Interzone #272

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My previous TTA PRESS reviews HERE

Fiction by Aliya Whiteley, Paul Jessup, T.R. Napper, Erica L. Satifka

When I review this fiction, my thoughts will appear in the comments stream below… (My reviewing queue of purchased publications is growing longer and I don’t expect to catch up until late October).

6 thoughts on “Interzone #272

  1. BLESSINGS ERUPT by Aliya Whiteley

    “She traps me into these patterns.”

    A moving tale – where the future is literally geared to our past by vehicle design – and we need to cohere a gestalt of many factors (so gestalt real-time reviewing is an ideal way to read it), a gestalt of movement itself and movement as a way to promote things politically / botano-biologically, amorphous plant-like extrusions of a self sacrifice as of plastic eating and cancer control by cannibalistic chewing of the patient’s tumour a bit like oral sex. Or at least I guess, taught as I am by what she does, not by what she says. All mixed with Songs of Dead Children. With vague fatherly fosterings of tutelage that you do not need to fully understand. As the text itself tells you at one point. Trapped into these patterns. Blessings erupting, not the sort that float to shore from the downed.

  2. THE MUSIC OF GHOSTS by Paul Jessup

    “She feels them munch on the plastic, tear through breadboards. Is she dying too?”

    Wow!

    I don’t say that lightly nor for one single reason. Not only this story in itself being a great one for me, but also for the ‘patterns’, and this word threads recurrently the whole work and the patterns it works within itself, and I had not looked ahead at it at all when I made the above quote from the previous Whiteley story. But also for the amazing patterns by chance between the two stories, and I did not know this when I mentioned Mahler’s song-cycle ‘Songs for Dead Children’ above (a connection with a previous Whiteley story, as it happens), and I did not realise how utterly germane it is with this Jessup story, not only the importance of its symphonic music of dark resurrection, but also Jessup’s “dead singing in harmony.” The voyage from Earth because of disease towards the final home, with some who die kept in musical patterns of a Library… with some moving relationships around them skilfully depicted by Jessup. A “cheshire smile” fixed to my face, too, as I realised how these patterns and “mosaics” relate to the almost-religion of my own gestalt real-time reviews as a phenomenon. I cannot go into all the no doubt inadvertent patterns evoked by these two standalone stories when considered together. Suffice to say it has been a landmark reading experience for me. Each alone and both together.

    “Connected, they are connected, perfectly, symmetrically. A symphony of their own bodies.”

  3. Via Jessup’s classical music-infused ghosts of memory on a journey from the Earth (cf the next story’s to-be-departed disposable Melbourne), from Whiteley’s Red Gathering and her ‘we were the new gods’ to The Red Aristocracy of….

    GHOSTS OF A NEON GOD by T.R. Napper

    “softly whistling an aria” and Vivaldi’s Winter, this seemingly far future flexiscreen of blade-running, GPS-bullets of a gangster adventure about a Chinawoman’s stolen fucken shoes (shoes from Nam or NK, I ask) and the two male crim chancers who chanced to steal them off her, more meaningful than they thought and still to be matched up with our Cinderella solution-fitting satisfaction. Think surveillance drones, but far more than that … with connection to dreams-walking, death-stalking amid memory-ghosts – and who are you, if not a slippery identity that matches the context of this magazine’s fiction symphony so far? A work about anxious colonisations of self. How far have you travelled to get this far into the future? A city of vast indifference. A text deliberately distressed-looking. An experience ripe to share. A gestalt whistling for its goto home. We are the new gods, the neon gods, the new ghosts – or among those fighting such a future with small acts of resistance?

    “No place to be alone, even in our own heads.”

  4. THE GODDESS OF THE HIGHWAY by Erica L. Satifka

    “‘Gotta follow the red signs,’ he mutters to himself. ‘Red, red, red.’”

    Three of the four fiction works in this magazine are described as novelettes and this is the longest of them all. It certainly wows me yet again, especially in how it (inadvertently as a standalone, separate, uncolluded work) rounds off the perfect gestalt of all the fiction here, my greatest gestalt yet, after nine years, I claim. But not MY gestalt as such but the gestalt of the ‘plates’ and ‘patterns’, and while reading the Satifka I actually found myself feeling the sides of my head to see if I had plates on my own temples, and, if so, of what kind. In the context of this gestalt, the main truck-driving, important-cargo transporting protagonist called Harp has appropriately PLASTIC plates, to compare with the other plates borne by individuals (iron, bronze, silver, gold, platinum and even plateless), plates fitted following the alien or whatever enforced cognitive-mist that resulted in this gestalt’s new gods of slippery identity and their Channel Only.
    We follow Harp in sporadic characterful interface with a differently-plated girl called Spike. On the Highway, the road itself memorably becomes for him (or for me?) a pareidoliac Goddess, finger-snatching and sandwich-bearing, a vision that Spike also meets in the back of his truck. I cannot cover all the ground here but it’s a significant read. And it has boots and a shoe in a tailpipe, too. An After and Before that are taken for granted. I need an upgrade in my plates or patterns myself to fully absorb all its ins and outs, its social engineering, its subliminal neurobombs and cognitive clouds, and “pretty music” of shapes and sounds.

    “We have a pattern premiering tonight.”

    end

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