Edge, The

Tagged: Publication

UK A4-size review-and-comment Semiprozine, somewhat left field, with a discerning interest in indie culture and art, but which also carries alternative and experimental fiction influenced by the Michael Moorcock-era New Worlds and by the British music and culture magazine The Face. It has been published and edited by journalist David Clark (until 2001 under his alias Graham Evans) since September 1990, first based in Chelmsford, Essex and subsequently in London. The magazine's bibliography is complicated due to additional unnumbered issues, and because it has run in three series. Its title, which is taken from William Gibson's story "New Rose Hotel" (July 1984 Omni) – where The Edge is "that essential fraction of sheer human talent" – had been used earlier by Clark for a magazine he produced with others while still at school, but for which he wrote nothing and was rapidly dismissive, because of the compromises involved. It saw two issues (August/September 1989-March/April 1990), and though they contained much of interest, including an early Xeelee story by Stephen Baxter and an article on Philip K Dick, plus two stories reprinted in later issues of The Edge, it was not what Clark wanted to develop and the magazine was dropped.

Clark, however, retained the title and joined forces with Gerald Houghton (1965-2001), who had produced a small horror film and review magazine, Your Worst Fears Confirmed, and who now became Contributing Editor. What would have been the first issue of The Edge was assembled for publication in August/September 1990 featuring an interview with and a new story by John Shirley, a story by Keith Brooke and a Jerry Cornelius story by Michael Moorcock. However the printer took offence at the lyrics of a song by David Britton, about politicians and the poll tax, and destroyed the issue. This was both a creative and a financial setback, further aggravated by a fire in January 1991 that destroyed several manuscripts. Clark persevered and the first issue of The Edge at last appeared dated Spring 1991. It ran the Jerry Cornelius story "The Gangrene Collection" (18 January 1990 City Limits; Spring 1991) by Michael Moorcock, the first of many stories by Moorcock that the magazine would feature, plus the first part of the "Fantasy Trilogy" by Paul Di Filippo, and interviews with Lisa Tuttle and Ramsey Campbell.

At this stage Clark was unable to produce the magazine regularly although three more issues appeared over the next couple of years. These featured the second and third parts of Di Filippo's "Fantasy Trilogy", further interviews (Clive Barker, James Herbert, Neil Gaiman) and reviews, and an essay on American crime writing by Gerald Houghton. There were also two stories reprinted from the earlier The Edge: Patrick Whittaker's recursive "The Snark Equation" (March/April 1990; 1993 #3) bringing together Mathematics and the murder of Lewis Carroll, and Michael Clark's "Wagner – the Remix" (August/September 1989; 1993 #4), a surprisingly prescient story of Computer manipulation of music and images. These first four issues, which constituted volume one of The Edge, showed Clark's varied interests from horror to Pulp noir and the surreal to speculative sf, which would develop further in volume 2.

Volume 2 began with the issue dated December 1995/January 1996 and to many appeared as a new magazine. Clark was at last able to include the John Shirley and Keith Brooke stories ("A Walk Through Beirut" and "Brain Jive") from the ill-fated, destroyed first issue and now brought together all three vignettes by Paul Di Filippo as "Fantasy Trilogy"; there was a new interview with Christopher Fowler. This magazine was professionally printed on coated stock, and was to all intents a professional magazine apart from its relatively small print run.

This version was closer to Clark's vision of a magazine covering surreal fantasy, horror and science fiction alongside other contemporary material though, as he emphasized in issue #3 (May/June 1996) "this isn't an SF magazine, but one which aims to cover the best of SF – there is a slight difference." This was a similar argument to one used by Charles Platt with New Worlds and is an important distinction. The Edge, as its title's origins imply, was seeking to review and redeem science fiction from an outsider's perspective, not from within. The magazine ran extensive reviews, commentary and interviews but, for much of volume 2, the fiction remained uppermost. It ranged from the relatively traditional, such as "The Thallian Intervention" (February/March 1996) by Eric Brown, to the surreal and absurd, such as "The Death of Salvador Dali" (May/June 1996) by Paul Di Filippo and "The Man Who Wound a Thousand Clocks" (1997 #4) by Christopher Fowler. There were interviews with Michael Moorcock (February/March 1996), Storm Constantine (May/June 1996), Nicholas {ROYLE} (1997 #4), Alan Moore (August/September 1997), Iain Sinclair (December 1997/January 1998) and M John Harrison and James Sallis (both May/June 1998). Other contributors included Simon {CLARK}, Garry Kilworth, John Shirley, Iain Sinclair and Don Webb, and there was an early draft version of the opening chapters to Michael Moorcock's The War Amongst the Angels (May/June 1996; exp 1996) and a new Jerry Cornelius story, "The Spencer Inheritance" (May/June 1998). It was at this time, starting in 1996 that Clark began to add material to Gerald Houghton's already existing website for The Edge, which Houghton redeveloped and turned into the first proper website for the magazine. Clark considered the possibility of running it as both a Print Magazine and an Online Magazine, but was dissuaded by Houghton. Volume 2 ran from December 1995 to May/June 1998, with seven numbered issues and an additional unnumbered issue which appeared during the Summer of 1997 and included Christopher Fowler's violent story of business pressure "Wage Slaves", and the first of David Britton's and Kris Guidio's three-panel comic-strip series, "La Squab".

Clark now decided to relaunch the magazine with a new #1 (with no volume number, but in practice volume 3), undated but in November 1998. It had a new logo and a new designer, Martin Butterworth, who gave it an extra contemporary edge, but there was otherwise little change in the content which continued its steady progression towards Clark's ideal. The second issue of this series, again undated but released late autumn 1999 (though © 2000), was redesigned again, this time by John Coulthart, and the magazine took on a new strapline, "The Sharpest Magazine in the World". The first two issues ran further material by Michael Moorcock, and interviews with Jonathan Carroll, Iain Banks, Graham Joyce, Anthony Frewin and Caitlín Kiernan. The third issue (released December 1999) featured a lengthy interview with William Gibson and fiction by Sparkle Hayer, Michael Moorcock and Justine Robson amongst others. Again there was a new design but otherwise The Edge was increasingly focused as a contemporary arts magazine with a leaning towards urban culture and its reflection in sf and dark fantasy. Intermingled between these numbered issues were two or three unnumbered and undated issues, one of which featured Moorcock's "Heart of the City" (late 1998), an advance excerpt from his King of the City (2000).

Future issues were delayed by the death of Gerald Houghton in January 2001 and it was a while before Clark was able to return to the magazine, assisted now by the (unrelated) Dave Clark. Production was further hampered by the editor's need for a series of eye operations. Issues appeared roughly one per year and included further material by Michael Moorcock, James Sallis, Christopher Fowler and interviews with Poppy Z Brite, Neil Gaiman, Paul McAuley, Iain Sinclair and Jack Womack.

In total there have been to date at least 25 issues of The Edge as at 2010, numbered and unnumbered, some far more elusive than others. It is a magazine that has constantly been reshaping itself, seeking an ideal and yet held back by its own challenges. Its title could not be more apt. It is between the edges of genre fiction and forever pushing itself to the edge of its own achievements. Whilst in simple terms it is a literary descendant of the Moorcock New Worlds and has much in common with such American magazines as New Pathways, Ice River and Science Fiction Eye, it is one alone, out on the edge.

Much of the material from the print issues is being uploaded onto the magazine's website [see links below] where it can be more easily accessed and which contains other features and some new material. [MA]

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