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Interzone Issue #199 - July/August 2005 by TTA Press (TTA Press July/Aug 2005 / ) - Interzone Issue #199 - July /August 2005 - ISSN 0264-3596
Table of Contents: Intermission (Fiction) / The House of the Beata Virgo by Steven Mohan, Jr. / Garp and Geronamid by Neal Asher / Sunset by Jay Caselberg Bird Songs at Eventide by Nina Allan / This, My Body by Jeremiah Tolbert / Interview of Charles Stross by Andy Hedgecock / Interface: Editorial & Next Issue / Competition / Ansible Link (David Langford's SF News) / Interlocutions: Mutant Popcorn (Nick Lowe on Films) / Scores (John Clute on Books) / Book Reviews

Interzone is going through some changes, with the cover of the July August issue and the total design of the magazine distinctly different. Still, the stories are good, although there have been better issues.

The only story I would rate as exceptional is the first one, "The House of the Beata Virgo" by Steven Mohan, Jr. Mohan gives us a near future, in which it has become possible to change a person's DNA to exactly match someone else's. As you can imagine, this causes a lot of problems. The viewpoint character here is a woman who has had herself changed into Madonna (that is the former Louise Veronica Ciccone). She has just joined a house of prostitution filled with different versions of Madonna (you can imagine that would be a sizable number). But there is more to her than meets the eye (or anything else). Mohan comes up with a new idea & writes a good story about it. That's what science fiction is all about.

There are two stories that I would rate as very good. "Sunset" by Jay Caselberg is a chilling tale about colonists on a planet Benefis. Planetary conditions have made undesirable changes to the children that are born there. How they deal with it is both logical and nasty. "This, My Body" by Jeremiah Tolbert is a tale about a distinctly different religion in which one eats meals that are served on a priest's body and then you make love. There is a high ick factor here but it is an interesting story.

The other two stories are a little less interesting. "Garp and Geronamid" by Neal Asher is a wild tale about trying to bring a planet that is incredibly corrupt into civilization. A lot does happen here but somehow it failed to hold my interest. "Bird Songs at Eventide" by Nina Allan is a nice but slight tale about colonists observing a dragon like species on a new planet. Unfortunately, the tale goes nowhere.

Interzone also has other interesting features and reviews and is well worth the price if you want something different than normal fare.

Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - November 2005 by ( Oct/Nov 2005 / ) - THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION October/November - 57th Year of Publication
Table of Contents: NOVELLAS The Calorie Man -8- Paolo Bacigalupi / Help Wonted -94 -Matthew Hughes / Two Hearts -204- Peter S. Beagle / SHORT STORIES Helen Remembers The Stork Club -59- Esther M. Friesner / Foreclosure -77- Joe Haldeman / Spells for Halloween: An Acrostic -90- Dale Bailey / Billy and the Ants -127- Terry Bisson / The Gunner's Mate -132- Gene Wolfe / Fallen Idols -153- Jaye Lawrence / Silv'ry Moon -157- Steven Utley / Echo -171- Elizabeth Hand / Boatman's Holiday -180- Jeffrey Ford / POEMS Ode to Multiple Universes -126- Terry Pratchett / DEPARTMENTS Books to Look For -45- Charles de Lint / Musing on Books -54- Michelle West / Films: Star Wars, They're Not -148- Lucius Shepard / Coming Attractions -240- Curiosities -242- Douglas A. Anderson / CARTOONS Bill Long (44), Joseph Farris (58), Arthur Masear (89, 147), Danny Shanahan (156) / COVER: by Cory and Catska ENCH for "Two Hearts"

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction has been doing October/November double issues for a long time and it really shows. They call it an anniversary issue and it is a special treat and more than just a longer-than-regular page count. Their competitors do this twice a year but not as well. I already knew this would be something special and could not wait to read it.

Now normally in these reviews, I discuss the best stories first and the lesser stories afterwards. But the best story in this issue is so great, that I am going to end my review with it, just like Gordon Van Gelder ended the issue with it All the rest of the stories rate a very good from me. The first is "The Calorie Man" by Paolo Bacigalupi. He tells us of a future in which the petroleum has been all used up and energy is primarily taken from grain. This has radically changed the world economy and Bacigalupi weaves a nice little tale about an immigrant to America living with the situation. In "Help Wonted" by Matthew Hughes, Guth Bandar (from previous stories) has been thrown out of the Institute for Historical Inquiry because he said that the noƶsphere, "the great collective unconscious of humankind" had become, itself, conscious. He is thrown into a very interesting adventure to redeem himself. Clearly Hughes has more to tell about this character and I will look forward to it.

The first short story in the issue is "Helen Remembers the Stork Club" by Esther M. Friesner. I can't tell you too much about this wonderful tale without spoiling it. I can tell you that it involves a woman of a certain age remembering a bygone day in New York City but Friesner takes it in a direction you might not expect and the results are very good. In "Foreclosure" by Joe Haldeman, in 1967, a "man" walks into a woman's real estate office. He says that he (as part of an extra-terrestrial race) developed this planet and owns it. Humans have evolved on it and must leave by 2017 or be exterminated. How Haldeman solves this problem is just delicious. "Spells for Halloween: An Acrostic" by Dale Bailey is a series of one-paragraph definitions of words (from Hecate to Necronomicon) whose first letters spell HALLOWEEN. It is nicely done. "Billy and the Ants" is just the sort of story you'd expect from Terry Bisson. In it, a boy named Billy starts killing ants and things get out of control. It's one of those distinctly odd but fun stories that Bisson is known for.

One of the many things that makes this issue special is a story by Gene Wolfe. In "Gunner's Mate," a woman arrives on an island and attracts the attention of the ghost of a pirate. This is an entertaining little story in Wolfe's inimitable prose style. "Fallen Idols" by Jaye Lawrence is an amusing tale. In it, Zeus (yes, the god) turns up at a sex addiction meeting and tells his sad story about how Hera has left him for good. Things go on from there. "Sil'vry Moon" is another story by Stephen Utley is part of a series about scientists interacting in a settlement back in the Paleozoic Era (got there through time travel). In this one, a scientist with very unorthodox theories makes the trip back. In "Echo," Elizabeth Hand slowly reveals to us a world in which things have gone horribly wrong. The Echo of the title is a woman having to survive. Like many of the stories in this issue, it hearkens back to mythology and males good use of it. "Boatman's Holiday" by Jeffrey Ford is the fifth out of the nine short stories to make an explicit reference to Greco-Roman mythology. The boatman here is (of course) Charon who makes good use of a day off.

But the last story in this issue is a true gem. Usually, the stories that I call great are ones that I've rated a 9. Well this one got the first 10 from me in a long time. "Two Hearts" is by Peter S. Beagle and is a sequel to his classic novel, The Last Unicorn. The story begins with a little girl named Sooz whose village is beset by a griffin. Knights come from the king but are killed by the beast. Sooz decides that only the king can kill the griffin and sets out to his palace to ask him to come. On the way, she meets two familiar (to us) adults, a wizard and a woman who are old friends of the king and they accompany her. I will not give away any more but Beagle has written an absolutely wonderful story that is a worthy sequel to The Last Unicorn. I read the novel when it first came out, almost 40 years ago. I may have re-read it in 1981, before meeting Beagle at the World Fantasy Convention that year. I haven't read it since but it all came back to me. I'm sure that even people who have not read the novel will like this story. If this doesn't win some awards next year then there ain't no justice. In his introduction, Gordon Van Gelder freely admits that the story evoked tears from him. Well, it did that to me in at least two places. The story is also a bridge to another potential novel about Sooz, a character worthy of associating with the ones from the novel.

If you buy one science fiction magazine this year, buy this one. Heck, even if you don't usually buy magazines, buy this. If it had just the Beagle story, it would be worth it but there is more than that.

SCIFICTION (07/27/05 - 08/24/05) by SciFi Channel (SciFi Channel August 2005 / ) - SCIFICTION (07/27/05 - 08/24/05) Edited by Ellen Datlow, SCIFICTION (at scifi.com)
Stories reviewed: The Christmas Count by David Coe - 07/27/05 | Albimagique by Lucius Shepard - 08/03-10/05 | Is There Life After Rehab? By Pat Cadigan - 08/17/2005 | Anyway by M. Rickert - 08/24/2005

The past month's stories at scifi.com have been a real mixed bag and I found only one disappointing. The first one I read was "The Christmas Count" by David Coe. It presented a future in which cloning has been used to bring back extinct species of birds. Specifically mentioned here are passenger pigeons and Carolina parakeets. They are called GRIBs, Genetically Re-Introduced Bird Species and we follow birders who are observing the comebacks. We get a look at the birder world and that's what makes this story stand out, but because this is science fiction, there are consequences to these changes. All this combines into a very good rating from me.

The second story was a two-parter, "Albimagique" by Lucius Shepard. A man becomes involved with a woman named Abimagique who introduces him to tantric sex and an apocalyptic vision. This all builds to a climax (no pun intended) but which ultimately did not interest me.

The third story, "Is There Life After Rehab?" By Pat Cadigan is a darkly comic tale. The rehab here is not from alcohol or drugs but vampirism for which a permanent cure has been found. This was one fun read and also gets a very good.

I read "Anyway" by M. Rickert on the day it came out (August 24) In it, A woman is asked "If you could end war by sacrificing your son, would you?" Naturally, this is not an academic question and thereby hangs a tale that could not be more relevant if it were planned that way. We get another very good tale.

Others will probably like the Shepard story more than I and SCIFICTION remains a great source of online fiction.

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