When moving house, many things resurface that have been buried away for years; I’ve found stuff that I thought was long gone. These artefacts form an unnecessary archive to a life that has been lived. I’m a curator to my own life for a world that doesn’t really care. I’ve cleared the loft with a ruthless abandon – throwing away cards, files, knick-knacks, magazines and tatty books without a second thought – an instant life-laundry.
During the clear out, I found a batch of 50 of The Pseudo-Nymph, an anthology of Science Fiction stories and poetry that I produced in 1991. It was the practical part of a dissertation I wrote about SF micro-publishing in the UK. The essay had one of those meaningless convoluted titles, that I can’t remember, but it included material gathered in an interview with David Pringle, the then editor of Interzone and the Games Workshop fiction line.
The late 80s were a boom time for the number of small press titles emerging from different corners of the UK and covering the whole, diverse range within the broad church of the genre. The New SF Alliance (NSFA) was a loose coilition of small publishers who got together to support distribution from a single address. The Pseudo-Nymph is a collection of illustrated material from each of the magazines that formed the NSFA.
DREAM, later NEW MOON SCIENCE FICTION, was a magazine that put SCIENCE back in science fiction with plot driven stories that avoided experiementation, they gave Steven Baxter his first break, among others. THE SCANNER was a more off-the-wall magazine that liked to have humour as well as more serious pieces of both fiction and criticism. WORKS was one of my favourites as it tended towards short, short fiction and mood pieces. AUGERIES was one of the early and most respected of the members of the alliance, while NOVA was newer and more off the wall.
The most inspirational was Chris Reed’s BACK BRAIN RECLUSE which pushed the boundaries of desktop publishing design and had an eye for the emergent ‘slip-stream’ experimental SF which was just about gaining transaction at the time. He was the enthusiastic patron of the alliance who did all of the publicity and PR on behalf of the the small press. More importantly, he was a great distributor of micro-publishing, bringing rare and interesting fiction to the UK from the backwaters of the USA.
There’s some really good fiction included in the collection. I let each of the editors choose one of their favourites from the their magazines. It resulted in many of the stories having similar themes: altered states and displaced time. It was the artwork in The Pseudo-Nymph that caught the attention of the reviewers. There are a couple of striking pieces, including examples from some artists that will be familiar to gamers: Dreyfus who contributed to Elric! and Call of Cthulhu for Chaosium and Alan Hunter who often illustrated Lew Pulsipher’s contributions to White Dwarf).
The Pseudo-Nymph struggled to find an audience. In the pre-Internet time, it was difficult to get the message out to audiences, despite the valiant effort of the NSFA to find readers, I sunk the printing costs into my big student overdraft and was left with loads of copies. I must have kept a batch of them ‘for old times sake.”
I’ll keep searching, I know there’s a copy of GOLDEN HEROES around here, somewhere.
In April, I will be sending $5.00 Patreons a copy of THE PSEUDO-NYMPH and pulling the remainder out of the hat to send to $3.50 supporters, as a ‘thank you’ for their support.