Short stories by Aliette de Bodard, Nigel Brown, Georgina Bruce, Steven Dines, Shannon Faye, Jess Hyslop, Priya Sharma and Lavie Tidhar provide the offerings in the May-June 2013 issue of science fiction and fantasy magazine Interzone. Published by TTA Press and edited by Andy Cox, issue 246 also contains the results of the 2012 Interzone Readers' Poll.
Interzone 246: Review of May-June 2013 Issue
Eight short stories are packed into issue 246 (May-June 2013) of science-fiction and fantasy magazine Interzone.
Issue 246 of science-fiction and fantasy magazine Interzone (number 246, TTA Press, ISSN 0264-3596) has its usual mix of fantasy and science-fiction stories including the excellent “The Core” and the very odd “Triolet”. Though good, Interzone sometimes leaves me a little wanting on the science-fiction side. Call me old fashioned, but often I long for a good solid space battle, with big guns and even bigger ships, lots of explosions, lots of action. Sadly, such adventure stories are few and far between these days, but I still live in hope.
That said, what we do have are a few cracking stories, and some serious darkness. Read and enjoy.
“The Machinehouse Worker’s Song” by Steven Dines
This futuristic version of Jacob’s Ladder is set in a giant factory where nobody sees the bosses and nobody knows what is being built. But replacements stop appearing for those who die until just Jacob and Samuels are left. Jacob starts to build a scaffold to escape. Workplace optimism versus defeatism are mixed well with mystery. Gripping.
“Triolet” by Jess Hyslop
The fact that someone can grow poems is a delightful surprise in the opening paragraph. But this isn’t a story about weird gardening, rather about change, how people change, how relationships change, and how some things stay the same. Poems just reflect that.
“Sentry Duty” by Nigel Brown
An odd friendship between a large scorpion and a human being sees each trying to understand the other’s culture and ways, but it is difficult. This absorbing story is wrapped up with a juicy ending.
“The Angel at the Heart of the Rain” by Aliette de Bodard
In few words, Aliette captures the anguish and fear of the displaced, the yearning of refugees for life the way it used to be, and the realisation that this is your life from now on. The existence of an angel – real or otherwise – just about, but only just, justifies its inclusion as a fantasy story.
“Thesea and Astaurius” by Priya Sharma
I have real mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, it is a nice take on the legend of the Minotaur, but on the other the story seems to drag, and has no really interesting twists. But it does have a subtle humour that keeps it entertaining, right to the last sentence.
“The Core” by Lavie Tidhar
The first thing that strikes with this story is the illustration by Vincent Sammy. The data stream of blood dripping from the young woman’s fanged mouth is an image I’d love to have on my wall. This is the story of a strigoi, a data vampire that sucks at people’s nodes, so lucky her lover has no node, but he needs to know where she has gone when he finds himself alone in his bed. So he follows her. The chatty elevator had me giggling, but the rest of the story had me hooked within its darkness.
“Cat World” by Georgina Bruce
From dark to even darker in this grim tale of drugs and child prostitution. Told through the eyes of an eight-year-old girl, the story shows a world gone wrong. She is looked after by Oh, her 12-year-old sister, who sells herself to buy food and sticks of hallucinogenic gum that takes them both to Cat World. But when Oh disappears, the youngster finds she too may have to work to survive. A well told and haunting piece.
“You First Meet the Devil at a Church Fete” by Shannon Fay
This sent a shiver down my spine. It doesn’t take long to figure out what band young Stuart is playing with and that leaving it would be the biggest mistake of his life. The devil tells him the truth about what will happen with the band but Stuart makes his own choice for happiness. Did he make the right decision? This was the winner of the 2012 James White Award, a short-story competition open to non-professional writers.
Also in Interzone 246
The usual humour from David Langford kicks off this month’s magazine followed by the obituaries, which include my favourite horror writer – thank you James Herbert for some great stories. The results of the 2012 Interzone Readers’ Poll comes next, and I won’t spoil it for you by telling you who won.
The book reviews include an interview with Lauren Beukes about her new and third novel The Shining Girls. Also in the reviews section is an essay by Jonathan McCalmont having a moan at the current state of science fiction. A bit of a yawn, this sadly promises to be the first of a regular column; let’s hope he lightens up in future outpourings.
There is nothing particularly exciting in this issue’s Bluray and DVD reviews, but there is potential among the film reviews. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters sounds particularly intriguing. Must get to the cinema more.