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Interzone # 229 - July-Aug 2010

1/8/2010. Contributed by Gareth D Jones

Buy Interzone # 229 – July-Aug 2010 in the USA - or Buy Interzone # 229 – July-Aug 2010 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' seems to be giving more attention to artwork recently, with big full-page or even double page illustrations to accompany each story. As ever, there is news from the world of SF, courtesy of David Langford's 'Ansible Link' as well as a selection of book and film reviews and an in-depth interview, this time with Jeff Vandermeer.

In Paul Evanby's 'Manikin', we find ourselves in the eighteenth century Dutch West Indies. The popular scientific theories of the day, which are astounding in that people believed them to be true, are used in the construction of the titular manikins. These emotionless drones could bring an end to the slave trade or possibly just replace it. A Dutch scientist, an African slave and various fabulous contraptions combine to provide a most enlightening story.

Memories that are too painful to live with can be rendered emotionless in 'Candy Moments' by Antony Mann. An alcoholic trying to forget the death of his wife is tempted to enter the mysterious Hub where the procedure takes place. The social consequences and the mystery of who is behind the Hub make this an interesting story. The problem that I found spoiled the narrative was that we got to see through the eyes of the POV character what happens in the Hub, which he then promptly forgets. This didn't seem to flow correctly, though it's difficult to see how the problem could be avoided.

'The Melancholy' is Toby Litt's poignant story of a deep-space mining machine that gradually loses its sense of identity. Told by one of the engineers that maintains the machine, the story touches on issues of self-awareness and artificial intelligence in a thoughtful and yes, melancholy way.

Rochita Luenen-Ruiz gives us the wonderful 'Alternate Girl's Expatriate Life', the story of a robotic society's quest to better themselves. Alternate Girl is a realistic android among mechanical robots, her assignment to mimic a human housewife as closely as possible. The true agenda of her mission remains shrouded throughout the story, building the intrigue while fascinating details of the robot society are revealed. This was my favourite of the issue.

The final story of the issue is the zany 'Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark Matter' by Jim Hawkins. An orchestra on a cultural tour of Earth's breakaway colony worlds leads a double life as secret agents assigned to prevent that breakaway. It's loaded with satire, with the planets visited reflecting political situations seen around the world today. Full of musical references and anecdotes of orchestral life, it's a great conclusion to the magazine.

As usual, a high standard and a good variety of fiction from the Interzone team. Just two more issues to collect to complete the cover art polyptych of all six of this year's issues.

Gareth D. Jones

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