Friday, 2 December 2011

Interzone 237

The November/December issue of the British SFF magazine emerged just too soon to cover the death of Ann McCaffrey, the prolific SFF writer who will always be remembered for her creation of the world of Pern and its huge, telepathic dragons. I still remember the delight with which I first read Dragonflight in 1970 and it remains one of my favourite SFF novels. It stood up very well to a recent reading, following which I reviewed it on this blog (see the review list on the left).

The cover art is by Richard Wagner, who is also the subject of the editorial and of an interview on the magazine's ttapress.com website. David Langford's Ansible Link includes mention of a Heinlein award to Connie Willis for "SF or technical non-fiction that inspires human exploration of space", which puzzled me because all of her work that I know about is very much set on Earth. There are the usual book, DVD and film reviews which I will, as usual, study carefully to see if there is anything I should be adding to my "to read" and "to watch" lists.

Just four stories this time:

The Last Osama by Lavie Tidha, illustrated by Steve Hambidge. Purportedly told by one of the soldiers who killed Osama bin Laden, it is set in a surreal future in which people become Osama as if it were an infectious disease. Decidedly bizarre.

Erasing the Concept of Sex from a Photobooth by Douglas Lain, illustrated by David Gentry. This one defeats my powers of summary description. Suffice to say that it features sex and a weird photobooth. Even more bizarre.

Insect Joy by Caspian Gray. A young woman is sensitive to all creatures, including insects, and has a very strange form of control over them. Yep, you guessed it, this one's bizarre.

Digital Rites by Jim Hawkins, illustrated by Richard Wagner. Famous actors begin to die in a competitive future in which they don't actually do any acting - they just pose for the news media - but are linked by quantum entanglement to their characters in virtual film productions in order to animate them more effectively. The chase to discover what's going on, to overcome the studio's crisis and to complete the film they're working on makes an intriguing story which seems remarkably mundane in this company.

I was getting worried by the time I reached the final story because the first three were not much to my taste, but Hawkins' tale (by far the longest of the four) I read with some relief as I found it much more engaging and enjoyable, even if I didn't entirely follow all of the plot threads and the ending seemed a bit too neat.

5 comments:

WCG said...

Lots of bizarre stuff, apparently. Well, I certainly don't mind bizarre in science fiction, but I don't want bizarre just for the sake of being bizarre.

And yes, Connie Willis is one of my very favorite authors, but her fiction doesn't seem to have much to do with space exploration.

Anthony G Williams said...

If only Connie Willis (or her editor) would restrain her tendency to go on and on and on...

I keep thinking I ought to get 'Blackout' and 'All Clear' because I expect I would enjoy the stories, but then I look at the size of them and estimate that ploughing through them would use up months of my reading time and I quail...

WCG said...

Oddly enough, Willis is primarily an author of short fiction. But then, most of her novels aren't very long, either.

Yes, Blackout and All Clear make quite a large book, and I couldn't help but think they could have been shortened. But it never dragged, and I didn't have the slightest trouble finishing it.

Still, I understand exactly what you mean. I seldom have the ambition to tackle anything that large. It's tiring just thinking about it. :)

Carl V. said...

I had already considered reading Dragonflight in this coming year as I have yet to read McCaffrey, and now with her recent death I feel even more compelled to do so.

Anthony G Williams said...

Carl, I think that Dragonflight should be on the "must read" list for any SFF fan.