Interzone, Number 154, April 2000

Lord Soho, Richard Calder.

A rich, entertaining story, a far distant sequel to the author’s Malignos story which appeared previously in Interzone, and which has been expanded into a novel by the same name. (note: a further sequela to this current story, appears in Interzone #159, September 2000)

Richard Pike attains his majority, inheriting the title Lord Soho, and what is left of his father’s estate, in a dark, dark London some 4,000 years from now. Pike/Soho is an octaroon, one eighth orc, a physical reminder of the dark forces that had held sway on the Darkling Isle for many generations, but which are now exiled underground.

But he savours his new status for a few scant hours, as, whilst savouring a local wench, he is undone. He faces the gallows, despairing of a humanity which will not accept the opportunities which the new science/old magic offers. Great writing – fantasy as it should be written (albeit with orcs and goblins).

Frank, Robert Reed.

Not instantly recognisable as a Reed story – the thoroughly unpleasant eponymous character, who has benefitted from a better slice of luck, holds sway over an infinite multitude of Alternate World Franks. As an intergalactice radio-talk-show-cum-agony-uncle he offers advice to those in alternate time streams who have been less fortunate. But..

La Vampiresse, Tanith Lee.

The doyenne of British fantasy writing has produced a short, elegant story about a Vampiress who is interviewed in her waning years. The story somewhat reflects the vampiress, short and elegant but also insubstantial and with a gossamer quality.

Chris Beckett, The Gates of Troy

A young man travels back in time (using an interesting plot device: his wealthy father buys him the time travel kit) and becomes part of history as he is one of those who gain their entry to Troy in the Wooden Horse, and finds the reality is somewhat grimmer than the legend.

Adventures in the Ghost Trade, Liz Williams.

Brighton-based author and regular contributor brings a very good, witty tale of a cop in a Singapore franchise who has to solve a murder that crosses the border between the living and the dead. It is well realised, with neat touches, although the final paragraph, a naff pun, rather spoils it a little for me. Otherwise, an enjoyable read from an author who is putting together a strong collection of short fiction.

Other bits

  • An interview of Guy Gavriel Kay, a ‘Canadian fantasist’ who achieved what surely must be the pinnacle of fantasy writing when working with Christopher Tolkien on editing JRR’s unfinished ‘The Silmarillion’,
  • Mutant Popcorn – in which Nick Lowe reviews Toy Story 2, The Bicentennial Man, and Stigmata, and Kim Newman looks back on Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange
  • Lengthy reviews by Paul J. McAuley of Jeffrey Ford’s fantasy novel Physiognomy and its sequel (I would echo Paul’s stated belief that not all fantasies have to be bad Tolkien xeroxes), Gene Wolfe’s collection Strange Travellers, which gives a welcome analysis of the story The Ziggurat, and Steven Gould’s Blind Waves.
  • Chris Gilmore reviews Robert Rankin’s delightfully titled Sex and Drugs and Sausage Rolls, and Tom Holt’s Snow White and the Seven Samurai, which he obvoiusly enjoyed, although he describes them so well that I know that I will give them a miss. Gilmore also discusses Poul Anderson’s extension of his lengthy novella Genesis, giving some very useful background to the themes which Anderson addresses and which he is picking up from previous writing. Interestingly, Gilmore states that the novel is too short, whereas I found the novella too long!. Gilmore astutely suggests that those who do not know Anderson’s work that well would benefit from reading five previous Anderson stories. Gilmore closes with a similarly informative review of Alastair Reynold’s Revelation Space.
  • David Mathew reviews Peter Straub’s jazz-inspired novella Pork Pie Hat, Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer’s When Worlds Collide, and Mary E. Bradley Lane’s Mizora – a world of women which is more than 100 years old.


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