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Interzone # 222 -

01/07/2009. Contributed by Gareth D Jones

Buy Interzone in the USA - or Buy Interzone 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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There's a whimsical air to this edition of 'Interzone', the stories have a more fairy-tale feel than usual and there's a distinct absence of hard SF. This feeling arises from Adam Tredowski's cover onwards, where a small crowd watches on as a magnificent structure is assembled from the sky. Inside there's an enjoyable interview with Paul DiFilippo and Jim Woodring, along with the usual collection of reviews and news. So, what of the fiction?

'Johnny And Emmie-Lou Get Married' is Kim Lakin-Smith's steam-powered story of hot-rods and gang rivalry, a kind of 'West Side Story' at high speed. It's not exactly a fairy-tale wedding that they're heading for, but I loved the characters that the author has created, beautifully captured by Warwick Fraser-Coomb's accompanying illustration. A highly-enjoyable start to the issue.

The familiar idea that we're all living in artificial reality is given a fresh airing in Tim Pratt's 'Unexpected Outcomes'. The world-shattering events of the opening are allowed to form the background as the implications change the course of Tim's life (that's the character's name, too). The struggle to put meaning back into his life is entertainingly written and comes to a clever and thoughtful conclusion.

In Sarah L. Edwards' story 'Lady Of The White-Spired City' we find a high-ranking emissary arriving on a low-tech world that, due to the time-dilation effect of interstellar travel, she last visited centuries earlier. It's a story full of surprises, a gentle but powerful tale, as the Lady comes to terms with what she has lost and what she then finds.

In the parched future of Nina Allen's 'Microcosmos', a young girl is taken on a long road-trip to the house of a strange recluse. The reasons for the trip or what exactly his relationship to the family is are unclear, seen as they are from the girl's viewpoint. The story had an edge of uneasiness to it, the feel of something significant going unnoticed. There was a good sense of the desolate future the characters inhabit, sketched skilfully from elements of dialogue and description rather than being dumped on the reader. I can still feel the parching heat now.

Aliette De Bodard's title 'Ys' refers to a legendary drowned city off the coast of Brittany in this realistically-rendered tale where myth crosses into real life. Francoise finds herself surrogate mother to the heir of Ys and struggles to regain control of her life with the help of her sceptical historian friend. I always enjoy stories set abroad that are written by someone who knows the country and the culture well. Sometimes the country next door can seem as alien as any foreign planet and this adds to the fantastical quality of the story.

I recently read a story in told from the viewpoint of a walrus and in 'Mother Of Champions', Sean McMullen gives us a cheetah's viewpoint. The different thought processes and outlook of this predator are developed in an interesting way that give the story an authentic air. It's a story that looks at the consequences of genetic manipulation from an alternative point of view and it mixes humour with some rather unnerving ideas. A fine conclusion to the magazine.

'Interzone' this time seemed to flow gently from one story to the next, bringing an enjoyable stream of ideas that left me feeling quite mellow. The art continues to go from strength to strength too and I now look forward to seeing what variations of our favourite genres the team will bring us next time.

Gareth D. Jones

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