RogerBW's Blog

Clarkesworld 143, August 2018 24 August 2018

Clarkesworld is a monthly on-line magazine edited by Neil Clarke.

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

The Veilonaut's Dream by Henry Szabranski: somewhere out near Pluto, there's a discontinuity that randomly opens portals to other parts of space. You can get rich by going through in a pressure suit and observing, but they close randomly too. The tang of Pohl's Gateway is all over this, but the principal is rather more interesting; there's one significant inconsistency (you can't bring back recording devices, so everything has to be reported by trained observers, which is why they don't just use robot probes; but there's a "net connection, the always open session to the Observatory servers"), but the story is pleasing even if the ending is deliberately fuzzy.

The Anchorite Wakes by R.S.A. Garcia: Sister Nadine lives in a cell built into the wall of the village church… but things are not as simple or bucolic as they appear. This tries a little too hard to be beautiful and unexpected, and the resolution is too easy as a result, but still it works rather well.

Kingfisher by Robert Reed: nearly-posthuman entities do nearly-incomprehensible things. I've liked Reed's work since a young cyberpunk-reading Roger was lured in by The Hormone Jungle, though this tries perhaps a bit too hard to be Grand and Baroque, not to mention operatic.

The Privilege of the Happy Ending by Kij Johnson: a fairy tale about a girl and her chicken… but interrupted every so often by careful reminders that this is a story, that the reader is free to imagine whatever resolution they like to matters that aren't explicitly mentioned. I rather liked Johnson's The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, but this spends so much effort on repeatedly making it clear that it is a work of artifice that the rest suffers by comparison. I know, I know, that's the point, but it's not a point I found interesting.

The Loneliest Ward by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu): two nurses deal with a new neurological disorder. The ending is too readily forecast, and now that I've read two authors translated by Liu I'm starting to think that some of the the stodginess of The Three-Body Problem may have been his doing.

Yukui! by James Patrick Kelly: a Dependent Intelligence, hard-wired to hero-worship, has to cope with a master who doesn't really want it. Effectively done, and doesn't overstay its welcome.

Othermother by Rich Larson: an excerpt from Larson's novel Annex. A young runaway has to kill his "othermother", which looks a bit like his dead real mother but is some kind of alien machine. Raises many more questions than it answers, but in an interesting way.

Mary and the Monster: The Life of Mary Godwin Shelley by Carrie Sessarego: a brief life of Mary Shelley, and a briefer description of how this fed into Frankenstein.

Augmentations, Assassins, and Soundtracks: A Conversation with Emily Devenport by Chris Urie: a good author interview that soon gets away from the generic questions, and leaves me interested in reading Devenport's book Medusa Uploaded.

Another Word: Keeping Time by Fran Wilde: mostly an expression of wonder at the various scales of timekeeping, from atomic lattice clocks of the Long Now, and right at the end a sudden recollection that this is meant to be advice to writers.

Editor's Desk: Oh, the Horror of it All! by Neil Clarke: the magazine will no longer accept horror submissions (as distinct from SF and fantasy).

I enjoyed all the pieces this time, and didn't trip over any blatant editing errors. Again, I don't think there's anything I'd put up for a Hugo, but this is all worth reading.

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