An extract from my SFF blog on the latest issue of the SFF magazine Interzone: An interesting preview of Iain M Banks' new Culture novel "Matter" (due out in hardback in February), within an entertaining interview with the author, is the first feature in the latest issue of the SFF mag. One to look out for when it arrives in paperback (not that I'm a skinflint, I'm just short of bookshelf space…). There are fewer stories this time, because they include a novella; "Far Horizon" by Jason Stoddard, illustrated by Paul Drummond (an engagingly retro wheel-shaped space station features, repeated on the cover). One of the richest men on a rather dystopian, corporation-ruled near-future Earth, has plans for terraforming Venus which won't bear fruit for millennia. He decides that the immediate future is too uninteresting to hang around for, so he cheats time by going into cold sleep until his new planet is ready, only to discover a vast surprise. In "Pseudo Tokyo" by Jennifer Linnaea, a future tourist, eagerly anticipating teleporting into Japan, finds himself not quite where he expected. "The Trace of Him" by Christopher Priest is a brief glimpse of a few hours in the life of a woman returning for the funeral of a lover she had left twenty years before. "The Faces of my Friends" by Jennifer Harwood-Smith is the winner of the James White Award. The last remnant of a outcast group is persecuted towards extinction in an intolerant future world; but what they are being persecuted for is an uncomfortable surprise. Finally, "The Scent of their Arrival" by Mercurio D. Riviera explores the world of planet-bound but intelligent beings who communicate by scent, struggling to understand the message sent by the vast spaceship which had arrived in orbit around their world. All is not what it seems… A good crop, as usual; original, inventive and absorbing. I've noticed that it's some time since I read a story in Interzone which I didn't enjoy. Either the standard is rising or I'm becoming acclimatised. Or perhaps I've become more tolerant of a fiction form which, even if it doesn't always work, at least doesn't involve a large investment in time to find that out. Or maybe it's all of those things. The final section in the mag is, as usual, the pages of detailed and sometimes hard-hitting reviews of films, TV programmes and books. Top of my "might buy" list from this batch is "Darwinia" by Robert Charles Wilson, which sounds like a story I might enjoy getting my teeth into.