Interzone #211 July-August 2007

A special Michael Moorcock issue 60 issues since the last issue of that ilk). Moorcock provides the guest editorial, and he is the subject of a lengthy lead interview by Andrew Hedgecock. There is a tantalising extract from Moorcock’s memoir of Maeve and Mervyn Peake, describing a very 1960s Bohemian dinner party, and an extract from his forthcoming novel ‘London, My Life! or The Sedentary Jew’. But what of the short SF I hear you ask? (Or probably flatter to deceive myself that you ask…)

Michael Moorcock. The Affair of the Bassin les Hivers.

Paris, 2006, is the setting – but a slightly different to the Paris that we know, as it is another in Moorcock’s multiverse, in which various of his recurring characters (LeBeck, Una Persson) appear in the rich, subterranean and slightly steampunky capital. A murder has been committed, but the victim is not of this time and place, and dark secrets are explored before a dramatic denouement.

It’s Moorcock through and through, and will doubtless be a particular treat to those who have been following the multiversal adventures of his characters.

Carlos Hernandez. The Exvisible.

I can imagine an email from editor Andy Cox giving Hernandez The Good News and The Bad News. ‘The Good News : your story is going to appear in Interzone. The Bad News : It’s going to appear straight after a Michael Moorcock story’. Which is to say that, whilst not quite a case of ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’, Hernandez’ story does suffer a little in comparison.

Hernandez has a macabre horror/sfnal conceit against which a son has to come to a resolution over the sudden re-appearance of the father who left him and his mother when he was a child. Dad is being reduce : rather than a hi-tech rapture upload, it’s more of a low-tech furniture upload. The body is gradually reduced, as various bits of the body are amputed, until only the head and torso is left, and then the essence of the departed is esconced in a piece of ornamentary that thost left behind can plonk on the coffee table – sort of halfway between an urn containing ashes and a fully fledged Hari Seldon being on hand to offer advice.

For me it failed a little in terms of not providing either a really convincing upload-variation story, or a convincing father-son relationship element.

Aliette de Bodard. Deer Flight.

More of a straightforward fantasy than you normally get in Interzone, with a magician lamenting the death of his wife, who took on the form of a deer some years ago. There’s more magicke, a dying king, and some other fantasy stuff, but whilst I duly read all of it, it never really engaged me.

Ahmed A. Khan. Elevator Episodes in Seven Genres.

Short single-pager in which erm, a very short story is developed around an event in an elevator, each short section drawing on genre – from science fiction to mainstream.

Grace Dugan. Knowledge.

A young Aussie student suddenly starts seeing digital numeric displays above people’s heads – the numbers being displayed being decremented by one as she watches, and getting variously closer to 0. What is she to make of this, and what happens when zero is reached? All is quickly resolved as (somewhat unbelievably) there are a number of fatal incidents which help her realise that she is seeing the countdown to each individual’s death. She is, forewarned by a plethora of very low numbercount displayed over students in an exam hall to to avoid a devastating explosion at uni. The climax of the story sees her opening up to her dad, when they are able to come to terms with her ‘gift.

It’s a little contrived, with a central conceit that is unexplained and which stretched this reviewer’s credulity, and just generally felt more of a small press story than an Interzone story.

Other stuff:

  • David Langford’s ‘Ansible Link’
  • Andrew Hedgecock interviews Michael Moorcock
  • Nick Lowe reviews ‘Next’, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 3’, ‘Spiderman 3’, ‘Bridge to Terabitha’, ’28 Weeks Later’
  • Tony Lee reviews DVDs : ‘Neverwhere’, ‘A Woman in Winter’, ‘Headspace’, ‘Charmed’, ‘The Lost Room’, ‘White Noise : The Light’, ‘Forbidden Planet’, ‘Gamebox 1.0’
  • John Clute reviews Richard Flanagan’s ‘The Unknown Terrorist’, Rebecca Ore’s ‘Time’s Child’, Ted Chiang’s ‘The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate’
  • Andrew Hedgecock reviews/interviews Rchard K. Morgan and his ‘Black Man(UK)/Thirteen(US)’
  • Paul Kincaid reviews Alastair Reynolds’ ‘The Prefect’
  • Juliet McKenna reviews David Gunn’s ‘Death’s Head’
  • Sandy Auden reviews Colin Harvey’s ‘Lightning Days’
  • Rick Kleffel reviews Tony Ballantyne’s ‘Divergence’
  • Kevin Stone reviews Eric Brown’s ‘Helix’
  • Stephanie Burgis reviews Steven Erikson’s ‘Reaper’s Gale’
  • Sarah Ash reviews soom manga
  • neat little bookmark promoting the evidently imminent Black Static

Conclusion.

It’s a handsome issue, with the Moorcock fiction being quite some way ahead of the rest of the fiction, and with the non-fiction up to the usual high standard.

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