Interzone Number 168, June 2001

Babylon Sisters. Paul Di Filippo.

Classy stuff from Di Filippo in a well written (as you would expect) and nicely tongue in cheek hard SF romp very much in the style of UK(ish) writers Iain M. Banks and more latterly Alastair Reynolds. The son of a diplomat flees off-world, disorientated at the ease and speed at which he is able to find himself in an entirely different environment. He enters Babylon (by way of an organic sphincter!) and falls into the company of two chimeric babes who take him under their wings (this metaphor not entirely the most appropriate as they are more equine than avian). The pair are information pirates and…. – well you will just have to read the story itself. Most recommended, and just the right kind of humorous touch!

Restoring the Balance, 2. Tony Ballantyne.

A ‘stand-along sequel’ to the similarly titled story from the previous issue. A somewhat different take, but with the drug MTPH affecting the mind of the main protagonist. A bleak and paranoid near future is the setting, in which an MTPH user finds herself deep in trouble, involved in forces far beyond her own experience, and that of her drug-induced sibling.

Mr. Animation and the Wu Zhiang Zombies. Liz Williams.

Interzone regular Williams returns to the setting of her issue 154 Adventures in the Ghost Trade, and returns quite successfully. The oriental setting, with a ghostly dimension not far away, sees an up and coming rock band dabbling in the occult. And you can guess that this leads them into doo-doo of a interdimensional spooky nature. Only slightly marred by me by and ending not quite up to the rest of the story.

Rare as a rocket. Nigel Brown.

The elderly neighbour is a strange gentleman, evidently without the normally compulsory bio-link to the network. And he claims to be a spaceman, and further still…

Nicely written story by a newish author.

Grass. Dominic Green.

Transatlantic readers will possibly know Green through his Hartwell-collected ‘That Thing Over There’. More recently ‘Something Chronic’ and ‘Rude Elves and Dread Norse Reindeer’ showed a rare ability to do humour well in SF/fantasy.

This story is somewhat different. Difficult to categorise or describe, which is generally a good sign, Green takes current concerns with genetically modified food and puts them far back/far forward in time. He creates a quite believable human-yet-alien culture, and produces a very good story.

Other stuff.

  • Nick Gevers interviews Lucius Shepard, adding to the recent F&SF special issue on Shepard, although using the same photograph, this time blown up to A4 size
  • David Langford’s dead-tree version of Ansible Link
  • Evelyn Lewes reviews satellite/digital tv and move SF through her widescreen Sony Wega
  • Gary Westfahl writes about Martians in film and fiction
  • Paul McAuley reviews Tim Powers’ ‘Declare’, Brian Stableford’s ‘The Cassandra Complex’, Warren Ellis/Darick Robertson’s graphic novel ‘Transmetropolitan’ and Michael Faber’s ‘Under the Skin’
  • Liz William’s revies Molly Brown’s short story collection ‘Bad Timing’
  • Matt Colborn reviews Sara Douglass’ ‘The Nameless Day’, Carl Berg’s ‘Transformation’, Tim Lebbon’s horror short story collection ‘As the Sun Goes Down’, and Chris Wooding’s ‘The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray’

Conclusion.

If I was that way inclined I would go through my reviews of the issues of Interzone since January 2000 and set up a scoring system for each issue, to prove statistically that this is the best issue of Interzone I have read since January 2000. But that would be a bit naff, so I will simply state that I think that this is probably the best issue of Interzone I have read since January 2000, with every story ‘excellent’.

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