Sunday, March 18, 2007

Interzone #208

OK: so Interzone #209 — the 25th Anniversary issue has already come out. Nevertheless, since this is my personal blog, I'd like to mention that Interzone #208 (pictured left) was the special 'sense of wonder' issue, for which I selected the stories and did the editorial.

Publication-wise, this was my first big event of 2007. Needless to say, I absolutely adore the issue, and I have fond memories about almost every story. Nevertheless, we did struggle quite a bit to get this 'sensawunda' issue together, as it was not until the issue almost went to print that Jim Burns finally supplied the artwork for the Alexander Marsh Freed story (the artwork fell through with a previous artist).

The stories and artwork, and my personal memories of them:
  • Softly Shining in the Forbidden Dark: when I read Jason Stoddard's story, I was swept away. However, the alien life forms on the planet Manoa were originally estera, that is: mats. Problem is, that it reminded me immediately of Greg Egan's story "Wang's Carpets" — a well-known, widely anthologised story. So I discussed this with Jason, and we did a rewrite, where the estera became palos (sticks), and other points were addressed (in the IZ team, I do the majority of the rewrites with the authors). That worked out real well.
  • Then Andy (Cox) was wondering which artist would be suitable, and I suggested Kenn Brown. Actually, Mondolithic Studios is Kenn Brown and his partner Chris Wren, and they did a fantastic job. Initially, Jason was a bit lukewarm about it, but eventually he was won over, especially after Ken and Chris gave me two prints of the artwork on LACon IV.
  • (NB: on LACON IV I threw an Interzone party, with which I had superb help from Jason and his friends from Centric and the Fictionados. The party was a great success, and Kenn and Chris attended, as well.)
  • Empty Clouds: I lifted this one from the email slushpile, and while not everybody in the IZ team liked this one (our decisions are seldom unanimous), I'm happy that it saw the light of day. Funny thing is that Inspector Chen, as pictured in Doug Sirois's artwork has a red uniform, while in the story his uniform is supposedly green. A reader attended us on this mismatch on the TTA Boards, and I improvised by saying that the sand and duststorms around Bejing had coloured the Inspector's uniform. Now Gary Leeming owes me a beer...
  • Where the Water Meets the Sky: Jay Lake's tale of a future that makes amends. I remember that Paolo Bacigalupi was looking for optimistic stories for the Summer Reading Issue of High Country of which he gave a copy to me at LACon IV and in that they mentioned that there were no convincing utopia stories sent their way. Paolo told me that the reader of High Country News are hyper-critical, and extremely hard to please. Still, I find that a shame, as there is a glut of gloom'n'doom fiction out there (Paolo being a main proponent thereof), and I would like to see more optimistic and realistic fiction (and no: those two words are not an oxymoron). I like to think that this story might have fitted in there.
  • Islington Crocodiles: Paul Meloy has always been a TTA mainstay, and in the IZ team we thought that it was high time that he was introduced to a larger audience, and so we did with this story, his first in IZ. Admittedly, the change to the full-on visually spectacular finale after the character-rich, but relatively calm first half comes more naturally if you've read his previous stories in the Quay-Endula milieu (especially Black Static and Dying in the Arms of Jean Harlow). Still, Paul is a hell of a writer and a great guy to boot. And Vinnie Chong's artwrok is a feast for the eyes.
  • The Star Necromancers: Alexander Marsh Freed sent this my way in the August 2006 email slushpile, and I distinctly remember reading it on a hot sunny day while I was taking a short break from a bicycle trip (I read all slush on a PDA). It was *very* hot, I was sweating like a pig, but when I started reading "The Star Necromancers" I forgot where I was. I like to think of it as Jack Vance's "The Dying Earth" on a galaxy-wide scale: an understated sense of awe against the inevitable onrush of entropy. Jim Burns did a great job with the artwork, and saved our arses. Thanks!
Subscribe, or buy the issue at BBR-distribution (UK), or Clarkesworld Books or Shocklines (both in the USA). Of course, you can check out the following reviews first:

And, finally, the discussion thread on the issue here.