Interzone Number 161, November 2000.

The Lady of the Carnelias, Richard Calder.

Calder returns once more to his Lord Soho series. The story has skipped a generation and a location – with the grandson of Richard Pike, the incunabulum (Interzone #159, September 2000), who resides in Paris, estranged from his family.

The alienated protagonist finds himself mesmerised by Madame Valery, who offers him an opportunity to explore the past through an infusion created from the leaves of a flower of dubious provenance. The story is somewhat less rich in its language and description than the predecessor stories, and is somewhat less enthralling as a result.

Ebb Tide, Sarah Singleton.

A mermaid story, in which the body of a mermaid, washed ashore, causes an elderly gentleman to revisit his youth.

The Atelier, Zoran Zivkovic.

The final in the sequence of stories by the Serbian author. The editorial postscript identifies the stories as being from a sequence published as a book Impossible Encounters, and this story itself relates the concluding effort an author puts into a book of that title, following a visit by a mysterious stranger (the theme of the other stories).

The Revolt of the Mobiles, Barrington J. Bayley.

BJB looks at a far future when humanity has reduced itself, not to a digital form, as is projected the case in most SF nowadays, but to residual bodies floating in vats, wired up to a consensual social web. Robots tend the humans, who now have the status of ‘Holy Immobiles’. Two robots challenge this status quo.

The Language of the Dead, Alexander Glass

The pick of this month’s fiction takes us to the Basque country in Spain, in which historic and more contemporary tensions blur. A Roman ruin offers an auditory glimpse into the past, with Roman invaders threatening the Basque people. A modern day Basque separist finds the past in one way an escape from those who are closing in on him.

Other stuff

  • Letters page – including responses to Gary Westfahl’s take in Interzone #159 on the non-appearance of Last Dangerour Visions
  • David Langford’s Ansible Link
  • interview with Philip Pullman
  • Nick Lowe’s Mutant Popcorn reviews the X-Men film
  • Gary Westfahl looks at American’s Dumbest Criminals and C.M. Kornbluth’s story ‘The Marching Morons’
  • Mike Ashley reviews at length ‘French Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Pulp Fiction’, the English edition of a massive encyclopedia
  • Chris Gilmore reviews Charles de Lint’s ‘Forest of the Heart’, Lois McMaster Bujold’s ‘A Civil Campaign’, Ann Halam’s ‘Don’t Open Your Eyes’, and Noel K. Hannan’s ‘Shenanigans’
  • Nick Gevers reviews Michael Swanwick’s collection ‘Tales of Old Earth’ at length, and in very complimentary terms
  • David Mathew reviews Ramsey Campbell’s ‘Silent Children’, Eric Brown’s ‘New York Nights’, Gene Wolfe’s ‘In Green Jungles’, Robert Sawyer’s ‘Calculating God’, and the reprinted ‘The Exploits of Englebrecht’ by Maurice Richardson
  • and four pages of books received.

Conclusion

Some solid fiction this month, and erudite reviews of the usual high standard. Not a classic issue, but neither a below par issue.

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