Interzone 227, a Science Fictional response


Roy G
Oct 19, 2006
Cheshire, UK
For non UK readers I should explain that there have been a series of high profile child abuse, neglect and protection cases in Britain in the past year or so. One of these was the Child P case, at the time the victim could not be identified for legal reasons.

Chris Beckett is a Science Fiction writer who wins literary awards (The Edgehill Prize 4 July 2009) and has a day job as senior lecturer in social work at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. He has authored a number of academic textbooks on social work theory, ethics and child protection. There are reviews of his academic community care profession books on this website.

This experience as a social worker also informs his fiction. His prize-winning collection of stories contains many first published in Interzone, a British short SF story magazine. Chris’s experience in child protection is critical to his new story 'Johnny's New Job'. That story is based on his reaction to the Baby P and similar cases.

The story will appear in Interzone's March 2010 issue number 227 along with Chris Beckett’s editorial on its genesis. Copies of this should be in UK newsagents and some bookshops from 5th March but around 10 days later in the US.

Chris Beckett’s first Interzone story appeared in October 1990. Since then over 20 of his stories have appeared there with more in US magazines. His second novel ‘Marcher’ from 2008, was based on stories which first appeared in Interzone and made extensive use of his social work experience.

His 3rd (1991) Interzone story La Macchina was selected for Gardner Dozois’ “The Year's Best Science Fiction: Ninth Annual Collection” (Jul 1992, St. Martin's) and two other US published short story collections.
His stories now regularly feature in Year’s Best and other collections and in 2004 Prime Books of the USA published his first novel, 'The Holy Machine', to excellent reviews and Corvus will republish it in July 2010 in the UK.

Chris is represented by the John Jarrold agency
His website:
Online Stories
Bibliography to 2009 Chris Beckett - Summary Bibliography
‘Marcher’ and ‘The Turing Test’
I posted the Interzone 227 cover in the Art section magazine cover thread.

Stories by Chris Beckett, Nina Allan, Mercurio D. Rivera, Jon Ingold, Jim Hawkins, Steve Rasnic Tem

Colour art by Warwick Fraser-Coombe (cover), Jim Burns, Dave Senecal, Robert Dunn, Ben Baldwin

David Langford's Ansible Link (news, obits)

Guest editorial by Chris Beckett

Nick Lowe's Mutant Popcorn (film reviews)

Tony Lee's Laser Fodder (DVD/Blu-ray reviews)

Book Zone: lots of book reviews plus interview with Connie Willis

Distributed in
USA (includes Barnes & Noble)
New Zealand
Hong Kong

Let us know if you see it 'in the wild' and where please

The featured author in the March/April issue of Interzone is Connie Willis. There's an interview with Paul F. Cockburn in which she talks about her work in general and her latest duology set in the London Blitz, Blackout and All Clear (really one novel split into two volumes). There's also a review of Blackout. The author is best known for short stories, although I can't recall having read any by her (my short-story reading being largely confined to Interzone and British Fantasy Society publications). I have read a couple of her novels, however; To Say Nothing of the Dog and Passage, both of which I reviewed on this blog (see review list on the left). Two things struck me about her novel writing: it is very good, but it goes on at inordinate length. As the reviewer of the 500-page Blackout puts it, she has a "relaxed pacing". Still, I expect I might well tackle these two sometime, despite the vast allocation of time I'd need to set aside for them.

The rest of the review section is notable for discussing the film Avatar at some length, providing a lot of background information concerning the making of the film.

Finally, the usual half-dozen short stories:

The History of Poly-V by Jon Ingold, illustrated by Robert Dunn.
A small team of research scientists discovers a drug which enables memories to be retrieved precisely and in great detail, as if they were being experienced afresh. It's a great commercial success, but further development work begins to reveal that memories are not what they used to be.

Dance of the Kawkawroons by Mercurio D. Rivera, illustrated by Jim Burns.
A couple of fortune hunters manage to bypass the quarantine patrols around a planet populated by some exotic intelligent flying creatures living among the ruins of an ancient alien civilisation. They steal some eggs which have characteristics which are incredibly valuable to humanity; but who is exploiting whom?

Chimbwi by Jim Hawkins, illustrated by Ben Baldwin.
Western civilisation is collapsing into chaos, but in Africa scientific breakthroughs have provided limitless free power. A British physicist makes the hazardous journey to start a new life there, and discovers that to be accepted he needs to demonstrate a lot more than just scientific knowledge.

Flying in the Face of God by Nina Allan, illustrated by Robert Dunn.
An astronaut makes her goodbyes as she is irrevocably changed by a treatment to make long space journeys possible.

Johnny's New Job by Chris Beckett.
The ultimate expression of the blame culture visitied upon social workers who make the wrong judgments.

The Glare and the Glow by Steve Rasnic Tem, illustrated by Dave Senecal.
Strange new light bulbs reveal far more than is comfortable.

I was particularly impressed by the first three stories which, while very different in style and content, are good enough to be published anywhere.

(An extract from my SFF blog)
Oh dear.

Johnny's New Job is so heavy-handed that it's a complete misfire. Awful.

I was also dismayed by Tony Lee's silly review of The Avengers DVD set which he claimed is unwatchable because it's in black & white. Poor Tony Lee. No doubt he would apply the same, er, critical judgement to, say, The Wednesday Play or Out Of The Unknown or Armchair Theatre - it's in B&W, junk it. No, I'm not an Avengers fan, but I do enjoy quite a lot of vintage television, much of it in B&W - I enjoy it because I often find it better written and performed and less formulaic than most modern TV. B&W doesn't enter into it.

On the plus side - Jon Ingold's History of Poly-V is a superb story which just misses its full potential. I would hope he might return to it in the future and rework it in a longer form as it has great potential and some striking contradictions.

Thanks for another issue - I always enjoy Interzone weekend when it comes around (not often enough). :)
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