RogerBW's Blog

Clarkesworld 157, October 2019 20 October 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.

"All Electric Ghosts", by Rich Larson, is a grim cyberpunkish future, but for once it's not a story of a can't-miss crime gone wrong. Rather pleasing, in a sideways way.

I tug my hood back off my shaved head and hear a muffled noise of surprise behind me. The trepanation didn't heal real well. I had to do it myself, with an electric drill and veterinarian's anesthetic.

"The Scrapyard", by Tomas Furby - discarded veterans prove they can be useful after all, but only because the author is on their side. Seriously: if your life is constant pain and you have no expectation that it will do anything but get worse, what is the point of going on? But Furby assumes without examination that this is a thing worth doing, and then twists his universe so that it's true.

"An Arc of Lightning Across the Eye of God", by P H Lee - a gloriously alien alien. Not much actual plot, but I find I don't mind.

I am not a person. I am not! I am so much more than that. I am my father's name, written by my mother's vision across time and space. I am a hand of peace offered from the [several unintelligible signs] to every one of you. I am a message of hope of the divine for those confined in fire and darkness and gravity. I am my great and wonderful purpose and I am the fulfillment of that purpose.

"National Center for the Preservation of Human Dignity", by Youha Nam, translated by Elisa Sinn and Justin Howe – does a good job of building up a sense of "something might be awry at the compulsory euthanasia centre", then just ends rather than resolving any of it. Fine if you like atmosphere.

A map of the center's layout appeared with a logo beside it, and soon some voice actor was explaining to us about how we were about to face the most dignified deaths possible for citizens at such a low-income level. Then the background music changed, turning from serious to upbeat.

"Song Xiuyun", by A Que, translated by Emily Jin - there are "brain-controlled" cars, but nobody seems to know why (they're more expensive to run than standard cars, and they still take someone's full-time attention). But more seriously, this is a story that depends for its effect on you not noticing the surprise, but the surprise is entirely obvious from the start.

"How Alike Are We", by Bo-Young Kim, translated by Jihyun Park and Gord Sellar, is the story of a spaceship AI which has required its crew to put it into the "emergency backup body", but which now can't remember why - with a blank spot in its memories which is clearly meant to be unguessable, but isn't. There are a few good moments, in spite of the massive dose of gender essentialism, but it's let down by a very poor translation - nobody should have let "On the surface, there’s a small four-wheeled rover with four wheels circling ’round the crater" make it into print!

"Destination: Luna", by Andrew Liptak is a very brief review of the moon in fiction (making a useful division between "wouldn't it be amazing to fly" stories and "this is a place we might actually get to" stories).

"Ooze and Gore: A Conversation with Nicky Drayden", by Arley Sorg makes me interested in looking up Drayden's work, even if she does like Kameron Hurley.

Basically, I've got three modes: Toilet humor. Dark and gritty. And sappy love stories that will probably make you cry.

"Editor's Desk: And into Year Fourteen We Go", by Neil Clarke, admits that the only reason the anthologies are years behind is that he isn't writing the introductions.

Hugo nomination for the Lee.

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Previous in series: Clarkesworld 156, September 2019 | Series: Clarkesworld | Next in series: Clarkesworld 158, November 2019

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