RogerBW's Blog

Clarkesworld 144, September 2018 15 September 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.

A Study in Oils by Kelly Robson explores a future society with an interesting approach to criminal justice; I can't go into detail without spoiling the pleasure of discovery, but while the core plot is well-worn the variations played here work well. (I wasn't especially impressed with Robson's Waters of Versailles but this is a great deal more to my taste.)

Waves of Influence by D.A. Xiaolin Spires has a world where social media is all; but alas the course of the story is utterly predictable after the introductory scene, and it never manages to be interesting enough to overcome that handicap.

Dandelion by Elly Bangs is a generational story of the effects of discovery of an alien artefact – and I'm afraid the artefact's purpose struck me as criminally irresponsible, so my sympathies weren't tweaked they way they were meant to be. The people are excellent, though.

The Foodie Federation's Dinosaur Farm by Luo Longxiang has dinosaurs being raised for meat. Including intelligent ones. It's clearly not meant to be taken terribly seriously, though it has its moments.

The Mighty Slinger by Karen Lord and Tobias S. Buckell has an aging calypso singer inciting interplanetary revolution, while travelling into the future via cold-sleep. I wasn't fond of the writing style, but the people and plot work well.

Mayfly by Peter Watts and Derryl Murphy has one good idea, but it's a Peter Watts story so everything that happens is pointless and horrible.

How and Why CRISPR Will Change the World by Doug Dluzen is a very basic layman's introduction which doesn't go into any of the interesting possibilities.

Mars, Sextants, and Puppets: A Conversation with Mary Robinette Kowal by Chris Urie is a good author interview; I didn't particularly get on with The Lady Astronaut of Mars but this suggests I might give her novels a look.

Another Word: Softly Dying Darlings, and How to Deal with Them by Alethea Kontis looks at the writer's truism "kill your darlings"… testing the implications of a bunch of meanings, none of which is the only one that I have heard actual writers assign to it (to wit, if you think a particular aspect of your work is the Best Thing Ever, there's a significant chance that it won't work for other people and you'll have to change it). Well, all right, Kontis is an actual writer even if I've never heard of her, but it seems odd that she shouldn't know this.

Editor's Desk: Another Post-Con Crash by Neil Clarke is his report on Worldcon in San José.

Only the Watts really didn't work for me this time, and I may well nominate the Robson for a Hugo (though I'll read it again first).

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