Interzone #248 (Sep-Oct 2013)

interzone248Issue #250 hoving into view – what a milestone! Somewhat relieved now that the final missing issue has been bought off ebay (ouch!) so my collection is complete! Buy a copy from amazon.com / amazon.co.uk

Carole Johnstone. Ad Astra.

A story that successfully builds tension throughout – think Danny Boyle’s ‘Sunshine’ on which a crew of two heading out away from the sun. Very far away.

Far away from Earth, and getting further away with little chance of returning, the female part of a husband and wife team reflects on their journey to date, and her partner’s increasingly tenuous grip on reality. There’s the dawning realisation that the ‘prize’ of being chosen as the pair to go on this mission was something quite different to what it appeared, and the physical and mental deterioration, and some grim details of ekeing out life whilst clinging on to it, and affirming life in a very physical way, make it a claustrophobic read.

James van Pelt. The Hareton K-12 County School and Adult Extension.

van Pelt, a teacher himself, fondly relates the history of the Hareton school, from it’s early days as a small school on a hillside, through to a much larger building, extended and developed over many years. There are many hidden corners, and corridors, and secrets, which are hinted at – but no malevolence, rather, just the opposite. So Mr van Pelt, you’ve made the pitch, let’s have the novel!

Greg Kurzawa. Dark Gardens.

Chilling horror fiction, as a new house owner finds a trapdoor in the basement that leads to a submerged cavern, with houses, and mannequins…

I’m not entirely sure what a straightforward horror story is doing in Interzone, rather than sister horror magazine Black Static. Perhaps the biblical references moves it into the fantasy genre?

Ken Altabef. Il Teatro Oscuro.

In an Italian city post-war/civil war, an elderly man has a pair of opera glasses that enable him to see the city, the theatre, and the people before it all went to ruin. We find out early on that the theatre is due to be demolished in the morning, the streets are not safe, and it being just a couple of pages long, we quickly come to a conclusion that has no surprises for the regular genre reader.

Nice enough as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go that far.

Sean McMullen. Technarion.

A story that starts out reading like a steampunk story, albeit with the young protagonist a man who has seen the future as being electric rather than steam. McMullen captures the tone nicely, the story reading like a Conan Doyle story. But then the story takes an interesting twist, and an alarming one, as the young engineer finds out just what lengths his employer will go to keep secret their work, and the source of the communications they are receiving becomes known.

This sudden shift halfway through the story is unsettling – there’s actually no need for the employer to be found out to be someone quite willing to murder wantonly, and the source of the messages, and the nature of the love interest, are more than enough to up the narrative ante. And the story ends up with (this is intimated from the beginning) the protagonist giving the reader a catch-up of the 75 years since the events in the story took place, offering a very sobering message for a society obsessed with technology….

Conclusion

Johnstone the pick of the bunch for me.

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