Interzone #220 February 2009

Jason Stoddard. Monetized.

Worryingly believable take on a celebrity-obsessed, online, twittering, advertising-led, referral-payment funded, near future. The monetized society sees individuals desperate to become leading ‘vectors in the new propogation economy’, getting a cut from the take of those who purchase based on their recommendation.

An interfering high-profile mom is one of several problems faced by the protagonist, but the lead she gives him turns into his obtaining information of a very high value to several very important, powerful, and dangerous interests. With a growing online audience following his every move and decision, he has to decide who, if anyone, to trust.

Another strong story from Stoddard, who is one of the new Interzone regulars.

Eugie Foster. Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast.

Foster’s first appearance in Interzone, having been publishing primarily in the smaller presses so far (although she has a collection coming out shortly). It’s a classy fantasy, a strange society in which the wearing of masks in not only compulsory, but one in which the mask worn confers a different daily identity, actions from which do not carry over to the next day, and the next mask.

The implications of this are subtly portrayed, as is the response to those who oppose this status quo.

Rudy Rucker. After Everything Woke Up.

A short, entertaining piece which will form part of Rucker’s next novel. He posits a future Earth in which Gaia and all her creatures are, as the title suggests, alive and intelligent. Humans still have a dominant role, and we follow two young lovebirds intent on moving their house to an idyllic forest retreat, but who have to win over the spirit of the nearby stream, and the local flora and fauna.

An interesting conceit, and it will be interesting to see what further is made of it in the novel.

Neil Williamson. Spy vs Spy.

Short, blackly comic satire on a world of social networking, voyeurism and curtain-twitching paranoia, a complement to the Stoddard story.

Leah Bobet. Miles to Isengard.

Another first appearance from a small-press-to-date author, and it’s a tight, taut near-future thriller. There’s a small group of people driving a lorry with a very dangerous load, through a US that has suffered of late. The load is a bomb, and it’s getting into the minds of those who are wanting to take it to a safer place. The dynamics of the party, the effects on them, particularly the protagonist, lead to a well-handled building of the tension, with the background sketched in through the narrative without any laborious info-dumping.

Gareth L. Powell. Memory Dust.

The third story from Powell in the ‘new’ Interzone, which again puts him up for being a ‘regular’. The two previous stories were well-received, with ‘Ack-Ack Macaque’ topping the last reader’s poll, and ‘The Last Reef’ having many plaudits, none of course to match the signal honour of being the first ever story to be featured in Best SF Presents. A touch of Golden Age SF, as the protagonist liberates from a research lab an alien creature he brought back from his last jaunt through hyperspace. He returns to the planet on which he found it dying, and in doing so once against comes up against the dust of which the title refers. Should he embrace, as has his partner, the opportunity to become one with the dust, to be preserved for the future?

Other stuff:

  • David Langford’s ‘Ansible Link’
  • Rick Kleffel interviews Jeffrey Ford and reviews Ford’s ‘The Physiognomy’, ‘Memoranda’ and ‘The Beyond’
  • Tony Lee reviews Neal Asher’s ‘The Gabble and Other Stories’
  • Juliet McKenna reviews john Scalzi’s ‘Agent to the Stars’
  • Mike Cobley reviews Holly Phillip’s ‘The Engine’s Child’
  • Andy Hedgecock reviews Christopher Priest’s ouvre, focussing on ‘The Magic: The Story of a Film’, ‘Real-Time World’ and ‘Ersatz Wines’
  • Paul F. Cockburn reviews a number of books from the children’s TV series Dr. Who and Torchwood
  • Tony Lee reviews DVDs in the shape of Smallvie, Babylon AD, Speed Race, Mad Detective
  • Nick Lowe reviews Blindness, City of Ember, Igor, Max Payne, and Ghost Town

Conclusion.

Another strong collection from a mostly youthful group of authors, boding well for the future.

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