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Not One of Us, #32

Not One of Us, #32
Not One of Us
"Not One of Us is about people (or things) out of place in their surroundings, outsiders, social misfits, aliens in the SF sense -- anyone excluded from society for whatever the reason. We'd like Not One of Us to consider the problem of "otherness" from every possible fictional angle. We crave characters (human or otherwise) who are different and who act the way they do out of plausible (if occasionally insane) motives. We need not like a character, but we want to understand her/him/it."

Copies are $5.50US each or $13.50US for 3
They can be ordered from:
John Benson,
12 Curtis Road,
Natick, MA
01760, USA.

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

Not One of Us claims as its focus stories of "people (or things) out of place in their surroundings". This is a natural theme for SF in particular, and also for horror. 32 issues is an impressive total for a small press product, and the 'zine seems to have established an enviable reputation. The editor and publisher is John Benson.

I thought it delivered quite well on its promise. The stories are notable in particular for being well-written. The mood is generally somber. If one wanted to force a comparison to another more prominent magazine, I think in many ways the fiction here resembles, in tone and mood and often subject matter, that of the The 3rd Alternative. Not One of Us adds poetry -- while, it must be said, lacking the production values of The 3rd Alternative, as well as the non-fiction features. (And its overall quality isn't quite at the same level -- but they do very well given their lesser resources.)

The opening story is perhaps the best, Sonya Taaffe's "Another Coming." Taaffe is a poet, and it shows in her dense and evocative prose. This story slowly builds a portrait of the relationship between a newly pregnant woman and her two lovers -- in itself a fraught situation, but made a bit more complex by the nature of one of the possible fathers. Danny Adams's "A Deconstruction of Beauty" is about a cop in a grim world who encounters a woman painting forbidden things, beautiful things like trees. A decent story on a somewhat familiar theme -- it strains a bit for its effects perhaps, but it's not bad. Mark Steensland's "The Barn" is a bleak and effective story about a man dealing with the loss of his son to an accident -- it snaps shut quite effectively. In "Found," Patricia Russo (who seems to show up in a lot of places these days), tells of a woman's obsessive relationship with an alien she rescued. She believes she loves him -- but does that love have unexpected consequences? Brian Maycock offers "Where's the Matter," about unemployed miners in a decaying town, and the effects on a man, his friend, and the man's wife of the pending arrival of an scientific team to search for "dark matter" in the abandoned mine. Alarice K. Breidert's short-short "C2" is a scary little piece about a woman who thinks there's a dead body in her apartment. Finally, Jennifer Rachel Baumer's "Painting Possibilities" portrays an artist struggling to create while burdened with past relationships.

Each of these stories, even those that didn't quite work, is notable for (as I mentioned above) its care with the prose, but also for considerable thematic ambition. They are all about something interesting, at least. Several come a bit short of realizing their evident ambition, in my view, but they at least intrigue.

The magazine also features five poems. The two by Sonya Taaffe, one of the most accomplished newer poets in the field, were my favorites ("Refractions" and "Daughter of the Ash-Tree"). The other poems are by Nancy Bennett, Kent Kruse, and Karen R. Porter, and they are in general of a piece with the fiction -- passionate, and somewhat dark in mood.

I definitely recommend Not One of Us to readers attracted to character-centered dark fantasy. There's not much blood and violence on display, but plenty of disquieting reflection. Fine work.

Copyright © 2005 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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