issues 3 (Spring '05) & 4 (Summer '05)
(PS Publishing, £6, 144 pages, paperback magazine, published spring
and summer 2005.)
Postscripts arrived before I'd even
started number 3. This is fast turning into a must-read item. Few mere
humans can possibly keep up with all the short fiction being published
in decent venues these days, so it's great to find a magazine that publishes
such a diversity of genre and style in every issue, to such a high standard.
In these two issues the stories range from the weird and slipstream
(or must we call it 'interstitial' now?) to Golden-Age-tinged science
fiction, stopping off at horror, high fantasy, alternate history and
many other points along the way.
time, as issue number 4 of
The non-fiction is excellent, too. It's good to see interviews not
only by fiction authors, but by authors with a real depth of knowledge
of their subject: we get questions full of insight both into the life
of the writer but also their motivations and recurring interests. In
these two issues, Jayme Lynn Blaschke interviews Lois McMaster Bujold
and Graham Andrews tackles Richard S Prather, and both make fascinating
But good as it is, the non-fiction only makes up a small part of each
issue of Postscripts, and I doubt many people will buy it on
the strength of the interviews. It's the stories that matter, and it's
good to report that the magazine has maintained the high standard set
in the first issue (I didn't see number 2, which might of course have
been a real turkey, so I couldn't comment).
There isn't a duff story in either of these issues, which is surprising,
as usually there would be something I wouldn't really like, particularly
in a magazine so determinedly eclectic. Number 3 edges it for me, though,
by having two real stand-out stories. Richard Bowes' "Circle Dance"
uses a trick employed by a couple of other stories in this selection:
the telling of another story -- or stories -- within the main story,
commenting on and counterpointing the framing story. Bowes pulls this
trick off to near-perfection, setting the story of two brothers -- their
ups, their downs, their near-death experiences, their relationships
-- against a parallel worlds tale being written by one of the brothers,
the whole thing approaching the deep, deep hole left in a person's life
when a loved one departs from two quite different perspectives. Moving
and quite, quite beautiful.
Joe Hill's "Best New Horror" is a superbly-constructed tale about a
horror editor, again employing a story-within-the-story to drag the
reader in -- this time a story whose author the editor is trying to
track down. Like watching a disaster unfold, this story has an inevitable
arc the reader just knows it must follow, and there's nothing
anyone can do to stop it.
The other stories in Postscripts 3 all have a lot to offer.
Chaz Brenchley's "Dragon King Plays Songs of Love" marks his first venture
in fiction set in Taiwan (of which there will be more), and it's a very
effective story of love and gods and expediency and rain. Gene Wolfe
comes up with an ingenious story taking the concept of plate tectonics
to an extreme, although it's a shame he didn't do a little more with
the idea. Stephen Volk's "Curious Green Colours Sleep Furiously" is
an intriguing attempt at absurdist hard-boiled SF. There's some brilliant
wordplay, but the cleverness and wit didn't quite hold me for the length
of the story. David Herter's "black and green and gold" is a rich and
creepy tale set in -- and under -- Prague. Jack Dann's "Dreaming with
the Angels" is another of his alternate James Dean stories (see also
his recent novel The Rebel: an imagined life of James Dean and
"Dharma Bums" in Postscripts 4), a classy piece of writing that
sweeps you along and moves you and makes you long for the alternate
to be even more alternate, with room for a different, happy,
ending. And Garry Kilworth's "Murders in the White Garden" is a fun
supernatural murder mystery before the issue closes with the aforementioned
Joe Hill chiller.
approaches the same high standard as its predecessor, although
without quite the peaks. My favourite stories here were the two openers
Alastair Reynolds' "Zima Blue" and Eric Brown's "Life Beyond...". Postscripts
"Zima Blue" uses extreme art, sometimes on a planetary scale, to explore,
well, the meaning of life, when sometimes it's the simple things that
matter more than anything. "Life Beyond..." tells the story of an old
man fighting the system for custody of his granddaughter, with a UFO
thrown in for good measure, in an elegiac and ultimately very warm tribute
to the rural-domestic tales of Clifford D Simak. There's a sense of
inevitability in this story, as we can spot the likely outcome of the
old man's dilemma, but the author subtly turns things around so that
that is not the real climax of the tale -- there's another layer, an
The remaining five stories in the fourth issue of Postscripts
all have a lot to offer, in their own, varied ways. Lawrence Person's
"Master Lao and the Flying Horror" is a charmingly entertaining kung
fu demon romp, while Barry Malzberg and Paul di Filippo revisit early
Malzberg territory in a story that twists from apparent high-tech SF
to a wild and fantastical tale of deep mysteries and secrets. Adam Roberts'
"And Future King..." is a funny satire on Arthurian romance and politics;
Jack Dann serves up another of his alternate James Dean stories in the
engaging and compelling "Dharma Bums"; and Zoran Zvkovic's "The Cell"
rounds the issue off with typically cool, measured and witty prose that
draws readers in only to do strange things to their heads.
Postscripts is the one fiction magazine I try to keep up with
these days. I'm looking forward to the next one.
Elsewhere in infinity plus: