Interzone Number 197 March/April 2005

I‘ve already taken editor Andy Cox to task over the front cover of this issue. Whilst shaven-headed women are absolutely fine for speculative/New Weird fiction mags such as The 3rd Alternative (as on TTA #35 front cover and frequent interior illustrations on a regular basis) – putting them on Interzone is just going to confuse people ;-)

The cover of the previous issue of Interzone (left) shows how we present images of women in Science Fiction in 2005. More seriously, presenting images of women slightly de-sexed through lack of hair is a marginal improvement on skin-tight spacesuits, but we’ll know when SF/New Weird is really breaking up the old ground when we have a cover of TTA featuring a naked bloke with his meat and two veg on display, or an Interzone cover with a guy in a skintight spacesuit with his wedding tackle clearly outlined through the sheer fabric. How about it, Andy?

Ian Watson and Mike Allen. Dee-Dee and the Dumpy Dancers

A tale of First Contact in which aliens who visit Earth are not entirely dissimilar to turkeys, except that they can fly (albeit through their hi-tech rather than aerodynamics), and are entranced by a tribute paid to them in the shape of some ariel ballet performed by some down on their luck women in a struggling economic backwater of the USA.

And, erm, that’s about it. The story didn’t really do that much for me, and doesn’t really go anywhere, do anything, or say anything particularly memorably.

Scott Mackay. Threshold of Perception.

Alternate History in which a young astronomer is disappointed to find that his hero, Percival Lowell, is not only maintaining his belief in their being canals on Mars, but that he is now claiming that Halley’s Comet is heading for an Earth impact.

When Lowell is proven right on the latter count, the young astronomer finally sees evidence on the former count, and has hope that Earth, now under cloud and raised sea levels and struggling to survive, may be able to follow the Martians lead in transforming their environment in order to survive.

Neatly done, although missing a little something to make it any more than average.

Christopher East. A World of His Own.

When a free ‘Puddy Buddy’ is delivered to his home, Joe decides to turn on the miniature personalised, programmable humanoid pet. He chooses to give the cutesy little guy some degree of automony, which he lives to regret. The Puddy Buddy, who he names Rufus, is hell bent on taking over Joe’s apartment, and the lengths to which he will go include going to Joe’s length. ahem.

Evidently Joe has inadvertently, and nocturnally, given enough of himself for his Puddy Buddy to split into two, and Joe has now got two, albeit smaller, buddies, of different genders. No, make that three, No, four. No, five.

Things get very out of hand as the rapidly increasing numbers of Puddies make up for their individual decrease in size with sheer hard work, transforming Joe’s flat into their own residence. What has he unleashed?

Again, as with the other stories, OK, without really differentiating itself from a number of similar stories that have appeared in Interzone over the years.

Dave Hoing. Kivam.

Hoing in working on a fat fantasy novel, and has taken one of the smaller characters from that for this longer short story. The character is an interesting one, a concubine cum spy in a sapphic slave situation with a very granite like she-thing. However, the story itself doesn’t really do the character or the setting justice, as she awaits her fate between an uprising of the granite like underclass and the big battle approaching as her people march to reclaim her city. The story really needs to show the resolution of the awkward situation she is in, as it leaves the reader somewhat short-changed as it stands.

Jeremiah Tolbert. The Kansas Jayhawk vs The MidWestern Monster Squad.

If you are of a certain age, imagine Godzilla stomping across a cityscape fighting one of his similarly unlikely gargantuan enemies. Those of more tender years can imagine the Power Rangers fighting one of their gigantic evil enemies in the middle of a city.

Here Tolbert sets up a story that will either entertain you, or faze you. I came into the former category. The USA, for whom scarcity is a thing of the past, have replaced the likes of baseball and Wrestling with humongous creatures battling out for local pride. Instead of following the likes of Hulk Hogan or The Undertaker or Papa Chango (fans of WWE will note that I’m a bit ring rusty in terms of pro wrestling), the youth follow their local behemoth in unannounced battles which have echoes of hurricans descending upon communities. Neat touches include the fact that the damage these creatures wreak are seen as economically beneficial, that the President of the US is a Poindexter, and the concluding section of the Senior Thesis which is written on the topic of predictive modelling and the BFM’s : “In conclusion, I would like to add that Jayhawk totally kicked ass and the smackdown was the most awesome thing I have ever seen’.

A most non-heinous story, dude.

Other Stuff

  • Cheryl Morgan looks forward to Interaction aka Worldcon 2005
  • David Langford’s Ansible Link
  • Martin Hughes reveals his disappointment with Halo 2 / Half Life 2. I would add my concerns to his, including the disappointing Doom 3.
  • Rick Kleffel reviews Matthew Hughes’ ‘Black Brillion’, John Scalzi’s ‘Old Man’s War’, Elizabeth Bear’s ‘Hammered’, Neil Gaiman’s ‘Screenplay’, Graham Joyce’s ‘The Limits of Enchantment’, Charles Stross’ ‘Iron Sunrise’, Robert Coover’s ‘Stepmother’, Ian R. Macleod’s ‘The House of Storms’, and then has a short Q&A with that author
  • reviews by others of Neal Asher’s ‘Brass Man’, Liz Williams’ ‘Banner of Souls’, Paul Kincaid’s ‘Constellations’, Colin Harvey’s ‘Nebula Awards Showcase 2005’, Gene Wolfe’s ‘The Wizard Knight’, Steven L Aggelis ‘Conversation with Ray Bradbury’, John Costello’s ‘The Pocketbook of Science Fiction Films’
  • Andy Hedgecock interviews Susanna Clarke and Colin Greenland
  • Nick Lowe reviews ‘Son of the Mask’, ‘The Magic Roundabout’, and ‘Team America : World Police’


Not a classic issue, with nothing that is going to stick in the mind for any length of time, as most stories are of a standard you would expect to see supporting a much stronger couple of lead stories in an issue of Interzone. In a year when British writers have garnered all the Hugo Novel nominees (albeit in a year when Worldcon in is the UK and there is the usual hometown bias), we should be seeing Interzone buoyant as the UK’s short SF flagship, and this issue isn’t quite up to being HMS Ark Royal. Come on, you Big Name SF writers, get cracking on some new short SF to support the magazine from whence you came. (I see from Charles Stross’ blog that he is working on a story for Interzone.)

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