Interzone 258-260

Anthony G Williams

Apr 18, 2007
I haven't posted anything about the last three issues of this magazine so far, because I did not like any of the stories in Issue 258 so thought it better to skip that. This experience rather put me off reading the two subsequent issues, other than the usual comprehensive book and film reviews, but I've finally caught up with the stories. I won't list all of them but just mention a couple I enjoyed enough to feel that I might want to read more about the worlds created in them.

My favourite, by some distance, was in Issue 260: Murder on the Laplacian Express by C A Hawksmoor, illustrated by Warwick Fraser-Coombe. A Jupiter covered with jungle (however did that happen?); a terraformed Mars with breathable atmosphere; spacecraft in the form of long trains of linked compartments, capable of planetary landings; a strange non-religious sect enhanced by “pneuma” machines integrated with their nervous systems; prison space stations in rebellion; and a likeable heroine, all packed into an exciting short story. Much more about this universe, please!

Also worth noting in the same issue is No Rez, the first story by Jeff Noon to appear in Interzone. Surreal, intriguing and fast moving, it conjours up a future world so grim that people only observe it through optical implants, but the more money they have, the higher the resolution they can afford. Like most Interzone stories it is dystopian, but there is a hopeful ending.

Other topics covered in the stories are school shootings, a flooded Beirut, a world populated by clones, another in which unproductive members of society are “weeded”, and an apparently immortal intelligent manatee…

One interesting item in Issue 259 concerns a take on superhero movies by Simon Pegg, the actor/writer/director who has been involved in many SFF films including Shaun of the Dead and Paul:

"Obviously I'm very much a self-confessed fan of science-fiction and genre cinema. But part of me looks at society as it is now and thinks we've been infantilised by our own taste. We're essentially all consuming childish things - comic books, superheroes. Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously!

It's a kind of dumbing down because it's taking our focus away from real-world issues. Films used to be about challenging, emotional journeys. Now we're not really thinking about anything, other than the fact that the Hulk just had a fight with a robot."

I have a lot of sympathy with this concern and have previously complained on my blog that superhero movies are becoming increasingly bereft of any plot or characterisation. Even when a series starts out relatively well - for instance the first Iron Man film and Thor - the sequels ditch the more thoughtful elements in favour of more fights, chases and explosions. Are we allowing the dramatic capabilities of CGI to distract us from the lack of any worthwhile content? Is it really satisfying to spend time watching productions aimed at the comprehension level and attention span of a pre-teen boy?

Fortunately there are other SFF films aimed at audiences who are a bit older (e.g. The Hunger Games) or a lot older (e.g. Ex Machina). The puzzle is why the superhero movies appeal to so many adults; let’s face it, the whole concept of superheroes is fundamentally juvenile.

(An extract from my SFF blog: Science Fiction & Fantasy)
Hi Cyprus Ihope you enjoyed IZ 259. As for comparing the ebook and print version. A lot of time and artistry is spent trying to make the reading experience of the print version a treat for the reader. With ebooks try as we might we can't get that anywhere near the same. But all the text is there, the images are there so all you lose is Andy Cox's skill and artistry with the layout and 'look' of the magazine. Should you want to see there is a free Ebook of Interzone 230, so it's from 5 years back now, on Smashwords. It should also be on ibooks and Barnes & Noble etc. Our method of converting to ebooks has improved since then but 230 will give you an idea. E books are probably your easier option in Japan.
Hello Roy,
Yes, iz259 on kindle is proving to be fine as a reading experience.

I read a lot on the trains here with one hand holding onto the ceiling strap for balance and the other flicking pages on iPhone kindle app.
I use the kindle itself mostly at home.

Even though the story itself is the main thing, a pleasing display makes the reading experience for me that bit more enjoyable.

For example, I think that both Clarkesworld and New Scientist magazine have done a good job with their iphone apps.

Paper format is still very popular in Japan partly because of the (weakening, but at a glacial pace) lock that big publishers have on the market.
Glad to hear you like the ebook version. Postage is very expensive as we use airmail. So ebooks have the edge overseas. I thought those trains were so crowded you would have no room to peruse a kindle. I take it you aren't on the sort where you get crammed in by "pushers" at the carriage doors.
"Trapped on a packed train with the kindle story from hell..." might make a good short story haha!

In my younger years I did time (!) on the lines with the polite pushers you mention. Now I travel earlier and mostly avoid death carriages eek. It is an effective way to spontaneously separate the soul from any corporeal attachment it may possess :)
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