7 thoughts on “Interzone #268

  1. img_2807EVERYONE GETS A HAPPY ENDING by Julie C. Day

    “…I just don’t think God wants us to be part of it anymore.”

    Or God doesn’t want to be part of it anymore?
    Or we don’t want God to be part of it anymore?
    This plainly-spoken post-apocalyptic equitopia holds many complex questions within it, I found, whether that was intentional or not, intention by God, by author, by narrator or by a reader such as me reading things into it.
    “trying to ignore the new reality that is Ohio.”
    This distaff couple, Kendra the narrator, Steph the plot’s protagonist as bearer of a ‘nest’ of Immaculate Conceptions in the shape of….
    Do I dare tell you without spoiling this story?
    The story is a sort of sanctuary from today’s ‘new reality’ and I leave it to you to find it from scratch, always the best way for besties and beasties alike, I guess.

  2. THE NOISE & THE SILENCE by Christien Gholson

    “Wall babble. Wall nonsense.”

    We all know the need sometimes to leave social media, against all the hoots of authority and pangs of disconnection drawing us back to it, just to enjoy a few moments of forbidden Silence.
    Well. This story is nothing to do with that. It is more a prison, a release, an exploration of dusty documents, an interaction between two stories, a man and a woman, in parallel, fossils, her daughter, his son, dystopian filth, a rebellion against the noisy-wall, wrapping oneself in noise to hide that very same noise …. a ritual sacrifice: a sculpture
    or living person immolated.
    One needs to absorb this noise and silence scintillating ricochet-story like wrapping yourself in that noise and then enjoying the silence that paradoxically emerges from it. (A stereo side-splitting of our dreadful wall and trumpish wail today, with silence imprisoned at the sound’s focal point between each side?)
    “So many kids! How do you keep plooping them out?”
    “…the burning figure, full of life.”
    The Immolations obliquely equivalent to the fast-breeding Immaculations in the previous story by Day…?

  3. THE TRANSMUTED CHILD by Michael Reid

    “We’ve seen the black motes – are these the many small brains moving between bodies?”

    This almost transcends the fast-breeding human pregnant ‘nest’ in Day and ‘plooping’ in the Gholson with, here, a “fat banana slug” that “slorps away…” and telling of a well-characterised human Buddhist nun in contact with an alien lifeforce that reminds me of the learning of alien language and other complexities of contact in Chiang’s ‘Story of Your Life’ where the ‘you’ here is an alien-transmuted human child, not a daughter as in the Chiang and in the previous Gholson story, but a human child vital one moment and deadly the next as a safety-handcuffed intermediary between alien and adult human. And this unique emotionally convulsive story essentially stands alone, a Buddhist transcendence permeating such alien contact or conversation, one that actually makes your own reading brain not only change its content but also its shape – or so you can easily imagine. I found it very powerful in this way. A Rorschach communion, a selfless kamikaze event, but with what results for the child?

  4. WEAVERS IN THE CELLAR by Mel Kassel

    “I am old enough to have learned how to weave silently –”

    The title tells a story even before you start reading this relatively brief but rich story that appears under it, and in the end both stories become one, a hive mind of cross-woven individuals similar to that in the Reid, transmuted children, too, from all the previous stories, here in the guise of Kafkaesque metamorphoses where change of shape also means change of content, the Unthinkable retro-anthropomorphising.
    Meanwhile, I loved the word-texture of what they were weaving and the associated artwork, the texture of these talking insectoid-woven chitins, from armour to silk. To hopeful gossamer wings?


    “kamikaze mindstates”, “friction paths”, “autonomous mind-swarms”, “the aircraft is the horse and drone element is the herd.”
    “The space around me took on a rich synthetic texture, complex and changing.”

    My brain, reshaped by some of the previous stories — the ‘sculptures’ in Reid, the hive minds, the chitinous weaving, the exoskeletons, the joined-up consciousness by handcuff or synapse, the motes and bunnies — has now been put through, in reading’s real-time, the actually FELT experience of being a dog-fight pilot amid AI drones and centaurs, some AIs cleverer than others, some in greater cahoots with the human pilot, (a human pilot sometime mercenary, sometime rebellious, but ultimately loyal in various around-Martian space-rivalries of rock and asteroid navigations etc) – involving accusations of treachery from previously loyal symbiotic AIs, and a bodily attenuation almost to a Post-death post dud-left-leg experience to explore the infinities of the universe along with your only eventually loyal stoical “Red” AI beta or supernode – and much more.
    All in one sentence. Or so it seemed as I slip-streamed miraculously through the wild but paradoxically disciplined text. Gotta sell the ruse. “a god you could smudge out with your thumb.” Firewalls, notwithstanding.
    Like one of those Rorschach tests… seeing “Wings”… the gestalt dreamcatching or hawling “cognitive patterns across limited bandwidth.”
    There are so many words and expressions that keep firing such literary almost Joycean ordnance at you. Far too many to quote here or even pick out from each other, “bypassing my conscious mind.” Freedom of Navigation, indeed.


    “America rushed, and consumed itself.”

    The previous story had the wild interactions of AI and Human in symbiosis during space warfare, and we now have a more closeted theatrical drama of such symbiosis within a single room (with a bathroom attached), and these two scenarios are themselves, by some unconscious magic of literary preternature, symbiotic within the overall Buddhist-like sugar rush of a gestalt granted by this set of handcuffed yet standalone fiction stories. This illuminating, compelling, visibly heartbeating Napper story, topped and tailed with vomit, tells of the perfect AI being presented to the world in the racial human shape most acceptable to the audience, with square brackets to differentiate the speaking or translating, say, Tagalog from Mandarin. And a well-characterised human cleaner woman about whom we are given italicised clues as to her political background (when mock omniscience is lifted) – with the proximity of involuntary kamikaze danger between Pinteresquely politicising artefact and human. The ruthlessness of selfish symbiosis, and the thought I had that our trumped up world would be better off without both mankind and AI as machines, flesh or machine-flesh in anthropomorphised symbiosis, but better off just with bunnies.
    Or just go off into the space between the words and text-lines as if that is where the new universe to explore resides.

    There is much else in each edition of Interzone to interest the SF enthusiast in addition to the fiction.


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