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Albedo One, Issue 38

Albedo One, Issue 38
Albedo One
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Albedo One

Albedo One Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

The latest issue, #38, of the Irish-based magazine Albedo One is fairly representative of its usual range and quality, which place it as one of the better and more interesting semi-pro magazines in the field. As usual, there's a nice cover and overall fine presentation. There's a good interview, with James Gunn, and a varied series of book reviews. And, most important, there's fiction: six stories, some fantasy, some SF.

My favorites came from Bruce McAllister and Priya Sharma. "Heart of Hearts" is another of Bruce McAllister's ongoing series of fantasies about a teenaged American boy in an Italian village. The story begins by quoting Percy Bysshe Shelley about the village of Lerici, where he ended up drowning -- and, perhaps, fathering a child. But the story centers on a fourteen-year-old boy, who narrates the story from the perspective of much later in his life. Here he experiences what we might call "puppy love" with a mysterious local girl, who makes patterns in the sand with seashells, and who cannot swim because she is narcoleptic. And who might have some connection with the old local story about Percy Bysshe Shelley. It's a bittersweet story, beautifully written, sensitively characterized. Sharma's "The Nature of Bees" tells of a divorced woman renting a cottage in the country. There she encounters the mysterious family of caretakers, and she has a little fling with one of the young men, only to realize that this family's view of the roles of women and men is a bit unusual. Indeed, as we guess from the start, the upshot is a sort of literalization of a human family organized like bees -- which works as a story mostly due to Sharma's lush prose.

Albedo One sponsors an annual story contest, the Aeon Award, with the top three entries gaining publication in the magazine. Last year's third prize winner was Allison Francisco's "The Better to See You With," in which a boy is, at first, jealous of his friend's success in capturing the attention of a man who photographs some of the children at the local playground. Of course, we soon realize -- and the boy eventually gathers -- that this "Polaroid Man" and his photographs are a thin fantastical version of pedophilia. It's not a bad story, but it never surprised, and the fantastical veneer in the end seemed pointless.

The other stories are a bit weaker. Aaron Polson's "Precious Metal" is about an old man who creates wonderful things from scrap in a wasted future, but who is constantly threatened by the thugs who rule his area. It didn't really go anywhere with its idea. Martin Belderson's "The Hot Chocolate Rocket" is a labored and ultimately thoroughly unconvincing comic tale of a couple of young geniuses who invent a rocket powered by chocolate, and end up learning things "man was not meant to know." And Matthew F. Perry's "The Child" is routine horror about a man encountering a woman with a strange child in a market.

The above mixture of hits and misses is really to be expected from any magazine. I've found Albedo One, over the years, to be a pretty consistent source of interesting SF and Fantasy, well worth a look.

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

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