Interzone #276


TTA PRESS Jul-Aug 2018

My previous reviews of this publisher HERE.

Stories by Paul Crenshaw, Ryan Row, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Darby Harn, James Warner, Tim Major, Rachael Cupp.

When I read this fiction, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

7 thoughts on “Interzone #276

  1. GREY HALLS by Rachael Cupp

    “The midpoint of crescendo was always more satisfying, more fluid than the beginning or end.”

    I loved this musical journey from then to now and then even further back when I once shook or punched fruit machines and watched jukebox records, with spindly middles missing, my choice picked out by a lever and laid down upon a spinning platter, paid for by hard cash. This story is a hyper-imaginative work that tells of far-future seekers of new hooks and earworms and melodies, even inchoate modernisms too modern for even today’s avant garde tastes (but not mine!), with a character who is a sexy cello woman, just as one example, and a time travel vision that makes me think why great music is not composed but gestalted or gestated from aeons, each hook and era-worm replayed and enhanced.
    The main character’s journey is his angst-ridden compositional or auditory quest, making me extrapolate whether there can possibly exist a First Mover or First Cause of a haunting melody-hook that has never been played before or even been hinted at. This story, too, arguably feels to me like a word vision that has become the original core of itself – the original template for all future such stories. Music, and indeed fiction, need not be a process like sausage-making, I say.

    My previous review of Rachael Cupp:

  2. SUPERBRIGHT by Ryan Row

    “He had the power to digest raw meat without getting sick.”

    And probably also to digest the age-old sausage from the previous story – but here “Spitting out mouthfuls of history onto the concrete floor of the lab like blood.” And this is an even wilder hyper-imaginative extravaganza, one of super-hero children growing up like ordinary young adults with romances and yearnings and failings and passing identities but with extraordinary powers to withstand such changes of names and bodies, amid this prose-exploding cross between a Salman Rushdie and something else completely unwritable. Nothing I can say can give you any idea how the images shoot and spin and ricochet – with poignancies of parentage and the righting of wrongs with other wrongs.
    Even my own wrongs of interpretation. All my real-time reviewing is based on one single reading. But if I read it again it would be a different story or I would be a different reviewer altogether. The story will never understand me. Nor me it. Meanwhile, Tom, its hero will stay behind to look after his Mum. And dream about his Dad. And tell me I am not a dullard reader but Superbright, after all. And take me back in, to tackle his adventures and growing-up relationships all over again. “There was so much space in the universe. How did anything ever manage to collide?”

    My previous review of Ryan Row:

  3. TUMBLEBUSH by Darby Harn

    “‘You survived,’ Cartwright says. ‘That’s what counts.’
    ‘Not all of you does.’
    ‘That’s why it’s called survival.’”

    Cartwheels and tumbleweed alike, I say. This delightfully crisp story has twelve numbered chapters each with its own Chandleresque wise-saw as a title. And that’s not wisecrack or candlemaker! Tumblebush as user-name is a sort of future private eye, when New York was under water. And people get paid for TAGGING their photographs, but the TAG company takes all the money if they go viral. A whole new private eye-opening of concepts with this idea of a TAG society, and Tumblebush is employed by a rancher woman called Cartwright to find her missing TAGGER of a daughter called Karen with a different name as user-name. The outcome is its own nifty Chandleresque denouement … but this story is also a further rendition of the previous two stories’ life as unassuageable seeking, for names and identity purposes and melody hooks and super-hero styles and viral tags. Where nobody gets paid except by a slow, never-ending Zeno’sParadox of personal assuagement. With the glue-trapping of mice just as nifty story-brackets, if not a means to keep the mind sticking over.

  4. P.Q. by James Warner


    “He was growing bitter by now about worsening U.S. attitudes to immigrants.”

    A building romance between a scientist called Daljeet and Mary Sue (working at the nearby garage) who first gives him first aid, after his experiments with (Pogonomyrmex Quaesitor) Harvester ants cause him to suffer bites and pustules, and then she, as if imbued with some magic (ant Queen) Goddess effects, lends traction to the words and rationales for what he is discovering about the ants’ Aesthetics as well as their practical ability in transporting seeds for mashing as well as for articles to build art ’temples’, or are such temples practical in turn as a means of protection amid their interactions with other species. And now with today’s global wildfires, he salvages one nest of the ants and takes it back to his own indigenous home overseas for further study – as an ironic ‘quaesitor’ himself? Or as part of what the ants are becoming, Daljeet and Mary Sue themselves, a real-time growth towards gestalt… An inscrutable obliquity of didacticism for our current times? A Swiftian global swarm fable of soul and instinct? The mighty to become mites, or, rather, vice versa.

  5. THROW CAUTION by Tim Major

    “From late afternoon to past dusk the three of them sat on the roof of a store to watch ant-like figures half a mile from the camp, casting an enormous, weighted silicon net into the depths of the surrounding dunes.”

    I throw caution to the hawling and trawling winds, and to the moving Martian dunes that I feel sure I have come across before in this author’s work, so much so that I feel more at home with such caution thrown than kept, as I submit myself to the FEEL of this tale of net-catching and prospecting for or in the Martian crabs that seem to build temples like the ants in the previous story, here within a museum not of themselves, but of us? Their diamonds like pearls in our oysters, debaseable in the long run, diamonds metabolised from rock-licking, as Cupp’s music-hook seeker earlier licked Rock tracks as well as a processed Sausage …all processes of mites and Martians to be tapped by this crudely helmeted and tunicked couple in their ramshackle tent not so much on wheels as on dunes…. Loved it, for what I saw in it, even if what I mined was mine alone.

    My previous reviews of Tim Major:

  6. SO EASY by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

    “It would have made you too sad, to know that I missed the things you told me once existed.”

    A girl in puberty and her ‘you’ as mother, in a world, I sense, of future bio- or Gaia-manipulation not unlike the earlier crabs and ants, each with something as found art (here cracks and constellations) a ‘gray’ Aesthetic rationale (cf Grey Halls) against the inimical quality of our world, a lethal itch we see the beginnings of today in the burnt umber lawns, potholed roads, even firestorms, at first partially solved here by hopeful diaspora oceanwards. But still a dystopia to wherever you resort, with all the cracked and nerve-perfumed trappings of horror and footsteps as constellations. And then with the ‘you’ poignantly gone, the ‘He’ returns. A way to assuage that itch? So easy, an ironic title, as not easy at all, for her to describe or understand the inevitable outcome. Me, neither.

    “I mean sick sick.”

    My previous reviews of Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam:

  7. EYES by Paul Crenshaw

    “They avoided nets and drag lines and lobster traps.”

    The hawling of eyes, as I would call this rhapsodic story, a fable as archetype and one wonders whether such an archetype is eternal, but an eternity that starts now, here, today, as I read this. It even reprises “the carrying capacities of ants”, as well as hinting at the constellations and crabs (with diamonds) and melody-hooks all from earlier on, while seeking a cross-section of healing to salvage the world, here a butterfly that can heal or hurt, depending how you look at it. An archetype of detachable eyes passed down the generations of families and resocketed, carrying the sights and experiences of yore, eyes with nerves still attached that are fished from the rain-swollen stream by this story’s hero where he lives in a world where no such passing-down is known. These eyes tell him by blinks about their owners’ own stories. Meanwhile, surely, the most sad but happy feeling in the world must be to FEEL these detached eyes blinking in your hand. Imparting something important. Each of these stories in Interzone still thus blink. And I’ll blink back at each story I’ve ever read, even after I’m dead, I hope. We all find our own superbrights, eventually.

    As ever, there is much else in Interzone in addition to its fiction.


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