A Shout is a Prayer for the Waiting Centuries.
Another good story from Napper in Interzone.
He provides a near future take on challenges the future may bring, on a very micro level, looking at two families, particularly on the sacrifices the men have to make to protect the family unit.
The stories appear unrelated at first, although there is a very neat reveal in the closing sequence. In one family there is war, and there is desperate task of avoiding the shelling, in subterranean refuges, which make protect from shells, but not from the very, very nasty tech sent burrowing their way to flush them out. There comes a time when a man has to do what a man has to do to protect his family…
And then there’s a different society, with the Haves and Have Nots, and the focus is on a Have Not. Whilst he may not have the wealth, he has the cojones to make a stand when the time for it comes..
Lest you think the story is a Man Story, the female characters have strength and resourcefulness.
Julie C. Day. The Re’em Song.
A young wife becomes disillusioned and uncomfortable in her marriage and in her community and it’s role in hunting unicorns for their bones and horns. Leaving husband, family and community behind, she travels to the city, where she sees another aspect of the industry, the butchery of the unicorns. She returns home, attempting to come to terms with her life.
The turning points of the story – returning home from the city, and at the end of the story, are fairly low key, and the story doesn’t hit any peaks, mirroring the journey and emotional state of the protagonist.
Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam. Doors.
Another good story from Stufflebeam, a fifth story of hers in Interzone in recent years, making her a regular there I spose.
Here she provides a heart-warming tale of humanity, that doesn’t get anywhere near schmalzy or saccharine, as it would be easy to do in a story about a young woman struggling to cope with life whilst looking after her Down Syndrome brother, after their mother’s death (father left a long time ago).
The state fair offers a chance of a tiny bit of respite for her, although even that’s a task in itself. And when there’s an opportunity to explore some multiverse alternatives to her current life, and there’s also a beautiful young potential lover to follow, the young woman has, of course, choices to make.
Christien Gholson. Angel Fire.
Gholson’s previous story in Interzone ‘Tribute‘ looked at a very alien environment. Here he provides a contemporary setting with a story with only marginal SFF elements, which Interzone tends to do more than other sources.
His protagonist is a rich SOB, very much aware that his wealth has been created from a range of financial services and the like which have very little real value to society. He’s estranged from three wives and one son, and flying across the USA he reflects on this, drawing in the likes of Icarus and Leonardo da Vinci as he stews a bit in self pity. Once earthbound he seeks something in lonely places and amongst the homeless and deprived, and finds that amongst these people there is a movement to call down ‘angels’.
We don’t find out much, or, indeed, anything about the angels, and in the final sentence he might in fact be meeting his own angel.
As with many stories of this ilk, it’s fine enough, but I’d rather this story was the first third of a story, setting up two final thirds that really kick some ass.
Malcolm Devlin. Her First Harvest.
The illustration to this story by Vince Haig shows a young woman in a smart brocade evening gown with an enormous mushroom growing from her head (in an attractive sort of way).
And Haig has been fairly close to the story, as Devlin posits a world where due to the lack of organic growing material, the settlers have to grow fungi on their backs, and the harvesting is done after an evening on the floor at a society ball. Young Nina is attending her first ball, and like all girls being presented to society for the first time, there are concerns, aunts and cousins, suitors young and old.
Napper and Stufflebeam the pick of the issue for me.