Interzone #250 – Andy Cox (Ed) (2014)
Another fascinating bunch of tales from authors in the main unknown to me.
Interzone certainly pushes the boundaries with style and is possibly redefining the structure and style of the short story. Some of the authors here do not make it easy for the reader, which is perhaps as it should be, although there’s always the risk of leaving too much unexplained.
Relationships feature heavily throughout either overtly or obliquely, and the quality of work is on the whole, very high, as one should expect in this 250th issue.
The Damaged – Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
A wonderfully compelling tale about artificial humans and how we might treat them should such a thing become a reality. Told from an odd viewpoint.
Bad Times to be in the Wrong Place – David Tallerman
This is an odd but well-done rural post-Dickian tale. How would one react should one discover that one was living in a back-up of the real world, if indeed the world is real in the first place? An excellent piece set in an entropic US midwest.
The Labyrinth of Thorns – C. Allegra Hawksmoor
There are echoes of Jeff Noon in this, but ultimately there is something lacking. An agent for ‘The Company’ (which has been a cliche for so long it becomes almost parody when employed seriously) has had memories downloaded into his head which alternate with his mission in ‘The City’. All very poetic but a tad indecipherable. Not really up to the level of quality one would expect from Interzone.
Beneath the Willow Branches, Beyond the Reach of Time – Caroline M. Yoachim
This is lovely. A scientist enters his wife’s stored memories – where she is trapped in a timeloop – in an apparently hopeless attempt to break the cycle and save her, echoed by her childhood tale of the Green Willow.
Predvestniki – Greg Kurzawa
A man accompanies his wife to Moscow on a business trip and, unable to interest her in the sights or the food, becomes obsessed with what he sees atop a domed tower. A great story which walks that difficult line between revealing too much and too little and is at the same time a deftly sketched portrait of an ill-matched relationship.
Lilacs and Daffodils – Rebecca Campbell
This is a lovely little puzzle of a story told by an AI with a convincing realism (if such a word can be meaningfully employed here).
Wake Up, Phil – Georgina Bruce
‘The Company’ in this tale is Serberus, although it could also be Callitrix, for whom Laura works. Unhappy with Laura’s weight problem Throom, the company doctor, prescribes her a course of Serberitum, an amphetamine and hallucinogen. Her life takes on another reality in which her neighbour, ‘Phil the Sci Fi man’, has two separate bodies, one of which will not wake up.
It’s interesting that Philip K Dick, some thirty-odd years after his death is still manifesting as a presence. I can think of two other works at least in which he has appeared as a character. There’s also an echo of Orwell here. A haunting story, one that clings in the head.