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Interzone #236, September/October 2011

Interzone #236, September/October 2011
Interzone, Britain's leading science-fiction and fantasy magazine, founded in 1982, has now reached 200 issues. Short-listed for the Hugo Award many years running, and a Hugo winner in 1995, it has a high reputation around the world.

Interzone has published short stories by many of the big names of the field, from Brian Aldiss and J.G. Ballard to Ian Watson and Gene Wolfe, but its particular strength has been in the nurturing of newer writers.

Interzone Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sandra Scholes

This issue begins in an interesting fashion with David Langford's Ansible Link where he mentions all that is right or terribly wrong in fiction. Personal favourites from this article are Court Circular, As Others See Us II, and the ever comical Thog's Masterclass. It is a mixture of humour and factual information that readers will find useful if they like hearing about the latest conventions they didn't get chance to attend or everything in the fantasy and science fiction literary world to date. David Langford knows how to keep the readers up to date with new information and have them waiting for more in the next issue.

Book Zone sees the review of popular novels out next month which are under the scrutiny of Interzone's top reviewers. There is a mix of fiction about popular figures in history, urban fantasy, standard fantasy, science fiction and a touch of horror, but it is only a touch, mind.

Osama by Lavie Tidhar is reviewed by Maureen Kinkaid Speller, and an interview with its author is included -- it's a case of two for the price of one which is as good a deal as I've seen in this magazine. This is Lavie Tidhar's account of the aftermath of the World Trade Centre bombing in New York. Osama reads like a genre novel, but it is more than that, and after reading the interview the reader might think the writer used a different approach than the other writers of similar novels.

The Urban Fantasy Anthology edited by Peter S. Beagle and Joe R. Lansdale contains twenty short stories by such famous authors as Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint and Kelley Armstrong, and reviewed by Lawrence Osborn. The stories in this volume can be described as being from three distinct subdivisions; mythic fiction, paranormal romance, and noir fantasy. The urban fantasy aspect must have a lot to do with the settings of the various stories, where mythic fantasy is a strong part of it. The story will be set in the past or modern day under a backdrop of urban life with all its dark, rubble-filled buildings. Lawrence Osborn has trouble seeing the stories he has read as urban fiction, and can only view them as the three divisions he has set out rather than just the one. His review is descriptive though, and firm yet fair.

Mutant Popcorn by Nick Lowe reviews the latest top movies, Conan the Barbarian, Cowboys and Aliens, Arietty, Super 8, and Cars 2. Lowe injects a good amount of biting humour within his reviews. The first being Conan the Barbarian where Jason Momoa of Game of Thrones fame takes the lead actor's role, where Lowe establishes Momoa is no Arnold Schwarzenegger. He sees the flaws in the script as laughable and views other movies in a similar way with Kung Fu Panda 2 being too cuddly, and Cars 2 changing tack to using its sidekick tow truck Mater as the lead character instead of Lightning McQueen, and seeing the story as being strange and sinister. Overall it's the other movies not mentioned in the article that win his approval, yet still many will want to go see them anyway.

The stories in here are fantasy mixed with amazing characters and intriguing settings.

"A Time For Raven," by Stephen Kotowych

Wilson has a strong link with his ancestors and feels their pull back to Haida Gwaii, and as a result he has a vision, one he thinks is only meant for him, yet others do not believe what he has seen, and his doctor thinks he has a mental illness. He however thinks otherwise, believing it is a calling from his ancestors he must answer.

Stephen Kotowych writes the mythic into the realism of life in modern day, proving that myths never die; they linger on well into the future.

"The Ever Dreaming Verdict of Plagues," by Jason Sanford

This story is the sequel to the author's previous one, "Plague Birds," that had been published in issue #228. The third story after this one is already in the pipeline, and we hope we will get a fourth too.

Jennery Flats is a Plague Bird and is being interrogated about killing a child. Crista acts as the interrogator using her blood AI to best assess the situation by reporting back to Crista. The story takes a number of turns and keeps the reader hanging on as to what is to be done with Jennery, but readers will like the originality of the story, and its use of the blood AI in the first place as it sets the scene for a futuristic theme.

"The Metaphor," by Fiona Moore

Metaphor n. a figure of speech which makes an implied comparison between things not literally alike. Or that is how a dictionary would have the world know. A scientist remembers a catastrophe that happened in the world we know and after it, this person has tried to rationalize what happened to everyone, and make sense of it. Hypothesis One was where the scientist was in a project to save people by sending them to another reality, but is the alternative reality real, or just a figment of the imagination.

I found it an engaging story about what would happen if someone survived the apocalypse, as it shows how the character coped with all those years of being alone.

"The Fall of the City of Silver," by John Ingold

We have had science fiction, and now it's the turn of fantasy to be the realm readers are brought into with a woman whose brother did not come back home one day, and caused problems for the family leaving her to wander the plains in search of him. It becomes more serious when her father is gone and does not return either.

The story reads like an epic fable of old and engages the reader with every paragraph. Jon Ingold has it in a Greek setting, mentions the gods and goddesses and shows the struggle for one person who is trying to find her long lost relatives. There is a fifty-fifty chance she will find them, but it is the realm of fantasy so it could go either way.

"Tethered," by Mercurio D. Riviera

Humans are studying a new species called The Wergen and they are puzzled by its lack of gender specifics, and find it hard to categorize at first, but they plod on with their research and their experiments. In-between the story are excerpts from a medical journal about what the studies have revealed so far. Cara and Beatrix get on with the bots and the other people where they are stationed.

I enjoyed this story of sexuality and procreation, but also the way in which alien beings went to the next stage of evolution. For these aliens, being tethered is the most wonderful thing that can happen to them, and other than the Fall of the City of Silver, this is one of the best in the magazine.

Copyright © 2012 Sandra Scholes

Sandra Scholes is currently looking blank at the sun coming through the window…could it be an early spring coming along -- she hopes so. After that she goes back to her reviewing for Active Anime, Fantasy Book Review, and Quail Bell Magazine.

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