Saturday, April 3, 2010


A magazine needing almost no introduction, Interzone
 has been at the forefront of literary science-fiction and fantasy since 1982.

Sundown Sheila
by Gwyplaine Macintyre is this issue's opener, and what an opener. If the title doesn't grab you, the opening line will:

The red sand was as dry as a Nun's nasty ... 

So begins this bizarre tale narrated in glib, Australian slang. Sundown Sheila is an amalgam of future science with backward characters set in a far-flung locale. The main players here are two 'compozzies'; DNA scripted cyborgs working in the perpetual
noon of an Australian-like planet. However, their world soon changes when an unexpected female visitor drops by ...

While at times the prose is hard to digest with Macintyre's lyrical waxing, Sundown Sheila should be applauded for its sheer originality. The planet of Terry Novar, and the 'boofs' who inhabit its everlasting sun, will almost certinaly stay with you long after the final sentence.

The Macrobe Conservation Project by Carlos Hernandez.

A traditional science fiction romp involving Robot companionship with a soupçon of the Frankenstein theme thrown in for good measure. Young Randy resides on an orbiting Space Station around the planet called
New Hope. His father is lead scientist in charge of The Macrobe Conservation Project. Keeping him company are two 'asi' robots that personify a brother and mother, temporary replacements for Randy's biological family were not chosen to make the trip into space. Strengths: the sarcastic voice of our first person narration ... and the comical use of invented language. Features a stand out illustration that hearkens back to bygone pulp fiction. 

A bleak, pessimistic view of the future follows with The Unsolvable Deathtrap by Jack Morgan. The story opens at a frenetic pace and stays in overdrive until the end. Our narrator is a cabbie with an understandably paranoid view of the world: his city has been transformed over the centuries to resemble 'Hives'; intestine-like tubes with motorists infiltrating them like microbe organisms.

Author Gareth Lyn Powell gives us The Last Reef, and manages, via a powerful torrent of invention, to showcase a myriad of ideas more in league with a novel. In such a short space, we are treated to a potential future where simple communication nodes in an interplanetary radio network develop sentience with awesome results. Humans, in their desire to evolve, enter this matrix and are subsequently altered. Some experience physical or mental deformities; others are elevated to a higher level of consciousness. People transformed by the Reef are highly sought prizes as the Reefs themselves slowly morph into different realms or are terminated by the powers that be. Against this backdrop are three characters trying to reverse the reef's destructive forces. Using love as a motivator, Powell provides clever flashbacks throughout that dovetail inexorably toward the conclusion. Another one accompanied by a brilliant illustration.

As always, Interzone delivers. Under under the auspices of the new publishers, I anticipate a wider readership. This issue also contains an illuminating interview with legendary author Terry Pratchett.