RogerBW's Blog

Clarkesworld 151, April 2019 11 April 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.

The Last Eagle by Natalia Theodoridou is a story of travel, looking for a lost sister-by-choice: there's been some kind of war against the machines, but intelligent machines aren't interesting, not in a world where the narrator is apparently the first person ever to be trans and in love. Dull, alas.

Ripen by Yukimi Ogawa has an island where makeup is illegal, but some of the islanders have weird skins (presumably because of some spillover from something or other nasty, but nobody ever questions it). Mostly it seems to be about good behaviour in adversity. Imperfect but fascinating.

Gaze of Robot, Gaze of Bird by Eric Schwitzgebel has a non-sapient robot trying to rebuild humanity out of local primitive life forms after something has gone fatally wrong with the solar system. It's an interesting viewpoint but feels awkward.

The Flowering by Soyeon Jeong, translated by Jihyun Park and Gord Sellar, is trying to be terribly clever dripping in elements of the dictatorship in which the narrator lives and the way in which she has conditioned herself not to think of rebellion; but it's also about her sister who has, er, done something, maybe giving everyone access to the Internet rather than forcing them to go through the official identity checks? It's all too fuzzy and in love with its own voice.

Social Darwinism by Priya Chand has a camera-whore with the "needs-attention mod", spending her earnings on advertising time and DNA upgrades, and then a chance to earn big comes along. Lots of ideas, but a dreary story about a dreary person.

In Search of Your Memories by Nian Yu, translated by Andy Dudak, has someone looking through memory extracts to try to work out why an uploaded personality feels that something's missing. I think it's trying to be a puzzle story but doesn't lay the groundwork to let the reader solve it, and there are no personalities worth speaking of; is it trying to use shock value?

Skyscrapers in the Sand by Y.M. Pang is another dreary story: someone's going into the sand-sunken ruins of Beijing in order to commemorate a failed love affair. So what? Whatever it was the author felt should hook the reader goes right past me.

Confessions of a Con Girl by Nick Wolven is another dreary story: people are rated Pro or Con in their use to society according to their ability to empathise with people, but our heroine can't play the system. Not helped by what I trust is a deliberately incompetent writing style.

Talking Cells: Deciphering the Messages in Our Blood by Douglas F. Dluzen is the usual Dluzen superficiality. You could read this for the gosh-wow, or you could read the Wikipedia article on Exosomes which would actually teach you something.

Syria, Time, and Typewriters: A Conversation with Jack Skillingstead by Chris Urie is an author interview that doesn't lure me in or make me want to read the book. As is Shadows, Swordplay, and Ballroom Dancing: A Conversation with Anna Kashina by Chris Urie.

Editor's Desk: An International Journey by Neil Clarke tells about why he's been trying to get stories from outside the UK/USA/Canada/Australia, and what he's doing to continue this. (My feeling from this issue is: people from outside those countries can also write stories in which nothing happens and there's no conclusion, yay.)

I admit I'm in something of a bad mood at the moment but there was nothing here I really enjoyed; Ripen came closest.

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