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Terra Incognita

Entry updated 19 February 2024. Tagged: Publication.

US letter-size Semiprozine published by Jan Berrien Berends, Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. It ran for six issues from Winter 1996 to Fall 2000. Unusual amongst sf magazine, Terra Incognita remained Earthbound. It wanted only stories that were set on the Earth, in the present or future, but no fantasy or Alternate History. It had an impressive start with stories by L Timmel Duchamp, Kadis Elliot and Darrell Schweitzer amongst others, an Interview with Octavia Butler and an essay by Nicola Griffith, all packaged with effective artwork highlighting, as the editor himself remarked, "The World as we Don't Know It." As can often happen with "little" magazines with a particular fictional directive, contributors were inspired to produce original material. In the first issue, Michael Ford's "A Striving After Wind" (Winter 1996) is a transcendental story involving tornados; Don D'Ammassa's "Dumb Genius" (Winter 1999) is about a savant who is able to construct gadgets based on their description in old sf stories; Terry McGarry's "The Child Ephemeral" (Winter 1999) suggests a connection between a young ailing girl and the fate of civilization; "In the Second Person" (Winter 1999) by Sally Caves – which was nominated for the James Tiptree Jr Award – deals with a fleeting personality exchange. By focusing on Earthbound stories Terra Incognita, perhaps more by chance than design, nevertheless published a remarkable range of fiction about the human condition. It was a shame the magazine did not last longer. [MA]


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