“The other Graces”, Alice Sola Kim Grace is a high school senior who’s on her way to an Ivy League school. Which Ivy? “Who gives a shit which one?” She needs to get in because her home life is dysfunctional, with a stay-at-home older brother in his mid-20’s and her mentally ill father living in a nearby shelter. Grace is confident she’ll get in to an Ivy because other Graces in parallel dimensions opened a portal to her mind to give her the answers to the SAT. The possibility that Grace may suffer from a similar condition to her father is there just below the surface of, but absolutely never mentioned in, the text, making the story all the more compelling. This is a story that really deserves thoughtful reading.
Archive for the magazines Category
The Untied States of America, Mario Milosevic Just a couple generations ago, the states of the U.S.A. broke apart and began wandering aimlessly around the world’s oceans. I can see what’s supposed to be going on here: The premise is just supposed to set the scene for an examination of the psychological effects of isolation in an uncontrollable world. And those aspects of the story are strong. But the long explanation of the rivers running dry, and the climate changing, and all the other purely physical effects of breaking up the states just distracted from the strong parts, without making the idea of a 70,000 square-mile landmass floating on the ocean fast enough to risk collision with other similar islands any more plausible.
“Why that crazy old lady goes up the mountain”, Michael Libling Its hard to sum this story up in just a few words. There’s a lot going on: A high school romance, the grave of God, family illnesses, an amoral hick sheriff, suicide, smart-alecky narration, gun battles … Even if the dramatic elements get lost amidst the entertainment, somehow the mishmash all works, coming together to make a good read.
“The history of poly-V”, John Ingold A smart story about a new drug that does … something … to the memory. Our narrator is one of the scientists who invented the drug; like many scientists, though, he’s given up something on the social side to make his invention take off. Now the new drug lets him go back and revisit the decisisons he made. Ingold takes an inherently surreal premise, and presents it as realistically as possible.
“The long retreat”, Robert Reed A surreal story (like a lot of Reed’s work) about the last days of a bedraggled imperial court, fleeing military defeat. The name of the country is mysterious, and even its high command doesn’t know its borders. Everything, including the characters’ identities, is open to question. An excellent story, probably my favorite yet from Reed.
“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.
“Here we are, falling through shadows”, Jason Sanford Shadow-dwelling “rippers” have somehow come into our world from some other dimension or plane of reality, and firefighters like our hero are among the few who must still get their jobs done, even after dark. On top of a job that’s suddenly gone from frequently dangerous to regularly deadly, he must deal with a teen daughter who’s suicidally fascinated with the rippers. Like Sanford’s “Sublimation angels” in the previous IZ, this story steps just shy of the line of explaining what’s going on, and I think the technique is much more successful in this new story, possibly because the rippers themselves are fundamentally unexplainable. A fine read.