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Interzone # 224 - Sept-Oct 2009

01/12/2009. Contributed by Gareth D Jones

Buy Interzone # 224 - Sept-Oct 2009 in the USA - or Buy Interzone # 224 - Sept-Oct 2009 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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'Interzone' #224 boasts another fabulous cover this time, again by Adam Tredowski whose work artwork has impressed me on previous issues. Internal artwork is also becoming more prominent, with full-page or even double-page spreads to accompany most stories. And what of those stories?

We start with Jason Sanford's superb novella 'Sublimation Angels'. The title refers to the frozen gases subliming from the surface of a frigid world, believed by the superstitious to be the rebirth of their dead. It's six hundred years since an expedition was sent to live on the planet, to study or be studied by the Aurals, enigmatic energy beings who have altered the path of their planet for mysterious reasons. An interesting, stratified society has developed among the expeditions descendents who live in caves and under the ice. Low-tech retro-mechanical equipment mixes with AIs and a brutal dictatorship as layer upon layer of mystery is peeled away. It's a satisfying and wonderfully rounded story.

'No Longer You' by Katherine Sparrow & Rachel Swirsky is the story of an injured dancer who dreams of finding a way for his work to last. When he meets a beguiling woman who offers him the chance at immortality, it seems unreal. His turbulent relationships form the background of the tale as he comes round to the idea of losing his identity. It's a story with a gritty feel, emotionally loaded and intriguing with a nicely evocative conclusion.

'Shucked' is Adrian Joyce's debut story and he packs lots into a small space. There's a nice character study of an IT bod working overnight to correct an unexplained malfunction. I never did get to the bottom of this. Maybe it's obvious to other IT experts? At the same time spam seems to be taking over the world, the coffee machine comes alive and a canine spirit wreaks havoc. No idea how all of these were connected, but it was all bizarre and strangely compelling.

Jeremiah Tolbert's contribution, 'The Godfall's Chemsong', is an enigmatic story about a race of benthic sea-creatures whose brutal existence on the edge of habitability defines their sociology. Their cardinal sensory organ detects the 'chemsong' of other creatures or of food, though the lines between the two are blurred as cannibalism is a fact of life in their murky world. It's an interesting idea told with a minimum of detail, but enough to be intriguing.

In a city closed to outsiders, 'The Festival Of Tethselem' is due to take place in Chris Butler's magical and atmospheric story. A pair of master thieves inveigle their way within the walls, intent on gaining access to a famous sculpture that has stood for thousands of years. The legends surrounding the sculpture are as impenetrable as the security and the inscrutable inhabitants of the city make this an enthralling tale. A strange piece of physics or maybe superstition, add to the mix that makes this particularly enjoyable.

What else can I say about 'Interzone'? A broad spread of styles, a good quality of writing, an interesting and proportionate selection of non-fiction and the art just keeps on getting better.

Gareth D. Jones

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