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Summary, Postscripts, 2008 - The Elephant Forgets
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Summary, Postscripts, 2008


Summary, Postscripts, 2008

The UK-based magazine Postscripts again stuck to their quarterly schedule with 4 more issues in 2008, their fifth year of publication, after an heroic effort to get the Winter issue out in December. Notably, one of these issues was a particularly thick and handsome hardcover special Science Fiction edition. Peter Crowther is the managing editor and publisher, and my erstwhile Locus colleague Nick Gevers is the editor. They have announced plans for slight changes -- subsequent issues will be anthologies rather than magazines ... I'm not sure how much that will impact things. I believe each issue will be longer -- similar perhaps to the special issues that appeared each of the past two years, and I suspect their will be less of an emphasis on quarterly publication. (Not sure what will happen with the illustrations and the advertisements.)

The four issues in 2008 contained over 360,000 words of new fiction, as well as some non-fiction and a novel excerpt. There were 19 novelettes and 40 short stories, four of them short-shorts.

Of the novelettes, my clear favorite was Beth Bernobich's "The Golden Octopus" (Summer), which  parallels her arresting earlier piece "A Flight of Numbers Fantastique Strange". It is a wrenching story of the Queen of Éirann's support of time travel research and the unexpected results of same. Two more novelettes from the Summer issue were particularly good: Alex Irvine’s "Shad’s Mess", about an operator of a teleportation booth, the shit falls on when things go wrong; and "The Men Who Live in Trees" by Kelly Barnhill about a people who won’t be conquered -- a people with no language, no arts, and who are all apparently male. From Spring I quite liked a Kyle Murchison Booth story from Sarah Monette, in which our hero ends up wandering a dream world. From Autumn John Grant's "Will the Real Veronica LeBarr Please Stand Down?" is a scary story about a famous actress -- or perhaps a simulacrum of her -- working in a whorehouse. Other fine novelettes came from Ian McDonald, Marly Youmans, Justina Robson, and Paul DiFilippo.

Of the short stories, I particularly liked Robert Reed's "Blackbird" (Spring), about alien transmissions that include something like a blog from an alien creature, and tell the creature's rather sad life story. Paul McAuley's "The Thought War" (Summer), from a special section that issue devoted to McAuley which included several fine pieces, is a scary depiction of Earth in the aftermath of an invasion based on the effect of the observer on reality. Also from Summer (which really was a first rate and very large issue), I liked Keith Brooke's "The Man Who Built Heaven", about a consensual Virtual Reality space called the Accord, whose designer finds a desire to force a different, or at least alternate, consensus after his lover dies. From Winter, Adam Robert's "A Prison Sentence of One Thousand Years" is a quietly powerful story telling of someone just released from such a sentence, subtly revealing his disconnection from his society, and the reason for his sentence. Also from Winter, Rhys Hughes's "A Gala of Implausible Songs" is very funny, a romp really, describing a festival devoted to very unusual -- and indeed, very implausible -- music. Other strong short stories came from Eric Brown, Jeff VanderMeer, James Lovegrove, Tara Kolden, and Matthew Hughes.

On the whole I would rank this is perhaps the best year yet for Postscripts.

Statistics: 7 of 59 stories, 12%, were by women. (This is slightly higher than last year.) I would call perhaps 35 of the 59 stories from 2008 Science Fiction, or 59%, a total doubtless increased by the presence of a special issue devoted to Science Fiction.

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