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Interzone, March 2000

Interzone, March 2000
Interzone, Britain's leading science-fiction and fantasy magazine, founded in 1982, has now reached over 150 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
SF Site Review: Interzone, February 2000
SF Site Review: Interzone, December 1999
SF Site Review: Interzone, November 1999

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Soyka

The two best things about the March 2000 Interzone are Nick Lowe's regular movie review column, "Mutant Popcorn," and George Jenner's short story, "Loving Sancho." It's worth quoting Lowe's opening paragraphs to give you a flavour of his dead-on wit in panning such flicks as Sleepy Hollow, Iron Giant (although, gee, I liked that one), Mystery Men, and Inspector Gadget, with a few mixed words of praise for Kevin Smith's Dogma:

"Ah, here's another one awake. Now, now, don't be alarmed; the moulded steel restraints are just a routine precaution. We'll have you out of that tank just as soon as Dr. Zork here has finished in your head... I daresay you're wondering where you are and what we've done to you. I'm delighted to say you've been selected for enrolment in the Fifth Acturan Interstellar Legion, which necessarily entails beaming up to our mothership for some minor surgical enhancements so that you can you be reprogrammed for your exciting role as a service drone in our mission 2000. Oh, it's nothing much, just replacing a few of your organic human parts with more convenient mechanical components. We've been doing the same to your Earth film industry since the 1970s. Surely you'd noticed the way the human elements of the big hit movies have been progressively replaced with easy-to-program mechanical alternatives? Our technicians planet-side are on the verge of replacing the human personality entirely with implanted memories of childhood trauma, and all stories with by-the-numbers film plots generated by computer from our Mythic Journey algorithm and cloned entirely out of tissue from earlier films."
As for Jenner's tale, about a woman's strange relationship with a bioengineered cocker spaniel, it really has to be read in its entirety to be appreciated. Suffice it to say: I think we can all rest safely knowing that Jenner has channeled his sick mind into writing fiction as opposed to becoming a priest or a politician or a general. And I mean that as high praise.

Another guy often accused of being a bit bent -- in the best sense -- is Paul Di Fillipo. His "Stealing Happy Hours" is reminiscent of a John Collier tale or a Twilight Zone episode in which the narrator discovers the unpleasant source of his marital happiness and the drastic steps he has to take to right matters. Another take on the pursuit of happiness is Chris Beckett's cleverly amusing Grail Story riff, "The Marriage of the Sky and Sea." Here the existential malaise of a famous planetary travel author, who finds little lasting satisfaction in the countless adventures he recounts to a home world characterized by complaisance and risk-aversion, finds unexpected relief in his visit to the watery realm of a fisher king and his tribespeople.

Going past mere ennui to larger questions of death and the meaning of existence, the narrator of Darrell Schweitzer's "The Fire Eggs" ponders the significance of objects that have appeared on earth that seem to provide solace to his dying relatives. This is one of those stories you have to work at to sort out what exactly it might be trying to say, only to find yourself changing your mind every time you think about it. Which, of course, is the whole point.

"Fly" by Susan Beetlestone makes a stab at describing what happens when human consciousness merges with machine, a longstanding theme of SF that is considerably less speculative than it used to be, but without adding anything new to that subject in any way that I could see.

The issue's lead story is "Cadre Siblings" by Stephen Baxter, who is described in the tag line as an "SF superstar," a refreshingly funny comment in contrast to the typical "heir of Arthur C. Clarke" line Baxter usually gets that makes him sound like an emerging talent rather than the prolific author of over a decade's body of work. I'm not ordinarily a fan of the hard SF Baxter's noted for -- the type of stuff that's intended to give you a science lesson as much as it is to tell you a story -- but I find his work very interesting and thought-provoking. Having said that, this particular story, a parable about how revenge is not necessarily the best defense against a relentless, scientifically implemented Holocaust, isn't really hard SF in the way I've just defined it.

If hard SF is really what you're looking for, then this issue may not be entirely suited to your taste. On the other hand, you'd be missing out some thought-provoking entertainment, not the least of which concerns how you treat your dog.

Copyright © 2000 David Soyka

David Soyka is a former journalist and college teacher who writes the occasional short story and freelance article. He makes a living writing corporate marketing communications, which is a kind of fiction without the art.

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