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ADVENT (AND OTHERS) IN A BOX

Michael Hayward

A pair of Albertans, Michael Hingston and Natalie Olsen, have taken the traditional Advent calendar—that glitter-strewn winter scene, printed on cardboard and pinned to the kitchen wall, with twenty-four hidden windows to be opened one per day—and given it a bookish twist, building a successful publishing house in the process. Every fall since 2015 Hingston & Olsen Publishing (“A literary press in the frozen north”) have released a Short Story Advent Calendar, in the form of a colourful clamshell box containing twenty-four short stories. Each story is printed separately as a bound-and-stapled booklet, shrink-wrapped in plastic film to maintain the mystery of “what’s inside?” until the proper day. Their 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar, edited by Alberto Manguel, sold out fast, but there are still some (discounted!) copies left of the 2022 edition. Hingston & Olsen also have other, non-Advent publications, all beautifully designed by Natalie Olsen, such as Projections (edited by Rebecca Romney), another clamshell box, containing a dozen classic science fiction short stories and excerpts from longer work. Again, each story is in booklet form, and each author seems somehow to have anticipated our troubled times. The golden age of science fiction is represented by Murray Leinster (a short story from 1946), and Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth (an excerpt from their classic 1953 novel The Space Merchants). There’s a 1977 short story from New Wave science fiction writer J.G. Ballard, and an excerpt from Afrofuturist writer Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Talents (1998). And did you know that Mark Twain anticipated the internet in 1898?

Michael Hayward

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