John Clute, David Pringle & Simon Ounsley (Eds): Interzone The Third Anthology

As the title says, this is the third anthology of stories originally published in the British SF magazine Interzone. To be precise, there are fourteen stories here that originally appeared in the magazine between 1985 and 1988.

This book is a testament to the outstanding quality of some of the stories that appeared in Interzone in those years. It's true that not every story is a masterpiece (Some are pretty weak) but this anthology has more than its fair share of gems.

The finest is "Krash Bangg Joe and the Pineal Zen Equation" by Eric Brown. This was his first published SF short story and it really is exceptionally good. It mixes detectives, telepaths, kidnapping and revenge with a wide range of cyberpunk themes.

One of the best things about this volume is that, as you read it, you will discover new writers who you really like. For the reason and the quality of the better stories, I give this collection a strong recommendation.

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My rating

Seven out of ten. One of the better Interzone books.

Detailed Contents

Brin, David: The Giving Plague
A new virus is discovered. It has no ill effects but it compels sufferers to make blood donations to encourage its spread. An interesting idea well espoused. 7/10

Newman, Kim: The Next-But-One Man
The world's most selfish man is cursed by a stranger. The result is that he is ignored by the rest of the world. Reminds me a lot of Harlan Ellison's "Are You Listening" as well as another story in another IZ anthology. 8/10

Fowler, Karen Joy: Heartland
A young girl working in a burger bar in a third world tourist trap falls for a rich westerner who promises her the world but leaves without her and breaks her heart. Not really SF though but I expect that the editors considered it to be an Interzone story. 4/10

Garnet, David S.: The Only One
Starting off sometime around the end of the last century, a Policeman acquires a time machine and uses it in an attempt to change the present by going back and altering the events that caused him to lose his wife. He ends up Groundhog Day looping himself around the same events while time leaps onwards into the future. Interesting in its way. 6/10

Wilder, Cherry: The Decline of Sunshine.
Well written but pointless drivel about old folk's homes and psychics. 2/10

Kadrey, Richard: Goodbye Houston Street Goodbye
Can the destruction of Manhattan be considered art? The protagonist here clearly thought so. This is a good tale that lingers in the memory. 8/10

Tuttle, Lisa: Memories of the Body
What if you could order up a facsimile of your ex and murder them? All you need to do is to pay But what if that was not enough and you wanted to kill the real person and not the fax? One man found a way. Actually, this was pretty good. 7/10

Stableford, Brian: Sexual Chemistry
This story presages the marketing of viagra but also, covers a far wider range of possibilities for sexually directed pharmaceutical products. A biotech genius, hampered by his own lack of success with women and his father's name embarks on a series of discoveries. 6/10

Swanwick, Michael: Foresight
A sort of consciousness time-flow reversal. I really don't see why a story like this is here. It's not an original idea and it doesn't say anything interesting about time or consciousness and the story would be a boring juvenile tale if written the right way round. 3/10

Brown, Eric: Krash-Bangg Joe and the Pineal-Zen Equation
What a fine story. A detective tale laced with love and revenge. A telepath working for a detective agency is upset when a rich businessman targets her lover's brain. After she gets mad, she gets even. Brown's first published SF story and it's great. 9/10

Murphy, Pat: His Vegetable Wife
A farmer/colonist plants some seeds and grows himself a wife. This had the potential to be interesting but it jut came as rather weak. 4/10

Langford, David: Cube Root
A small band of soldiers is exposed to a fatal radiation dose from an atomic blast. With just a short while left to live and with their officer dead, they decide that they are free to go on a rampage of rape and pillage. But are they really dying and why is one of the group making secret notes. A good story with something interesting to say. 7/10

Wilson, Peter Lamborn: Fountain of Time
Spanish conquistador Ponce de Leon is stuck in a time loop in the everglades. Yeah, great, I guess that this must be an "Interzone story" because it's not my idea of SF. 2/10

McAuley, Paul J.: Karl and the Ogre
Post apocalypse swords and sorcery tale in which normal humans are hunted down and killed. 4/10