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Interzone #229, July-August 2010

Interzone #229, July-August 2010
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 D. Douglas Fratz

   The July-August issue of Interzone continues the UK magazine's recent tradition of featuring short story writers virtually unknown to North American readers, with styles and viewpoints distinctly different than those seen in most US and Canadian magazines and anthologies.  (While discovering new writers and original voices is a worthy role, one can't help but wonder why no top-name authors are submitting short stories to the magazine.)  Interzone also continues to be the best designed current science fiction magazine, with full color interior art beautifully integrated into its overall layout.  Unfortunately, the design of Interzone goes uncredited, but someone at TTA Press is doing a fine job here.


  "Mannikin" by Dutch author Paul Evanby is a marvelously executed steampunk alternate history set in the 18th century Dutch West Indies.  It is built around the premise that performism, the theory held by many 17th/18th-century natural philosophers regarding the genesis of organisms from animalcula, is accurate, and in the debate between spermists and ovists (regarding whether sperm or ova provide the basis for complex organisms) both were right (instead of both dead wrong).  Technology is then developed to create artificial humans as a cheaper alternative to slave trading.  The result is a battle between locally made and Dutch-made artificial men that plays in uniquely interesting and unpredictable ways with themes of human rights.  Evanby is a new writer worth watching.

  "Candy Moments" by Australian writer Antony Mann is a story about a facility called the Hub where people can go to have traumatic memories erased.  But what happens if it is obsessively used too often? It is a minor but engaging story on the theme of moving beyond loss.  "The Melancholy" by UK writer Toby Litt is another story on psychological themes, this time involving robotic units exploring the solar system with AI software that is uploaded and downloaded.  One unit becomes uncommunicative on Europa, apparently losing the will to continue, for reasons that are not totally predictable.  "Alternate Girl's Expatriate Life" by Philipina author (living in The Netherlands) Rochita Loenen-Ruiz is a strange story of a robot girl being raised in a place called Metal Town that apparently is some sort of robot ghetto.  She is being trained to be a perfect housewife (somewhat 1950s) for humans.  The story is often engaging but dreamlike, and it never becomes clear what this world really is.

  UK author Jim Hawkins' "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Matter" is the other most interesting story this issue.  It is the story of military special forces operatives who pose as members of a symphony orchestra, touring planets of the Earth Commonwealth to covertly but violently overthrow anti-Earth political factions.  It is, at its core, a tongue-in-cheek farce, satirizing contemporary political movements, but is nonetheless very entertaining.  Hawkins is another author to watch.


  David Langford's always entertaining, though often in-groupish, "Ansible Link" conveys a varied selection of news, obituaries, and humor in his inimitable style.  This issue's "Book Zone" features a fine interview with Jeff VanderMeer by Maureen Kincaid Speller, along with her review of Finch, the latest novel set in VanderMeer's city of Ambergris.  A number of other UK books are also reviewed by a variety of reviewers, and all are worth reading, even though all are UK editions.  Tony Lee's "Laser Fodder" reviews recent DVD movie and television releases, none of which (not surprisingly) seem to be must-sees for hard-core science fiction fans.

  Nick Lowe's always entertaining "Mutant Popcorn" this issue looks at six recent movies, Iron Man 2, Shrek Forever After, Hot Tub Time Machine, Tooth Fairy, Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back, and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.  Lowe is a fine reviewer, and is consistently much more interesting than the actual movies he is reviewing.  (Read the Lowe reviews, but skip seeing the films!)  One can only wish that more genre movies were truly worthy of his attention.

Copyright © 2010 D. Douglas Fratz

D. Douglas Fratz has more than forty years experience as editor and publisher of literary review magazines in the science fiction and fantasy field, and author of commentary and critiques on science fiction and fantasy literature and media.

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