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Albedo One #25
Posted by John Robbins


The longest running Irish magazine of speculative fiction, Albedo One is in its tenth year of publication, but only on its twenty-fifth issue. Not exactly prolific then, but while other publishers strain to adhere to self-imposed deadlines, Albedo One embraces a publishing schedule dictated by its gradual accumulation of quality material - material that mixes first time writers with established professionals, and that demands an audience. Three European Science Fiction Society Awards suggest a winning approach.

This current issue, though slightly uneven, continues the Albedo One standard of well crafted, oddly cosy science fiction and horror short stories.
Opening proceedings is Elvis Is Dead, a likeable piece of sci-fi tinged with hard-boiled detective work and throw-away humour. Elvis clones are dropping like flies and underworld kingpin Elvis Stradivarius turns to investigator Lamar for assistance; his only lead: the popular recreational drug Tetra Isopropyl Ketamine, aka 'the kid'. Not economically written, the fact that the story seems to lack a defining draft adds to its charm. A delusional and dissociative closing paragraph - which focuses theme - suggests a damn fine tale has been told, but in truth this one is no more than agreeably diverting.
One Last Look At A Half-Moon offers a thoroughly sound grasp of story-telling and entertaining read, and succeeded in engaging this reader. In the virtual office, gridlock meets broadband, and multi-tasking as applied to a single brain driving a subs-bench of virtual bodies is already in operation and resulting in improved financial performance for one particular company. The Tax Department smell a virtual rat...
The Olivia Reunion Party continues the multiplicity thread, but from a more profoundly emotional source. However, only in retrospect is it an affecting tale - with one's perceptions upended due to twist ending, only then does the story actually read other than one of bickering sisters, albeit with cryptic undertones. Still, a fine idea (which I won't reveal), though resembling less a genre short story than an under-developed stage play.
Finally, The Barber is a flawless piece of horror prose, well crafted and technically impressive, which tells of a young man's descent into madness via the old tools-of-the-trade route. A sound piece of writing, but pretty routine, sterile stuff, really.

Also on offer this issue: a lively interview with sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson, a comic strip, and eleven pages of in-depth book reviews. And the whole shebang comes neatly designed, pristinely printed in black and white A4 format, and comprises 48 type-packed pages. An accumulation well worth burying your head in, methinks!
Albedo One #25: 3 UK quid, from 2 Post Road, Lusk, Co Dublin, Ireland.

Review by John Robbins

Posted on July 11, 2002
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