Real-Time Review continued from HERE.


8 responses to “*

  1. The Animator – Chris Butler
    “I just wanted to tell stories, like those in books. What was wrong with that? At what point did this cross over into something forbidden?”
    This is a very engaging, plainly-told story about Autumn City (I cannot resist a story with such a named city and an Autumn Duke, too! – please see my personal blog Forever Autumn) – a story where the narrator-as-inventor’s dealings with inventor rivals, sexual partners, the Duke, a recession-hit cafe owner, ‘underground’ theatre groups etc are creatively seasoned with telepathic spores and the resultant permutations of reaction in pairs, small groups and crowds [cf ‘Crowds and Power’ (1960) by Elias Canetti].
    The story holds this truly believable ‘genius loci’ of Autumn City, but its own genius as a story centres on the barely perceptible development from the main protagonist’s “phenakistoscope” type animation of spinning plates (a steampunk end-of the-pier contraption of flicker images?) into concerns with ‘spore-risky’ “theatre” that then its spores infect our view of story-telling itself while it’s a story we’re reading in the first place! Seems to enhance its believability by its own clandestine conspiracy as something forbidden.

  2. iz3

    Hypermnemonic – Melanie Tem
    “The rotation of streets (right on Monroe which had been yellow, […] asphalt streets with potholes and faded center lines and traffic lights, […] the red energy kind of aggression…”
    If the previous story was ‘plainly told’, this story of mnemonic triggers instead of (but comparable to) the ‘spores’ is constructively and densely textured with a wonderful acquiral of prose you can chew, smell and taste and send your mind along it: ever towards its satisfyingly accretive meaning, revealing an inferred, spikily sexy plot that climaxes with an effective SF Horror scenario one is rarely privileged to encounter. Without giving too much away, it’s a theme and variations on memory via jigsaws of gender, intention, self, culture, holo and body, each consciousness managing to uphold some sort of integrity when faced with others also trying to manage their own integrity, with an aura, amid this process, of prize fighting (or sexual congress (or genetic engineering)). Personally, I found all this forming a parallel with my five year tussle with shaping gestalts from fiction’s leitmotifs as part of my real-time reviewing. Canetti’s crowd participants towards a unit, Butler’s spores as a crystallisation of a particular emotion, images passing through a “phenakistoscope” becoming whole and real…while tuned to the dissonance of a bow across cello strings…or is this all “strategic hyperbole” on my part?

  3. As an aside, I confirm that I have been concurrently ‘real-time reviewing’ my second reading (after some 40 years) of THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN by Thomas Mann (HERE) – with which I have been comparing, inter alia, THE HOSPICE by Robert Aickman.
    Just now, I serendipitously read this passage in the normal course of my reading of this book!

    “In the first salon were some amusing optical diversions: the first a stereoscope, behind the lenses of which one inserted a photograph — for instance, there was one of a Venetian gondolier — and on looking through, you saw a figure standing out in the round, lifelike, though bloodless; another was a kaleidoscope — you put your eye to the lens and slightly turned a wheel, when all sorts of gay-coloured stars and arabesques danced and juggled before it with the swift changefulness of magic. A third was a revolving drum, into which you inserted a strip of cinematographic film and then looked through the openings as it whirled, and saw a miller fighting with a chimney sweep, a schoolmaster chastising a boy, a leaping rope-dancer and a peasant pair dancing a folk-dance.”

  4. iz4

    The International Studbook of the Giant Panda – Carlos Hernandez
    “Full Disclosure. Cooper and I used to date.”
    Full Disclosure: I cannot resist such stories: see my Lion’s Den Syndrome page complete with many bears, inspired by the now famous story by Steve Duffy and, in another way, by the story ‘The Secret Life of the Panda’ by Nick Jackson that also appeared in ‘Nemonymous’ – and by panda-mating having hit the headline news in UK very recently here.
    This is a compelling story of the spores in the Butler and the mnemonic-triggers-in-interface-with-holos in the Tem now obliquely, yet forcefully, come together – where body-puppets, tongue-helmets and synchronised panda robots…
    Well, you can only really read this excellent story to share the panda empathisations involved, and the backstories of the human beings making them seem believable. And the prose plain, often amusing and always effective.
    In my review of the Tem, I mentioned the “prose you can chew, smell and taste and send your mind along it” – a story which was also strong on olfactory powers – and it is as if the prose of fiction is something you can ‘wear’, further emphasised by the forbidden “theatre” of ‘story’ expressed by ‘story’ itself in the Butler.
    There is much intriguing detail, too, in the Hernandez, about the minutiae of Pandarisation, like their thumbs, and one can also taste and smell the whole experience, spiked by Terrorists infiltrating like the Den was infiltrated in the Steve Duffy story. We all have our “magical-realist childhood”, I guess, that some of us want to ‘purge’ but here in the Interzone between breeds it’s reinstated.

  5. iz5Paskutinis Iliuzija (The Last Illusion) – Damien Walters Grintalis
    “A theater, its stage now silent and dark.”
    This work reminds me of the Mittel European-venue stories steeped in the menace and magic of 20th century history as commonly published by Ex Occidente Press, and I can give it no greater compliment than that. Here we’re faced with menace and given the promise of magic, as a man in dangerous times has recently lost his wife to the empty space next to him in the bed and his young daughter unwell to whom he tells stories in which feature the myths of their homeland country: during which he uses restrained magic (by spore or inherent mnemonic?), a magic that is banned by the menace, just as the theatre (here theater) was banned in the Butler story: but the magic prevails and acts as tough love… I cried at the end but “No, you can change the story, can’t you?” A story that one would not expect to be in a SF magazine but it does sit believably within the overall fiction setting with the poignancy of the protagonist’s own sense of restrained magic.
    It could create lions from shadows…”

    In 2008, I saw the above painting by Christian Krohg (1852 -1925) inside the Oslo National Gallery. I wished her better.

  6. I have just finished reading the wholly wonderful, organic fiction in ‘Interzone #245’. I usually search for any minor typos in any such reviews and I am pleased to say there was only one (‘peaking’ at the top of page 43). I have mostly found to date that there is a minimum of two typos in any one publication (amateur or professional), so that is good going!
    The final story – I wonder if the author is related to Thomas Mann whom I quoted somewhere above as an aside – but I do find this Mann’s story wonderfully Aickman-like (as well as discretely original), just in the same way as I am finding ‘The Magic Mountain’ remarkably Aickman-like. Aickman is not a name I would associate with a SF magazine, but I’m certainly not complaining!


    The Face Tree – Antony Mann
    “…a lopsided old house from god knew when,…”
    At first, I felt this was a run-of-the-mill, if well-written, story as told by an ‘old fart’ about himself in modern England, beset by regrets, failures, modern swearing-youth, sex where he can grab it, perversely kamikaze about his own safety, but it slowly develops into a memorable soliloquy threaded with nature’s tendrils and an unrequited love so poignant, it matched the ‘dying fall’ or ‘lament’ in the previous Grintalis. And, for the fiction’s overall gestalt within this magazine, the story’s plain-told prose somehow skilfully acts as the perfect coda where ‘story’ evolves from the ‘banned theatre’ of this poor man’s tribulations, from those earlier complex triggers of mnemonic now crystallised into a simple man’s tale, evolving, indeed, into the actual fabric of what provides the paper it’s printed on – a Face Tree. A character as page. The prose is now, here, finally ‘worn’: as if donning that Panda…


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