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Interzone – Issue 218 – October 2008
Edited by Andy Cox
Cover Artist: Warwick Fraser-Coombe
Review by Sam Tomaino
TTA Press  ISBN/ITEM#: 0264-3596
Date: 24 October 2008

Links: Interzone Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The October 2008 issue Interzone is here with three stories by Chris Beckett (and an interview with him), and stories by Daniel Akselrod and Lenny Royter, Hannu Rajaniemi and Tim Lees, together with the usual fascinating articles and reviews

The October 2008 issue Interzone shows why I enjoy reading this magazine so much, all the stories were enjoyable

This issue is something of a special Chris Beckett issue with three stories by the author (with introductions by him) and an interesting interview. Beckett's first story is "Poppyfields". This one features Tammy Pendant, a teenage girl that Beckett has used in three previous stories. In this one, she takes a special pill and travels from her world to a similar one that is the setting of the story. Poppyfields is a temporarily abandoned building site and one henpecked Angus Wendering is roaming around this marshy area looking for birds of the small and winged type. He finds Tammy and takes her home (while his wife's away) out of what starts out as noble values. I'll leave the story there but just say that Beckett does a masterful job of creating characters and succeeds admirably in making us care about them. In his next story, "Greenland", he does the same. In a future world flooded by global warming, Juan Fernandez is a Spanish refugee living in a Great Britain that does not want him. To secure a visa to Greenland for himself, his wife and his daughter, he agrees to have his mind copied and sent to a space station. As you might expect, this has consequences he does not foresee and thereby hangs a poignant tale. Beckett's third entry, "Rat Island" also deals with a future ruined Earth but this one is told from the point of view of a man looking back on a day spent with his father, shortly before things changed forever. This one, too, is written beautifully.

The fiction is rounded out by three more entries. The "IF" in the story by Daniel Akselrod and Lenny Royter does not refer to the usual conjunction on which much science fiction is based. This IF is an acronym for Imaginary Friend. Dicky's IF is a camel named Mr. Fuzzy. It had been the product of a chip implanted into Dicky's brain when he was a child to instruct him in knowledge and morals. The problem is that the IF was stuck in adult's subconscious, even after the chip was removed. So "Dicky" always has this annoying presence in his life. He is determined to do something about it. Aksekrod and Royter do a nice job with this one.

Hannu Rajaniemi references a very old piece of pop culture in "His Master's Voice". Told from the point of view of an enhanced dog who is aided by a similarly enhanced cat, we get a clever little tale about loyalty and ingenuity with another cultural reference thrown in to add flavor. Rajaniemi (a Finn living in Scotland) is a talented writer and I will look forward to reading more of his work.

The last story is "The Corner of the Circle" by Tim Lees. Once again, we have story about a man looking back at his childhood. He is sent by his mother to live with his Aunt Janine but winds up spending a lot of time with a friend (or whatever) of his aunt's named Imogen. She is quite a character and dismissive of some odd, visiting aliens. Years pass and the man becomes an adult, but Imogen is someone he does not forget. Nor shall we in this well-written tale.

In the upper-left-hand corner of the cover of this issue of Interzone quotes my previous review naming it "The best SF magazine on the market". The stories in this issue uphold that praise.

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