"Sfinx," said Stuart sagely, "has a very bad reputation among fans."
Neal and I pressed for details.
"Well", he admitted, "among me, at any rate."
It is only fair to concede that such a reputation would not be entirely unjustified. Sfinx is a fan magazine, asking Oxford-based authors to hand over their literary gems for nothing more than a complimentary copy. With such a small catchment area, low rates of pay, low length limit and low print run (250), it would be a miracle if we did attract professional-quality material.
We would like to lay claim, therefore, to a minor miracle. The old series of Sfinx, which ended in 1978, provoked Octopus Books' Encyclopedia of SF to describe the literature zines as "never very good, but none better than Sphinx[sic]."; the new series, starting from scratch, has not yet achieved such heights, but has nevertheless published stories of the quality of Niall Ross' "In My End Is My Beginning" (Sfinx 1) and Barbara Rochford's "Necessary Measures" (Sfinx 3).
After two years, then, here is the fourth Sfinx of the new series, a collection of stories larger and perhaps more diverse than any of the previous issues. We have the humour of "Time Enough For Politics" [the following comment was deleted on the grounds of preserving whatever shreds of good taste remain -NT] and the atmosphere of Maria Hamilton's "In A World Of Your Own". Nick Penfold contributes a beautifully simple fairy tale, written in response to a challenge from Tanith Lee. I can't reasonably comment on "All we have in common...", but I assure you it is different again (even if I did steal the title). And David Upshal, C.M. Holt and D.P. Martin provide a backbone of `straight' sf.
And with the amount of material in prospect growing, there has already been talk of a Sfinx 5 in time for Conspiracy... Oh God...
Ivan Towlson, Jan 1987
Please send any comments or suggestions to Neal Tringham, Exeter College, Oxford.