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Clarkesworld Magazine #1
edited by Nick Mamatas and Sean Wallace, Neil Clarke, publisher

Nick Mamatas
Nick Mamatas was born in 1972 on Long Island, New York and attended the State University of New York at Stony Brook and New School University. His work appears frequently in Razor Magazine, The Village Voice, and various Disinformation Books and BenBella Smart Pop Books anthologies. His short novel Northern Gothic (Soft Skull, 2001) was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction in 2002. His most recent release is the novel Move Under Ground (Night Shade Books, 2004), which combines the Beat style of Jack Kerouac with the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. This novel was nominated for both the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and the International Horror Guild Award for Best First Novel in 2005, and made the Locus Magazine Recommended Reading List for books published in 2004. He currently lives in Brattleboro, Vermont.

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Sean Wallace
Sean Wallace was born in Miami, Florida in 1976. His interest in the author E.C. Tubb began in the late 1980s, which eventually sparked his growing interest in early American, British, and Australian science fiction magazines, authors, and books. He has worked with a number of publishing companies, including Gryphon Books, Savanti Press, Dreamriders Workshop, etc. He is now a full-time senior editor at Wildside Press. He is also the publisher and owner of Prime Books, at

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Amal El-Mohtar

Clarkesworld Magazine #1 Livejournal is a wonderful thing. Say what you will about blogging and how it's shameless wankery on the part of the author and shameful voyeurism on the part of the reader (neither of which I say, but it's been repeated to me often enough), it remains that blogs spread the word about things that might be easily missed and really ought not to be. Clarkesworld Magazine is one of those things.

I followed a link from a friend's LJ, saying that October 1st saw the launch of a great new online magazine, featuring only two stories: "A Light in Troy" by Sarah Monette, and "304 Adolf Hitler Strasse" by Lavie Tidhar. "Hmm," thought I, "only two stories? Sure, I have time to read that." I promptly did. After which I immediately began writing this review.

First, I love that there are only two stories per issue. Not that I object, at all, to longer collections, but I felt, as a reviewer, better able to appreciate the whole this way. Most often, in anthologies and magazines -- be they of poetry or fiction -- I tend to skip around, cheerfully ignoring the editorial wisdom that cobbled the collection together. It's well-meant, and fun to do. With only two stories in the issue, though, it seemed almost malicious not to read them in order, so I did -- and I'm glad I did, because they complement each other wonderfully.

Sarah Monette's "A Light in Troy" is a quiet, beautiful story about a woman living as a slave in a conquered fortress by the sea. Whether it's Troy or not seems irrelevant; I forgot the title as soon as I began reading, and only upon re-reading did I think that Troy might work as a setting. The simple, elegant prose carried me along so well and so subtly that, for a moment, I was surprised when the story ended; then I thought about it, and decided it was exactly right. It's a truly lovely piece, one that left me smiling at it for a couple of minutes after I finished reading.

In what I consider an extremely judicious editorial choice, Lavie Tidhar's story follows Monette's, takes the quiet contentment I felt at the end of "A Light in Troy" and holds it hostage before slowly hacking it to death. The title began by making me uneasy (and probably contributed to my keeping the order and reading it second), as I thought, "drat, is this going to be a Holocaust story?" I have a bone to pick with much of fiction and fantasy that attempts to treat the Holocaust, mainly because I find so little of it succeeds, relying too heavily on the enormity of the event itself to craft effect instead of on good storytelling. So I began reading warily, prepared to be extremely critical, and found myself completely awed.

"304 Adolf Hitler Strasse" begins with Hershele Ostropol, née Hanzi Himmler, being collected at his home by two unnamed, un-uniformed individuals, decidedly sinister in their anonymity; Himmler offers no resistance as he is led towards "the dark Mercedes that waited for him, as he knew it would, outside." But this is not what it seems; Hanzi lives in a post-Holocaust world in which the Nazis have won and Jews exist only in illegal pornography. This is a tightly plotted story, well structured and paced, that succeeds in evoking the horror of so enormous an event as the Holocaust by getting at it edgewise through the Nazi/Jew "slash" that Hanzi reads and begins to write.

In fact, I think part of the success of both stories in this issue lies in each author's capacity for understatement. Monette's story treats slavery and abuse with such a deft hand that the reader must accept it as a backdrop as completely as the slave does and take it for granted; Tidhar's plays with the reader's expectation expertly, drawing the horror out as casually as thread from a spool. I'm left feeling gratified, uncomfortable, uneasy, and hugely impressed by Clarkesworld Magazine's first issue, and look forward to reading more next month.

Copyright © 2006 Amal El-Mohtar

Amal has a history of reading anything with pages. Now, she reads stuff online, too. She sometimes does other things, but that's mainly it.

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