Back Brain Recluse

Tagged: Publication | Fan

UK Semiprozine, from June 1984 to October 2002; edited by Chris Reed initially at Smallfield, Surrey, then (from issue #9) from Chesterfield, Derbyshire, and from #16 from Sheffield, South Yorkshire; 24 issues, published at irregular intervals but usually twice a year, but after issue #21 (November 1992) there was only one issue each in 1994, 1997 and 2002. It began as a slim-but-ambitious A5 format xeroxed Fanzine but switched to A4 from Spring 1990 (#15), professionally printed, with bold design. Its penultimate issue, #23 (Spring 1997) shrank to standard size (> Magazines) whilst its final issue (#24) was published as a trade paperback anthology, Angel Body and Other Magic for the Soul (anth 2002) edited by Chris Reed and David Memmott.

From the start it was able to attract material from Michael Moorcock in the shape of some of his song lyrics, alongside other experimental and surreal writers like D F {LEWIS}, Steve Sneyd, Don Webb and t. winter-damon. Issue #7 (January 1987) was a Moorcock special, including an interview with him and a Jerry Cornelius story by Andrew Darlington. Reed developed the magazine as a package, calling it a "Magazine of Fiction and Art", presenting avant garde covers by SMS, who also provided covers for Interzone. Whilst the magazine felt like a disciple of the New Wave, a godson of New Worlds, it did start to remould itself with occasional surprises. It ran, for instance, the last story by Benson Herbert, "Checkmate" (March 1988 #10), and it published some of the earliest fiction by Neal Asher, Stephen Baxter and Simon {CLARK} alongside such stalwarts as Garry Kilworth and Ian Watson. The switch to a large format allowed for more artistic scope and longer fiction, contributors extending to Paul Di Filippo and Jeff VanderMeer. Each issue grew more ambitious, receiving newsstand distribution from #19 (Summer 1991) and becoming perfect bound and semi-Slick from issue #21 (Winter 1992). These final issues were expensive and time consuming to produce, which is why they became infrequent, but they were also handsome and rewarding, with highly original fiction. At the American Readercon convention in 1993 BBR, as it was frequently called, was voted Best Fiction Magazine. Back Brain Recluse was one of the more impressive semiprozines to emerge from the UK in the 1980s. Its natural successor became The Third Alternative.

A selection of material from the first four issues was The Best of Back Brain Recluse (anth 1987 chap) edited by Chris Reed. [MA]

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