Interzone #247 – a GRTR

Interzone #247 (Jul – Aug 2013)


TTA Press

My gestalt real-time review of the fiction in this magazine that I received as a result of my subscription to TTA Press.

All my previous reviews of Interzone are linked from HERE.

All my real-time reviews since 2008 are linked from HERE.

The fiction in this issue is written by L.S. Johnson, Philip Suggars, V.H. Leslie, Rebecca Schwarz, Jacob A. Boyd, Russ Colson.

My review will appear in the ‘comment’ stream below as and when I read each story.


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11 responses to “Interzone #247 – a GRTR

  1. The Pursuit Of The Whole Is Called Love – L.S. Johnson
    “To die so rent, so small in our separate bodies. Never again to feel whole.”
    When I first saw this story’s title, I thought this should be ideal for my five year old process of gestalt real-time reviewing (and those who have read my reviews before will probably understand what I mean) and, as I read on, I thought of the William Gibson / John Shirley story ‘The Belonging Kind’ (that coincidentally I had cause to mention HERE in my immediately previous GRTR (of Black Static #35 that arrived through the letterbox together with this issue of Interzone)) but then, as I read on even further, I was astonished, even disturbed (worried, even, on behalf of other readers who may need warning about this story before reading it!), by this remarkable deeply sensual cloacal concupiscent symphony of words and of inner or wrapping “Choose your own adventure” stories, of outer environments and sexual melting-welting congress as one, then of the viral sexual catalyst in the shape of a barman, as this “separate and together” ‘couple’ more than just role-plays its (his and her) moving feast of gender, appearance and yearning in and out of the ‘nest’ of their own privacy. Jealousies, notwithstanding.

  2. Automatic Diamanté – Philip Suggars
    “The whites around his blue irises are bloodshot [inflammation of the optical blood vessels] and his hair is a messy chestnut coloured halo. I think he is tired. 10025.”
    [I had coincidental cause, too, to mention the dreaded eye condition of Iritis in this GRTR just a few days ago. 220713.] This intriguing Suggars story is a Rorschach that looks like a technical document in Transformational Grammar, emotions rather than painting by numbers, deconstructivist reliance on just the text (which appeals to my lifelong interest in the Intentional Fallacy) and the psychokinetics in self-made archetypes of myth and legend … and a Rorschach is not a million miles away from a Gestalt, I guess, give or take the odd randomness of creation and perception of that creation. The story is also a tantalising SF-intense theme and variations on the first story’s melding and melting of Proustian selves, with a more diagrammatic than bodily sensuality, if diagrams can be sensual, as the protagonist’s previous involvement with a ‘hive-mind’ curds out not into creamy separates but into ‘people always showing him their openings’ (cloacal or not).

    [One of the paintings I showed above (before I started my reading of the stories) is ‘The Ambassadors’ by Holbein which not only has a shape at its bottom reminding me of this magazine’s Jim Burns cover but is also a mass of leitmotifs whence a gestalt needs to be shaped and also shows a sundial with a date. 11041533.]

  3. Just As Good – Jacob A. Boyd
    “Was a car the same as a picture of a car?”
    If you look at the whole of that Holbein painting it is full of grouped and sorted objects being presented by two large men in bearskin type coats and longish arms. Not exactly fitting the bill of those creatures called Exchanges in the Boyd fiction but good enough for me as I read this ingenious story, a cunning exercise in incremental extrapolation whereby today’s changeling society of people and property is taken to thought-provokingly ebay extremes – poignant, especially poignant, for some inexplicable reason, when the dead bats are found in the wall by the young girl narrator Tara who now lives with me as my daughter, I’ve just discovered.
    This story seems to fit in with the Proustian selves of the two previous stories, such selves sliding in and out of each other with some degree of uncluttered rationale and thoughtful homely charm but with the chilly undercurrents of the Exchanges and their Messengers. This story is either a masterpiece in deadpan fantasy or it has been exchanged for another story that isn’t. Mis-grouped or subject to some sort of ‘sorting error’…

  4. The Cloud Cartographer – V.H. Leslie
    “Lucy couldn’t imagine the world like Ahren. She couldn’t see it in a map […] she couldn’t see the bigger picture.”
    Holbein’s Ambassadors have grouped and sorted their objects, many of them used in early terrestrial and celestial cartography and, for me, strangely , by some chance synchronicity of random truth and fiction, that painting has now seemed to act as an inspiring backdrop to this poignant story of grown-up Ahren and some past events concerning his sister Lucy that become clear by the end of the story as he maps the clouds – not really dealing with these clouds in a fabulous or absurdist fashion as Rhys Hughes’ protagonists often famously do in his inimitable style but, in VH Leslie, actually walking upon them, exploring them in a credible form of that deadpan way of expression exemplified by the previous story, exchanging real ground for the variously constituted (tenuous or more sturdy) ‘cloudstraits’ that have prayer flags and other odd denizens whom he meets. A sense of the Piligrim’s Progress. Deadpan and straight-faced, yes, as a literal hanging suspension of disbelief, but with yearnings and visions that add a sense of spirituality to his task. This story will be sure to stay with me. It has together a firmness and gossamer quality that escape many who strive for such a blend.
    “There are no footprints in the clouds.”

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  6. From ‘The Cloud Cartographer’:
    “‘Like Jack and the Beanstalk?’ Ahren replied, trying not to look down. / ‘Yeah.’ / ‘You’d need some magic beans.'”
    which turns out to be a gestalt-enhancing Prelude to this Martian Fugue…

    Futile the Winds – Rebecca Schwarz
    “They stayed just long enough to see Tyler married and Sydney defend her dissertation, then left their grown kids to their lives…”
    …and thus the middle-aged couple, in tune with the Exchanges in the Boyd story, leave Earth, like others have done before them, for new lives (through the cloudstraits like the beanstalk?) to a life’s coda of adventure and survival on Mars – in this separately enjoyable, dare I say constructively old-fashioned, SF Fantasy story that seems infused with the spirit of ‘The Seed From the Sepulchre’ by Clark Ashton Smith, while also conveying the oblique sense of selves as well as bodies intertwining as in the first two stories, as well as in the gradual encroachment upon the selves and bodies shown during the effective diaspora of lives in the Boyd.

  7. the frog king’s daughter – Russ Colson
    “With a growing sense of dismay, Arnie realized he’d misinterpreted the evidence.”
    And so did I at first; as the only ambassador so far of the Gestalt Real-Time Review, now wondering whither goes this coda of a story in itself, this engagingly written Aesop Fable complete with computers for a frog to use and with the cutthroat shenanigans of high finance and business being factored into the loyalty to a legacy toward the young you’ve happened to spawn during life (here, it’s Arnie’s daughter and Arnie himself, with the help of his friend Joel, not quite doing tantamount to a Boyd Exchange but more a LS Johnson or Suggars slick symbiosis as a tutelary frog that sort of acts like an ambassador for Arnie’s still revivable body elsewhere).
    “Joel had been a great programmer and planned for everything. / Everything except dying.”

    And when looking at that Holbein painting again with the Burns elongated skull, the pair of ‘ambassadors’ look more like they may be rivals in Arnie’s business behind their facade, with a major symbol of death at their feet. Surrounded indeed by many symbols of death for which they ironically compete, as humans do. Heads in the clouds. Trying to map, for Ahren’s Lucy, that ‘big picture’ or gestalt she never could see during her life.

    Another great set of stories. And, as ever, there is much else in ‘Interzone’ for the SF enthusiast.

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