“Into the depths of illuminated seas”, Jason Sanford In his recent stories in Interzone Sanford seems to have been on a slow drift from pure science fiction toward fantasy, with more and more inexplicable elements in each story. Here, he’s come fully into the fantasy fold with a story about a young woman named Amber Tolester, from a small fishing village, whose skin magically shows the written names of villagers fated to die at sea. Her nemesis is David Sahr, a man who left the village long ago, but whose name suddenly appears on her skin. Amber’s conflict with Sahr eventually proves that fate isn’t something that just has to be accepted, but not without a lot of pain and trouble along the way.
“Hibakusha”, Tyler Keevil After a major catastrophe levels London, the survivors must attempt to salvage what they can from the wreckage. One particular survivor, though, is looking for more than just cultural artifacts in the ruins of the British Museum. An excellent bit of speculation about how such a scenario would play out, and nice inner dialog from the first-person protagonist.
“In the harsh glow of its inandescent beauty”, Mercurio D. Rivera Maxwell is traveling the solar system in pursuit of his abducted wife. He’s joined by a pair of Wergen, aliens who have granted humanity access to immense amounts of new technology, and also follow humans about with an unexplained cloying devotion. Maxwell is part of a team that discovered a chemical that induces a similar unconditional love in humans. This sets up a neat counterpoint between the Wergen-human relationship and his personal relationship with his wife. Well done.
“Human error”, Jay Lake An isolated asteroid mining team, with deep personality conflicts, makes a find so big it could be fatal. This story collects a number of common tropes of science fiction, and does a good job of pulling them together.
“Again and again and again”, Rachel Swirsky A short short story about the ever-present generation gap.
“Aquestria”, Stephen Gaskell Starts out as a story about a long and senseless war, but turns in to something else when a mysterious, maimed prisoner comes on the scene. The story goes deeply into the origins of the war, which turn out to be not really very important to the story’s overall message. But when the prisoner’s secret is revealed, we take vast leaps to that secret’s implications without explanation or justification, skipping over the more interesting area for exploration.
This issue was also reviewed by Suite 101