Saturday, 18 June 2016

Interzone 264

In this May-June issue of the SFF magazine there is the usual varied crop of reviews of both print and screen. The former includes Central Station by Lavie Tidhar, a setting already familiar due to the inclusion in previous issues of Interzone of five short stories set in this universe. I did remark in one of my reviews that we seemed to be getting an entire novel in instalments, so this is presumably it! A reprint of an much older novel is also reviewed: Dreamsnake by Vonda N McIntyre, wiunner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1979. I remember reading this one, although I don't now have a copy. I do have a couple of others by the same author; The Exile Waiting (1975) and Superluminal (1983). I don't recall anything about them, but the back-cover blurbs sound interesting so I may well blow the dust off them soon. Also of interest is a best-of-short-fiction collection of stories by James Morrow, Reality by Other Means. I can only recall having read one book by Morrow - City of Truth - which is a satirical classic I greatly enjoyed, so I might well get hold of this one.

Of the screen reviews, the most notable is High Rise, simply because it gets two bites of the cherry – a slot in the usual reviews section by Nick Lowe, plus a longer analysis by columnist Nina Allan. This is based on J G Ballard's 1975 novel (makes a change from all the adaptations of Philip K Dick stories) and is warmly received by both reviewers, so it goes on the "must watch" list.

Now to the short stories:

Starlings by Tyler Keevil, illustrated by Richard Wagner. At 22 pages this one is classified as a novelette. It is set in a future in which an advanced power system proves to have terminal unintended consequences for life on Earth, kicking the atmosphere into a runaway process which will eventually turn it into another Venus. The story focuses on a mother who has given birth to a genetically-modified perfect baby who will become one of the passengers of a starship being sent to another planet to begin again. It is a well-written story but is mostly about her grief at having to give up her baby, with the SF plot mostly providing background.

Breadcrumbs by Malcolm Devlin, illustrated by Richard Wagner. A strange fantasy about a city which reverts to nature, changing its inhabitants as it does so.

Mars, Aphids and Your Cheating Heart by James Van Pelt. A philosophical tale about the connectedness of things, featuring sand grains on Mars, a ladybird, an unhappy wife attending a séance, and a private detective gathering evidence to satisfy a husband's suspicions.

Lifeboat by Rich Larson, illustrated by Martin Hanford. Colonists on a distant planet prepare to leave as a robotic alien fleet – the synthetics – approaches to destroy the world, as they have done to many others. One spacecraft waits until the last minute, thereby collecting high fees from desperate refugees. The future for humanity seems grim, but there may be a strange way out.

The Tower Princesses by Gwendolyn Kiste. A bizarre tale concerning girls who wake up one morning and find that they are enclosed within their own individual tower from which they can't be removed, and how their peers relate to them.

Rich Larson's story appealed to me the most (no surprise, it's the closest to conventional SF!) but I was also intrigued by Van Pelt's tale.

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