The Best of Interzone edited by David Pringle

There are 29 stories here, representing "The Best of Interzone" from the first half of the Nineties. Interzone is the UK's premiere SF magazine and it can certainly hold its head up in any company. So, this book has the makings of a good anthology. Many of the authors will be well known to SF fans around the world.

Perhaps I was expecting too much but, for me at least, the book did not live up to expectations. Some of the stories were really good but too many were mediocre and one or two were very hard going.

The two stories that stood out the most were right at the end of the book. "Human Waste" by Mary Gentle and "Cyril the Cyberpig" by Eugene Byrne. These two tales could hardly be more different. The first was a ghastly reminder of the desire or perhaps even the need for cruelty that can drive humans. It reminded me very much of "All My Darling Daughters" by Connie Willis which you can find in the first of Ellen Datlow's "Alien Sex" anthologies. Eugene Byrne's tale on the other hand is a sort of "Robocop" satire which had me laughing out loud several times.

It's worth it if you like shorter SF a lot but if you will only read one anthology this year, then you should really find a better one. A real "Best of Interzone" could have been much better than this.

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JPOC Rating

Six out of ten. It is worth it for the better stories in here but there are too many second rate tales. It is, I'm sorry to say, not up to the standards of the earlier Interzone anthologies.

Detailed Contents

"Mitochondrial Eve" by Greg Egan
The secret to our entire past is in our genes. Or somewhere else. Well, it's OK but it does not come up to the level of some of this author's other work. 4/10

"The Message Fom Mars" by J.G.Ballard
Humans travel to Mars and come back, well, different. Ballard puts a new twist on this theme here. 6/10

"The Scultptor" by Garry Kilworth
A sculptor finds a new a subtle way to kill somebody. 5/10

"The Allure" by Richard Calder.
Forgettable. Forgetten. 1/10

"Song of Bullfrogs, Cry of Geese" by Nichola Griffith
A nice twist on the old "mystery illness wiping out mankind" theme. 8/10

"Pigs, mostly" by Ian Lee.
I really liked this waspish tale of surrogate parenting with a twist. 9/10

"The Tourist" by Paul Park
Time travel becomes routine and a man chases a lost relationship into the past. 4/10

"George and the Comet" by Stephen Baxter.
Two men transformed and transported to a strange future witness the death of the sun. 5/10

"Warmth" by Geoff Ryman
A child is raised by a robot becaude his mother has better things to do. But eventually, the child's attachment to the robot becomes stronger than the ties to mother. OK to read but no more than that. 3/10.

"The Family Football" by Ian R.MacLeod
A shape changing melange of family angst and smchmalz. Ick. 3/10

"Ahead" by Ian Watson
Cryopreservation meets and is subsumed into Nanotechnology. Well, yes but did the story actually say anything of interest? Third rate and 3/10.

"Bad Timing" by Molly Brown
Hmmm, didn't Harlan Ellison write this time travel paradox a long time ago? 2/10

World Wars II Paul Di Filippo
A pop-surreal alternative history that all seemed a little futile. 2/10

Bird on a Time Branch by Cherry Wilder
A lovely little story about a man who just misses a time warp. 7/10

Norbert and the System by Timons Esaias
What if we are all plugged into our personal computer all of the time and it helps or perhaps controls us in everything? But then what what if we wanted to have an off switch installed? A great story. One of the best in the book! 8/10

Sharp Tang by John Meaney
Weird alien encounter tale that is not well written and just drags on and on. 1/10

Off the Track by David Garnett
Exactly how many alternative histories featuring dead rock and roll stars do the editorial team on Interzone think that I want to read? Not nearly so many as they keep printing I can tell you! 2/10

The Eye Opener by Brian Aldis
This story has a slightly vintage feel but it was better than a lot of the more ostensible modern material here. A strange appartion is seen across the whole planet will it change mankind? 5/10

The Welfare Man by Chris Beckett
A near future social decay and alienated underclass story. Weak stuff really. 3/10

The Data Class by Ben Jeapes
Marx updated for an era of smart agents on the net. Slightly interesting but that's all. 4/10

Downtime in the MKCR by Eric Brown
Well, if you feel a need for virtual reality, gay AIDS SF then here it is but I'll just yawn quietly. 2/10

Eat Reecebread by Graham Joyce & Peter Hamilton
Mankind evolves into hemaphrodites as a result of eating the wrong sort of burger. Well really. 3/10

The Unkindness of Ravens by Brian Stapleford
A man creates smart birds but they end up in a lonely blind alley. Not such a bad tale really. 5/10

The Man Who Read a Book by Thomas Disch
After vanity publishing comes vanity reading! Amusing but of course, it has been overtaken by the events that allow anyone to post a review on Amazon or on the net! 6/10

Slow News Day by Kim Newman
Another weak alternative history tale. 2/10

The Net of Babel by David Langford
A library that hold every book possible but what is the point of the library? What is the point of the story? 3/10

A Ring of Green Fire by Seam McMullen
A rather odd tale about a rather odd new type of STD. Not that good. 3/10

Human Waste by Mary Gentle
A painful story about human cruelty and the need some people have to inflict pain. This was not a comfortable read but it was a great story. 9/10

Cyril the Cyberpig by Eugene Byrne
Robocop meets the muppets? Very funny, well written compelling tale about a pig with boosted abilities. 9/10