his family survive, but the threat of something even worse is always round the corner. The boy's reaction to his harrowing existence makes this an effectively-told if unpleasant tale.
Richard Alan Scott takes us back a century or so for 'Stoker's Benefactor', a tale of theatres and vampires. Most of the characters are British, though the setting is mostly in Dublin, but I wasn't entirely convinced by the voices used for most of them. The story is told through diary entries and letters, but reads like a straight-forward narrative. While the story itself is interesting and even suspenseful, the structure just didn't ring true.
'Creepdoll' is Gareth Stack's first published story and revolves around a young man's attempts to live like a single father by purchasing an artificial child. His reasons start off selfish, but there is a slow and effective development of his feelings throughout the story that transform him from creepy to sympathetic. His ever more complex cover-ups and the difficult decisions he is faced with lead up to a shocking but satisfying conclusion.
In a future where everybody and everything is connected to the web, one woman is forced to go it alone in 'Offline' by Gustavo Bondini. There are two extrapolations that make up the core of this story - the consequences of all technology being linked together centrally and the results of an extreme backlash against apartheid and colonialism in Africa. The story that emerges is touching and realistic.
D.T. Neal's story 'Aegis' starts off interestingly enough as a young artist meets a legendary sculptor in the hope of learning something from her. Just as I was wondering where the story was going there was a sudden shift. First, briefly, a scene of unnecessary titillation that I thought was going to go downhill into seediness. This was averted by another change from the mundane to the fantastical that initially left me dissatisfied. D.T Neal skilfully ties the whole story up at the end, though, sculpting a story that is ultimately both intriguing and pleasing.
'A Most Notorious Woman' is recruited to captain a pirate ship in T.D. Edge's story that mixes fantasy and Science Fiction, time-travel, piracy and artificial intelligence. By the time I reached the conclusion I had the feeling that rather too many ingredients had been thrown together for this story. Nonetheless, it was an entertaining adventure to conclude the magazine.
The selection of stories on offer in this issue of 'Albedo One' is certainly varied. They all have one thing in common though - none of them can be easily defined. They all mix SF with fantasy or horror or they present what is basically an SF concept from an entirely unusual point of view - 'Safe' being a prime example of this. For the eclectic speculative fiction reader, 'Albedo One' is an excellent choice.
Gareth D. Jones
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