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Interzone no. 231

1/12/2010. 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: GBP 3.75 (UK) $ 7.00(US). ISSN: 0264-3596.

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Over the past couple of years, Jason Stanford’s stories in ‘Interzone’ have proven very popular and have been among my favourite. He receives his own special issues this time, with three stories and an in-depth interview.

‘The Shoe Factory’ by Matthew Cook is one of those stories told in a multiplicity of timelines, flicking back and forth from a disaster in deep space to various random points in the pilot’s life. Unlike some who attempt this kind of structure, Matthew Cook doesn’t lose us along the way and there is a good reason for this chaos. The dream-like memories are ironically more tangible than the ‘present’, full of sounds and scents, making this a very absorbing story.

‘The Shipmaker’ takes us back to Aliette De Bodard’s Xuyan universe, a future where Imperial China rules the planet. The elegant, almost mystical setting gives this story of creating a starship a unique twist, where aesthetics and auroras are more important than mere engineering. Another finely wrought tale from a master craftsman of the short story.

Jason Sanford’s first contribution is ‘Peacemaker, Peacemaker, Little Bo Peep’, a story that uses a familiar idea with a satisfying new twist. Most of the Earth’s population is under a mysterious outside influence, turning towns into scenes familiar from many zombie movies. But the people aren’t zombies and their victims are an unusual combination of criminals and law men. The twisted logic behind this strings us along through an intriguing tale of loyalty and morality.

‘Memoria’ takes us on a trip to alternate earths in a tale where Jason Sanford mixes in several intriguing ideas with a half-crazed narrator whose mind has been inhabited by the memories of long-dead humans. What is happening and why takes a while to sort out in between the mixed up memories and emotions, but Jason Sanford holds together what could be a nonsensical plot and turns it into something smart and satisfying.

‘Millicent Ka Plays In Real Time’ takes us to a future where time is used as a currency, reverting society to a kind of feudalism where the population is indentured to local lords until they can work off their debts. Jason Sanford explores this concept with his usual flair, telling the story through interesting characters as we learn what is special about Millicent Ka. It’s a fine conclusion to this special issue.

Previous special issues have been given over to long-term ‘Interzone’ contributors with many stories published over many years, so I was initially surprised that a relative newcomer was being showcased. It’s a strong showing from Jason Sanford, though, and the other two stories were both fabulous, too, not a weak story in the issue. I’ll be intrigued to see who features next.

Gareth D. Jones

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This book has 256 votes in the sci-fi charts

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