RogerBW's Blog

Clarkesworld 161, February 2020 17 March 2020

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.

"Outer" by Hollis Joel Henry: after a big mutation event, the September children have superpowers and everyone else hates them… and that's it, that's all this story has to say. And it says it in Caribbean style ("They go hate you too. They go come for you too. You have to get hard, Toozen. They go mash you up.") If that were my voice I might welcome this story as something written in it. But it isn't, and it doesn't add anything for me.

"Eyes of the Crocodile" by Malena Salazar Maciá, translated by Toshiya Kamei: in a dying world with plot-driven rogue nanotech, bad things happen to people. Several of the stories in this issue have the same problem: there's no life of the mind, nothing that these people (human or otherwise, though in this case they're human) think about beyond a basic idea or two.

"Mandorla" by Cooper Shrivastava has two species of sapient plants failing to understand each other. Again, they don't have any culture so everything they say is straightforward telling. Has a point, but takes 6,000 words to get to it.

"The Host" by Neal Asher has a criminal with holes in his memory going to a strange planet… the writing quality has taken a sharp uptick compared with the rest of this issue because Asher's been at this game for a while, though the story's still rather longer than it needs to be.

"Jigsaw Children" by Grace Chan has the great biotech revolution: in order to prevent cancer, children are produced by gene-splicing four or more parents, and in China at least this means the family has been abolished (um, right). Chan assumes that the reader will share her revulsion at this.

"Generation Gap" by Thoraiya Dyer is some kind of post-human post-apocalyptic bare survival and pointless conflict, and again there's nothing these people think about.

"Jules Verne and a Journey Through Genre" by Carrie Sessarego has a quick examination of how scientific romance turned into science fiction, and tries to make a claim that Twenty Thousand Leagues was much closer to reality than we generally see it. After all, there were submarines in 1871! Well, just about.

"Nanobots and Braincases: A Conversation with Tochi Onyebuchi" and "Faith in Vision: A Conversation with Ken Liu" by Arley Sorg both fail to interest me in these authors' works. I'm probably unreasonably put off Ken Liu because of his translation of The Three-Body Problem.

"Editor's Desk: 2019 Reader's Poll Finalists" by Neil Clarke: it's now too late to vote.

The Asher was all right. The rest of the fiction left me cold. Some issues definitely have moods, and this was one that didn't suit me.

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Previous in series: Clarkesworld 160, January 2020 | Series: Clarkesworld | Next in series: Clarkesworld 162, March 2020

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