Interzone #250 (Jan-Feb 2014)

interzone250A landmark issue for the venerable British magazine, with a stunning cover – a great illustration and the matching colouring/lettering an absolute treat, with interior design throughout top notch as always. Buy a copy from amazon.com / amazon.co.uk

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam. The Damaged.

The Damaged referring to the 1 in 100 that come off the Playmatez production line not quite right, and end their short robotic lives homeless, or living in a subway or dumpster.

Robin Kirkland works for the corporation who makes the robots, working on one small part of these near-human things. And she too is slightly damaged. She seeks an answer to the hollowness within by searching for something within the creatures she has a role in bringing to life, by ‘rescuing’ them.

Little about the external setting, but plenty about the insides of Robin and the various models of robots, and Stufflebeam handles the story-telling well.

David Tallerman. Bad Times to be in the Wrong Place.

A short, but effective story. After an argument with his partner, the protagonist takes himself off on a hike through the forest to the local coffee shop. Over a coffee he watches a car pull up, two men get out and argue their way through ordering their own coffee, but is intrigued by the girl/young woman/woman/older woman they are travelling with.

He steps outside for a short conversation, and he has a conversation that gives him an altogether new take on life, the universe and everything. (SPOILER ALERT : he’s living in a universe that’s a short-term working backup of the real universe!)

Good characterisation and a clever idea, the the focus on subtle and human

C. Allegra Hawksmoor. The Labyrinth of Thorns.

A story that I struggled to engage with as a story that I was reading, as I was more aware of the story that C. Allegra Hawksmoor was writing.

About a page or two in I realised that the author was guilty of excessive similation, with an overuse of ‘like..’ that I not only spotted, but had me reading each paragraph eagerly anticipating the next simile. “..like stars scuttering through your capillaries” “..pooling in the clearing like still water” “..passes over you like a hand…” “..like the tail of a comet..” appear in four consecutive paragraphs.

I then spotted (it wasn’t difficult) that C. Allegra Hawksmoor was using the fairly obvious technique of repeating a sentence, and repeating it at increasingly shorter intervals, in order to ratchet up the tension.

Which is a shame, as the setting shows promise, but the ending is a bit obvious, and not clear, so it’s a bit of a missed opportunity, like… well, like a story that’s missed an opportunity for a bit of polishing by the author (quite check of the use of ‘like’ in the MS) and the editor (unlike the editor has a penchant for similes).

Greg Kurzawa. Predvestniki.

Ben is in Moscow, accompanying his wife, who is on a business trip.

From the hotel room, he surveys the city with binoculars, finding towers inexplicably dis/appearing. In his free time, he struggles to find the part of the city where they are, tantalisingly close but unreachable, as inexplicably strange, sharpened-teeth guards block his way.

The television starts to broadcast in some strange, inexplicable language, and his wife, inexplicably, strays, getting too intimate with her work partner. All very inexplicable… and remaining so…

Caroline M. Yoachim. Beneath the Willow Branches.

Echoing an oriental fable, a scientist must head back in time, or, rather, experience time in reverse, until he is able to pluck his wife, stranded in a loop, into a time-stream that does not see here in a coma.

But it’s not scientist fiction, it’s very human.

Rebecca Campbell. Lilacs and Daffodils.

Short piece, with fragments of memories, or not-memories, and musings of a childhood, with flowers.

Georgina Bruce. Wake Up, Phil.

Near(ish) future, with a young girl in an office summoned to the 11th floor (never a good sign). Offered some of the corporation’s weight-loss pills, the side effects are disorienting and quite disturbing, putting her into a compromising situation(s) with her corporation(s).

Conclusion

Stufflebeam and Tallerman open the milestone issue with the best stories IMHO.

To read reviews of issues going back to #100, click here.

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