Interzone #264


TTA PRESS May-June 2016 (my previous reviews of this publisher HERE)

Stories by Tyler Keevil, Malcolm Devlin, James Van Pelt, Rich Larson and Gwendolyn Kiste.

When I real-time review these stories, my comments will appear in the thought stream below. (There may be some delay in starting this review.)

7 thoughts on “Interzone #264

  1. STARLINGS by Tyler Keevil

    “One of those words that is just so much better in Welsh than English.”

    A methodically gentle novelette as a vehicle for a report by a mother to ‘you’ as her semi-genetically prepared baby son, born from herself and her husband, a child created among others (not slavish copies of each other, but with distinct characters, as his fight with another child later proves) to migrate like starlings from our squandered Earth towards a new outer-space base of onward human life. It is, beneath it all, heart-rending with self-sacrifice and faltering self-justification, alongside the slips between cup and lip where she nearly aborts her son’s ‘mission’ by taking him, with her husband, on a road trip to Mumbles, in this believable future Swansea. With references, inter alia, to Macbeth, Kipling, Ancient Greek Drama, Saint-Exupery, this is a compulsive study of a woman’s love for her semi-engineered offspring, a love in conflict with difficultly reconciled duties. A possibly crazy scheme resulting from Hadron’s CERN Zoo…bubbles and butterflies, eggs like coffins, “white blood”, and I was enthralled, but ended wondering whether this, your mother’s report, if you actually receive it, will effectively prove to be a version of your own Judas or Brutus.

  2. BREADCRUMBS by Malcolm Devlin

    “She thinks of the way birds congregate on building sites and rooftops. One loud noise, she thinks, and everyone will fly away.”

    …like those earlier starlings? This is a girl called Ellie who eventually asks of herself, after many rites of passage and her own brand of waking-dreams: “How could she have forgotten how her mother once fed her worlds?”…
    This is a fascinatingly efflorescing and vegetatising of a Cinderella morphing (in reality or by leaking dreams?) into a Rapunzel, amid her neighbours in a city apartment block, her parents and brother, she dreams, having already gone to a ball without her, or was it them leaving to attend not a ball but an aunt’s fall? One never knows, and it is a constructive never-knowing, with her waking-dreams as telling objective-correlatives for the growing soul of a fifteen year old girl, a girl who seeks the seeking of her by a Prince. But she is not really a Damsel in Distress, but rather a visionary chrysalis for our own dreams, I feel, with each of our bodies eventually to become a husk: a constructive thought for me, particularly in recent days. Beautiful material.


    “It would seem impossible that this tiniest of changes in Mar’s luminosity would make a difference,…”

    This must be the most optimum story that could be subject to such dreamcatching as this review of it. If optimum can have a superlative? I think it can. And that makes me think of the most optimum path of events, one that is what it is, whether that be a cheating path or a sincere one. It can only be what can be, susceptible to – as well as paradoxically beyond – the power of chaos theory or the butterfly effect, or here the ladybug-upon-the-iris effect (Iris, my mother’s name). This is a most beautiful bijou portrait of such effects, and relates, for me, to my life-long interest in astrological harmonics, and to the gestalt in literature, a gestalt here linking a mother’s death (perhaps in elusive tune with the previous stories), a cheating psychic, a private detective, a dust mote in motion on Mars, and ERB’s Martian books… to mar or to mend.

    “You know that everything connects to everything somehow.”

  4. LIFEBOAT by Rich Larson

    “…you can’t call it a fleet, not really, not any more than you’d call a bunch of birds flying together a fleet.”

    This story is a lifeboat, or you are its lifeboat because you are under its control and it wants more coverage with you aboard it or it aboard you. And I need a lifeboat, because this is the most mind-frazzling story I think I have ever read, like being immersed in Van Pelt’s ocean gestalt, testing me more than Finnegans Wake ever did. Where I try to run null and do a feely at the same time. Let the words flow over me, the miners on planetary sources, and colonists, their mendicant religions, Allah being a bit old-fashioned, and two characters with cryo and other body gloves whence to slip in and out relentlessly like sexual traction – meeting a pregnancy bump in one female character, as lifeboat or bomb or cyborg implant, with, alongside or later, synths and blinks, gelscoops, sodomy and gomorring, the headbutting of a gnashing drill, like riding the bronco of this story and forgetting you are actually quoting it instead! A Lazy Susan or another mother with one of the Starling fleet inside her, another dead mother-to-be, one who will die not in childbirth but in abject trust. Life as a One-Way War.
    It feels like us now projected into some (God)forsaken sump of some mad poofy gray brain. I loved it, but at my advanced age, I still don’t exactly know why. Give me a break. Still running null.

  5. THE TOWER PRINCESSES by Gwendolyn Kiste

    “I tell myself the wind swallows the paper, or a mama bird stuffs my handwriting in her nest as fodder.”

    Tower princesses reminding me at first of the earlier Rapunzel-like Princess called Ellie – but soon becoming, here, a deadpan taking-for-granted that there are some girls in Mary the narrator’s school, girls who are within towers like burqas, I thought, but not really burqas at all, but the very thought about burqas does resonate with the earlier Allah version of mendicants in the Larson…. No, these are like vertical shells, of different materials, and Mary strikes up a relationship with one of them, via the slits of the girl’s tower. The story also deals with bullying as well as incestuous rape upon Mary. This work I treat on its own. Startlingly provocative, enough.

    “She’s a mosaic, and I have to cobble together the pieces”

    But the Kiste also conveys the rite of passage of a young girl as the Devlin does, each tower princess left alone at home like Cinderella but inside her own bespoke mobile home, having become the princess through fitting this body shell (cf the body gloves in the Larson) as Cinderella’s foot fitted a slipper. But once out, what do they become. Born from themselves as mother shed to become child, so as to migrate…and then the shed tower to be used by others for incubation like within Ellie’s earlier chrysalis husk – or like the cyborg trigger within Larson’s Marina. Build up your own brainstorming in the comments below if you have been excited, like me, by this clutch of stories, each awaiting its own further migration.

    This collection of stories is another optimum Interzone experience whether you take it at surface level or higher than you may care to fly.
    There is much else in this magazine to interest the SF enthusiast, in addition to its fiction texts.

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