Odyssey

Tagged: Publication

1. US letter-size Magazine, two issues, Spring and Summer 1976, published by Gambi Publications, New York; edited by Roger Elwood. Elwood's rapidly deteriorating reputation in the sf field was only further blemished by this weak, unattractive and ill-thought-through magazine. Despite a few headline names (not all accurately spelled) – Frederik Pohl, Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven – the material was downbeat and unexceptional. Production was poor, and the covers by Frank Kelly Freas and Jack Gaughan were inferior to their usual work. The publisher was really in the men's magazine market and treated Odyssey in the same way, producing a cheap result that was distributed in all the wrong places, and was uninspiring in all the right places. Poor sales stifled it in its cradle. [MA/FHP/PN]

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2. UK letter-size Slick magazine on quality coated stock, published by Partizan Press, London, edited by Liz Holliday; eight issues (the first numbered "0"), bimonthly, September/October 1997 to November 1998 (last issue undated). It was a companion to the role-playing magazine Valkyrie. An ambitious attempt at a substantial British Slick magazine, full colour throughout, running to 70 pages and crammed full of fiction and features. Odyssey ran a plethora of nonfiction features and columns including "Critical Mass", a review and commentary column by David Langford; "Blue Skies", a science column by Charles Stross; an author advice column by Colin Greenland; "Let 'Em Roll", a gaming column by Marcus Rowland; a "State of the Art" feature by various contributors; plus a host of reviews, news and author interviews. Amongst all of this, enough to fill most normal British sf magazines, the fiction easily got lost, especially in later issues where the design features became over exuberant, distracting from the text. Some stories in the advance issue #0 were reprints and thus not representative of the magazine as a whole, although the choice of Stephen Dedman's "The Dance That Everyone Must Do", which parallels the Pied Piper of Hamelin story with the Nazi Holocaust (see Holocaust Fiction), gave notice of the magazine's potential. Overall Holliday's choice of fiction was good. She did not rely solely on the emerging wave of new British writers, but gave the magazine an international flavour as well as a broad spectrum ranging from exotic Fantasy to Hard SF. Contributors included Constance Ash, Cherith Baldry, Stephen Baxter, Nancy Varian {BERBERICK}, Cory Doctorow, Peter T Garratt, Mary Gentle, Jeff Hecht, Mary Soon Lee, Vonda N McIntyre, Darrell Schweitzer, Alex Stewart, Charles Stross, Jo Walton (with her first genre sale) and Ian Watson – all with material as diverse, if not more so, than was appearing in Interzone. Unfortunately the cost of producing Odyssey was not matched by the income, and sufficient advertising revenue – the life blood of the Slick magazines – could not be raised. Odyssey was a bold, brave and almost certainly over-zealous attempt, seeking to fly before it had grown wings. [MA]

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