RogerBW's Blog

Clarkesworld 142, July 2018 31 July 2018

Clarkesworld is a monthly on-line magazine edited by Neil Clarke. After seeing where some of my favourite Hugo novelette nominations had been published, I decided to take a look at the current issue.

Everything is available in HTML from the magazine's site, and it can be bought in various other formats.

Gubbinal by Lavie Tidhar: on Titan, there are free-range robots, "Boppers" seeded by "Mad Rucker, the Terrorartist", which have been evolving on their own ever since. They make impossible artworks in the wilderness, and Sahar finds the things and brings them back to sell. She helps someone to find the One Big Artefact… and then the story suddenly stops. Oh well. Lots of pleasing background.

A Gaze of Faces by Mike Buckley: on a colony world, there's a virtual-reality archive which became addictive; a Vault Diver tries to find out more about how the colonies got set up. A grand conceit as to why Earth would have set up lots of small colonies, and very atmospheric, but it's weak and incomplete.

The James Machine by Kate Osias: an incomplete personality replication project turns out to be more useful than the real thing would have been. There's lots that's unstated here and I may be misreading it; it's that kind of story. But I liked the explanation that I decoded out of it.

For What are Delusions if Not Dreams? by Osahon Ize-Iyamu: somewhat obscure, seems to be something about AI rampancy, but really it's kind of hard to tell.

To Fly Like a Fallen Angel by Qi Yue, translated by Elizabeth Hanlon: in an underground city, one rebel will make a difference. Without wanting to give away plot points, this is a story I'd be very surprised to see written by an American author. It's perhaps a bit heavy-handed in making its points, but yay diversity! (Also some lovely bits about flying with muscle-powered wings, assisted by deliberately-arranged air currents.)

Swift as a Dream and Fleeting as a Sigh (reprint) by John Barnes: a quiet AI revolution, more or less. Has some good ideas but doesn't do much with them.

Last Gods (reprint) by Sam J. Miller: in a post-apocalyptic world going in fear of the gods, the large drama is the same as the small one. Limited characterisation, and a lovely core idea that alas doesn't hold up to much thought.

The Monster at the Movies: Film Adaptations of Frankenstein by Carrie Sessarego: mostly a summary of the major adaptations, but with attention paid to the way various themes have been handled. More interesting than I was expecting.

Dependent Intelligence, Humanism, and a City in a Paragraph: A Conversation with James Patrick Kelly by Chris Urie: fairly straightforward author interview.

Another Word: Your Life is Epic! by A.M. Dellamonica: advice to writers, on how to use even the boring incidents of life to make interesting writing.

Editor's Desk: A Threat, Followed Through by Neil Clarke: mostly an admission that he's run of things to write about in this column, but he's been given some ideas that he may use in the future.

There's nothing here that I'd nominate for a Hugo, but I enjoyed the pieces by Tidhar, Buckley, Osias and Qi. Editing seems to be with a very light touch even by modern standards; there's a mention of a pirate queen's "canons", a flip between present and past tense that is of no significance to the story, and a mention of something being "reigned in". Overall this was much more to my taste than the only other issue I've read, number 78 back in 2014, and certainly feels like a good use of my time.

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Series: Clarkesworld | Next in series: Clarkesworld 143, August 2018

  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 01:52pm on 31 July 2018

    Boppers – Battle Orientated Pre-Programmed Eradicator Robots.

    And Mad Rucker – Rudy Rucker perhaps.

    Someone is a fan.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 02:00pm on 31 July 2018

    That was certainly the connection I made.

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