Jamie Barras’ “Winter”

Jamie Barras’ “Winter” is another story in the 25th Anniversary Issue of Interzone. Barras’ story is a tight, one-two punch, with a nice twist at the end that shares similarities with Iain M. Bank’s Use of Weapons.

“Winter” is an alternative history following WWII that’s about humanity dealing with a virus of the story’s title, initially assumed to be of extraterrestrial origin, that increases’ one’s mental abilities to “the level of supermen,” (26). These “patients,” including men and women, are known as “Wintermen” and they are a threat to the world wide nation state hegemony. The story follows Christian, one of the scientists involved in creating these supermen to question a captured woman who is an escaped Winterman.

Interestingly, the work of early enhanced Wintermen is eagerly accepted by society, such as viral memory storage, “electromagnetics,” and longevity (24). However, the hypocrisy of the situation isn’t fully explored, but rather connected to the conflict within Christian and is tied to the twist at the end.

“Winter” is an enjoyable short story that contains neatly packaged surprises for the reader. You can read it in Interzone #209, April 2007.