Interzone 286, Mar-Apr 2020

 Interzone 286 cover

Val Nolan takes the Editorial and outlines how in his day job at Aberystwyth University he uses SF and Fantasy to help his students explore the genres’ pedagogical possibilities and delights. In Future Interrupted Andy Hedgecock ponders the creative impulse and suggests humans do this sort of thing because simply living isn’t enough. Aliya Whiteley’s Climbing Stories addresses the utility and pleasure of discovering the “Easter egg” (what’s wrong with the word ‘allusion’ by the way?) hidden in a film or piece of fiction. Book Zone starts with my reviews of Re-Coil by J T Nicholas (whose flaws and unexamined assumptions I point out) and Myke Cole’s Sixteenth Watcha which attempts to humanise military SF but to my mind falls short. Juliet E McKenna recommends The True Queen, Zen Cho’s not quite sequel to Sorcerer to the Crown, which succeeds splendidly on its own merits, and praises the brave writing choices. She also interviewsb the author. Val Nolan considers that Alastair Reynolds’s Bone Silence not only concludes the story arcs of the previous two books in his Revenger trilogy but enhances them, Stephen Theaker finds the anthology New Horizons: The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction edited by Tarun K Saint entertaining and stimulating and Sea Change by Nancy Kress a tense and enjoyable SF thriller. Duncan Lawiec says Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer stirs the subconscious, raising questions without asking them directly, making concrete the many worlds theory; but is also much more. Maureen Kincaid Speller worries that Rebecca Roanhorse’s use of Navajo myths and beliefs in the books Trail of Lightning and Storm of Locusts violates that culture’s well-documented protectiveness towards its heritage and, despite the fact they were fun to read, sees little except that background beyond the usual urban fantasy clichés.

As to the fiction:
In Cofiwich Aberystwyth1 by Val Nolan each segment has a Welsh language heading. Our narrator, Mila, is exploring for his vlog an Aberystwyth nuked some years before by crazed Brexiter Royal Navy mutineeers who were enraged that the Welsh Senedd was seeking independence from the UK. He has his own demons to contend with though.
Rocket Man by Louis Evans is the story of a US rocket pilot in a universe where navigational guidance systems are not reliable so interballistic missiles require humans to steer them. Every night he dreams of Moscow but by day he resolves that his mission is to miss. In time he finds his attitude is shared by his fellow US rocket men (and by those in the USSR.) A certain admiration is called for when an author takes the old injunction against stating ‘it was all a dream’ and turns it into a strength.
Organ of Corti2 by Matt Thompson follows a group of scientists through the deserts south of Madrid to investigate a series of huge towers resembling termitaries. The labyrinth they enter resembles the organ of Corti in the human ear and turns out to have been built by deliberately genetically modified ants, now gone rogue.
Carriers3 by James Sallis is a post-apocalypse story, the usual tale of mayhem and casual inhumanity leavened slightly by one of its characters being a medic.

Pedant’s corner:- a Coast Guards’ (here the Coast Guard is a single entity so “Coast Guard’s” – the file I sent had Coastguard’s as I had employed British usage.) b“I wanted to the book” (no ‘to’.) ca missing comma before and after a quote.
1“She fancied herself my producer, always been more comfortable programming the drones” (my producer, had always been,) “just as its inhabitants has left it” (had left it.) 2antenna (an ant has two of these, so, antennae [which was used later].) “The same acoustic phenomena repeated itself” either, phenomenon, or, themselves.) 3Written in USian, missing commaas before pieces of direct speech, “give them wide berth” (a wide berth,) “at city’s edge” (at the city’s edge,) “might of” (might have,) theirselves (themselves, the narrator does not show a tendency to carelessness with language elsewhere,) “from forest’s edge” (from the forest’s edge,) “by water’s edge” (by the water’s edge, apart from the incidences noted indefinite articles were not omitted elsewhere,) one missing opening quotation mark.

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