RogerBW's Blog

Clarkesworld 152, May 2019 20 May 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.

Tick-Tock by Xia Jia, translated by Emily Jin… is apparently a second translation, but Jin's English isn't very good, and basic errors stand out. The story is about commercial dreams, and the avatars who stand in for the dreamers in those dreams… but the underlying technology is so fuzzily defined that it comes over not as "this bad thing is a concomitant of doing things this way" but as "this is convenient for the story I want to tell". (Which of course all speculative technological setups are, but they shouldn't feel like it.)

Move Forward, Disappear, Transcend by A. T. Greenblatt looks at one of the first generation to undergo major life extension, which means she can't now transcend completely the way everyone else is; but it's all about atmosphere and feeling old, and it doesn't have a plot.

Empress in Glass by Cory Skerry looks at a celebrity who's gradually having her body replaced with glass, and what her next gimmick will be… and why for her this is a thing that actually matters. I think the revelation of what's going on was meant to be shocking, but for me there was very little here.

Insaan Hain, Farishte Nahin by Arula Ratnakar deals with the memory recording sent to operate an interstellar probe; it seems somehow both too fiddly (too many things going on, and the story's told out of order for increased tension) and too straightforward (clear good guys and bad guys). A good resolution, though, and this is one that'll stay with me.

The Sun from Both Sides by R.S.A. Garcia is a breath of fresh air among all this consciously modernistic writing: it has a plot, and characters, and action, and True Love, and a sense not only of fun but of size: sure, we may not meet all that many people, but it feels as though there's a big universe out there, rather than just the players needed for today's plot. It's utterly unexpected given the usual sort of story Clarkesworld publishes but I loved it.

Bad Day on Boscobel by Alexander Jablokov has a hard time following that, but does a reasonable job of setting up tension… but like so many modern short stories cuts off when it might be time to do the hard bit of the writing and come up with an interesting resolution.

Supernatural Brontës by Carrie Sessarego argues for Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights to be regarded as supernatural fiction. It's at least an amusing argument.

Black Holes, Artifacts, and Mysteries: A Conversation with Jack McDevitt by Chris Urie would make me interested in reading McDevitt's new book if I hadn't been so thoroughly put off by his last few.

Another Word: It's All Fun and Games by Alethea Kontis tells of a story submitted to an anthology, then pulled and published elsewhere. Possibly interesting if you haven't heard such anecdotes before.

Editor's Desk: I Don't Want to Bother You by Neil Clarke invites people to say hello if they see him. (Except in the toilet.)

The Garcia will certainly get a Hugo nomination from me; maybe also the Ratnakar.

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