Interzone 216: the Mundane SF issue
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Author:  maggieloveshopey [ Mon May 19, 2008 9:04 pm ]
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about halfway through so far (arrived last Friday on the south coast, fwiw), but just dropping in to say that Borders in Bournemouth had seven copies this lunchtime. A quick bit of shelf rearrangement to ensure prominence duly followed,,,

Author:  Roy [ Tue May 20, 2008 8:52 am ]
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Thanks for the info maggieloveshopey

Mundane SF is the future, according to the NYT and SciFi channel.

Author:  davebowman [ Wed May 21, 2008 2:53 pm ]
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A very brief blog review: ... -2008.html

Author:  Vague [ Thu May 22, 2008 12:54 pm ]
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Looking forward to your comments and discussions.

Well, I've read the fiction. :-/ Comment follows.

Maybe it was a mistake to flick through the writer bios before reading the stories, because, for me, some of the pieces fell sadly short of expectations, including possibly the dullest opening paragraph I've ever read.

I enjoyed reading RR Angell's Remote Control; the writer's extrapolation into the near future was plausible and thought provoking, great SF.
Anil Menon's Into the Night was a brilliant piece of writing, tremendous depiction of the central character, although the SF element felt almost like an afterthought. There was more deft characterisation in Lavie Tidhar's quirky How to Make Paper Airplanes, which covered a lot of ground in few words.

If the stories had been available in pic 'n' mix format, I'd have chosen those three. I'll be interested to see what others make of the issue.

Author:  Aliette de Bodard [ Thu May 22, 2008 5:50 pm ]
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I posted a brief appreciation here:

Author:  Roy [ Sun May 25, 2008 1:58 pm ]
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BSFA Vector review here

Author:  Jetse [ Sun May 25, 2008 2:28 pm ]
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A blog review of Interzone #216 here.

Author:  Terry [ Thu May 29, 2008 5:17 pm ]
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I haven't read very far yet. Lot's of other stuff to get through but my favourite at the moment is Remote Control. I like Lavie Tidhar's work (he's had two stories in Murky Depthsand his first strip will be appearing in Issue #6) but I just didn't get How To Make Paper Airplanes (at least if it's SF). Endra - From Memory - was less mundane SF than fantasy. A not-bad story that crossed over the boundaries rather than pushed them. The Hour Is Getting Late was interesting and made me think of Zardoz for some reason. More thoughts to come.

Author:  Rafala [ Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:11 pm ]
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I loved the Mundane SF issue. Just got around to reading it and I am really impressed. I loved "Into the Night" and the Lavie Tidhar story, "How to Make Paper Airplanes".

I hope you do another issue like this in future.

Author:  Vaughan [ Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:18 pm ]
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I, too, enjoyed the Mundane SF issue. The stories lingered in my mind more than usual. It's not that I don't enjoy escapist fiction; I do! But these stories seemed to have more depth than a lot of recent short SF.

I particularly admired Remote Control by R.R. Angell and Endra -- From Memory by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. I expect those two will feature in my list of favourite short fiction of the year.

Author:  Roy [ Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:15 pm ]
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Blue Tyson does IZ 216 here

I've no idea how Blue keeps up with all the SF he reviews but I have to admire the comprehensive coverage. It's a one person fix unless a whole gang are working under the one name.

Author:  Pete [ Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:48 pm ]
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Colin Harvey's Suite 101 review here:- ... _tta_press

Author:  Mike A [ Mon Jun 23, 2008 12:47 pm ]
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How to assess the Mundane issue? To consider the stories in and of themselves, or to think about them in the context of the Mundane manifesto? In one or two cases I find these two perspectives lead me to very different conclusions.

How to make paper aeroplanes
This story just didn't do it for me. It isn't science fiction, mundane or otherwise. At best it's meta-science-fiction. Nothing wrong with that (considering the story on its own terms), but it really didn't engage me, felt a little contrived, and the point-making struck me as heavy-handed.

Endra from Memory
This one divides me. An enjoyable enough story, in a fantasy/alternative world sort of way. And well-written and engaging. But as an example of Mundane SF, I don't see how this is addressing the issues with which MSF is supposed to engage. The tropes are as tired as any on the Mundane Blacklist. I mean basically, this is the search for Eldorado, right? Only stuck in a neo-primitive post-catastrophe future. The only thing relating it to MSF issues is its premise of 'the sea levels are rising'. This is hardly news to SF writers - George Turner was making the point 20 years ago, with his Arthur C Clarke winner 'The Sea and Summer'.

The Hour is Getting Late
For me this is one of the two real standouts, a fascinating projection of the hell into which celebrity, 'reality'-media culture could take us. It seems to tick the mundane boxes, and considered as pure story doesn't put a foot wrong. It reminded me in some respects of the sort of media-themed SF that was around in the early 70s - eg Frank Roberts' "It Could Be You". The notion of the two-tiered society is reminiscent of Zardoz and even Wells' "The Time Machine". I suppose I'm saying that we aren't dealing with new tropes here, forged in the heat of the Mundanista revolution - but I guess, to be fair, the point of MSF was always a refocussing, rather than a year zero.

Remote Control
An interesting premise for a satire, but the logic doesn't really hold, as far as I can see. If the programme works, the migrants stay away (or start coming in on boats instead). If the migrants stay away, so do the punters. The ending seemed rather trite and forced; surprising only due to narrative dishonesty (deliberate withholding of facts).

The Invisibles
I'm a bit of a fan of second-person narration, and this story engaged me at the outset. However, the pullback that revealed this as a metafiction annoyed me intensely. It seemed to discard rather than resolve the interesting questions posed initially, and struck me as rather a cop-out. However, I do like the idea of cognitive maps versus real geography; it's something that has always fascinated me. So there are good things here, but at the end I felt let down. I should add I did read this late at night and whilst very tired; perhaps I missed something and it will improve with a second reading.

Into the Night
An OK story in its own right, and pretty well-written, but not one that I feel really needs a future-setting to make its points. It's a culture-clash, fish-out-of-water story dressed up as SF, and such I can't see how it advances the MSF agenda.

Talk is Cheap
Whilst I find myself increasingly disagreeing with his manifesto, Ryman can really write, and this is the second stand-out story for me. Instantly engaging, with intriguing ideas, in particular the exploration of mediated versus direct perception. The developing relationship between the two main characters held my attention, and Ryman's refusal to over-explain his setting kept just enough mystery to really get the imagination working. I was left hungry for more, and wondered if there wasn't a lot more that could be done with this world - more stories, or maybe even a novel.

In conclusion, a fascinating issue with some decent stories and two really outstanding ones. I was looking forward to this issue because, whatever the theoretical arguments about MSF, I've always felt that the proof of the pudding would be in the eating. MSF will stand or fall on the strength of the fiction it produces. Based on these stories, on balance I have to say I'm yet to be convinced. Quality issues aside, I don't see any real evidence that MSF is pushing writers into new territories in the way that, say, the New Wave or Cyberpunk did. Most of these stories have familiar tropes and strong connections with mainstream SF traditions, and could have been written without the MSF Manifesto.

Author:  Aliette de Bodard [ Tue Jul 01, 2008 9:55 pm ]
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Don't think it's been posted here yet:
Lois Tilton really liked the whole Mundane issue.

Author:  Andy [ Wed Jul 02, 2008 11:37 am ]
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SF Revu's review.

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