Interzone #252


INTERZONE #252 May-June 2014
Received as part of my subscription to TTA PRESS

Stories by Neil Williamson, Katharine E.K. Duckett, Val Nolan, Oliver Buckram, Claire Humphrey, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam.

All my previous Reviews of TTA publications HERE.


8 thoughts on “Interzone #252

  1. The Posset Pot by Neil Williamson
    “There was early speculation that the bubbles might affect the weather, but Glasgow’s always been a rain town.”
    A mind-stretching vision (stunningly original, to my untutored eyes) that eventually, via half a sort of calm but expectant death-wish, reaches a touching poignancy for the well-characterised narrator and his friend, who are left to cope with the bubbles and foam that gradually overlap or switch the reality of two separate earths, or so I infer, or two different time zones, or various other theories only one of which is to blame CERN and its LHC. That thumbnail description of mine does no justice at all to what is happening here and what is felt, including, among many others, the nice touch of a bubble’s positing a posset pot in the region of the narrator, giving the reader the sense of a tantalising warm toddy within his or her own potentially bleak prospect of a world where Tesco will no longer be delivering.

  2. The Mortuaries by Katharine E.K. Duckett
    “…and they can make believe the mortuaries are something great, instead of a monument to everything that went wrong here.”
    I don’t often comment on anything but the text of a story, but its initial illustrative setting here gave me very little hope that I would enjoy this story as much as some other stories. Having now read it, I certainly feel it needs to be published without decorative context, even to be published nemonymously without up front by-line or authorial biography. I sincerely believe that it deserves to be approached thus coldly. Indeed what I am due to say about it may spoil it for anyone who hasn’t yet read it, by simply altering your own expectations one way or another. What I have said above may already have done that damage…
    So, here goes. It is one of the most powerfully grim speculative stories I’ve ever seen in Interzone or perhaps ever seen anywhere. The essentially mind’s eye conception of the two towering Mortuaries standing in such a setting side by side will haunt me forever, plus the redolently described differences between them, the ‘living’ tableaux of plastinated dead within those Mortuaries, behind glass in one Mortuary, but not in the other, the various vivid characterisations involved, especially the point of view of Tem, the boy, as he grows up, regularly visiting one of these Mortuaries and then finally the second one, all of this being set amid the cataclysmic endgame of his whole surrounding civilisation and world, the history of the keepers of those Mortuaries, and, finally, the story’s exquisitely unbearable coda with his Mum and dead Dad, and what is likely to ensue from outside the Mortuary … all gradually built up by the author in an effective and memorable way.
    [Its aftertaste chimes with my own personal thoughts regarding some words that have been troubling me for a while now: ‘A dead monument to once ancient hope’ and seemingly causes them to make more sense now.]

  3. Diving Into The Wreck by Val Nolan
    “Surely the point of exploration is to find answers.”
    But I explore books and stories by others not necessarily to find answers, but to increase the complexity of the questions themselves — to enhance ‘the mystery of mystery’ (to quote someone in this story). Or to seek linking leitmotifs between all items of fiction so as to be able to approach some ultimate mysterious literary gestalt that grants you the power of its never been found.
    Inspiringly for the onlooker (like you and me), the moon is somehow used here as the narrator’s instinctive metaphor for resurrection of a dead loved one (question as mystery) even if it means sacrificing a best friend (answer as knowledge ) – a metaphor that is ignited by a search for the jettisoned part of the Eagle from Apollo 11 upon the moon’s surface, narrated at a time in the future when that 1969 event has become a myth or metaphor itself. I had never before considered the sense of power in the conception of any increasingly ancient relics of Earth’s exploring footprint from the time when I was young… And how such a conception possibly relates to the core of the human condition, an undiscovered core whose healing power paradoxically stems from that very undiscovery. An involving, sensitive narrative.
    (Another dead monument to once ancient hope? The posset pot, the mortuary tower, the eagle…)

  4. Two Truths and a Lie by Oliver Buckram
    (3) This successfully experimental story mentions the Apollo program as a deliberate retrocausal influence upon the previous story and later upon the dead ancient monument of the CERN LHC in the first story: a retrocausality of a retrocausality.
    (2) There will only be 51 weeks this year.
    (1) This is a deeply poignant story about unrequited love: “as above, so below”, not “cause-and-effect”.

  5. A Brief Light by Claire Humphrey
    “‘Guess the dreamcatchers are a bust,’…”
    More of Humphrey’s ‘Haunts’, here called ‘hauntings’, a special brand of shape-shifting ghosts, shifting from, say, a seagull in your room to a close deceased relative, with messages to scry, accidents to which to give meaning, gently engaging as a story, as if dreamcatchers are what the Internet has made of all of us (with this story’s mention of Twitter mentions, texting, selfies, laptops, collecting emails) whereby the old monuments, like perhaps real books in the form of ebooks, are now dead if still barely there. Bodies no longer tableau-plastinated by any Duckett. A Morality Tale I enjoyed. One successfully dreamcaught beyond the reach of captchas? The seagull, if not the eagle, has landed.

  6. Sleepers by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
    Akin to Humphrey’s hauntings, here amorphously equine rather than floaty bird-like, Stufflebeam’s ‘sleepers’ will, I am sure, haunt my own waking, as we follow the girl protagonist who herself has passed like a ghost from solid place to place, containing, I sense, something a bit like this author’s flawed playmate or constructively obsolescent stufflebeam lightbulb from her previous story; and this girl suffers panic attacks from the prospect of being left alone in life by her parents whose advice she can no longer seek, but hoping against hope for her comatose Dad to die… Hoping against hope, literally. Like all once ancient hope.
    This story, for me, has a similar power and feel of the archetypal Joel Lane story and that means extremely powerful. We are or will soon become our own morphed monuments within the mortuaries of the living. Two thirds truth or waking, one third lie or sleeping.
    “I think I missed the message.”

  7. There is much else for the SF and Fantasy enthusiast to enjoy in this Interzone, in addition to its fiction, such as an interview with Neil Williamson whose ‘The Moon King’ novel I am currently reviewing here.

  8. Pingback: “Sleepers” — Interzone (March 2014) | Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

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