TTA PRESS Mar-Apr 2020
My previous reviews of this publisher: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tta-press-interzone-black-static/
Fiction by James Sallis, Matt Thompson, Val Nolan, Louis Evans.
When I read this fiction, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…
COFIWCH ABERYSTWYTH by Val Nolan
“‘Why should we not sing during the war?’ the Prime Minister had asked.”
Peppered with Welsh words as subtitles, this novelette must surely be an alternate world narrative of future apocalypse, other than perhaps the still ringing-true of the PM asking us to sing, as he has done recently during our own unseen covfefe cloud of a Third World War now emerging since this work was written. I say it must be an alternate world narrative because the future people here remember the word ‘Brexit’, a word recently, in my own real-time, soon to become irrelevant or airbrushed out of history. Whistling down the road. What, me? No, not me, guv. Meanwhile, this is an engaging enough story based in a country where my father was born: Wales. And a seaside place with a pier and a university, and here it is compared to Chernobyl — Aberystwyth as a future genius-loci which is nicely built up here. As three female VanderMeer type pioneers, i.e. three vloggers (one of whom is the narrator), aided by drones, arrive at this dangerously ruined place after a mutiny by post-Brexit British militarists in a submarine had caused it to be nuked! I, for one, doubted the reliability of the narrator from the start! But, of course, I may be an unreliable reviewer…
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/val-nolan/
ROCKET MAN by Louis Evans
“And yet unbeknownst to all, at the heart of every checklist is a lacuna, an absence. A small silent question, implicit and unanswered. A space for free will.”
Free will here freewheels? That space another airbrushing I mentioned above? This is the story narrated by one of the kamikaze rocket men himself, where Chernobyl above now becomes Hiroshima, or rather Moscow during the Cold War. Today’s cold and coughing war, notwithstanding. This Rocket Man’s glitch of free will is the MISS in mission and missile. MISS in inadvertent mutual synergy with the recurrent act of a FALL in VS Pritchett’s old story I recently read here. And I wonder, based on his subsequent dreams and trucking, whether this narrator is as unreliable as the previous one above!
From the internet: “The organ of Corti is the sensitive element in the inner ear and can be thought of as the body’s microphone. It is situated on the basilar membrane in one of the three compartments of the Cochlea. It contains four rows of hair cells which protrude from its surface.”
ORGAN OF CORTI by Matt Thompson
“The desert seemed almost habitable after Madrid.”
“If the nest was a listening organ, did it not make sense that there would also be eyes, and fingertips, and lungs?”
Not that unseen enemy of today’s Madrid, a pervasion I mentioned earlier above, but a story of the Corti-Cochlea and of a seeming sand tsunami into the city, and this more reliable narrator, I guess, who, after being abandoned by his ‘wife’, takes us, or is taken by, five well-characterised other pioneers into the desert surrounding the city, towards a series of artfully limned towers, a seeming termitory or nest, down into which they explore, with guiding tablet, a journey as Clark Ashton Smith might have described today with a leaner text than his earlier exotic curlicues — an attritional tour-de-force of a narrative that is like Xenakis music transfigured into the meaning of words in a story, smoothed out with linear melodies that are recognisable as an audit trail of fiction as felt truth. Vestigial, fissured organ, the narrator Elias with now unreliable companions that become nightmarish incantatory refrains of tinnitus in whisper and word, a sound system of parasites within parasites (see my paragraph on viral dolls within dolls here in the just completed Black Static review) the SURVIval of now pionEARS, I guess. Starting off as a comforting, womb-like place, the characters now encounter seeming fabricated ants, snakes, Gila Monsters, jerboas, random timeswitches, a hall of mirrors, abandoned annexes, loops of lostness beyond LOST itself, phonemes, glossolalia, stereocilia, acoustic configurations — and with a constructive absurdism the lost companions singly or multiply resonate as irritants to the those remaining, their voices as intrinsic part of the linear Xenakis music as well as its now non-linear aspects, its rises and dying falls, as heard in this sonic morass of a nest or whatever it is. Today, in the real-time news, the Real Madrid was far more frightening, I guess. Here at least two of the characters can manage to make love. Do we now believe in the “Smart systems filtered into elixirs of life” … and when do my long-term efforts in ‘mutual synergy’ finally become this story’s “mutual repulsion”?
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/matt-thompson/
CARRIERS by James Sallis
I found this novelette a bit laboured and confusing as a plot, but there are many wonderful passages with provocative thoughts about life and its expectations — with eventually one’s self as the Ghost beyond its own myth’s ending. Yet somehow, as history teacher, one’s self is writing this out for astonished posterity.
Featuring street kids growing up amid the brutal social results of virus, and doctors battling for the lives of others, and rag tag armies, curfews, military coups ….
Assuming it was written before the current situation in our own real-time started, it is as remarkable, in at least this one respect, as the Reichard story reviewed yesterday here, by adding to it a striking picture of how we might extrapolate how our current predicament will evolve…. “Broken bones, beatings, malnutrition, the latest strain of virus trying for a foothold. Treat and street. With ever diminishing funds, insufficient staff and makeshift supplies,… […] It’s a curious sort of infection and, years later, I was part of the defense, one cell among antibodies flooding in to challenge it, little suspecting that I myself hosted a similar infection. […] Somehow you’ve become a frontier doctor,…”
…or that virus within a virus mentioned about the previous work above. Mushrooms with gills, notwithstanding.
“I do my best to stay away from news, but sometimes it finds you anyway.”
My previous review of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/03/13/black-static-62-interzone-274/#comment-11926
There is much else in Interzone in addition to its fiction.