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Interzone # 221 - March/April 2009

01/05/2009. Contributed by Gareth D Jones

Buy Interzone 221 in the USA - or Buy Interzone 221 in the UK

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bi-monthly magazine: UK publisher/editor address: Andy Cox, TTA Press, 5 Martins Lane, Witcham, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB6 2LB. Price: 3.75 (UK) $ 7.00(US). ISSN: 0264-3596.

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You could spend an awfully long time looking at the cover of 'Interzone # 221'. The detail in Adam Tredowski's illustration is amazing. There's a variety of artwork inside, too, of which I particularly liked Lisa Konrad's illustration that beautifully reflects the spirit of Alaya Johnson's story, 'Far And Deep'. As for the fiction, a wide and interesting variety again.

One of my favourite stories of 2007 was by Will McIntosh. He repeats his feat of creating a unique world with intriguing characters in the opening story of the issue, 'A Clown Escapes From Circus Town'. It's a surreal world where clowns are kept in slavery and super-heroes, knights and monsters all inhabit their own towns. There's a bizarre explanation for all of the weirdness. Then it all becomes even more odd. Prepare to be bemused.

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'Fishermen' is Al Robertson's story of art and piracy, about a devout young man whose purpose in life is to paint churches with religious artwork. His simplistic view of life is confounded when he comes to know his pirate captors and his art becomes his own personal catharsis. It's a moving story with a mystical folklore feel.

Drug addiction leads to something much bigger in Matthew Kressel's 'Saving Diego', a story set on a distant world that eschews technology in favour of drug-induced enlightenment. Kressel doesn't shrink back from the unpleasantness of the addict Diego's plight and weaves a story of strangeness and desperation as an old friend attempts to save Diego from his fate.

Alaya Dawn Johnson's 'Far And Deep' is a magical tale of a Pacific island where the idyllic lifestyle is interrupted by a brutal murder. The murdered woman's daughter attempts to discover who is to blame but is hampered by island traditions and numerous secrets. The story transports you to a beautiful setting and imbues you with a feeling of the exotic.

Unusually short for 'Interzone', Paul M. Berger's 'Home Again' introduces the 'thought drive', a way of traversing space that relies on the mental powers of the pilot to re-construct reality at his destination. It's a neat idea that provides a thought-provoking basis for this piece of flash fiction.

The concluding tale is Bruce Sterling's 'Black Swan', a story of alternate worlds that revolve around the Italian city of Turin. A journalist attempts to find the origin of the advanced tech that his source is selling, but finds something far bigger and more unexpected. The locations and atmosphere are described beautifully and the characters really come alive. It was an enjoyable and intriguing conclusion to the magazine.

Once again I enjoyed all of these stories, some more than others, though nothing blew me away in this issue except the cover art. That was fantastic.

Gareth D Jones

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