Saturday, 6 October 2007

Interzone 212

This magazine shows strange variations in the binding method, paper quality and the use of colour. This issue (Sept-Oct 07) is on matt paper and monochrome only, except for the cover. The format remains the same however, with SFF news and comment, several short stories, and book, film and other media reviews (including podcasts this time), plus the odd author interview (Charles Stross in this issue – not that he's particularly odd…).

The stories (all of which tend towards the bizarre in the Interzone tradition) are as follows:

Feelings of the Flesh, by Douglas Elliott Cohen. A fantasy set on what seems to be a post-apocalyptic Earth in which humanoid Aberrates live alongside (and in a state of lethal conflict with) normal humans. These Aberrates are of various types, but all have the ability to remove a particular sense from humans for their own pleasure, and are called Tasters, Sighters, Feelers, Listeners or Smellers accordingly. The story concerns a bounty hunter's long search for the Feeler who killed his love. A grim tale, but it finishes on a hopeful note.

Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth Lyn Powell. A near-future tale concerning a cartoon character, transferred to virtual reality, who takes on a life of his own through an online learning programme, with catastrophic results for human technology. What you might call a "pre-apocalyptic" tale.

A Handful of Pearls by Beth Bernobich. A disturbing fantasy about a sexually disturbed man and a tortured young girl.

Dada Jihad by Will McIntosh. Another story in what could be described as a near-future apocalyptic world, in this case as a result of a gradual deterioration in civilisation as a result of present trends, rather than any dramatic single event. A young scientist struggles to earn her PhD, very much against the odds.

The Algorithm by Tim Ackers. A fantasy in a medieval-level world concerning a Church based on machinery found in strange vessels which occasionally float downriver and are believed to come from God. One of these is found to contain a young girl, who has a message…This is really about the arbitrary way in which humanity builds belief structures, and the intensity with which they will be defended.

All of the stories are worth a read, if collectively rather depressing (it would be nice to have a few upbeat tales scattered through future editions), but The Algorithm seems most likely to stick in the memory. However, I had to laugh at the editorial note at the end of that one: "Tim wrote this story in a lined moleskin notebook with a brushed aluminium Lamy Studio fountain pen and antique brown ink." Surely a blatant bid for inclusion in Private Eye's Pseuds Corner!

8 comments:

Tim Akers said...

Not even sure what Psued's corner is, but glad you liked the story...

;-)

Anthony G Williams said...

It's the message that counts, not the medium! :-)

Seriously, I was impressed by your story and especially the ending. It simultaneously managed to surprise me and be consistent with the rest of the tale. Well done!

Douglas said...

If there's one thing my story is, it's grim. ;)

Tim Akers said...

I think I was trying to do a colophon, kind of like you find at the end of a book or in a magazine. It's something writers talk about, at least in my group.

Anthony G Williams said...

Douglas, indeed your story is grim - but at the end there is a note of optimism about the possibility of improved relationships in the future.

I must admit a bias towards endings which, if not necessarily happy, at least leave me feeling that there's some hope for the future, rather than plunging me into despair!

Anthony G Williams said...

Tim, I hadn't come across the term "colophon" before, so that's one thing I've learned today...

Douglas said...

Oh, and thanks for the kind words about my tale. And I'll agree that there is the suggestion of a hopeful future come the end.

It wasn't a conscious choice (I'm dropping SPOILERS people, careful!) but when I look back at the story I realize that both Weyna & Tolethion survived, and these were the two characters willing to fight for a different future. Tarrik & Olethia, OTOH, were set in their ways, and their beliefs were indirectly supporting the status quo. In effect, it leads to their deaths.

So I think this added a subtle (and unintentional, so I'm not seeking credit here) thread of hope as well, that those willing to change were the ones who lived.

Anthony G Williams said...

It's interesting, isn't it, how publishing your fiction can result in deeper meanings in it being revealed. Of course, going by some of the latest research into the workings of the mind, most of what we do is controlled by our subconscious rather than conscious minds anyway...