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The Third Alternative

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      23.08.2000 04:44
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      Any magazine intending to publish short fiction invariably has to choose whether it wishes to fit into any one genre (for example, the meta-genre of science fiction and fantasy) or whether to aim for Establishment accolades by publishing literary works on any topic but with a variety of Themes. Here, however, the publishers have opted for a Third Alternative, that of mixing genres (and, indeed, of seemingly having as their mission objective the destruction of all genre boundaries), and it works reasonably well, even if at times I’m not sure at precisely whom a particular piece was supposed to be aimed. The fiction content of the magazine comprises mostly work of some strangeness: only very occasionally straight sf, fantasy or horror, more often a straight literary work upon which one of these genres infringes in some way. The actual quality of the fiction is high, with many of the short stories appearing in TTA subsequently being short-listed for various literary awards. Apart from the fiction, the magazine contains two regular columns: ‘The Dodo Has Landed’, featuring general opinion by Allen Ashley which tends to be engaging and thought-provoking if at times (intentionally) frustrating, and ‘Crowther’s Corner’, containing anecdotes and thoughts, usually on the subjects of publishing and book collecting, by Peter Crowther. (NB: A third column has also recently been added: entitled ‘The Correspondent’ and seemingly set to feature matters of relevant interest by a variety of hands from across the globe, this will probably become a permanent feature of the magazine.) The magazine is ably rounded off by ‘The Cinema’, featuring in-depth examinations of the lives of various film-makers and their works (recently featured individuals include David Cronenberg and Federico Fellini), and a section of book reviews, of books from many genres, which is usually of some use. Immaculatel
      y produced, this A4 glossy magazine, with colour covers and highly effective greyscale interiors often featuring some brilliant photo-artwork, has something to offer any short fiction enthusiast, but particularly those whose loyalties lie in the fantasy and sf areas even if this is not what the magazine, stricly speaking, contains (although sword-and-sorcery enthusiasts and those who like the other mass-market forms only would be well advised to stay away; this is a magazine containing works it believes are of literary merit and not simply shortened versions of Terry Brooks). Seek it out, and enjoy.

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