Yet more short stories, from the British SFF magazine Interzone and the British Fantasy Society's Dark Horizons. For someone who prefers novels, I've been reading a lot of the shorter works recently.
Interzone has the usual six stories as well as news and reviews. The cover illustration, by Adam Tredowski, shows a strange, rather abstract spaceship blasting off from a planet.
Johnny and Emmy-Lou Get Married by Kim Lakin-Smith (illustrated by Warwick Fraser-Coombe): 1950s-style romance across the boundaries of futuristic US gangs, the Rocketeers and the Flies.
Unexpected Outcomes by Tim Pratt: is the Earth real – or just a simulation?
Lady of the White-Spired City by Sarah L Edwards (illustrated by Martin Bland): an imperial envoy revisits the backward planet from which she had fled centuries before.
Microcosmos by Nina Allen: a dystopian near-future Earth adapting to changed circumstances, and the personal costs of this.
Ys by Aliette De Bodard (illustrated by Mark Pexton): the magical drowned world of Ys emerges, figuratively and literally, into the life of a young woman.
Mother of Champions by Sean McMullen (illustrated by Anne Stone-Coyote): cheetahs are not at all what we think – they have evolved to perfection!
An entertaining and varied collection which I enjoyed. I'd have to award the medal to Sean McMullen for sheer originality, with a mention in dispatches for Tim Pratt's intriguing take on his theme.
Dark Horizons goes one better with seven stories, plus five poems and several articles including an interview with Robert Holdstock (ancient woodland magic) and summary reviews of the work of David Gemmell (I haven't yet read) plus the Elfin Fantasies of James P Blaylock (quirky tales which I recall enjoying).
Passing Through by Jim Steel: a brief episode set in a grim medieval world
For a Strong, Healthy Body by Andrew Knighton: the consequences of not properly disposing of factory waste.
Nanna Barrows by Jan Edwards: a sick boy is helped by the traditional healer who lives opposite – but there is more…
The Putrimaniac by Brendan Connell: a gruesome tale of tastes and sensibilities running out of control.
Telemura by Douglas Thompson: a horror-filled house and paint of a strange, magical colour.
Everything He Touched, Burned by Mathew F Riley: life in the tunnels under a city.
Beyond the Fifth Sky by Ross Gresham: navigating the underground seas of a strange planet.
Horror is not my favourite genre and I usually prefer SF to fantasy, so no surprise that Ross Gresham's tale appealed to me the most, although Matthew Riley's atmospheric story also sticks in the memory.
The poems are mostly short and elliptical but I have to mention the heroic Chronicle of a Conflagration by Skadi meic Beorh: a graphic three-page account of a battle between the followers of Odin and Lugh, written in triplets in an epic style.