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Albedo One, #37

Albedo One, #37
Albedo One
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Albedo One
2 POST ROAD
LUSK, Co. DUBLIN
Ireland

Albedo One Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

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Albedo One appears twice yearly from Ireland. The current issue, #37, includes an editorial, an interview with Greg Egan, conducted by David Conyers, and a book review section, by Conyers and Juliet McKenna. But the heart, of course, is the fiction, seven stories.

The leadoff story, "Safe," by Robert Reed, is particularly impressive. It takes one idea, a clever if implausible SF idea, and examines it at particular length, by following the main character through much of her life. This idea is that, instead of abortions, pregnancies are terminated by sending the fetus to an appropriate womb in a parallel world. Through Bern's eyes we see many sides of this process: her childhood curiosity about the subject, her own teenage worries about sex and pregnancy, her experience with various lovers, her job as a sort of counselor for women about to undergo the procedure, and her eventual decision to have her own child. This is just intriguing work, from a writer who is expert at this sort of wringing out of the consequences of an idea.

I also enjoyed Gareth Stack's "Creepdoll," in which a single man decides to buy a very life-like doll as a means of attracting women, who will think him a single parent. Of course, maintaining the fiction invites complications. Gustavo Bondoni's "Offline" is involving, if perhaps not quite convincing, about a woman in a future Namibia who has fallen in love with a white man, strictly verboten. So she has gone "offline" and is trying to escape. I enjoyed it, but I couldn't quite buy the draconian society depicted.

Also enjoyable is "A Most Notorious Woman," by T.D. Edge. It concerns Grace O'Malley, the Irish "Pirate Queen." A mysterious visitor fetches her after her famous meeting with Queen Elizabeth I, and soon we gather that some sort of time travel is involved, and she is in the future, captaining a pirate ship for, essentially, rich tourists. But she has her own ideas about what being a pirate really means... And Richard Alan Scott's "Stoker's Benefactor" is nice enough, an epistolary tale about Bram Stoker's career as a theater manager, and the scary individual he encounters, a mysterious Eastern European who has designs on one of the actresses.

The other two stories weren't quite as successful. "Sing a Seller's Song," by Sara Joan Berniker, tries to shock with its depiction of a young boy forced to act as his mother's pimp. In the end, again, I just didn't believe any of it. And "Aegis," by D.T. Neal, goes on rather too long in telling of a young artist's fascination with a much -- much! -- older sculptor named, significantly, Renee Euryale. It's obvious where this is going from the first, and the young artist -- nor a model he encounters -- just doesn't come to life.

Albedo One is consistently interesting, if occasionally rather uneven. It aggressively supports fiction from all around the world -- here the only example is Bondoni, an Argentine who writes in English, but previous issues have featured prize-winning German stories, for example. Certainly it is worth seeking out.

Copyright © 2010 Rich Horton

Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area and is a regular contributor to Tangent. Stop by his website at http://www.sff.net/people/richard.horton.


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