My previous reviews of this publisher HERE
Fiction by Rich Larson, Alexander Glass, Jeff Noon, Val Nolan, Charles Wilkinson, Cécile Cristofari, Justen Russell, Tamika Thompson, Lucy Zhang.
When I read this fiction, my comments will appear in the comment stream below…
WET DREAMS by Rich Larson
“I dream about oceans, maybe Cadiz, lots of nice flour-white sand and foamy blue waves, and wake up to the sounds of Peppa Pig.”
The narrator who seems to be lusted after by some of his female neighbours, one of whom he fancies back, and this is a striking, often knowingly witty, vision of casual drugs and other suburban mœurs, and this narrator’s veterinarian dealing, as a mere pet shop worker, with the very strange and eventually more than just conceptually jacuzzi effect upon or by a neighbour’s cat called Cuddy. Towards the hoped-for cuddly culmination of an inferred Cadizzi with its famous much bigger sparkling ocean…?
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/rich-larson/
THE PAIN BARRIER by Alexander Glass
“It isn’t real.”
“It feels real enough to me.”
I somehow feel that I have just experienced, with this novelette, some form of apotheosis of every single Interzone fiction I have absorbed, via gestalt real-time means, over the many years this experience has so far lasted!
Have I now reached the pain barrier myself, dug the Interzone code into some manner of reality, attained my own raven or ouroboros wristlet as agent, restored my memories from sequestration, and reached, beyond any Virtua drug, a place called New Penitence, where I can still play my metaphorical guitar?
The story of Joseph Walker’s sequel quests and the nature of pain and the painstone, alongside rag tag characters, inimical and friendly by turns, with morphing prehensile accoutrements of self and of genius-loci, characters that bombard me like augmented dreams, and then my wondering which character is me with its sequestered memories actually discoverable inside the code of the Glass-entrancing prose style’s weather. Semantic and episodic.
“The secret brotherhood of grief. You join without wanting to, and you know things no outsider can know.”
“Once you know the code, you can walk straight through.”
A front page version of above review: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2022/07/25/the-pain-barrier-by-alexander-glass/
THE FAERIE ENGINE by Alexander Glass
“…the forest ticked like a clock.”
An apotheosis of an apotheosis, almost or tantalisingly so, as the previous story’s ‘augmentations’ as well as ‘memory sequestrations’ lead here to a potentially classic fantasy as traditional form, a poignant story, as dream reality, generating like an engine or snarling broth-pot too much truth, and this fact somehow complementing my long held belief that fiction is the only truth left to us. This story is prehensile with time and human age, a woman who now has a husband and young daughter, years ago as a girl herself visited by the Borderlander and his need for three mirrors to be gutted free from weeds, now for help with the engine of this story itself. She older, he still young. And now he needs her daughter to help instead, we gradually realise. This is so heady a work I feel intoxicated with it. And it’s still working away. With, inter alia, cold iron and a toe stopper … and its owl’s back to where?
…the ‘cold iron’ returning in the Nolan below…
THE SOUL DOCTORS by Alexander Glass
“It’s like trying to service an engine while it’s still running.”
Ticking over, or empty high heels when “The clock had stopped.” From ‘toe stopper’ to ‘open toe’, this novelette is an ingenious and page-turning (with several well-characterised characters) ‘Crimewave’ fiction plot yet with Interzone ‘shiftcrimes’, a matching of ‘seeded’ parallel worlds BOTH to optimise a roulette wheel in a Twin Peaks playing-card type casino (the metaphorical version of roulette involving a gun’s empty and full bullet chambers, too!), AND to transcend, here, the dialogue’s otherwise info-dumps about Plato etc. regarding the nature of human souls, such a matter involving the holy trinity to obviate too much mercy in mercenary Gap War soldiers as well as the actual bodily anatomical surgery of the souls themselves…OR to somehow, by preternatural means, give some meaning to gestalt real-time reviewing… “Over time, you can trace patterns in the pathways — nothing is truly random. It’s very beautiful.” A wholly just luck defusing the familiar but mining the odd.
My previous reviews of Alexander Glass: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/alexander-glass/
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“…he stored the ‘Injun’ away for later.”
Please compare, in this our Engine Summer, the Borderlander in The Faerie Engine with the Injun and ‘A buyer across the borders’ in The Soul Doctors, and its ‘souljacking’..
From Engine thoughts to…
THANK YOU, CLICKING PERSON by Jeff Noon
“Skip or verify?”
At the High Noon of what or whom you click upon versus YOU, this work is another ingenious one, together with ingenious artwork by Vince Haig (Malcolm Devlin) — depicting those grid photo security tests being gestalt real-time reviewed by whom- or what-ever is clicked upon, all learning and leading in genuinely chilling directions of a ‘new disease’ as a core story with emerging characters, but in the mind’s eye of whom or what?
My previous reviews of Jeff Noon: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/jeff-noon/ and Malcolm ‘Engines Beneath Us’ Devlin: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/malcolm-devlin/
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SUBIRA’S LATTICE by Val Nolan
“…letting the cold iron fall again with a weighty rattle.”
This is a visionary rollercoaster and a tunnelling dumbwaiter by which we, as a memory-sequestered and coercion-implanted slave called Subira, are allowed to be taken alongside an advisory familiar she first encountered as a monster crystallised within a wall. A vastly mind-crazing, -shattering, -reconfiguring Venus as created by geologic strata of words and a complex colonial history, depicting terraforming as well as what native beings lay still within Venus to be mined as yours. Trinket industries, shackles for proclivities as well as a massive challenge-and-response…Subira and the Marchioness on this journey with us, following a mad-science accident by someone called Frankenkristall, one with cancerous crystallisations spreading, but somehow leading to Venus itself being re-christened if not re-crystalled as Subira, ‘human agency as a geologic process’, then ourselves reborn as parkland humans within a telescope that is bigger even than the mind we mine it with. Putting to rights what some of us once did wrong with our trinket minds.
“‘Yes. It has chemical engines,’ the Marchioness said. ‘Ones powerful enough to reach orbit.’”
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/val-nolan/
After the dumb-waiter and the parkland, I had a self-generated bespoke crystallisation of an idea as an Airbus in Suburbia!
And note the ‘cold iron’ above in GLASS’s “It’s like trying to service an engine while it’s still running.”
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A dumbwaiter with a different cup of Earl Grey…
WALKING IN FROM THE WEST by Charles Wilkinson
Although I enjoyed the scenario of a Welsh deluge in today’s drought, and the Mozart references, and the Dorian Gray angle of a semi-sentient AI man-servant to which or whom interesting and thoughtful ethics attached regarding its destruction or resurrection, the satirical image of the central aesthete who owned this man-servant, the equally satirical recycled animism beliefs and folk-horror powers of his intrusive neighbours when their house gets flooded, the actual outcome was all rather auto-correct predictable.
So, I inserted Larson’s cat and it all took off again!
My many previous reviews of this author: HERE
Where the engine or the lattice become trees et al? …
WIND, RIVER, ANGEL SONG by Cécile Cristofari
“…slowly winding down, like a swing still swaying for a while after a child has hopped off, before it quietly stops, forgotten.”
This somehow possesses idyllic, rhapsodic pangs of poignancy based, I think, on a visionary theme-and-variations upon the pattern of effects that the Covid pandemic (like hospitals shutting to visitors of patients) had on humanity in recent years, not Covid itself but something potentially far worse or far better, leading to an equivalent era where we now today dread “drowning in hurricanes and heatwaves”, and if I divulge anything more about the nature of these variations from Covid’s patterns, as based on the title, it would spoil the evolving inspirational effect, and it would spoil what I also saw as HOPE. And the elements regarding expectations of infection and immunity. The metaphorical lockdowns here are literally more radical yet possibly desirable as new growth, and these variations are centred upon the scenario of a mother giving birth to her daughter and what happens to them both and her husband thereafter. It is all like a beautiful musical ‘dying fall’. (And, perhaps akin to something I have often pondered upon all my life, from my being a small child onward — what happens in the forest when a tree falls; with no human being there to watch it fall, perhaps it does not happen at all?)
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/cecile-cristofari/
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THE THING ABOUT ANTS AND ASTRONAUTS by Justen Russell
ANTS and AstroNauTS, and we learn of two characters, one called NATalie, lost in space while scouting nebulae, as is the narrator searching for them, a narrator bemused by a particular nebula called Blackheart and its scientifically impossible plANeTS. I think I partially understood what was going on and I certainly found it intriguing! I was spatially inspired by the detailed parallels of this nebula-scouting with the narrator’s not always happy memories of childhood when their house in Kanpur was infested by marching ants… and I noted the narrator’s self-diagnosed psychological state, we are constantly told, being one called ”NoT Attached” (my upper case). Still working on this story’s themes, every damn atom of me!
“I am supposed to fly headlong into the unknown, not avoid it, but some unknowns feel unknowable, like the event horizon of a black hole or what lies beyond the boundary of death.”
Ants as Subira’s crystals or Glass’s souls?
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BRIDGET HAS DISAPPEARED by Tamika Thompson
“To find a horror book by a black writer,…”
…or an SF book. This work is the optimum compelling and horror-evolving fiction, in the context of this particular SF book, a book that shape-shifts away as a magazine, and recurrently vice versa when in the reality of my hands. Story and novel recurrently also, as a novelette. A work that shares a sense of the seeded parallel worlds in the Alexander Glass and amazingly, explicitly the sudden empty child’s swing in the Cristofari, and the latter’s spiritual morphings after plague as well as Cristofari’s reference to ‘hurricanes and heatwaves’ leading here, in the Thompson, to global riots and inhumanity, as a pre-echo of our own times now returning to base. All within the frame of two people finding their perfect sexual-love match in a bookshop, but she (in the narrative eyes of the male half of this couple) is also the match that lights a dangerous cinnamon cigarette….
You will need to read this haunting work before I spoil it for you by telling you any more details about it. Suffice to say, the wrenching story of the couple’s relationship and their small boy child, and the act of strobing in and out of existence in Zeno slow motion is one that has long plagued some of my own thoughts when writing. Here, when we eventually learn the SF rationale of such strobing, everything is optimised beautifully-horrifically, and really is the seed that grew elsewhere as the writerly source of what is implied here as a circle of truth. Readerly delusions and any tracking monitor apps, notwithstanding.
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RUSTING by Lucy Zhang
“…gears grinding, wheels squeaking, engine rumbling.”
From strobing to rusting, and spinning, too. This being a satisfyingly word-textured piece that somehow resonates with the earlier ‘Faerie Engine’. Its Doll also sort of ‘reassembles’ the animism of the AI manservant earlier in this book (a book a.k.a. the latest issue of a magazine series), a book that ends up “laughing” full stop.
The story is one as told by a whore, I gather, that has inadvertently caught the plague of rusting as a telling version of the post-plague that became an earlier Angel Song in this same book.
Or is it an inadvertent metaphorical question: are “we headed to the Broiler”, too? Headed to ‘the end of the earth’, as, earlier, Ethan did? A whore to our craft now put out ironically to future pasture as a corroding machine? Or an exploding computer cat? A book that indeed ends up laughing.
“If the House is this bright, I wonder what the sun will feel like.”
There is much else in this ‘book’ in addition to its fiction, although it ends aptly with the fiction. There is, for example, an editorial in this book by the future publisher of its existence continuing to ever morph into various stages of a fine magazine series, and it also carries the future publisher’s interview with Alexander Glass.
My huge thanks to TTA for its invaluably extended stage of Interzone’s past — and for Black Static’s continuing future, as a continuation of its ‘The Third Alternative’ stage from ancient years ago! And, so, my best of luck to the new Interzone publisher MYY!
My first review of a TTA Interzone in 2010:
Most of my TTA Interzone reviews over the years: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/interzone/