I’m starting below another of my gradual real-time reviews. This time it is of the fiction stories in TTA Press’s ‘INTERZONE’Issue 239 (Mar /Apr 2012).

{Received in the last few days in the post as part of my normal subscription.}

CAVEAT: Spoilers are not intended but there may be inadvertent ones. You may wish (i) to take that risk and read my review before or during your own reading of the stories, or (ii) to wait until you have finished reading them. In either case, I hope it gives a useful or interesting perspective.

There is no guarantee how quickly it will take to complete this review, whether days or years.

All my real-time reviews are linked from here:

My previous real-time reviews of TTA Press publications linked from here:

Item image: IZ239 cover

Interzone # 239 –

‘Interzone’ magazine contains a lot of material in addition to the fiction.

Authors: Steve Rasnic Tem, Jon Wallace, Suzanne Palmer, Jacob A. Boyd, Matthew Cook, Nigel Brown.


Twember – Steve Rasnic Tem

Time disruption, alien invasion, dimensional shifts at the earth’s core.”

[My previous real-time reviews of Steve Rasnic Tem fiction included here: Black Static #12 — Cinnabar’s Gnosis — Null Immortalis — Black Static #19 — Ghosts (Crimewave Eleven) — The Far Side of the Lake]

I can see the genesis of this SF story in many of the weird and horror and literary works I’ve reviewed or read by Tem in the past: but it stands on its own as a remarkable vision of ‘escarpments’ that arrive in our world like a cross between ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ constructs and unpredictable Tornados for Tornado Chasers or Watchers (literally to watch as one’s wrist-watch watches time): Tem has various other tantalising analogies for the phenomenon.  I sense, too, a cross-sectioning through various cross-pollenations of one’s normal life, past, present and future, as a form of poignant spirituality, loss, hope, faith, identity (that some garner from their own version of a cross symbol or transcendent moving of the Holy Ghost through their self). [Also compare: ‘Window’ by Bob Leman and ‘Little Lambs’ by Stephen Graham Jones]. There is much ordinary life here, too, and believable characterisations as they face the white noise, “faux snow” and infiltration by synthetic or alien material or new matter or old matter become new again, as these things come through otherwise normal existences like substantial yet ghost-like structures.  I’ve called kindred processes ‘hawling’ in the past. This story ‘hawls’ the reader in the same way with its words.  Also, I am wondering whether ‘Twember’ as the title and the word for a sort of ‘weather’-season or concocted holiday-celebration, constituted by these hawlers or escarpments, stems from a form of ‘Tem’ and ‘Twin’ (cf the mirror in this story), as well as the more overt betwixt and between. (22 Mar 12 – 1.05 pm gmt)

Lips & Teeth – Jon Wallace

“Time passes here in ages. This is the age of acceptance. There was also an age of despair, and one of hope, or maybe anger, before that.”

…and with that quote we segue seamlessly from the previous story. — This is an intriguing Political-SF-genre story (if there is such a genre) concerning redemption (where a sort of Messiah-ship is granted aptly on Christmas Eve by careful scrutiny of the dates?), but mostly concerning cycles of ‘ends justifying means’ as factored into a Toybeean ‘challenge-and-response’ view of history … all in a scenario which is, for me, a cross between the current North Korea and McGoohan’s Prisoner (here the prisoner is ’11 – 17′ which is minus six instead of Number Six himself) – where the protagonist has a terrorist power that only a gag neutralises: who also owns a talking pickaxe which is an ‘objective correlative’ that is still resonating for me as it it homes in towards a final meaning probably beyond the time I finish this review and then will not be able to alter it. The last intriguing thing, but not least: just try replacing this story’s “Dear Leader” with ‘Dear Reader’ and a whole new ball starts to roll… “I watch my face appear from behind the beard. I remember this face and I smile.” (22 Mar 12: 2.30 pm gmt)

Tangerine Nectarine Clementine Apocalypse – Suzanne Palmer

“Others of the black shapes are inching across the floor, like giant black static on the carpet,...”

This is amazing complex material, yet when allowing it quickly to flow over the dear reader without obstruction, a  rare understanding seems to dawn on me with a New Economy of ‘sharing’ between surfeit and scarcity: a bit like, as it says at its end: “…always saw too much, and never quite enough”. This is a zone of clones and uniquenesses, spores and spares, more than one Utopia, possibly more than one Hub, a place of fruit-sharers (like Tarot card dealers): a Nectarine for Neri, shoe-sharer, a Pomela for a Politician: cyclic with intrigue and pecking-orders, like the previous story and eventual Destruction through the very act of trying to stop Destruction, and with an Apparatus and a Node like Tem’s ‘escarpments’ or like an internet system (cf: EMF’s ‘The Machine Stops’) that here ‘hawls’ through  irreality with its own reality of tangible, tangerinible fruit and share-bartering etc.  A cyclic quarantine of a civilisation which has ‘coach trip’ travellers suddenly arrive to enjoy the risk of this encased reality as discretely uniform as a soulless spaceship or to enjoy bringing risk or soul to it by their presence, but then eventually facing something vaster, far more important, while our writer-protagonist called Echa who is Each of any  dear writers of fantasies, explicitly interfacing with the dear reader, as the black static that Echa releases, by words if not deeds, attacks his other creations that are actually print-shaped here by “spore-ticks” in an alternate or spare zone… [A story I enjoyed but not yet plumbed to all its depths (I’ve plumbed at least one depth so far, as reported above), but a real-time review, for me, is time’s initial reading and reacting to a whole gestalt of fiction or fictions as published in one place.] (22 Mar 12 – 4.25 pm gmt)

Bound in Place – Jacob A. Boyd

“You read a passage aloud, and things get done.”

…exactly like the protagonist in ‘Lips & Teeth’: the one that could only be stopped with a gag.  But, above all, let me say at the start here: this, in itself as a separate story, is a well-written, enjoyable, humorous story of a haunted house where you can control its ghosts like amenities. However, this seems more like a ‘Black Static’ story than an ‘Interzone’ one, amost as if the ploys of the previous story have actually succeeded… But, meanwhile, it seems to be a disarmingly unintentional gestalt-linker or gestalt-enhancer, that is thus itself, almost frighteningly from the author’s point of view, ‘Bound in Place’! — and, so, to add to the above quotation, some more quotations: “He grinned in a way that made Jolene think that he practised before a mirror.”  — Tem’s ‘escarpments’: “…how to become substantial without taking form,..,.”  and, later, the ghosts’ own Close Encounters ‘structure’ as they depart their haunting or ‘hawling’: “A high black box rose into the gray night sky. It gave them the chills, as if it had once filled the horrible cavity shape in their memories. A narrow chink in its surface glowed and dimmed, glowed and dimmed. The ghosts peered through the chink…”  (22 Mar 12 – 6.45 pm gmt)

Railriders – Matthew Cook

“…after waiting hours for just the right line of haulers.”

Pure SF railriders or stowaways regrouping, repopulating between the zones of this issue’s fiction: back-packing with their backstories through,  not a parallel or alternate Earth as such, but rather a colonised world in space that deliberately parallels (variously by religion or ethos) the Old Earth “corewards” with brief passing thoughts of another plot-turning bug-invasion ripe from the fruit story: unintentionally but explicitly, I guess, resonating with the Rim and Hub in that fruit story (here the fruit is smuggled food of dubious quality in their imputed backpacks): eg: a “New Athens“, God Forbid, I’d say, in the prevailing New Economies of this issue’s overall fiction gestalt and our own world today of sharing not fruit but sharing debts between nation states…!  This story effectively comprises an atmospheric, cut-throat narrative via a rappy, expletive-sown monologue by one of the cobra- or blade-running female railriders, a member of a well-characterised (almost Dhalgren-like?) group, with whom we grow in sympathy as they negotiate the trials and tribulations of crude chancers and chancey drugs in this New Earth which is perhaps a Tem-type ‘escarpment’ shading in and out of our Old Earth: while we, as readers, also ride the links (or rail points) through some “public ‘net” of blending in empathy with amenity-ghosts and chancers alike: luckily fixed for us here to aim at by actual, rather than electronic, print.  Poignant shrugging when you lose friends or loved ones – as you reach loyalty’s end of reading about them or spending selfish time with them. A good shrugging, and not necessarily an uncaring dismissal-by-shrugging before rolling onward upon “cold, steel rails“…… with “fauxgrav” not “faux snow”… (23 Mar 12 – 11.10 am gmt)

One-Way Ticket – Nigel Brown

Her joints protested against the howdah’s movement.”

A highly memorable story, I guess: if it were not a one-way-ticket away from my later being able to report back here whether it was memorable or not.  Haunting, too. Haunted by it during the single moment or the endless moments I am haunted by its memory. One certainty, though: very well written. And skilfully poignant: at least for me personally: particularly when it mentioned “motor neurone disease”. In my own words, it’s a tale of an alive ferry as a floating, howdah-toting grazer-creature carrying terminally ill humans along a form of the River Styx to a Jules-Verne-like, Lourdes-like  ‘earth’s core’ as explicit cliff-escarpment (cf: Tem) or sessilely-statically parthenogenetic gorge for a beautifully, almost unbearably portrayed curative-subsumation: [and if I may be authorially indulged, please compare with the process into Nemonymous Night‘s ‘earth’s core’, its hawler being its ‘howdah’].  All the stories – without being able to put my finger on it precisely or nail it with my cobra/pickaxe – contain a similar emotionally-charged journey within the “World Wide Site” as crystallised from print. A journey outside the prison of self to a SF Lourdes without the need of any God other than creative tangerinibility.  White Noise or Black Static, notwithstanding. (23 Mar 12 – 1.00 pm gmt)



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2 responses to “INTERZONE #239

  1. Pingback: The Nemonicon « Panglossian Hubris

  2. Pingback: The Book of Bunk – by Glen Hirshberg | The Nemonicon

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