Entry updated 23 October 2023. Tagged: Publication.
UK Semiprozine which began in Spring 1982, A4 format, saddle-stapled, continuously numbered, on Slick paper from #41, November 1990, quarterly to #24, Summer 1988; bimonthly to #34, March/April 1990; monthly to April 2003 (with combined June/July 2002 issue). Thereafter bimonthly, but with only a Spring 2004 issue before the schedule restarted with September/October 2004. It shrank to small standard size (9.5 x 6.75 ins; 240 x 170 mm) from September/October 2012, to match what was by then its sister magazine Black Static (see The Third Alternative). There was a further hiatus after #289 (November/December 2020), with a subsequent announced schedule of three-monthly double issues (see below), and a switch to a new format and new publisher that resumed publication with #294 dated January 2023 (again see below).
Interzone was first published and edited by a collective made up of John Clute, Alan Dorey, Malcolm Edwards, Colin Greenland, Graham James, Roz Kaveney, Simon Ounsley and David Pringle. This group shrank: James left after #2, Edwards after #4, Kaveney after #7, Clute and Dorey after #10, and Greenland after #12. From #13, Autumn 1985, the only editors were Ounsley and Pringle, although some previous editors continued to act in advisory rôles. From #25, September/October 1988, when the magazine went bimonthly, the sole editor (and publisher) was David Pringle, who had been from the outset, along with Edwards, one of the two major figures behind its publication, until he stepped down in Spring 2004. Thereafter until 2022 the magazine was published by TTA Press, Ely, and edited by Andy Cox. Begun as an idealistic exercise by a group of fans and writers at a time when the UK had almost no market for sf short stories, it has grown into by far the most distinguished UK sf magazine since New Worlds and Science Fantasy. In appearance and content it is a fully professional magazine, with increased colour artwork under TTA, although its comparatively low circulation (by US standards) requires it to be classed as a Semiprozine in Hugo voting.
Interzone published perhaps too many downbeat stories in its early issues, hoping rather too obviously to revive something of the feeling of Michael Moorcock's New Worlds and its New-Wave glories. However, it slowly developed – certainly by 1985/86 – a personality of its own. From #13 (Autumn 1985) Nick Lowe has contributed a sophisticated film-review column; from #16 (Summer 1986) John Clute has been the featured and inimitable senior book reviewer. Since then the nonfiction component has continually improved: a second book-review column by Paul J McAuley was added from #23 (Spring 1988), and Mary Gentle also reviewed regularly between 1991 and 1993, whilst Chris Gilmore continued to review until 2001. Reviews have grown considerably under Andy Cox's tenure with a regular stable of reviewers. Good, perceptive interviews have appeared regularly, as well as literary and market analysis in the interesting Big Sellers series; Wendy Bradley began (and later ceased) to review, amusingly, both tv shows and fantasy fiction; in #62 (August 1992) David Langford began to publish a monthly condensed version of Ansible, his well-known news-oriented Fanzine, and Charles Platt and Bruce Sterling separately contributed occasional columns of (deliberately) controversial polemics.
All of this gave the magazine a good bone structure on which the skin and musculature of the fiction could be adequately supported. It has slowly become clear that this one magazine, despite its slender resources and comparatively small readership, has been largely (if not solely) responsible for catalysing a second new wave of UK sf. Its younger UK authors have included Stephen Baxter, Keith Brooke, Eric Brown, Richard Calder, Neil Ferguson, Dominic Green, Nicola Griffith, Peter F Hamilton, Simon D Ings, Ian Lee (1951- ), Paul McAuley, Ian McDonald, Ian R MacLeod, Kim Newman, Alastair Reynolds, Charles Stross and Liz Williams among many others, coming in to join already established writers like Brian W Aldiss, J G Ballard, Barrington J Bayley, M John Harrison, Gwyneth Jones, Garry Kilworth, Keith Roberts, Brian M Stableford and Ian Watson. Australian Greg Egan has been an especially notable contributor, as has, though more seldom, the Canadian Geoff Ryman and the Irish Eugene Byrne. Good US and other international contributors have included Greg Bear, Michael Blumlein, Scott Bradfield, Paul Di Filippo, Thomas M Disch, Karen Joy Fowler, Richard Kadrey, Geoffrey A Landis, Pat Murphy, Rachel Pollack, Michael Swanwick and Lavie Tidhar.
This represents, so far as UK sf writing is concerned, a spectacular upturn in both the quality and the quantity of sf by new writers, after long years of near-stagnation in the 1970s and early 1980s. It is not so much the UK writers' uniform brilliance – they are by no means always brilliant – as the sense of vigour and community they arouse by their regular appearance together in this magazine; this is what has revitalized UK sf, and incidentally encouraged the starting up of many other small UK semiprozines in Interzone's wake. Pringle as editor was occasionally, and somewhat unfairly, accused of playing it too safe and commercial in recent years, after publishing much experimental fiction early on. More commonly he is regarded as having got the balance between Soft SF and Hard SF, the experimental and the old-style fast-paced narrative, about right. In the late 1980s and through the 1990s, Interzone was intelligently eclectic.
A crucial catalyst in this British sf renaissance was a series of editorials written by Pringle during 1984-85 where he challenged contributors to produce more radical Hard SF. Pringle was not after the Analog-style of hard sf, but rather a more realistic forecast and melding of the social and human impact of technological developments. His plea coincided with the rise of Cyberpunk and the growing understanding of the significance of Nanotechnology. As a consequence this wave of writers rebuilt science fiction in Britain for a new generation, utilizing traditional British cautious optimism and the desire to understand and explore, to develop a healthy and robust body of work. Arguably this would not have happened without Interzone, because in its absence Britain would have lacked a laboratory in which to experiment.
Pringle also tried occasional experiments to help widen the magazine's market as well as saving costs. The May/June and July/August 1991 issues were exchanged with the American magazine Aboriginal Science Fiction to help attract an American readership. The September 1991 issue was combined with Million – Pringle's short-lived companion to Interzone, that considered popular literary history and culture – in the hope of broadening the literary market.
Both cover art and interior art had originally been of uneven quality. The most notable artist consistently associated with Interzone – he was Art Editor for a time – was Ian Miller. The artist usually known as SMS (Simon M Short) produced a number of striking covers starting from October 1991. In October 1994 Interzone merged with the small-press magazine Nexus, with the result that Paul Brazier, editor of the latter, became graphic designer for Interzone, providing invaluable support and giving the magazine a facelift. There were several innovative steampunk covers to illustrate, amongst other material, an unusual series of stories and novellas contributed by Brian Stableford. For the next decade Interzone continued to look better and feel better, a steadily but continually rising curve. It won the Hugo award in 1995 in the Semiprozine category and the British Fantasy Award in 1998 in the small press category.
In 2004 Pringle stepped down as editor and the magazine passed to TTA Press, under Andy Cox, who also edited The Third Alternative (which later became Black Static). Cox developed a strong editorial team which included Sandy Auden, Andrew Hedgecock, David Mathew, Jetse de Vries and Liz Williams; David Langford's "Ansible Link" news column and Nick Lowe's "Mutant Popcorn" film column continued. Cox introduced some overly dramatic design changes which reduced the magazine's readability regardless of the quality of any fiction. For a while (August 2005-October 2006) the magazine was perfect-bound and full letter size but this, combined with some stunning covers, coloured interior art and greater exposure to the magazine through the internet saw Interzone develop a new personality without completely losing the old. Many of the same regulars remained but infused with new blood, like Tim Akers, Jamie Barras, Hal Duncan, Jason Sanford and Jason Stoddard, and Interzone even saw the return of M John Harrison, Christopher Priest and others of the old guard. Combined with a significant enlargement in the reviews and other features, and a bold, almost in-your-face presentation, Interzone morphed itself into the new millennium and continued to provide the same ambassadorial and mentoring roles for British sf that it had provided for thirty years.
In the early twenty-first century Interzone passed two milestones, reaching its 200th issue in September 2005 and, in July/August 2009 with its 223rd issue, exceeding the previous record total held by New Worlds and so becoming Britain's longest-running sf magazine.
In late 2020, however, Andy Cox announced (not for the first time) that the following year's January/February issue would be skipped; and in January 2021 that Interzone #289 for November/December 2020 would be his last and that Peter Crowther's PS Publishing would take over the magazine as a digital publication with Ian Whates as editor. Arrangements for this transfer fell through and Cox remained in control, soliciting material for further issues. His initial plan was to drop all nonfiction departments and switch to double issues without internal artwork, exemplified by Black Static #78/#79 (undated, April 2021); but the usual nonfiction returned in Interzone #290/#291 (undated, June 2021). Another long pause followed, with the further double issue #292/#293 eventually published in July 2022. In that month it was announced that Interzone had been sold as a going concern to Gareth Jelley's Poland-based MYY Press, with Jelley as the new editor, and hopes of a return to bimonthly publication. Issue #294 dated January 2023 and #295 dated September 2023 reached subscribers in February and September of that year; a smaller paperback format has been adopted (5 ins x slightly over 7 ins), with fiction and the traditional departments. In October 2023 a switch to digital-only publication was announced.
There have been a number of spin-off Anthology series from the magazine. The first was a run of five volumes beginning with Interzone: The 1st Anthology (anth 1985) edited by David Pringle with John Clute and Colin Greenland, The 2nd Anthology (anth 1987) edited by Pringle with Clute and Simon Ounsley, The 3rd Anthology (anth 1988) edited by Pringle with Clute and Ounsley, The 4th Anthology (anth 1989) edited by Pringle with Clute and Ounsley, and The 5th Anthology (anth 1991) edited by Pringle with Clute and Lee Montgomerie. Original stories have appeared in #1 (1 story), #4 (3 stories) and #5 (2 stories), their authors including Stephen Baxter, Geoff Ryman and Cherry Wilder. David Pringle also edited The Best of Interzone (anth 1997) and The Ant-Men of Tibet and Other Stories (anth 2001). [PN/MA/DRL]
Awards for fiction
- Spring 1982: Keith Roberts, "Kitemaster" – short fiction BSFA Award
- Spring 1983: Malcolm Edwards, "After Images" – short fiction BSFA Award
- Spring 1984: Geoff Ryman, "The Unconquered Country" – short fiction BSFA Award
- Spring 1985: David Langford, "Cube Root" – short fiction BSFA Award
- Summer-Autumn 1987: Geoff Ryman, "Love Sickness" – short fiction BSFA Award
- June 1990: Kim Newman, "The Original Dr. Shade" – short fiction BSFA Award
- December 1991: Molly Brown, "Bad Timing" – short fiction BSFA Award
- August 1993: Robert Holdstock & Garry Kilworth, "The Ragthorn" – short fiction BSFA Award
- September 1994: Paul Di Filippo, "The Double Felix" – short fiction BSFA Award
- January 1996: Barrington J Bayley, "A Crab Must Try" – short fiction BSFA Award
- December 1997: Stephen Baxter, "War Birds" – short fiction BSFA Award
- October 1998: Gwyneth Jones, "La Cenerentola" – short fiction BSFA Award
- March 1999: Eric Brown, "Hunting the Slarque" – short fiction BSFA Award
- October 1999: Greg Egan, "Border Guards" – novelette Locus Award
- June 2000: Peter F Hamilton, "The Suspect Genome" – short fiction BSFA Award
- January 2001: Eric Brown, "The Children of Winter" – short fiction BSFA Award
- February 2009: Eugie Foster, "Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast" – novelette Nebula Award
- Nigel Brown. The Mitre Pub: The Interzone Years (no place given: Friday Night Books, 2021) [nonfiction: anth: pb/photographic]
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