Interzone #204 May/June 2006

This issue arrived a good few weeks ago, and was read in short order, but I’ve been struggling to find non-work time at the computer of late!

Mercurio D. Rivera. Longing for Langalana.

The author’s going to have problems promoting this one : sending promotional emails From : Mercurio D. Rivera Subject: Longing for Langalana is a recipe for the email spam filtering plonking the email into the Definitely Spam folder ;-)

Mercurio tackles a challenging sf trope : intra-species love. And makes it more challenging by making it an unrequited live, and further more difficult by the POV being the non-human.

Fortunately, Rivera brings the story off successfully. The Wergens are sufficiently alien from humans to me the story interesting – none of this pointy-ear or slightly greenish tint being the main difference between the races. We gradually have revealed to us just how different the Wergen are – in particularly, how their long term relationships seeing one Wergen literally absorb the other.

We know, from the start as the Wergen looks back on the lost love, that it will end in tears, but just why it happens that way, and the apparent indifference of the human in the ‘relationship’ is handled well, within an overarching theme of that which we can not have.

Tim Akers. The Song.

Shortish story, more horror than SF – or, more The 3rd Alternative than Interzone, if you’re familiar with the two magazines. A man who is desperate to create the music he can hear in his mind, has an organ transplant – literally : a fluted organ transplanted into his chest. Thus enabled, he is able to get closer to that for which he has yearned.

Martin J. Gidron. Palestina.

An Alternate History set in the Middle East. The broad alternative we are given is that instead of the state of Israel being set up in 1948, there is an Arab homeland set up, which we find out through the eyes of a young Jewish girl in a transit camp. It transpires that one elderly resident, apparently mentally ill, is in fact Yitzhak Rabin, who is putting on an act whilst in fact being part of the underground. When a Jewish KGB officer sneaks in to warn of a forthcoming final solution, thie one Arab in origin, Rabin enables the young girl to escape the camp.

Doubtless if you’re familiar with the lives of either Rabin or Menachem Begin (who is referred to in the last paragraph, presumably to some effect) then you will get more out of this story that I did. The story also featured another pet irritant of mine, the word ‘atop’, which appears twice in very short time – as the girl climbs atop a rubbish heap, and then balances awkwardly atop a wall. Also, the final paragraphs switch from the girl’s viewpoint to that of Rabin, which spoils the narrative.

C.A.L. The Rising Tide.

Illustrated with pictures of a shaven-headed bare-bottomed girl, for those you who have missed out on that sort of thing since the sister-mag ‘The 3rd Alternative’ went into its cocoon a while back. A cyberpunkish action story featuring one Rayleigh Marsonnet, who we find out quickly is one of a wealthy elite, and a cold-blooded killer. The plot is quickly set up, a number of characters brought in (‘Damn you, Marsonnet!), and we quickly proceed to a finale with treachery and revelations and a shoot out thrown in. It felt to me like I’d read the first and last chapter of a 300 page book.

Jamie Barras. Summer’s End.

A much more effective short story – in which humanity is coming to terms with a higher intelligence having visited the planet, made some major changes, and evidently left. Are we as insignificant as it would appear, simply to be used in this way without any explanation. The ‘story’ features the impact of the ‘hijack’ one someone, whose pre-alien life suddenly re-asserts itself. A story which could have been a lot longer, although perhaps to little better effect.

Elizabeth Hopkinson. A Short History of the Dream Library.

Winner of the 2005 James White Award for unpublished authors, being a short humorous piece featuring one Milton Bisset, who finds himself coming to the attention of the authorities who are not best pleased with his having had a dream on loan for longer than he should have. The story is OK, without it being obvious to me as to what would have made it stand out from the other entries for the award.

Other Stuff

  • John Picacio (cover art for this issue and the Anders ‘Live Without a Net’ anthology from a while back) interviewed by Steve Badrick
  • Nick Lowe reviews ‘V for Vendetta’, ‘Aeon Flux’, ‘Mirror Mask’ and ‘Alien Autopsy’
  • John Clute reviews Keith Brooke’s ‘Gentopia’, Michael Cadnum’s ‘Can’t Catch Me, & Other Twice-Told Tales’, Kevin Brockmeier’s ‘The Brief History of the Dead’
  • Stephanie Burgis reviews Mike Carey’s ‘The Devil You Know’
  • John Howard reviews the Herbert, Herbert, Anderson ‘The Road to Dune’
  • Graham Sleight reviews Stephen Jones’ ‘The Complete Chronicles of Conan’
  • Niall Harrison reviews Liz Williams’ ‘Darkland’
  • Jim Steel reviews Jeff Vandermeer’s ‘Shriek : an afterword’ and Geoff Ryman’s ‘The King’s Last Song’
  • Iain Emsley reviews Bruce Sterling’s ‘Visionary in Residence’
  • Maureen Kincaid Speller reviews Dan Simmons ‘Hyperion’ and ‘The Fall of Hyperion’
  • Paul Raven reviews Vernor Vinge’s ‘Rainbow’s End’
  • Sandy Auden reviews ‘Space 1889’

Conclusion.

Rivera and Barras impress, the others won’t last long in my memory.

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