Reviewed by Alison Littlewood

Interzone #203 is another beautifully produced magazine from TTA Press, full of new science fiction, reviews and extremely professional illustrations.

The magazine opens with an editorial, amusingly billed in the contents as 'not very exciting, this bit', plus the regular news round-up, David Langford's Ansible Link, which I enjoyed, apart from the reported digs at my old favourite TV series Blakes Seven--'classically awful'? Surely not.

There follows an in-depth interview with K. J. Bishop, which offers real insight into the work of a multiple award-winning writer.

The longest story in this issue, Among the Living by Karen D. Fishler, is a terrific tale. It seamlessly weaves together futuristic technology with the age-old issues of age and death, love and loss, struggle and acceptance. The main character, Dake, is given the promise of a new life--but, of course, with conditions attached. He finds himself a slave of the state, his life prolonged as long as he keeps on killing others. The story is beautifully put together, with evocative descriptions that made me go back and read them again and poignant, cutting phrases: "Night had fallen, and he was alone with the living." I felt that belief was stretched just a little with Dake's wife and dog's rather ready reactions to his homecoming, but overall this is an enjoyable read with an emotional climax.

This issue is interspersed with 32 short pieces--The Furthest Schorr: 32 Fugues on the Paintings of Todd Schorr - by Paul Di Filippo. An interesting and different inclusion for the magazine, but I would have liked to see reproductions of the paintings that inspired each piece (And you can here--Ed). The writer expresses a hope that they will resonate on their own, but it's a difficult task to make a lasting impression within such a small word count. Perhaps though, as Di Filippo wishes, they will pique readers' curiosity about Schorr's work.

Jay Lake's The American Dead is a wonderfully atmospheric telling of a homeless boy's life. His poverty is well contrasted with the wealth of others--"Some of the American dead have little houses." Pobrecito scrapes a living from the discarded possessions of the dead and hopes one day to earn enough to be American too. Ultimately though, he finds that humans can be as disposable as the trash he sells.

Ten With a Flag by Joseph Paul Haines is strong on setting, atmosphere and concept. The characters' motivations and reactions, though, didn't quite ring true for me. The main character's abdication of responsibility for an essential decision, her lack of grief for the prospective loss of her family and the authorities' decision to reward, rather than punish her for her weakness, left many questions unanswered. The tale does have a good central idea, however, and an interesting twist.

Wane, by Elizabeth Bear, is part crime story, part vampire story and partly an alternative history in which New Amsterdam never became New York. In this rich setting a forensic sorcerer attempts to solve a crime amid a complex web of loyalties and illicit relationships. I found it difficult to keep track of the cast of characters and their motives, but this is an interesting meditation on where loyalty is owed--to an abstract concept of law, or the rather more pervasive one of the crown.

Also included in the magazine is the third and final part of Richard Calder's novella After the Party, which is not discussed here as I had not read the previous instalments.

On the whole, this issue had an eclectic and stimulating mix of content that definitely left me wanting more from TTA Press. Now, all they have to do to make me a confirmed fan is bring out the long-awaited Black Static magazine...

Interzone, edited by Andy Cox and published bi-monthly by TTA Press, 5 Martins Lane, Witcham, Ely, Cambs CB6 2LB, UK. A4, 84pp, £3.50/$7US or £21/$42US for 6 issues (for other countries see ordering details on website).

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