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Albedo One 39

01/01/2011. Contributed by Gareth D. Jones

Buy Albedo One # 39 in the USA - or Buy Albedo One # 39 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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There are two competition-winning stories in this issue of ‘Albedo One’, along with some well-known authors. They like to pack in as much good fiction as possible, keeping interior illustrations to a minimum – basically just book covers for the reviews and interview – and concentrating on the writing.

The winner of the 2009 Aeon Award is Annette Reader’s ‘Frogs On My Doorstep’, one of my favourite stories of the year. When a toddler disappears from her back garden, there are no clues and no explanation. It’s a touching story, told from the viewpoint of the girl’s older brother with a sense of wonder and innocence. A worthy winner.

‘The Horseshoe Nail’ is Mari Saario’s Atarox Award winning story, translated from Finnish as part of ‘Albedo One’s project to bring award-winning stories from around the world to the English-speaking audience. A fantasy tale about travellers from other worlds who are drawn to an old smithy and the spark that lives within the family that live there, it flows with wonderful ease through a number of years that weave a compelling and fulfilling story.

Prolific novelist Mike Resnick, who features in the issue’s extensive interview, supplies a reprint of the atmospheric story ‘Hothouse Flowers’ that first appeared in ‘Asimov’s Magazine’. The consequences of endlessly preserving life against the ravages of age is not a unique concept, but the tale of a devoted nurse who is gradually forced to face uncomfortable truths is expertly told.

A mournful tale of a boy lost during a swimming accident forms the basis of Martin McGrath’s ‘Eskragh’. The adventures of youth, the tragedy of loss and the discomfort of unfamiliar circumstances are all exquisitely portrayed.

Uncle River gives us the gently rambling tale ‘Partly ES’, in which the emergency service volunteers of a small American town deal with emergences, tragedies and mysteries. It’s an engaging story, full of the unexplained vagaries of life, with a background just a little bit in the future to add to the atmosphere.

‘Grappler’ is the sinister character in JL Abbott’s colonial-era story, where native Americans find their culture affected by newcomers and are disturbed by a deformed man who comes into their midst. There are some chilling and disturbing images blended with quaint portrayals of village life and a sense of inevitability over the tribe’s ultimate fate.

As always, a fine selection of speculative fiction from the ‘Albedo One’ team and a satisfying read.

Gareth D. Jones

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