Interzone 234 Reviewed

An all-regular cast of contributors this issue; Jon Ingold, Lavie Tidhar and Suzanne Palmer start the fiction rolling, and then multiple poll winner Jason Sanford, and Hugo-winner Will McIntosh.

Fiction

Jon Ingold’s “Sleepers” opens the proceedings with echoes of the Apollo space programme, only this time the world is in the aftermath of the first interstellar expedition to Centauri; did humanity retreat in the face of adverse local conditions, or are the mythical Centaurons real? Ingold leaves it to the reader to decide and instead concentrates on the relationship between the narrator, a priest, and the aged Jean-Luc.

I smiled the same steady smile I’d been wearing since I first took the chair across from his. My hands were folded around my beads: I usually found them to be a great comfort in the face of such decrepitude, but with Jean-Luc I pushed them around more for patience.

Recommended.

If the Ingold is elegaic, then “In the Season of the Mango Rains” by Lavie Tidhar is positively bleak. But it also harks back to an earlier age of SF, as the narrator’s lover –unable to cope with her own mortality- retreats to what the Christians call Limbo…Frozen, perfect, you’ve beaten the river…Waking, you’ll open eyes on a dying red sun, look around you at a dying Earth. SF commonly reflects humanity’s insignificance within the universe, but it’s rare to so feature our own individual mortality. Short of Effinger’s “One” it’s as unrelenting a story as I’ve read; there’s none of the usual plot comfort to be drawn from genre, but as those quotes imply, there’s a harsh beauty to be found in Tidhar’s prose as consolation. Recommended.

Suzanne Palmer

It was eight days this time, eight days pacing my cubbyhome listening to my neighbor bang around in his, like rats in bottles, waiting for the next job. When it came it was like someone had jabbed me with a knife; I jumped up and was out the door, readypack over my shoulder and flashing assignment pad in hand, before the job could pass on to someone else. If I was lucky, it’d be a multi-week assignment and I could afford to get some real food before returning home.

“The Ceiling is Sky” by Suzanne Palmer extrapolates the uncertainty of our current workplaces almost ad absurdam, as characters lie, scheme and cheat to land a contract. Nonetheless, despite the one-dimensional milieu and the crudity of villainess Tala’s depiction, the story works well, and the settings are satisfyingly otherworldly.

 Jason Sanford

Jason Sanford’s latest appearance, “Her Scientifiction, Far Future, Medieval Fantasy” appears in the same issue as it’s announced that he’s topped the Reader’s Poll for a third consecutive year, and it’s easy to see why. Sanford skillfully blends disparate genres and concepts alike as the heroine of a fantasy world within an AI must overcome her limitations without alienating the audience who get to participate in setting her quest.

From Krisja’s viewpoint, it looked like her father’s knights fought valiantly against the invaders from, well, from somewhere outside the kingdom. Where exactly, Kris couldn’t say. But then so few invaders announced their origins. It simply killed the romance, claiming to be a Sir Lancelot hero when you really hailed from a Scranton or Sheboygan nowhere.

It’s a timely exploration of audience participation, given this recent article, but much more than that, it’s a terrific cross-genre story. Highly Recommended.

Will McIntosh

Few writers do Quirky Charm with one-word titles quite as well as Will McIntosh: “Bridesicle” deservedly won last year’s Short Story Hugo, but even better was “Unlikely,” which passed by almost unnoticed beneath the radar. In his latest, “Incompatible” — Leia says to Byron, whom she’s just met;

“Imagine the most terrifying thing you can. The thing that crawls in your worst nightmares, that leaves children screaming in the night because their too-open minds haven’t learned to block it out yet, and they can’t even describe it to their parents sitting at the edge of their bed, because there are no words for it, it just is.”  

What precisely are the black dots that Leia sees whenever she strays too far from Power Places? The answer is unexpected, not least because McIntosh lays a number of red herrings: Outstanding.

 McIntosh provides a great end to an above average issue of an above average magazine, while cover artist Richard Wagner wraps it all up in “Relics,” a suitably cross-genre cover that’s absolutely wonderful.

• June 3rd, 2011 • Posted in Reviews • Comments: 0

Black Static 22 Reviewed

Black Static for April / May 2011 boasts the usual array of superior fiction, comment, news from Peter Tennant and reviews from Tennant on books, and Tony Lee on horror DVDs and Blu-ray.

Stephen Volk

For whatever reason –and it’s really never explained why- this issue sees the renaming of Volk’s column to ‘Coffinmaker’s Blues.’ Volk talks about humanity’s seemingly innate tendency to create narrative from even neutral symbols, and how the preoccupations of contemporary artists overlap massively with modern horror, and urges the next generation to get into art gallerys more and blog less.

Rarely has the title of Christopher Fowler’s ‘Interference’ column seemed more appropriate than now, as he bemoans the number of gatekeepers in media and the way true creativity has been hijacked by celebrities. There’s more here, if you want to read on..

 

In the Fiction Section

Alan Wall makes an elegant debut with ‘The Salt of Eliza,’ a novelette that’s only marginally horror, but which is very well written. Journalist Jim is offered an outlandish sum of money by a tycoon to write an article on an elderly hotel owner whom the tycoon believes possesses the secret to –if not immortality, then a very long life.

Credulous. That’s the word that’s been used about me, more than once. Open-minded is the term I prefer. Only credulous people once believed the earth spun round the sun. Only the credulous once thought any human being would ever set foot on the moon….

Wall avoids the obvious narrative route, and rather than throwing in vampires or zombies, the story is less about Peshgau the hotelier than it is about Jim’s reaction to him. Recommended.

Tim Lees

Tim Lees returns after an eighteen month absence with ‘Durgen’s Party,’ which sounds like a Jack Vance pastiche; it’s much darker than that – the party is a sort of seance in which a dead pianist is brought back to ‘life’ to give a recital.

            “I brought her back.”

“They don’t have feelings. They’re like CDs, playing the same old tunes, again and again. Little bundles of mimetic memory…Memory of feelings. Not the real thing. They don’t suffer. Not like us.”

            It’s original, beautifully written, dark without being horrific. Highly Recommended.

 Alison J. Littlewood’s ‘Black Feathers’ uses the mythology of the raven –a bird often associated with bad omens and death- as a symbol to examine the relationship between a  little girl and her brother and their friends.

There was a raven at the edge of the woods. It was huge – even its beak looked as long as Mia’s fingers. She stared at it and Little Davey laughed at her. Mia wrinkled her nose. Little Davey was younger than her by a year, but he wasn’t that little anymore….

Filled with fairy-tale imagery, it’s beautifully written, managing to expertly blend both the fairytale and contemporary aspects. Highly Recommended.

Stephen Pirie

‘This Is Mary’s Moon’ by Stephen Pirie turns out to be the most surprising story of the lot. A low-class prostitute, Mary is pimped by the vile Mrs. Anderson, a madwoman who stabbed Mary’s mother years before, and runs her neighbourhood with cruelty and unrelenting brutality: The last of the neighbours to complain Mrs. Anderson hanged by his bootlaces from the eaves of his shed. Suicide, the Chief Inspector had said, as Mrs. Anderson had led him away to one of her special, younger girls – a first-timer just  to the Chief Inspector’s taste.  But from the grim chrysalis of Pirie’s opening, something quite lovely appears, about which it’s impossible to say any more without spoiling it. So just read it, it’s Outstanding.

Simon Kurt Unsworth rings the changes on the theme of dead children and bereavement with ‘Child,’ a short but poignant conclusion to the fiction section. Like the Littlewood, Unsworth’s narrative trajectory never takes the form I expected, and it’s all the better for it. Outstanding.

Reviews

Peter Tenant interviews Stephen Pirie and reviews his new novel, Burying Brian, while the other Case Notes feature chapbooks from Joe R. Lansdale, Ramsey Campbell and Gary McMahon, plus three anthologies; Dark Minds Press offer the eponymous Dark Minds, The End of the Line is published by Solaris, while Tor provide an American perspective in Nick Mamatas and Ellen Datlow’s Haunted Legends.

Tony Lee reviews DVDs and Blu-Rays, with Gareth Edwards’ Monsters, Dario Argento’s Phenomena and the Irish Savage sounding the most promising titles.

Another superior issue of a superior magazine: Black Static continues to surprise, and to delight.

• May 18th, 2011 • Posted in Reviews • Comments: 2

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 2011

Many of the stories in the May 2011 issue of the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction have two broadly recurring themes, music and the apocalypse.

The Final Verse’ by Chet Williamson tells of a folk song with a long, dark history and of two bluegrass musicians’ attempts to track down its missing last verse. It’s dark, chilling, and steeped in authenticity. Highly Recommended.

Robert Reed

The ubiquitous Robert Reed, who seems to be everywhere –but who actually only appeared twice in F&SF in 2010- returns with two stories, the first of which is ‘Stock Pictures.’ An old man is mowing his lawn when a beautiful woman and her companion stop and ask if they may take pictures for use in books and catalogues. It’s a strange yet effective story which the editor’s notes say caused a certain amount of discussion in the F & SF office, and like many of them, it’s hard to say what it’s about. Nonetheless, Recommended.

‘The Black Mountain’ by Albert E. Cowdrey takes the reader to a relatively unvisited part of the French Quarter of New Orleans, where a developer does recurring battle with his friend over the fate of New Orleans’ historical buildings.

Steven Popkes

Steven Popkes’ “Agent of Change” is one of several stories dealing with environmental catastrophe (as is the Cowdrey), this time adopting a light-hearted tone. A real-life Godzilla is found in the North Pacific, and begins to munch whaling vessels. Recommended.

“Fine Green Dust” by Don Webb tells of the end of the world; this time it really is with a whimper, rather than a bang. One of the strangest stories to come out of Austin, Texas.

 Alexandra Duncan

Alexandra Duncan’s novella ‘Rampion’ is at the core of the issue. Set in the dying days of the Umayyad caliphate in southern Spain, it sets a bittersweet love story between a Muslim man and a Christian woman against a backdrop of the breakdown and descent into anarchy of a multicultural society. Much of F & SF’s ‘Ye Olde Fantasy’ is little more than modern man and woman draped in clothes, but here Duncan dives deep under the skin of the hero and his society. Highly Recommended.

 ‘Signs of Life’ by Carter Scholz is another in the long line of stories about scientists in which science itself is a protagonist, of which perhaps the most famous is Gregory Benford’s Timescape. This time the scientist is Jim Byrne, casualty of a collapsed marriage, unable to connect with his colleagues, driving all around him away. Byrne is in the last chance saloon of research when he stumbles across recurring sequences in junk DNA strand, but even when his life looks to be turning around, Byrne sabotages its recovery. Highly Recommended.

Scott Bradfield’s ‘Starship Dazzle’ features the latest adventure of Dazzle (“the world’s first surgically adapted talking mutt,”) who has been gracing the pages of F & SF for over a dozen years. This time Dazzle has talked his way into NASA and is fired off into space to make First Contact, while Bradfield’s wry wit is turned on the world of consumerism. Recommended. 

‘The Old Terrologist’s Tale’ by S. L. Gilbow is a campfire story. The campfire may be on another world, thousands of years in the future, but the men (and women) sit around the fire, just as in any traditional tall tale. It’s an effective reworking, though and is Recommended.

Robert Reed returns with ‘The Road Ahead,’ a sequel –or perhaps a prequel- to ‘Stock Pictures, in which much is explained, but Reed leaves some questions to remain. Recommended.

Kate Wilhelm

Kate Wilhelm’s novelette ‘Music Makers’ concludes the issue with another musical story; novice reporter Jake Manfried is sent to interview the companion of a dead musician in Nashville,  and finds a beautiful house in the middle of a commercial district. He also finds the musician’s extended family. Wilhelm brings all her charm and fifty-plus years experience to bear on a seductive, poignant tale of blossoming love in the Deep South. Outstanding.

Another fine issue, this one with cover art by Tomislav Tikulin

• May 4th, 2011 • Posted in Reviews • Comments: 0

Black Static 21

Cover by Ben Baldwin

Apologies for the delay – in almost four years, this is the first time the review has been quite this late….

Black Static for February / March 2011 sees the usual strong mix of returning regulars and talented neophytes, but this issue it the non-fiction that stands out especially, starting with genre news in White Noise, which details several new releases from Steven Pirie, Tim Lees and others.

Electric Darkness by Stephen Volk

In which Volk dresses as Father Christmas and puts the boot in to Bath City’s most famous supporter, who is almost a national treasure in some quarters.

Stand up, Mike Leigh. I’ve had enough of all your actors thinking that a speech impediment and ill-considered wardrobe is a substitute for characterization. I’m pissed off at hearing them going on and on endlessly about your “method” when the result of it seems to be the same deeply irritating whine. (It should have a verb: to blethyn)… Leigh sends out actors to observe and report. But writing isn’t just observing and reporting. It’s about imagining. 

Volk’s irritation is with those in the arts who elevate realism above the imaginary. All writers create secondary worlds, but in the case of Leigh and other ‘realists’ they limit their imaginations and substitute our primary world as a crutch, and then use this limited approach to validate their work.

Night’s Plutonian Shore by Mike O’Driscoll

In ‘The Genre Fallacy’ O’Driscoll issues a counterblast to what was largely a pompous, dim-witted and self-serving denigration of genre fiction, notably a shoddy attempt to publicize his new novel by Booker finalist Edward Docx in The Guardian.

O’Driscoll correctly identifies that ‘literary fiction’ is as much a genre as any other, and makes the point that constraining through the conventions of genre can actually result in a greater work than otherwise would be the case. 

Interference by Christopher Fowler

In the last of the comment columns, Fowler calls for a grass-roots movement to supplant the current crop of Hollywood no-brainers (How did Yogi Bear and The Three Stooges ever get green-lit?).

Fiction

V.H. Leslie opens the fiction with a first sale that bodes well for the future. Daniel and his expectant partner Robyn are converting an isolated baron the edge of the woods. Robyn decorates the nursery with wallpaper that as the story progresses, Daniel finds more and more disturbing.

‘Ulterior Design’ starts with a close focus on the couple, only gradually panning out to reveal more and more of the setting, which becomes increasingly claustrophobic. Its nightmarishly fairytale feel works well until the slightly telegraphed and rather conventional ending, but perhaps any feeling of slight anticlimax is more a reflection on how good the first half is.

The art by Paul Milne would overwhelm most stories, but Leslie’s imagery is so powerful that it actually complements it. Highly Recommended.

Ray Cluley

Ray Cluley appears in a second consecutive issue with ‘Pins and Needles’ in which James, a young man profoundly obsessed with space passes his days by putting pins, razor blades, even knitting needles in places where the unwary will impale themselves.

Because it’s the only way to make you feel something. Because sometimes the hurt is good, it helps, and eventually you can get used to the bad part, the pain, if everything’s all better afterwards. Just a quick pain, a nip, just a bit of a sting, that’s all. Then gone. All better.

For a brief while Cluley offers both James and the reader hope, in the shape of Angela, a kindly, carnal dental nurse, but it’s obvious that James is just too strange, and when the ending comes it’s both laugh-out-loud funny and poignant, which may be a first. Outstanding. (And it has great artwork by Rik Rawling as well)

Maura McHugh’s ‘Water’ is short but strange.

Watery references recur in Ed Grabianowski’s ‘Extraneous Invokat,’ in which a young couple about to move home become prey to disturbing visions and other unpleasant phenomena. The artwork is by Dan Henk. 

James Cooper

James Cooper’s ‘Cushing’ concludes the fiction, with an illustration by Ben Baldwin that provides the basis for the cover. Two brothers whose father has committed suicide live with their widowed mother, who spends her days painting and sketching her elder son, while she all but ignores the younger one. This is only slightly disturbing, but Cooper heightens the sense of ‘wrongness’ with one delicate touch: in all the pictures, elder brother David’s face has been cut out, and replaced with that of Peter Cushing. With a commendable sense of restraint, Cooper creates a tension between what is stated and that left unstated, leaving the reader space to think. Outstanding.

Reviews

The magazine concludes with Peter Tennant’s Case Notes (book reviews), which this time -in honour of Women in Horror Recognition Month- focuses on women writers; an interview with Australian horror writer Angela Slatter, and reviews of her three collections. Plus Amelia Beamer’s The Loving Dead, anthology Rigor Amortis, Allyson Bird’s Wine and Rank Poison (her follow-up collection to Bull Running for Girls) and many more. Tony Lee’s Blood Spectrum (DVD/Blu-ray reviews) profiles the remake of I Spit on Your Grave and A Serbian Film, amongst others.

 Perhaps the best way to sum the issue up is with a quote from Ellen Datlow: The most consistently excellent horror magazine published. Indeed, and Bs21 continues to maintain this consistency.

• April 15th, 2011 • Posted in Reviews • Comments: 0

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March 2011

The March 2011 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction showcases some returning regulars and some new names making their F&SF debut, and this month there is a greater preponderance of SF than usual, much of it very, very good.

Cover by Kent Bash

Albert E. Cowdrey appeared three times in just six issues in 2010, and ‘Scatter My Ashes’ is already his second story of 2011  – in just two issues. This latest story features a variation on the golem myth, but unusually and unfortunately Cowdrey’s meandering style makes it hard to get into this one.

Paul Di Filippo’s ‘A Pocketful Of Faces’ merges crime with SF to good effect as two cops from the Aspect Protection and Enforcement Agency try to find out who is behind a rash of stolen aspects. Highly Recommended.

Ken Liu’s ‘The Paper Menagerie’ is superficially almost Disney-esque in its evocation of paper animals that come to life, but this fairytale has teeth, in the shape of the narrator’s awkward relationship with his mother. Like ‘The Ideomancer’ in the last anniversary issue, the author is interested in using fantasy tropes to examine issues of identity and ethnicity. Highly Recommended.

The longest story this issue is Sheila Finch’s final Lingster novella, ‘The Evening And The Morning.’ Thirteen years after she won a Nebula for ‘Reading The Bones,’ an earlier entry in the series, Finch takes a crew of Guild representatives back to a strangely deserted future Earth in an intriguing mystery that has echoes of both Le Guin’s anthropological SF and Simak’s classic City; an early contender for the best single story of the year. Outstanding.

From SF to pulp horror with ‘Night Gauntlet’ by  a team of no less than six collaborators (ftr, Walter C. DeBill, Jr., Richard Gavin, Robert M. Price, W. H. Pugmire, Jeffrey Thomas, and Don Webb). Perhaps it’s that which makes the narrative feel so clunky with the sudden lurches in subject and awkward lumps of exposition – which is a shame, because there’s a real warmth in the author’s obvious affection for their subject, but it’s all but lost in the clunkiness ofsome of the writing.

More SF with James Patrick Kelly’s timeslip story  ‘Happy Ending 2.0.’ Brief, but Recommended.

Francis Marion Soty debuts with ‘The Second Kalandar’s Tale,’ which retells one of the lesser known stories from the Thousand and One Nights- in which a woodcutter finds an enchanted copper ring. It’ll appeal to those who like fairy tales, but I’m not one of them, however much I can appreciate the writer’s skill.                

In Karl Bunker’s ‘Bodyguard,’ a human diplomat has to explore his difficult relationship with his alien bodyguard, and does so with great originality and pathos. Recommended.

Better is Kali Wallace’s ‘Botanical Exercises  For Curious Girls’ which has echoes of Gene Wolfe, with its little girl held captive by a scientist for research purposes in some indeterminate future; Rosalie has no idea of why she has tutors named after the seasons, but would like to see the garden. Highly Recommended.                        

‘Ping’ by Dixon Wragg is a reprint from the Washington Post, and is barely longer than this line.

This month ends with James Stoddard’s ‘The Ifs Of Time,’ in which Enoch, caretaker of the almost infinitely large Evenmere (the setting for Stoddard’s acclaimed The High House and The False House) meets a mysterious group of aged storytellers in a secluded room high in the house. These ancients present a very real threat to Evenmere, and tales within tales abound, as Stoddard, more than any author present, blurs the lines between fantasy and science fiction in this issue. Highly Recommended.

As always with F&SF there are odd dips in quality, although that may be more to do with my taste than any objective criteria, but there seem to be far fewer than usual, and the March 2011 issue is an especially good one.

• April 12th, 2011 • Posted in Reviews • Comments: 0

Interzone 232 Reviewed

Interzone 232 Reviewed

Four of this issue’s five contributors make their Interzone debut, including the 2010 James White Award winner, but if the fiction comes from new sources, the non-fictional surround comes from the regular suspects; news and commentary from David Langford’s Ansible Link, Film reviews from Nick Lowe, DVD and Blu-Ray releases reviewed by Tony Lee, and Jim Steel’s Bookzone crew reviewing new titles.

Douglas Lain 

Interzone opens its 2011 fiction inventory with ‘Noam Chomsky and the Time Box’ by Douglas Lain, a short story that focuses almost microscopically on the detail of an SF-nal trope –a trans-temporal jump—rather than the macro-effects, such as the history-altering consequences toward which IZ and other magazine stories usually gravitate.

If anyone needed more proof that the gadget driven marketing scam that was the American Empire is now completely dead, the utter failure to adequately create demand for the world’s first personal time machine should suffice as proof….The public seems content to leave history to the necrophiliacs and Civil War Buffs.

 Using entries from December 2013 to February 2014 on Crawdaddy Online (with the original Crawdaddy now online, is Lain offering the title as an ironic hint toward an alternate future?) blogger Jeff Morris attempts to override his time machine’s failsafes and alter history, with less than total success. Lain has appeared before in Strange Horizons and several other online magazines, and it’s easy to see why the ‘slipstream’ label has been applied to his work, judging by that micro-focus, together with his oblique, elliptical prose and the downbeat nature of the ending. Illustrated by cover artist Richard Wagner, it will probably delight and annoy readers in equal measure, depending on their tastes.

Michael R. Fletcher

Dhaka…capital of Gano Projatontri Bangladesh…the city was a madhouse. Buses and plastic Tata Kei Cars spewed thick smoke from their struggling two cylinder aluminum engines. The heat and pollution were stifling and the cacophony of car horns relentless….It was dirty. It was overcrowded. It was dangerous.

I loved it.

In ‘Intellectual Property,’ Michael R. Fletcher’s debut sale takes the reader on a journey into another near-future, this one a post-cyberpunk (biopunk?) tale of identity crisis inside sterile malls and offices amidst the incredible pollution quoted above. It offers interesting thoughts on corporate politics and is an effective debut. Highly Recommended.

Sarah L. Edwards

Monticello Dabney skimmed the beauty from beautiful things and fed it to those that had none. It was no honored profession; the animatists and the masquers nearer the center of the dark quarter took pleasure in spurning him whenever opportunity offered. They were the artists and he a mere artisan. 

Two years after her ‘Lady of the White Spired City’ appeared –and was selected for Hartwell’s Year’s Best SF 15– Sarah Edwards returns with ‘By Plucking Her Petals,’ a fantasy in which a beautiful young woman sells some of her beauty to alchemist Dabney. She succeeds, but she isn’t the only one changed by the experience – Dabney comes to view his profession with less satisfaction than before.

 Both the Edwards’ and the Fletcher stories are illustrated by Mark Pexton.

Sue Burke
Illustrated by Ben Baldwin
When Letitia Serrano synched her phone to Brianna’s, I defeated its firewall and entered. I’m a benign program and would only observe through its microphone and camera, so I saw no ethical problems.

 Sue Burke’s ‘Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise’ takes the reader to near-future Spain where young American student Brianna and her AI are on a ‘study abroad programme.’ Except that when the AI hacks into her hosts’ phone, it discovers that the Spaniards have an agenda of their own, one not designed to help Brianna. What is an AI precluded from helping its owner to do in such circumstances? Burke is an American living in Madrid, which lends the story local colour, and her portrayal of the AI is among the best: Highly Recommended.  

James White Award

The James White Award is a short story competition open to nonprofessional writers and is decided by an international panel of judges made up of professional authors and editors, including Lois McMaster Bujold and Mike Resnick, and for 2010 Martin McGrath and Ian Whates. 

Sadly, the awards administrators seem a little shy, since the site hasn’t been updated since October 2010, so it’s difficult to find out more. Nonetheless, the winning story each year is published in Interzone, and the latest winner is ‘Flock, Shoal, Herd’ by James Bloomer, a fine piece of writing in which Rocco searches for Elaine; either of them is capable of hiding anywhere, be it amongst a flock of pigeons or a herd of wildebeest. Recommended.

It’s a good note on which to end the beginning of another year for this excellent magazine.

• March 11th, 2011 • Posted in Reviews • Comments: 0

Interview Week

They’re like buses, interviews; nothing seems to happen for weeks, and then along come a whole clutch of them.

Virtually the last thing I did before falling into bed on Monday evening was to record December’s Angry Robot podcast with fellow Robot-eer Matt Forbeck and the humungously talented Mur Lafferty. I came away not completely happy with the interview since (I think) I sounded like a croaking frog and my brain kept short-circuiting, but that’s the whole point of podcasts — they’re live and (relatively) un-edited; what you hear is what was said.

More comfortable was the e-mail interview with The World’s Biggest Bookstore in Montreal. I’m to be their Featured December author, and they’ll blog the interview on November 29th. I’ll post a link nearer the time.

And a couple of of weeks ago Salon Futura editor Cheryl Morgan was kind enough to trek over to the wilds of Keynsham -where I live- and interview me for the third issue of the magazine. It’s online now here

Cheryl also has some nice things to say about Damage Time and several other new titles in the feature ‘Better Living Through Software.’

Bear in mind that Salon Futura is funded by donations and a few low-key adverts, so if you like what you read there and want to keep it going, throw that odd quid that you found down behind the couch into the donations pot, via the donate page.

Yes, full disclaimer time: Salon Futura editor Cheryl is the publisher of Dark Spires, which shares Andy Bigwood’s cover with this month’s issue. But even if she wasn’t, I’d have banged the drum for it anyway; I think that as a grown-up magazine -I initially used adult, but didn’t like the implication, which is in itself an interesting comment on the way that word’s been hi-jacked- as a grown-up magazine aimed at discourse about literate, grown-up SF, Salon is an important development.

So there. :)

• November 12th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Black Static 18 Reviewed

Over at Suite101

• August 29th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Babies, Chameleons & Other Arrivals

It’s been a busy old morning with lots happening, so if this string of bulletin points sounds a bit breathless, that’s maybe because it is.

First of all, so much for the power of 31. Anne and Brian’s baby girl decided not to hang around until the end of the month, but instead emerged into the world at about 6.30 am yesterday morning. I’m delighted for them.

Also soon to emerge into the world is ‘Chameleon,’ my flash story that will available to  subscribers of Daily Science Fiction in the first week of September.

Finally, the podcast of my panel on ‘The Future of the Future’ is up at alt.fiction’s website.

Right, time I sorted out some lunch.

• August 19th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Daily Science Fiction

Yesterday’s article for Suite101 mentioned the number of issues that each of the top seven or eight magazines have published, and noted (very) obliquely the question of publishing schedule; so Weird Tales has published on a quarterly basis on average since its launch, 87 years ago, whereas Analog has maintained an almost monthly schedule.

That diversity grew ever greater with the advent of the internet. Strange Horizons -soon to celebrate its tenth anniversary, publishes weekly.

And soon there will be Daily Science Fiction, coming in ‘late Summer, early Fall.’ Whether it publishes weekdays only, or is truly daily, it’s a formidable schedule. I wish them well. Markets paying pro rates are rare and precious commodoties, and need your support.

Good luck, and bon voyage.

• July 20th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0