Friday, November 24, 2017

Interzone #273

8 thoughts on “Interzone #273

  1. LOOKING FOR LAIKA by Laura Mauro
    “Pete had always thought the end of the world would be a lot louder.”
    A truly limpid tale of a five year old girl, naive with wonder at the bespoke fabrications of fiction concocted by her 13 year old half-brother, while they are on holiday on a caravan site with their shared grandparents. This is potentially a classic SF tale evolving before you, as you tie together your hidden knowledge of the boy’s panic attacks with her constructive gullibility, and how Cyrillic became a way of getting to the very bone of all our fears and hopes, and quaint gullibility beyond the stars and beyond mankind’s misdeeds. If I told you more, it would spoil it.
  2. My previous review above: “…our fears and hopes, and quaint gullibility beyond the stars and beyond mankind’s misdeeds.” But now have they already reached beyond, instead of waiting? Milton said they also serve who only stand and wait … and wait.
    AFTER THE TITANS by Rachael Cupp
    “The spirits are everywhere, and there is one born this moment, very rare and very splendid, which lives only in this kiss.”
    I tchah at the need above for ‘very’ in each instance of meaning, but it’s more beautiful to hear read aloud with ‘very’ reinstated. In fact this whole work is a lingering poetic nebulosity of spirits, gods, narrative youngmother becoming oldmother, Vine the Shepherd, Little Flute, Beetle, titans and, I assume, humans, and the interactions between such entities. Better read aloud or told to self within? I would need to read it again, this time aloud. And as you know, all my real-time reviews are based on my first reading of a work.
    “This is how to bleed the fruit.”
    “I am cursed. I am cursed to have caused these things.”
    “Wait and wait and wait and wait.”
    “How can we have anything and we choose this?”
    For me, a telling SF portrait of Brexit (sorry, I am obsessed), “the country had spoken”, where gestalt ‘might’ becomes granular ‘mite’. Still, it’s intriguing enough to put both sides of nostalgia, health & safety and self-frying fries in salt. E-numbers and mites. Also links for me with the chipped-beige Brexited Wetherspoons and casual relationships and ‘mnemonic rape’ of the Humphrey story I reviewed here earlier today in the concurrent Black Static, in fact so far generally co-resonating the fiction in both magazines… they also serve who only stand and wait. Happy Meals, notwithstanding.
  4. THE BIG SO-SO by Erica L. Satifka
    “It was a bad day, even if I did live in Utopia.”
    A so-so Brexit (I attempted to make the aliens a symbol for the promise of Brexit, an imputed brainwashing that caused it, and the symbol worked, almost, so far. What do you think?)
    Meanwhile, a strong tale in itself (more subtle and tantalising than I can give justice to here) of Earth invasion by aliens who sift us by various means of brain examination as a guide to our pecking-order of usage to them, and of pleasure-juice leading to an eventual realisation or outcome, all told via the story of feisty Dorcas in rebellion and trying to co-opt the pleasure-juice from the aliens, told by her friend as narrator, a woman who is asked whether she loves Dorcas…. And a dysphonic band that I am glad I did not hear! And ravelling and unravelling, by the way, mean the same thing. Themes from Laika and Titans and Nostalgia Capitalism in telling backdrop.
  5. D83DFB88-F9B9-45B2-AD31-0B6FB436EBE1THE GARDEN OF EATING by R. Boyczuk
    “From within Snake’s mouth a little Snake emerged.”
    An intriguing world for me of today’s news of Zimbugabe in “regime change”, also “state sponsored terrorism”, scarce resources side by side with tutored ‘imaginings’ or realities of a land of plenty, where the eternal Eden myth is still played out, a Garden of Eating as an assonance of Eden and Brexiteers’ Playground of Eton, where Boris spies hid in plain sight, surrounded by a maze of niches, subways, hidden coves to other lands good and bad, an adventure with ‘weapons of mass instruction’ as well as real fiery ones, as deployment of this allegory – a world that stands alone, too, as a striking non-didactic SF vision, where things ARE and called by and called as their Proper Names, even the author Boyczuk (Czar Uk) as ‘Boy’ the central character in ambiguous interaction with his Garden’s equivalent to Eve called Amerigun. Atom and Rib in the myth. I am still thinking about this work as it rolls on beyond its ending perhaps forever.
    Above section of this edition’s cover artwork is called 417h3r105 v6 by Dave Senecal. Not a Proper Name but a password to be entered in Google?
    • JAMES WHITE AWARD WINNING STORY: ‘The Morrigan’ by Stewart Horn.
      Being published in Interzone as one of the prizes of being chosen as the winner by an International panel of judges. I am afraid this story had a certain style that I could not get past. Obviously, my fault. Seemed to be about gang warfare in Glasgow.
      There is much else in Interzone to interest the SF enthusiast in addition to its fiction.


    Thursday, November 23, 2017

    Black Static #61

    Black Static #61


    My previous reviews of TTA PRESS publications HERE

    Stories by Ruth E.J. Booth, Ralph Robert Moore, Georgina Bruce, Andrew Humphrey, Carly Holmes, Mel Kassel.

    When I review these stories, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

    8 thoughts on “Black Static #61

    1. FOR WHOM THE DOGS BARK by Ralph Robert Moore
      As a 70 year old myself, on the coming cusp of feeling as old as Hans Zitter feels in this story, and having a few years ago taken my elderly mother for cataract operations on her eyes and now cataracts maturing in my own eyes, and having seen men in my garden pretending to be barking like dogs, and having memories … wait, I did not go to prison where I was violated by other men, my memories do not include beating up someone who was harassing my family, nor following a girl at the seaside, but at our age others’ memories somehow seep in from elsewhere and become yours, or should I say, mine. A very effective and frightening and shocking mélange of memories, and things happening now, this precise moment, things that are about to become memories, I hope, because, when you are without memories and you are nothing, even bad ones are welcome. Memories that are me. Me the only gestalt of everything left. “My name is Hans Zitter. I live at 513 Humming Drive.”
    2. THE BOOK OF DREEMS by Georgina Bruce
      “That inky black lake in the centre of her head, sucking at her memories.”
      …and she eventually and paradoxically uses it to write out this consuming fury of a story, in which uncharacteristically for me I include an author bio at the end of a story as an intrinsic part of that story. Strange how this author’s work often makes me change my critical ways. I actually fear its spate of images or felt nightmares (so many here to spend in this work that still crowdfund my mind and to which I cannot do justice or give free rein) will either escape my grasp or turn on me like one of the previous story’s ‘dogs’ if I do not do justice to its inchoate meening. A dog here, too, and a similar sucking in of memories, this 22 year young woman’s memories and their gaps between and their forced march from dream to dreem, misspelling as a form of nightmare. Her man is 25 years older than her and has concocted a SF future moon travel scenario, a moon that comes back to bite her. I ended furious, too, full of her memories, empathy rampant. I now know what it is like. I already knew, but not to this extent. And the dog gurns. Funny how gurn looks like gum in this misspelt, misspelled world. Gums as part of a mouth. A broken mouth with puppet strings. No pearls there. “…or even with the gum. Dogs like to chew things, she guessed.”
    3. DO NOT GOOGLE by Andrew Humphrey
      …”into the chipped beige paintwork” of a Wetherspoons pub, and the nature of working in an insurance company’s grey building, the disparate characters one meets and loves for whatever goal, the things one does with or against the grain of what is expected or is lawful, as if we are all potentially part of some death or ‘mnemonic rape’ by Google, whether in English, Cyrillic, Latin or whatever. Led into this story from nowhere and back into nowhere, if I told you its plot and about its narrator and such disparate characters in his life (one character being “forty-five, going on thirty, going on dead”), then the plot would be spoilt by some curse that will destroy me or empty my mind. Or yours? I dare not try, other than utter the homily “Horror stories, mate.” Oh, the ending, if interpreted the way I interpret it, is one of the best endings ever in one of the most taken-aback plain-spoken tales I have read for a long time. With someone “in a light beige jacket…”
    4. A SMALL LIFE by Carly Holmes
      “Fish nuzzled the water’s surface from below, ghostly shapes in speckled bronze and silver floating up through the murk.”
      Were they Tench? And meanings float up, too, through the river of this powerful story, through its riparian renewability, always a new river to touch the next time you touch it. Written in a linear literary style with the feel of the balanced stars of Lawrence, a style that I often admire, evolving, though, into a non-linearity, whether it be of this review’s earlier assumption of man harassing woman or now vice versa? It’s you, not me. Daring to face the curse of Humphrey’s Google temptation. Pearls for teeth. Men pretending to be dogs. Meanwhile, this particular story starts with a striking description of seeing the land differently from a boat. And of the seemingly healthy gestalt of a boatful of men in coxed and coaxed unison. The aspirational gestalt of all the books I continue to review, as separate from their authors. The ghostalt then created by an impingement of a single woman, with all that event’s sexual implications. The male narrator’s fight with alcohol while trying, forgive the cliché, to find himself, together with the act of minding his own business, with slippage back and forth. Then the, for me frightening, human-shaped landscape glitch or monster as symbol or something pretending to be thus, as if imputed to be born from the author herself? The at-arm’s-length of the literary intentional-fallacy made closer and closer to self? A mighty work.
    5. FD901BD1-9925-4F17-B847-5E1B26E9B123TANCHO by Mel Kassel
      “She had pruned her garden without mercy, and she knew to drive toward the deer you were about to hit, not to swerve.”
      I did not start the review of the previous story with a question about Tench because I had any inkling then about this story and what it was about! (“Is it a Tench?” – a long-term crucial question for me, with several past links at that link, a question originating from John Cowper Powys’ “The Glastonbury Romance” (1933)).
      I had, of course, not read this final story when I wrote the above review. I am as equally amazed as you also may be at this synchronicity. This TANCHO story, in itself, is a striking vision of a woman being ‘drowned’ by a man to act as some dialysis network to breed the most valuable koi fish of all, the tancho. The actual mad-scientist mechanics of this process and her eventual revenge upon this man is a perfect coda to the Bruce and Holmes stories, that it’s-you, not-me counterpoint to today’s sexual exploitation scandals. There are some beautiful as well as disturbing descriptions in the Kassel that everyone should read. An apotheosis of some complexity that we are all only now beginning to understand. Not pretending to be dogs, but fish. Put “Tancho”in Google, I dare you, I tchah you.

    World Muses – Rhys Hughes

    39 thoughts on “World Muses – Rhys Hughes

    1. “…and we wish for our fears to be groundless too. And sometimes indeed they are.”
      150 pages, limited to 117 copies.
      As you can see, I hope, from the photographs, this is an exquisite physical book in every sense. I shall now read it…
    2. Zelina

      “And yet I warm myself on the flame of your footprints…”


      “Ships collide but an island never ventures beyond its own surf.”


      “But I didn’t yet know if the ball was an artefact of light or darkness, if it was cousin to the sun or the moon.”


      “I hope one day you will rest in the inadequate shade of my feet and say a prayer.”
      I sense already that this book will be fictionatronic-rhapsodic paeans to the women the author has met, or maybe some of these women are ones he is about to meet by dint of this book’s imaginative-real magic. I cannot bear the thought of reading these proselets other than in this magical book, cast so cannily. Reading as a true experience. And I also sense this book might yet be the height of possible authorial powers by anyone to create such an experience. At last, after a range of peaks that were high but level, this one might be coming through the clouds as the highest peak of all. Also the book’s seeming cosmopolitan aura takes much of the bad taste of the world today out of my mouth. Whether that is real or imaginary does not seem to matter when under the influence of its tall stiff turning pages.
    3. Marie

      “I like carrying objects for her, anything at all, just to show my devotion without being too obvious or maudlin about it.”
      This, for me, is the optimum love story, fuller, too, than most such stories, despite being the shape and tenor of a proselet rather than of a story proper.
      Proseletting in this book is far superior to proselytising, when, as it now seems to portend, it invites us to an acknowledged religious conversion to romantic love by means of quirky procedures, knowing looks and mantras. Especially if these acts are conducted with a certain passion beyond romanticism, that passion deriving from its likelihood of unrequitedness or from being shared with rivals for the same love.
    4. Shubha

      Three more separate proselets with forenames as titles. The second one has firemen, too. Now, to be serious, there is no way I will be able in this review to do justice to all these forenamed works by the forename Rhys, the fantastika foreman and fieryman of literature. I honestly sense this book will go down in history. It already promises to be that good. The conceits of love and the keeping of promises, if only, sometimes, just to the letter of those promises. Not slavish love, indeed, but certainly noble and gallant love. Did you ever see that old advert for a box of chocolates, a box that the protagonist took to his love against all the odds of weather, sea, mountain and skydive? Well these works do not represent a mere replica of that ‘hero’, but they are a conceitful apotheosis of him. There are indeed so many new Rhysian conceits, here, metaphysical, ironic, and fantastikal ones, as promised by this book. But I cannot promise to cover them all here. As a hopefully noble and gallant Reviewer, however, I promise to reap the book’s sown gestalt by the end of what promises to be a substantial review, judging by the estimated number of proselets yet to be delivered by each of these tall upstanding pages.
    5. Mengjie

      I strongly believe the eponyms at the head of each proselet have given the author his greatest inspirations for fiction ever. If indeed any of these works can be called fiction at all.
    6. Peppiina

      “It didn’t fit any context…”
      Other than the author’s pining at home while this eponym had her adventures on her own without him, that fact as well as the absurd-seeming design she chose for her balloon to the North Pole, I was struck by the imputed conceit that the best and most meaningful and emotional-illuminating conceit is one that is out of context or character with itself or even meaningless or simply unbelievable, the best conceit of all combining all these things in one conceit, as it does here.
      And Sibelius had lots of horns in his music.
    7. Zsuzsanna

      “, but exaggeration is part of the theatre of melancholy, the most flamboyant of all theatres.”


      “You handed me a kris, a typical knife of your people, and told me to use the blade as a ruler.”
      Kindred proselets I found, the first a house whence adding leaps together is intended to form a gestalt suicide selflessly to match the mood of the eponym, and the knife as ruler in the latter not as an overruling means of suicide but a straight edge to create the architectural map of the house itself, built for the eponym and the author to live in, but a kris does not have a straight blade…?
      I sit here wavering back and forth between the conceits of these two works, maybe forever.
    8. Jimena

      The Jimena eponym who uses her first usage of a sleeping bag while camping with Rhys to pretend and actually to become a caterpillar. One human in each of two sleeping bags. Except the caterpillar eats one of them. Then that caterpillar perhaps enters a word that looks like a translation of future but is a sort of typeface with a small L like a human figure inserted rather than a caterpillar, creating today’s second real eponym, this one a woman who can talk like a famous film actress. I remember large moving black and white human heads on huge screens when I was small, being invaded by the caterpillars of a film’s fuzzy wear and tear from the sides of that screen. And about today’s third eponym, its “if we are still together in the future” phrase now means more than it should. Also the fact that Cyrine has a whole kitchen sink and cast of characters in her waking-bag to form a restaurant in the wilds of nowhere….
    9. Charlotte
      Oksana / Ksenya

      From Fridge worlds to twin eponym sisters to the natural settling of pyramids to humans BEING to a Slovenian eponym, I wonder, who is like Melania Trump? Plus the nature of table salt.
      I notice, too, the onset, in a small way so far, of typographical trickery that it must be difficult to arrange one’s publisher to bring off as successfully as it seems to have been done here … and the added thought that subliminal things may be going on here beyond that what merely meets the plain reading eye…
    10. Thanks Des! I am loving this review (as always) and just want to say that you are absolutely right about the difficulty of ensuring that unusual typographic layouts are treated correctly by publishers. I’ve had terrible trouble with this over the years and it’s one of the main reasons why I don’t use experimental layouts more often. In this case, I am happy to report that Dan was excellent and willing to make many small adjustments to get everything right. If only all publishers were as thoughtful and precise!
    11. Eleftheria

      I took the photo below this morning just before reading this intriguingly delightful proselet’s connection with the next eponym accompanying Rhys, both of them visualising the Cyclops’ island and with the Cyclops inside a cave, while imagining their own shoes as boats … and the question of twenty or forty winks needed for napping if you have one or two eyes.
      The photo seems to have two people closely following as if in double vision (with two other people following that ‘foursome’). My wife and I had only just ourselves walked along that lower promenade, and the front couple now actually look like us doing it!
    12. Simone

      From windsocks and the wind’s taste in clothes, over which I shall swiftly pass, we reach a drummer of all manner of drums as well as obsessively drumming household things which I read immediately after watching a new ballet version from Wales of Satie’s Parade (recorded from BBC4 TV last night) where all manner of strange things are used as percussion instruments – then onto a third proselet today, one which starts with worrying whether you are using the right key! And it also evokes the old childhood games of writing your full postal address, ending with …. Earth, Universe.
    13. Olivia

      Had a splendid time with these eponyms’ crisp tall pages that need, at the centre of the book, to be gently bent back and holding steadily down against the swell of the paper, sometimes with audible noises within the spine. Many more crepitating conceits, and the Marguerite from Cameroon will haunt me the most, with her three children arriving in Europe by studied quiet accepted surprise from such a far off place. But three or two children? The question makes me smile, as does its answer, as does the onward memory of both.
    14. Claudette

      The first significant shaped text, here a diamond, perfect other than ‘who’ should have been ‘whom’. Otherwise an effective conceit where love itself makes a triangulation of the couple who love each other.
      I see elsewhere that the forthcoming paperback version of this book already has its cover.
    15. “But the truth is that our letters are filled with kisses and little else and we learn only what we knew.”


      Three eponym names as perfect Rhysian gems. Loved particularly the conceits arising from the thin country of Chile and, later, the coat too thin against the rain.
    16. Nadja

      “Yearnings without earnings?”
      A sheer Rhysian optimisation of conundrum, a sense of the writer’s lot in life these days, and a uniquely ironical logic layered upon it dealing with choice and taste in literature …. in face of the fire that one day will consume it all?
      Reminds me a bit of a dream I once had, where there was a house fire and one of the inhabitants (me) escaped rather later than the others, i.e. barely reaching safety by the skin of my teeth. When asked about my lateness of escape, I said I had been in the middle of reading a sentence by Proust.
    17. Dusica

      “, my apotheosis.”
      8E637B2D-D8F6-4986-AB33-EC9535AB481EAnd if I am not mistaken, this eponym’s proselet could be considered to be the apotheosis of not only the author on a personal basis, but also his work’s apotheosis itself. There is certainly an arguable case for that. A conceit of banknotes that you will need to go far too forget. Certainy further than Belgrade or Thessalonica. I have a friend who collects old and new banknotes from Europe and often sends me photos of them.
      I think I can recall the author facebooking this trip while he was on it? Whatever the case, ‘Dusica’ is essential Rhys to read.
    18. Lucy

      It is appropriate that I read these two eponyms together today. They resonate with two other books I have just finished from the same publisher who also published this Rhys book. The three books in fact came out on the same day, and they all are optimum representatives of this publisher’s work, they really are. ‘Lucy’ meanwhile amazingly and specifically by dint of floating love blends with the last story of the Oliver Smith book that I just finished reading this very morning; just read both pieces and see for yourself. And ‘Viviana’ takes place in Buenos Aires as does the Eric Stener Carlson book. But there are other co-resonances, too. I am continuously amazed how my gestalt real-time reviews supply me with such strong serendipities.
    19. “Everyone is ultimately related…”


      “I wish to be more like her.”
      And in Elodie, ‘the narrator’ was. Perhaps he is all his eponyms.
      And now here climbing higher but still contiguous is a way for both to be allow departure without leaving?
    20. Raveena

      The name itself seems a ravine as narrow and long as this book itself, when compared to other books. Here the thinnest river in the world is revealed to be in Gibraltar, blending with other told tenuities within this sturdy book. Even the author, meanwhile, in this sturdy, if narrow, book, does not know how sturdy this eponym herself will have proved to be, by not accompanying him towards dismay or dream.
    21. Buivasa

      Seems appropriate, having today elsewhere publicly queried the generally optimistic work of this author by referencing darker aspects of it, that now, later, the first and third eponyms above contain mention of darker aspects, too.
      The middle one is about buying lingerie for women, and its pitfalls.
    22. Mona

      2303A007-EB29-4053-8980-5D914A3954B8“Show me a man who has never used a bed as a trampoline and I will show you a man who would never wear a tea cosy on his head even9C8640F3-2A1E-4FFD-9612-F6C016F9C9C6 he were locked in a room with no other object for a day.”
      Great resonance in these four eponyms. Particularly haunting me is the anagram and the gratuitous unrequitedness of mermaidy Mona. Also the extended metaphor of limbo and the statues in Skopje.
    23. Ophelia

      “There are no gorillas here.”
      Or as ‘gorillas’ appears in this primary text: ‘go-rillas.’ There are no go areas here? There are no no go areas here?
      Also, a philosophical syllogism (not exactly, but you know what I mean) embodied here about something Horatio said in Hamlet. Also a striking conceit about baldness and growing beyond one’s hairline? Is it a coincidence that this eponym actually appeared in Hamlet?
    24. Sreyneang

      “The skeleton regrows its flesh but keeps the orchid heart.”
      Only to prove that it is hard to perfect retrocausality! But a rapturous epiphany of conceitfulness at the end of the first eponym above, proving that perfection needs imperfection to perfect it. Heart worn on the wing, if not on the sleeve.
      The second eponym above really brought sympathetic laughter to my lips. Perhaps the best eponym so far, but that would be invidious to suggest. But the dancing rehearsal descriptions ought to be pasted up in every dance hall across the world, whether in warzone or paradise. The retrocausality of salsa.
    25. Stella

      Stars shining for themselves, and any interpretation of romance merely ours alone. These proselets shine, too, but is my interpretation of them merely mine? I suggest that gestalt real-time reviewing is a thing-in-itself: a Lawrencian, and now, Rhysian balance of stars, Women in Love, and now Eponyms in Love. Inside or outside of love. Meanwhile, I relished the smoothing of our surfaces for stars to sleep on us like lovers smoothing sand on a beach beneath them. The astronomical odds of cats’ lives shared or smoothed out amongst us. And two mirrors instead of lovers in a tunnel of love. Or was that written elsewhere, not in this book, an infinite permutation of interpretations like stars we can see and those we can’t see?
    26. Princessa

      The peas placed exponentially under the mattress as a Princess test, giving fiction trajectories without friction. An hourglass shape without left or right justification. A seismograph actually causing an earthquake rather than measuring it. An after-image of lunacy. The moon in bed with me. A gestalt of eponyms for tonight’s dreaming. If I do not continue this review you will know I am still threading even stranger burrows towards a Crater on Mars.
    27. Tameris
      Siranush (1)
      Siranush (2)

      “one of those smiles that are so sweet that anyone who receives one is compelled to brush their teeth afterwards…”
      Things speed up here, in both directions, a bus journey with streaming side backdrops and distance in ratio to height again, and a spinning room like a gramophone played on one finger, a city that never sleeps, and a fast getting out of control argument about not having arguments. I thought I would also speed up, in tandem with the author. Oh, one slow thing in this sextet of proselet eponyms: “a lame joke.”
      By the way, I still wonder why there is a scythe on the sharp-edged dust-jacket of this book. Is it cutting things fine?
    28. Ernestina

      9693A1E0-4824-4CBA-AD6F-15B3859AB85D“, I cruised downhill towards the sea without needing to pedal now.”
      The last lap, the last lay?
      I was going to ask whether this ground-breaking eponymaze of World Muses dressed in Oulipoesy and Fictionatronics is nearer to Byron’s DARKNESS or the same writer’s DON JUAN. Well, the answer is obvious as to which of these two Byronic works this book is NEARER. It is not around the world in eighty days or even lays. It is something far else; it is taller than distance itself. You need not only that scythe or sickle but also Occam’s Razor, Damocles’ Sword and Arthur’s Excalibur perhaps seasoned with Zeno’s Paradox to make the journey of this book fully absorbable within the side backdrops provided for its blade-witted flight from eponym to eponym. A proseletting, gallantry-proselytising, fact-stretching book that is a long narrow eventually faster-than-light broadshaft of crafted paper and words duelling with our, its readers’, otherwise comparatively crass sensibilities. Fame radiating out from its source in shades of not blue but a colour you have never seen before, perhaps on roller-skates as well as on tachyons. Bells summoning bells. Diversity daggers drawn at dawn. This book is written by a true Troubadour of Stirring Romance but also by a Romantic Stirrer of Trouble, the latter rôle for which he is sometimes cast by others or even cast by himself. A Wordsmith whose name isn’t Smith but Whose?
      Envoi above is an afterword not an eponym.
      Review by Nemonymia.