INTERZONE #262

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My previous reviews of TTA Press publications HERE

Stories by Mercurio D Rivera, Rahul Kanakia, Ian Sales, Carole Johnstone, T.R. Napper, Philip A. Suggars.

When I real-time review the stories in this magazine, my comments will be found in the thought stream below or by clicking on this post’s title above.

8 thoughts on “INTERZONE #262

  1. THE WATER-WALLS OF ENCELDALUS by Mercurio D. Rivera

    “They understood that without the illusion of some productive task, the human mind tended to veer from complacency to depression.”

    I suppose the operative words there are ‘the illusion of’, and my productive task in my retirement is supplied, since 2008, by my doing real-time reviews of fiction works such as this one. And the fiction works themselves are written by Wergens. Their words themselves the bots who help me on with my literary snowboots. And Sancho is the tussling, trusting digger into text that lives in my brain. The water-walls the intervening dreams I hope to catch where others who guide me live. The far future solar system my sandbox.

    As in this story, however, my interpretation of these roles – and the trust and lines of communication between parties – perhaps rests on a lie or a misunderstanding. Despite its sometimes obsessive, close-ordered, typographically straitened description of details of the lady human protagonist’s task in this world near Saturn by singular narrative first personhood, one satisfyingly senses the poignant relationships, the only too human-like ploys and deceptions, till a chance rocket crash-lands allowing the possibility of her escape. But the sense of human ploys and deceptions extends also to her human ex boyfriend whom she sees through, with his eventually knowing that the cysts that weighed her down and took her to this forgotten outpost were curable. Those cysts were symbolic of burdens that made humans use others as well be used themselves. Sancho eventually sloughed off, as well as, hopefully, those cysts.

    This is a deep story that needs a defiant approach towards reaching its enticing snowy terrains to allow getting through the dry text to reach the water-walls of dream – then learning about us and about others who are not us. Pets we control and pets that control us. Pets as cysts and aliens as well as a trusting Sancho Panza soul that is yourself. (See my concurrent review of Doña Quixote by Leena Krohn here.)

    I am the naivety in the middle, between story and those who read it. Not a filter, but a wayward interpreter hoping to have caught some ricochets of dream in it.

    “Do you study my brain patterns when I sleep?”

  2. EMPTY PLANETS by Rahul Kanakia

    “Human society is the same you know: the Machine always says that it’s just the sum total of the actions of all the people who’ve ever lived.”

    One far future solar system sandbox in the previous story replaced by another here. Also another story that deals with your purpose in life and how that develops, how you affect its repercussions, how it affects you.

    This story is also equally as deep as the first one, with relentless meticulousness, an easily assimilable but a dry and otherwise complex text, leading to a myriad thoughts upon God as Machine, often an arbitrary Machine, with humanity’s Shares and Bounties in its Trust Fund coalesced by marriages as affected by the ratcheting tontines of altruistic discovery for others as well as selfishly for oneself. Playing with planets or solar systems themselves, or reprogramming your love of music. Questioning one’s commitment to the Machine. Accepting the mortality of all those around you as well as the Machine’s colonisations and colorizations.

    “‘Life is extremely simple, David,’ she said: ‘You can either attempt to propagate yourself or you can pursue hedonic satisfaction or you can sublimate those urges into some arbitrarily-defined substitution activity.”

    I do not know where to start, other than perhaps, as above, with my own real-time reviewing, my own backdrop purpose in life, relating it to a preternatural secularism (to borrow a phrase from a recent Quentin S Crisp book), here portrayed as foreground against the backdrop of humanity (here depicted with their in-depth thoughts as well as their almost chicklit romances and arguments) rather than that foreground-backdrop being the other way round as in most other fiction!

    The woman Captain who believed that the green clouds had eyes or souls on Altair III, I think. [Also I noted the Jungian plagiaristic SEEMING non-plagiarism of like themes discovered by my dreamcatching is here exemplified by findings about those Altairean clouds?] But the real truth pans out by its own real-time volition I propose and that is what I believe this complex and absorbing text points towards. Needs to be read more than once, but abiding by my own reviewing rules, I always comment upon the first reading or impression, and this is it!

    I sense this story is an important one if we could but recognise it. And continue working with it. Empty planets or empty heads?

    “I wasn’t sure she was talking about the same thing I was talking about, but since I wasn’t really sure what I was talking about it was hard to respond to her.”

  3. GEOLOGIC by Ian Sales

    “His umbilical lies coiled beside him: it is two hundred metres long and gives him complete freedom of movement…”

    There is perhaps some preterlogic if not geo-, that today is the historic day when a British astronaut, by the name of Tim Peake, spacewalks for the first time, a day when I read this far future and far distant version of that spacewalk by a man called Keller, whose job and existence subdivides humanity by the acclimatisation of squeaky-voiced atmospheres or the distances travelled by insulation from ambiance, leading to another purpose in life, exemplified here by a pioneering discovery of a Rock, a potentially alien Space Odyssey artefact with exterior designs, interior ‘chambers’ and ‘statues’. But like the Machine in the previous story’, it is all perhaps created by us, subdivided from each other, as we are, alien each to each?
    Each also a King or Queen in Yellow? “Rapture of the deep.” A pareidolia.
    This story is pulling at you, intriguing and haunting, together with colours like the Yeller of Keller, ‘vibrant yellow’, ‘apricot’, ‘orange’, ‘saffron’, ‘sienna’, ‘peach’, ‘salmon’ and, yes, its internal Chambers. And that vital yellow crack.

  4. CIRCA DIEM by Carole Johnstone

    “…a preternatural tundra that I alone ruled,…”

    Two previous stories actually took place upon a far future Moon or Luna, that yellow companion of ours, and now we have this memorably standpoint-oscillating far future romance story on Earth, oscillating between figurative chronobio-logics of, effectively, Montagues and Capulets… Two separate-leaning acclimatised worlds on one world, due to ‘a damaged moon’. A scenario in serendipitous symbiosis with what I called ‘the alien each to each’ syndrome of the Sales story.
    There are beautiful passages in Johnstone’s circadian story and the indefinable yearning that results.
    It also makes me think not only of the direct effects of a damaged moon on tides, habitats, habits and its ‘Clock Mutants’, but also of what I have often called astrological harmonics (the moon being one part among many parts of the machine of synchronicity known as astrology), harmonics that in turn affect humanity, harmonics, therefore, of the erstwhile ‘Machine’ in this resonating set of stories (so far) about humanity’s sporadically cohesive and divisive purpose in our far future.

  5. A STRANGE LOOP by T.R. Napper

    Another substantively complex story, one that slips down easily, though, as one regathers the forgotten memories necessary to encapsulate it. Ranging from a reference to a Magritte painting to this own author’s own mythos (as I fallibly remember it?) of the Omissioner. As with the first two stories, I can also relate this one to my own real-time reviewing or dreamcatching…

    “Memory is an act of creativity – the ability to form connections between disparate memories, build something new from them and hurl it into the future so it become a poem or a dance,…”

    …and relevant to the first two stories’ ‘illusion’ of a purpose in life…

    “It was about ambition, Irving. We used to dream and plan together, about our family, our careers. But you fell into this rut…”

    …and, in turn, this dual acclimatisation of memory with his wife, his need to recoup some incident with his daughter from some forbidden memory of a visit to Luna Park, relates to the insulated acclimatisations in the Sales and Johnstone stories. His way of sorting out his marital difficulties, being at a meal with regathered memories, but making it too obvious. I chuckled, as an aside, when learning about the distractive ‘on-retina’ device that his wife Ondine suspected him using while on-dining together!

    But it is more than all that, something you need to get your head around concerning memory, the ability to sell it as part of the world’s economic cycles for other people’s synaptic life satisfactions, the risk of being punished for retrieving memories that have been sold for others to have, selling them, if futilely, as part of that life purpose or career, plus Alzheimer’s, exo-memories, the in-denial or post-edited life narratives we all have, mnemonic servitude as loops or copyrights, hard truths…

    Irving made a dog’s breakfast of the inside of his head, and the Omissioner’s hilarious character, and the outcome, all consuming as you gradually – you may remember the eventual gestalt wrongly? – get your head round this ever-resonating tale.

    “Let’s not get metaphysical here, Omissioner. The tree still falls in the forest. The world still exists outside the boundaries of my skull. And if I make these motherfuckers pay, well they are going to pay.”

  6. DEPENDENT ASSEMBLIES by Philip A. Suggars

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    “It was always Alfonso’s job to make the faces, the hands and the eyes. He stood in his studio and worked the clay now, his fingers teasing the material, inviting it to tell him what it wanted to be.”

    That again feels like my process of dreamcatching fiction works… and ‘dependent assemblies’ when seen as a phrase in itself rather than this story’s title are in fact what the Machine in this set of stories is all about. Here, that Machine centres on an alternate world Argentina – and alternate worlds are perhaps farther future than the farthest future itself.
    A story punctuated by this alternate history’s punchlines of illiberal politics, where the two male protagonists tango with each other every night, a touching relationship of striving for life’s purpose as workers or lovers with progeny as their legacy, against all the illiberal strictures, and they fight against the watching ornithopteron-moths, and other honey traps. Meanwhile, there are some amazingly hard-sensuous passages of bodily-machine-creating of their girl ‘children’, with a blend of cyborgisation, steampunk, Frankenstein (but none of these essentially), by using a material like prehensile putty called lux. The trouble is if you use too much lux…
    A moving and superbly envisioned story. A fine climax.

    There are other items in Interzone to interest SF enthusiasts in addition to the above fiction.

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