Issue 227 of Interzone opens with a guest editorial from Chris Beckett, discussing his story Johnny’s New Job which was his response to the artificial outrage certain parts of the media were trying to whip up following the Baby P case.
Science fiction, as ever, offered a perfect set of tools for exploring these thoughts. I can’t imagine any other medium that would allow me so quickly and so easily to construct a world in which these rituals were manifest, and yet at the same time to place within it an ordinary human being – the hapless Johnny – who could live out its implications on our behalf.
The story itself is a savage (if predictable) satire on the sort of society that has abandoned any rational approach to apportioning blame, or to ensuring that outrages can be prevented, instead preferring the easy option of venting its anger against a convenient scapegoat.
Mercurio D. Rivera returns to the magazine with Dance of the Kawkawroons, a subtle and effective contact story which ends on a twist that had me going back and reading the story all over again.
The high point of the magazine, though, is Jim Hawkins’ Chimbwi, in which a physicist flees a collapsing Europe to try and find a better life in the newly resurgent Zambia. It’s a bit of a mcguffin driven plot, but one that manages to be both post-apocalyptic and positive and a story peopled with great characters. The bio notes that it’s forty years since Hawkins published his first SF story. Hopefully we won’t have to wait quite so long for the next one.