Lookin’ Good: Unstuck #2

unstuck2coveroct102jpeg4526x800Unstuck is an independent, nonprofit annual magazine edited by Matt Williamson. The term “magazine” may be a bit misleading here: with one issue per year, and each issue looking like a gorgeous trade paperback comprised of hundreds of pages of short fiction, it really feels more like a series of anthologies. I know, I know – semantics.

Whatever you call it, it’s worth taking a look, especially if you enjoy short fiction that straddles genre boundaries. When its first issue came out, about a year ago, it described itself as “literary fiction with elements of the fantastic, the futuristic, the surreal, or the strange — a broad category that would include the work of writers as diverse as Borges, Ballard, Calvino, Huxley, Tutuola, Abe and (of course) Vonnegut.”

I reviewed that first issue for Tor.com, and just a few days ago the second issue arrived in my mailbox — all 570 pages of it! I haven’t had a chance to look at anything except the table of contents, but let’s just say that it once again looks like a treat.

Executive editor Matt Williamson came to my attention via his brilliant short story “Sacrament” in the dystopian SF anthology Brave New Worlds, edited by John Joseph Adams (who I interviewed last year). It’s one of the strongest stories in what I consider one of the best themed anthologies ever. I guess I must have raved about it quite convincingly, because John Joseph Adams passed my contact info on to Matt Williamson, who then contacted me to let me know about the new magazine he was launching. I’m still grateful to both of them, because I probably would have missed out on all of this otherwise.

Unstuck #1 was actually my first exposure to Karin Tidbeck (whose stunning collection Jagganath I reviewed recently). Her story in that issue didn’t jump out at me at the time, probably in part because the whole issue was just so great. I only realized when I read the copyright page of the collection that the story was originally published in Unstuck #1. A year later, Tidbeck has now released her first English-language collection to huge critical acclaim, one of the few books I gave a perfect 5 star rating to on Goodreads.

So, yes, Matt Williamson and his team have a good nose for picking up-and-coming authors. In Unstuck #2, you’ll find fiction by authors like Steve Almond, Kate Bernheimer, Jedediah Berry, Gabriel Blackwell, Edward Carey, Matthew Cheney, Brian Conn, Rikki Ducornet, Caitlin Horrocks, AD Jameson, J. Robert Lennon, Jonathan Lethem & John Hilgart, Paul Lisicky, Elizabeth McCracken, Ed Park, Donald Revell, Mary Ruefle, Tomaz Salamun, David J. Schwartz, Mathias Svalina, Daniel Wallace, Dean Young, and Matthew Zapruder. Now, I’m going to come right out and admit that I haven’t heard from most of these people, but based on Unstuck #1 I’m sure there’ll be some amazing surprises in that list.

You can order both issues on Unstuck’s home page. I also just noticed that you can get Unstuck #1 and Unstuck #2 for your Kindle and Nook, which is terribly convenient and, let me tell you, if I had a Kindle or Nook I probably wouldn’t think twice about grabbing them — except the physical books (okay, magazines, whatever) are so lovely that I still recommend getting the old-fashioned paper issues if you can.

I’ll post a review once I’ve had a chance to read the new anthology issue, but that may take a while because 1) this is the kind of fiction you want to savor slowly and 2) I’m way behind on other assignments. Meanwhile, if you’re in the mood for some interesting, adventurous literary fantasy/SF, definitely give Unstuck a try.

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