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Interzone # 232 - Jan-Feb 2011

01/03/2011. Contributed by Gareth D Jones

Buy Interzone # 232 in the USA - or Buy Interzone # 232 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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A new year and a new style of artwork graces the cover of ‘Interzone’, following on from last year’s continuing sequence. This issue also includes the voting form for last year’s best story – a reminder of how quick last year has gone. Already in this issue are some fabulous stories that may well feature on my personal next list of year’s favourites.

In 'Noam Chomsky And the Time Box', Douglas Lain makes time travel an everyday affair by introducing the eponymous device that everyone can carry round and use to visit any point in history. The catch is that nothing in the past can be changed, leading to a ‘Groundhog Day’ type sequence in which one man revisits the same moments over and over again in an attempt to prove the scientists wrong. An exercise in philosophy as much as physics, this is an intelligent look at the time travel paradox.

Industrial espionage and secret agents are at the heart of Michael R. Fletcher’s 'Intellectual Property'. It’s a cleverly written story, with misdirection, intrigue and drama overlapped with personal ambition and regret. It has a wonderful conclusion.

A fantastical Dickensian city is the setting for 'By Plucking Her Petals' by Sarah L. Edwards (who is not my sister-in-law of the same name). This is a city of guildsmen who sculpt flesh, imbue their patrons with beauty by alchemical means and take advantage of the destitute. Like last year’s ‘Lady Of The White-Spired City’, there is a richness and a sense of history to the story-telling that gives it an engaging charm.

'Healthy, Wealthy And Wise' by Sue Burke is a piece of bright and breezy optimistic SF. This doesn’t mean that nothing bad happens, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable story of an exchange student’s adventures in Spain, assisted by her electronic invisible friend. Told from the friend’s point of view, it’s an interesting perspective on human nature.

'Flock, Shoal, Herd' is James Bloomer’s James White Award-winning story, publication in ‘Interzone’ being part of the prize. A military experiment has allowed humans to inhabit various collective-nouns-worth of creatures and now the military want control of their creations. It’s an interesting concept, left subtly unexplained and deftly written to sow the human impact rather than the military or technological aspects.

An excellent start to the year in terms of fiction, plus a large selection of reviews and features to round out the issue, demonstrating why ‘Interzone’ continues to be one of the planet’s leading SF magazines.

Gareth D. Jones

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