RogerBW's Blog

Clarkesworld 149, February 2019 23 February 2019

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.

East of the Sun, West of the Stars by Brit E. B. Hvide is a conscious update of a fairy tale. Too conscious? And perhaps a bit too condescending and paternalistic in its treatment of an Amish-like community travelling through space? Not sure, but it didn't sit well with me.

Painwise by Robert Reed, while it has some minimal science-fiction trappings, is mostly about living with someone else's illness. It works but I don't love it.

The Final Ascent by Ian Creasey has humanity, or at least one human, offered an afterlife via mysterious alien glands; it starts developing its ideas in an interesting way, then collapses and ends without reaching anything more than the basics.

Give the Family My Love by A. T. Greenblatt has an astronaut visiting an enigmatic alien library; and it's about despair, and hope, and how they can coexist. I found it rather fine.

The Face of God by Bo Balder has a dead giant falling on the village; but its flesh has miraculous properties. So of course they start strip-mining it; there's fascinating technical climbing here, and it's let down only by the somewhat trite ending.

The Butcher of New Tasmania by Suo Hefu has someone explaining why what he did wasn't genocide. It's all right but slight.

Mother Tongues by S. Qiouyi Lu has a world in which people can sell their knowledge of language. Interesting ideas, but it may well speak more to people who've lived in a second language than it does to me.

Digging by Ian McDonald has a huge Martian terraforming project, and heroic engineering, and then… an anticlimax.

The Mighty Feats of the Everyday Microbe by Douglas F. Dluzen is another stock Dluzen piece, a very quick survey of microbes (gosh, they can do lots of amazing things) with no depth to it. This is only barely beyond the level I'd expect from the sort of person, moderately interested in everything, who is my mental model of a science fiction reader, so I'm not sure what the audience is.

Cable Cars, Explosions, and Life-Sized Griffins: A Conversation with Suzanne Palmer by Chris Urie spends more time hinting about interesting things about this author than it does talking about them, but I'm more interested in Palmer (from whom I've read two short pieces so far) than I was before.

Another Word: Stories that Change the World by Cat Rambo is a thoughtful piece on learning/teaching about transformative stories: what the key elements are, and how to distinguish them from propaganda (I'm not convinced there's a firm line to be drawn, but it's a nice idea).

Editor's Desk: Finalists, Translations, and Awards by Neil Clarke is administrivia: you can now vote for top story of 2018; there will be more translated stories in future issues.

The Greenblatt piece was excellent and may get an award nod from me; as may the Rambo for non-fiction.

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