Interzone 223

Interzone 223

A special issue this time, focusing on Dominic Green and featuring three of his stories as well as an interview. In addition, there are two other stories and the usual news and reviews of books and films, plus another interview – with Joe Abercrombie. The balance of the reviews seems to have shifted more towards films this time, with many DVDs covered as well as current cinema offerings such as the new Star Trek, Terminator and X-Men movies. A thought-provoking read, as usual. The surreal fantasy cover is by Adam Tredowski.

The Transmigration of Aishwarya Desai, by Eric Gregory, illustrated by Arthur Wang: an academic visits a planet for a debate with a rival over the reality of her claimed psychic contact with an uncommunicative alien race, only to have this resolved in an unexpectedly dramatic fashion.

Silence and Roses, by Suzanne Palmer, illustrated by LeMat: robot caretakers look after their human masters in a secluded retirement home, waiting patiently for their charges to self-repair as they fall silent, one by one. It takes an intruder to point out that they aren't going to speak, ever again. This was the most memorable of the stories in this issue, but partly for the wrong reason; surely once the first master died, the others would have explained to the robots what had happened, and what to do with the body?

Next to the three stories by Dominic Green, all of them illustrated by Daniel Bristowe-Bailey.

Butterfly Bomb: an old man lives in solitary splendour on a planet, except for a companion who is picked up by a passing slave ship. The old man follows in a rescue attempt – but who exactly is being rescued?

Coat of Many Colours: a genetic experiment produces a large reptilian animal with scales which shift in colour even after death. A potential goldmine, provided that the creature is not deemed to be intelligent – but how to determine this?

Glister: prospectors trapped on a strange and hazardous planet go looking for valuable minerals, but the source is mobile and success comes from an unexpected direction.

In the interview with Dominic Green, he explains his philosophy in writing SF and what motivates his varied stories. The revelation which most intrigued me is that the author has had no fewer than twenty stories published in Interzone over the last eleven years, one of which was nominated for a Hugo award, but none of his novels has been picked up by a publisher; he has a substantial collection of rejection slips. Judging by these stories, he is clearly a talented, original and entertaining author, but that is not proving to be enough. I have written before about the difficulties in getting published, but what it seems to boil down is that there are too many writers and not enough readers – or, at least, purchasers. Green has accordingly put four of his novels on his website for free.

It does make me wonder exactly where fiction publishing is heading. There seems to be an ever-narrowing range of opportunities for conventional publication, yet major problems with the alternatives. Regular followers of this blog will know that I self-published my two novels; The Foresight War and Scales. The first was an immediate commercial success and has recouped my investment more than twice over. The second was not, so I have offered it as a free download on my website rather than let all the effort in writing it go to waste. I have recently updated my web article on publishing SFF fiction here, and I advise all who have ambitions to be a novelist to read it carefully, along with the related article on marketing .

(This entry is cross-posted from my science-fiction & fantasy blog.)