The interview in this issue of the magazine is with Paul Cornell, previously noted for writing Doctor Who novels. This is accompanied by a review of his new novel, London Falling, concerning detectives operating in an alternative London in which the supernatural exists. I love alternative London stories and have a range of them already: Christopher Fowler's Roofworld, Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, China Miéville's Un Lun Dun, and also Miéville's Kraken which is on my reading pile. So I have ordered Cornell's book and also Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, which was mentioned in the review. Lots to look forward to.
The film and DVD reviews feature Cloud Atlas which I am still in two minds about adding to my rental list (general conclusion: strange and difficult, but worth it), and also include generally favourable reviews of Skyfall, Neverland and Looper among others.
Five stories this time, but no fewer than three of them are novelettes:
The Animator by Chris Butler, novelette illustrated by Ben Baldwin. This is the second story set in his strange alternative Earth to be published in Interzone (the first being in issue 233). It is a world in which everyone constantly emits clouds of spores which can be detected by other people nearby and allows them to assess each other's status and mood; effectively not unlike telepathy. In this story, a young man is trying to make his fortune by developing a light projector for entertainment - but there are risks in introducing a new technology in a restrictive society with a vaguely steampunk feel.
Hypermnemonic by Melanie Tem, illustrated by David Gentry. A strange tale about a woman whose brain has been modified to give her an intense recall of events, sent to confront a man she once had an affair with. Atmospheric, but confusing and with a rather gothic conclusion.
The International Studbook of the Giant Panda by Carlos Hernandez, novelette illustrated by Richard Wagner. We all know that giant pandas have problems with mating, so in this story there's a hi-tech but controversial solution; remotely-controlled animatronic pandas to help things along. Put like that it sounds bizarre, but I found it intriguing and entertaining.
Paskutinis Iliuzija (The Last Illusion) by Damien Walters Grintalis, illustrated by Dave Senecal. The last magician in Lithuania is under constant threat after the invasion by the Soviet Union, but needs to help his sick daughter. A sad, bittersweet tale.
The Face Tree by Anthony Mann, novelette illustrated by Martin Hanford. What appear to be carved wooden faces are found protruding from tree-trunks around present day Oxford. A man who lives a pointless, drifting existence meets a mysterious woman who seems to have some connection with them.
A good selection this time, all of them worth reading. My favourite is Hernandez' story about the giant pandas.
Finally, I was sad to read in the R.I.P. section that Charles Chilton has died. I wrote about him in my review of Interzone 235 in July 2011, as follows:
"A blast from the past in David Langford's Ansible Link column in the July/August issue of this magazine: at the British Library's Out of This World SF exhibition he met 93-year-old Charles Chilton. I well remember listening to his exciting Journey into Space radio drama series in the 1950s - probably my first introduction to SF - and I still have an ancient copy of his novel The World in Peril on my shelf. I see from Wiki (which has a very informative entry) that Journey into Space was the last radio programme in the UK to attract a bigger audience than television and was translated into seventeen languages. It is apparently available on CD and internet download. It will have very little merit by modern SF standards but the sheer nostalgia value is huge!"