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Albedo One # 38

01/06/2010. Contributed by Gareth D Jones

Buy Albedo One # 38 in the USA - or Buy Albedo One # 38 in the UK

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pub: Albedo One, 2 Post Road, Lusk, County Dublin, Ireland. 64 page A4 magazine. ISSN: 0791-8534. Price: 5.95 euros.

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It's been an Irish-themed week for me: went to Dublin on business, went to the local theatre to watch an Irish dancing and music show and 'Albedo One' arrived from the Emerald Isle. While I've been indulging in Irish culture, 'Albedo One' has continued its international quest to bring us the best speculative fiction written in languages other than English. The editorial mentions several stories currently under translation and due to appear in future issues. This is followed by a lengthy interview with James Gunn, whose five decades in SF provide some interesting insights. Several book reviews dotted through the magazine complete the quota of non-fiction and there is a fine selection of six short stories.

'The Better To See You With' is Allison Francisco's first published story and the Aeon Award third place story. It's an uncomfortable read about the mysterious Polaroid Man who stalks young boys in the local playground. Told through the innocent eyes of one boy who doesn't understand what's happening, it becomes clear that there's something even more sinister connected to the man's camera. Written with great attention to detail, it blends a harrowing story with elements of the bizarre.

Aaron Polson's short and touching tale, 'Precious Metal', is set in a post-collapse future where an old man scavenges precious metals to pay off the local gang. He uses his skills in metalworking for something far more valuable and creates a wonderfully poignant existence.

In 'The Nature Of Bees', Priya Sharma describes a mysterious country estate that seems lost in the Middle Ages, full of strange rituals and quaint attitudes. When a single woman moves into one of the estate cottages, she soon becomes captivated by the residents in a bucolic yet bewitching tale.

The most fun story of the issue is Martin Belderson's 'The Hot Chocolate Rocket', a title that is not a euphemism but actually concerns the crazy scheme of two inventors to turn an abandoned silo at a biscuit factory into a rocket. It's entertaining and improbable, but provides a needed break from the darker tone of the rest of the issue.

For its short length, 'The Child' by Matthew F. Perry is remarkably chilling and effective, especially considering that nothing much in the way of action actually occurs. A harried mother leaves her odd child temporarily under the watch of a bemused shelf-filler (though they're now called Shelf Replenishment Operatives apparently). That's all I can say. You have to read the rest yourself.

Bruce McAllister takes us to the Italian coast in 'Heart Of Hearts', an idyllic tale of youthful adventures, shell collecting and a mysterious girl on the beach. The story is told from the viewpoint of the boy after he has grown up, which in some ways removes the immediacy of the action and encounters, but on the other hand allows for greater introspection from the narrator to weave the fantastical and historical elements around the story. It's a calming and reflective piece that perfectly captures that nostalgic air of lost innocence.

The tone of the magazine generally aims for the fantastical or softer Science Fiction, rather than hard SF or space opera. It's a nicely laid out, clear publication that maintains a high standard and continues to attract a string of relatively well-know authors. I'm particularly looking forward in future issues to seeing the translated stories from around the world.

Gareth D Jones

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