Interzone #213 Dec 2007

Chris Roberson. Metal Dragon.

Another in Roberson’s ‘Celestial Empire’ series, in which China is a world power. Here we see a space race – not US/USSR as was the case here, but China/Mexico. We find out more about the power struggle between these two world powers, and with the Chinese attempt to be first to put a man in orbit potentially thwarted by an accident on the launchpad. Or was it an accident… foul play and treachery is afoot.

Roberson handles the politics and the religion deftly.

Benjamin Rosenbaum. Molly and the Red Hat.

Rosenbaum has hit the ground running in the early part of his career, writing across a broad range, rather than limiting himself to a specific sub-genre. A more fantastical story from him, a short, stylish story, in which young Molly has to fight hard to protect herself and her relationship with her mother, which just may be compromised by her new sibling. It has the feel of a bigger story – certainly coming back to it, I was surprised at just how short it was.

John Phillip Olsen. The Men in the Attic.

An interesting take on uploading memories : against a backdrop of an increasingly oppressive government, the dissidents are choosing to go underground – by hiding their bodies and uploading themselves into spare brain capacity of sympathisers.

We follow on such sympathiser, who is able to ‘visit’ the person he is accommodating – who is living in a virtual apartment constrained witin his brain.

The tempo is raised as he takes on a second dissident, and with the authorities onto him, he has to sustain physical and psychological torture from his captives. It isn’t really a satisfactory climax to the story, which ends at a fairly arbitrary point.

Jason Stoddard. The Best of Your Life.

A dark and scarily believable take on the Brave New World that may await us. Frank Deppo has put in ten hard yeard indentured work, earning enougth to take the opportunity that the VerV Corporation offer : a shiny, clean, virtual life. An agent for the company takes him on a tour of the development that is being built that will be the place for him, but he begins to have second thoughts as it appears to be a more constraining future than he had hoped.

Fortunately, before he has to make a crucial decision, that decision is taken from him as hackers jeopardise the community he is visiting, and he is able to look to a freer future under his control, rather than one mapped out to match his demographic.

For my money, what with Second Life and World of Warcraft, I am sure for some the Rapture is just around the corner.

Steve Bein. Odin’s Spear.

More of a straightforward SF story than you generally see in Interzone. Having said that, whilst it is set in space, it is essentially a personal/mountaineering challenge set off-Earth. Callisto’s Mount Gugnir is the peak to be climbed, and when one of the pair who had planned to attempt to climb comes up with bad news threatening the climb, this means that, due to his colleague’s faulty suit, he has to attempt the climb solo.

We find out that he has in fact tricked his colleague, and is going solo as he has only a few days left to live.

It’s difficult to engage with the story as it drops the two characters into the setting instantly, and the denouement comes as no surprise.

Aliette de Bodard. The Lost Xuyan Bride.

A hard-pressed private investigator takes on a missing person case. Doh! Well, actually it’s better than most detective stories in SF magazines. It’s a setting in which the economic might of America is no longer (so that puts it, what, at least six months into the future?), and China is a dominant world force. Brooks is a protestant, having yet to convert to either Buddhism or Taoism, and he has to make his way through relatives and a fiance of the missing woman, each (as is typically the case) with something to hide or otherwise not what they may be, and the prevailing social, political and religious mores of those he is investigating.

Other stuff:

  • David Langford’s Ansible Link
  • John Paul Catton reviews Nippon 2007
  • Tony Lee reviews DvD releases : ‘Riding the Bullet’, ‘The Invincible Iron Man’, ‘Messages’, ‘Bacterium’, ‘Flight of the Living Dead : Outbreak on a Plane’, ‘Gandahar’ and ‘Les Maitres du temps’
  • John Clute reviews Christopher Barzak’s ‘One for Sorrow’, Randall Silvis’ ‘In a Town Called Mundomuerto’, and Paul Leppin’s ‘Blaugast: a novel of decline’
  • Juliet E. McKenna reviews Terry Pratchett’s ‘Making Money’
  • Peter Loftus reviews Gregory Benford and Elizabeth Malartre’s ‘Beyond Human’
  • David Mathew reviews Lucius Shepard’s ‘Dagger Key and Other Stories’
  • Paul F. Cockburn reviews Tobias S Bucknell’s ‘Ragamuffin’
  • Steve Jeffery reviews Charles Stross’ ‘The Merchant’s War’
  • Paul Kincaid reviews Gene Wolfe’s ‘Pirate Freedom’
  • Stephanie Burgis reviews Robin McKinley’s ‘Dragonhaven’
  • Paul Raven reviews Karl Schroeder’s ‘Queen of Candesce’
  • Andy Hedgecock interviews Gary Gibson

Conclusion.

I mentioned with the last issue that it was interesting seeing the new stable of regulars being developed by the new Interzone team. This issue continues with a good collection of stories from this newer breed, which augurs well for the future.

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