Interzone

Interzone #254 (Sep/Oct 2014) – A Review


interzone 254

Does TTA Press head honcho Andy Cox read my blog, I wonder? In the case of the reviews of Interzone and Black Static, I’d have to say yes; more than once he has shared them on Facebook and Twitter. So it was pretty clear that he’d read them — at least enough to make sure that I wasn’t slandering his name.

But now I wonder if he might not have been listening a little more carefully; this is because issue #254 contains, for the first time, a pair of columns.

This is a feature which Black Static has boasted for a long while, and which regular readers (Hello to both of you! -Ed) will know that I have long said Interzone needed. And whilst Jonathan McCalmont isn’t a name immediately familiar to me, Nina Allen is exactly the sort of person this job demands.

Read on…

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Interview with John Joseph Adams


john joseph adams

This review was originally published in issue #253 of science-fiction magazine Interzone. You can buy back issues and subscribe to future issues at their shop.

John Joseph Adams (johnjosephadams.com) is the series editor of Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He is also the bestselling editor of many other anthologies, such as The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, Armored, Brave New Worlds, Wastelands, and The Living Dead. Recent books include The Apocalypse Triptych (consisting of The End is Nigh, The End is Now, and The End Has Come), Robot Uprisings, and Dead Man’s Hand. He has been nominated for eight Hugo Awards and five World Fantasy Awards, and he has been called “the reigning king of the anthology world” by Barnes & Noble. John is also the editor and publisher of the digital magazines Lightspeed and Nightmare, and is a producer for WIRED’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. Find him on Twitter @johnjosephadams.

Read the interview…

Interzone #253 (Jul/Aug) – A Review


interzone #253LonCon3 (the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention) finished at the start of this week. I mention this partly out of massive jealousy of anyone and everyone who was able to attend, but also because it seems to have gotten a good amount of coverage in the mainstream press.

There is also a regular part of David Lanford’s Ansible Link column entitled “How others see us”. Here, David cherry picks recent press articles about the SF genre and world.

Now, it might be a coincidence (It is a coincidence – Ed) but that section doesn’t appear in this issue. Perhaps — just perhaps — science-fiction as a genre is starting to receive more of the mainstream acceptance that it deserves.

If it is, then we can only hope that this will extend to such organs of excellence as the short story magazines providing the lifeblood of fresh and exciting SF. Which neatly leads my into my review of the latest issue of Interzone.
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“The Boy with the Porcelain Blade” by Den Patrick – A Review


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(Gollancz, 320pp, pb £8.99/hb £20.00/eb £7.49)

This review was originally published in issue #252 of science-fiction magazine Interzone. You can buy back issues and subscribe to future issues at their shop.

When challenged, I usually describe myself as a lapsed fantasy fan, in much the same way as others might consider themselves lapsed Catholics. My journey into the world of genre started with the likes of J.R.R. Tolkein, C.S. Lewis and Anne McCaffrey.

A large part of what ended up putting me off fantasy was a perceived lack of imagination within the confines of the genre itself. So you can see why Den Patrick’s “The Boy with the Porcelain Blade” appealed to me.

A fantasy in a renaissance-ish Italian setting, rather than the medieval western European model which has become so prevalent; it claims to offer something different. Which is a good starting point for a novel of any genre.

The shame of it, from this reader’s perspective, is that it fails to capitalise on that.

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Interzone #252 (May/Jun 2014) – A Review


interzone #252Anyone who thinks politics and art aren’t connected is wrong. That has always been my philosophy — my politics heavily informs my view of the world and thus my writing. It may not always be the “safe” option, but if you really believe in something then you can’t escape that.

So serious praise is due to Andy Cox and co at InterzoneIt would have been the easiest thing in the world to ignore the current controversies emerging within science-fiction. They could have breathed not a world, and not run the risk of upsetting some of their readers. It would have been easy.

But it would not have been right. So well done, as I said, for using the editorial to stand up to the forces of hatred and bigotry within our genre. Well done for believing something. I strongly urge you to read it, if not in the magazine then at least here on their website.

It does, however, present rather the challenge for the fiction to rise to.

Read on…

“News from Unknown Countries” by Tim Lees – A Review


news from unknown countries by tim lees

(Amazon, 240pp, £3.21)

This review (or a shorter version) was originally published in issue #251 of science-fiction magazine Interzone. You can buy back issues and subscribe to future issues at their shop.

I’m reliably informed that this is the first self-published book which Interzone has reviewed. So no pressure then — I suppose that must be the hand of God on my shoulder, rather than Jim Steel and Andy Cox. I think I’ll leave that comparison where it lies…

Tim Lees is not unknown to [Interzone‘s] pages. His short story “Unknown Cities of America” featured in issue #249 – of the others, three each appeared in Interzone and Black Static, and two in The Third Alternative. When he sent me the collection, Tim said that he saw e-publishing as the future, and viewed this as a sort of experiment. So at least I’m not the only one sailing boldly into the unknown here.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, “Unknown Cities of America” doesn’t itself feature in this collection, but thirteen other tales do.

Read on…

Interzone #251 – A Review


interzone #251I’m sure somebody will disagree with me here, but I don’t know of any fiction magazine as consistently striking as Interzone.

Obviously a book, or magazine, shouldn’t be judged by its cover, but presentation is important, and the new(ish) design of the Interzone cover supplemented with a succession of frankly fantastic artwork, only makes the interior more enticing.

Interzone‘s in the wild are a fairly rare occasion — the shelves of W.H. Smith being stocked mainly with nonsense — which is a shame really. Actually, I think this would stand out a mile off on a newsagent’s shelf.

And if I saw it there, hell I’d pick it up! Wouldn’t you?

I’m not sure what the point of this little pre-review rant is, just that some of the best genre material is something of a secret by the simple fact of a lack of exposure. There is no reason at all that magazines like Interzone should be just for established fans.

Read on…

“Parasite” by Mira Grant – A Review


parasite by mira grant(Orbit, 512pp, pb £7.99 eb £4.99)

This review was originally published in issue #250 of science-fiction magazine Interzone. You can buy back issues and subscribe to future issues at their shop.

What makes the tin-hat brigade of paranoids scarier? When they know what they’re talking about, seemingly.

I haven’t read any of Mira Grant’s other novels, but the spiel attached to “Parasite” establishes her as more than qualified to comment on matters of biotechnology, pharmacology and ethics.

The novel follows Sal, who was Sally until a car accident left her a complete amnesiac. In a world where almost everybody has genetically-engineered tapeworms inside them boosting their immune system, Sal’s worm having helped her survive apparent brain death makes her a medical marvel and minor celebrity. This places Sal at the epicentre of the events that unfold, all linked to tapeworm firm SymboGen.

Read on…

Interzone #250 (Jan/Feb) – A Review


interzone #250When you think about it, 250 is a big number. And 250 issues of Interzone is a staggering amount of science-fiction.

For anyone wondering, no I haven’t been reading since issue #1. I came in with issue #222 in May/June 2009. And I can still remember tearing off the plastic wrap in my University halls room, and diving in. Tim Pratt’s “Unexpected Outcomes” was the first story I read, and it blew me away (and you can listen to it for free at Escape Pod now).

But this is a landmark issue, and a real achievement in a climate where we are constantly being told that print publishing is on its way out, to have persisted publishing such a high quality product. I always look forward to holding it my hands — and, yes, to the smell — every two months.

Whilst I can’t speak to the first issue, the story quality has been consistently good since I subscribed. It is the first stop for top-notch SF and fantasy. The fact it’s British is just a matter of pride.

Read on…

Interzone #249 (Nov/Dec 2013) – A Review


interzone #249It’s hard to describe the relief of seeing the first copy of Interzone waiting on the doormat of the new flat. It sounds silly, but I was somewhat worried that the change of address wouldn’t have taken effect, and my copy would have ended up back in Reading — or worse, consumed by the monster that Royal Mail is becoming.

But no, such fears are apparently unfounded, and here it is. Received, enjoyed and regurgitated in review form for your enjoyment.

It is easy to forget that Interzone, as well as being the UK’s foremost science-fiction magazine, is also a venue for top class fantasy. And this issue is a timely reminder of that — coming immediately on the heels of this year’s British Fantasy Awards. Of the six stories, I would say that fully three of them could best be described as fantasy rather than true SF.

Which is no bad thing at all. As you’ll see below, the variation of genres does nothing to dampen either potency or enjoyment.

Read on…