RogerBW's Blog

Clarkesworld 153, June 2019 17 June 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 Painter of Trees" by Suzanne Palmer has the invading Terran ecosystem and the last of the aliens, with one human trying to help but only screwing things up more. It's thoroughly depressing, but also curiously old-fashioned; the basic setup feels like a 1970s new wave story.

"Erdenweh" by Bo Balder is about someone trying to solve the problem of depression and suicide suffered by people on extrasolar colonies; but it relies on an unsupported leap of logic which the viewpoint character assumes must be right even though there's no attempt at confirmation. This isn't how solving scientific problems works.

"The Peppers of GreenScallion" by Myung-Hoon Bae has a war solved by the actual inhabitants of the planet, nominally citizens of one power or the other, talking to each other. It's desperately idealistic, which is good for cynical me.

"Said of Angels" by Eric Del Carlo is a lush and baroque setting of many races and civilisations, and the Arch Hierophant to whom their religious decisions have been delegated… which makes about as much sense as the Enigma Babylon One World Faith, especially when it becomes clear that the Arch Hierophant's decisions won't necessarily be respected even though he's been explicitly placed in charge of all religions. Which breaks it enough, for me, that what Del Carlo apparently considers the real story, how to detect the machinations of an hypothesised invisible but benevolent agency, rather falls by the way. Lovely atmosphere, though.

"Bonobo" by Robert Reed has people changing species, though it's clearly presented more as tourism than as any question of identity. Drifts off into the distant future and doesn't really say anything at all.

"Field Mice" by Andy Dudak has one faction believing in continuity of personality after destructive upload, and the other not. And what does this mean when a spy for one faction is captured, and will be uploaded and endlessly tortured, by the other? Should you care about the future suffering of something if you believe it isn't you? Ignores all the pragmatic answers in favour of philosophising.

"Two Sisters in Exile" by Aliette de Bodard is more of the Vietnamese-empire-in-space setting that I rather enjoy; here, someone involved in the accidental death of a ship travels to where the ship came from, and realises that these people actually care about their ships, and will simply roll over the smaller civilisation now that it's been a nuisance to them. Not great, but pleasing.

"Love at Stake" by Carrie Sessarego reviews the way love is used narratively in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

"Time Threads, Epistolary Novels, and Collaboration: A Conversation with Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone" by Chris Urie makes me interested in, though not immediately enthusiastic for, their epistolary collaboration This Is How You Lose the Time War. Which has been optioned for a TV series even before publication.

"My World Wobbled and Changed: An Interview with Soyeon Jeong" by Gord Sellar talks with the author of last month's "The Flowering", and makes her sound dull.

"Editor's Desk: Living Through the Solstice" by Neil Clarke tells us that Clarke has won the Solstice Award.

Nothing here quite gets over my awards threshold, though some come close.

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Previous in series: Clarkesworld 152, May 2019 | Series: Clarkesworld | Next in series: Clarkesworld 154, July 2019

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