RogerBW's Blog

Clarkesworld 158, November 2019 13 November 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.

"Your Future is Pending" by Matthew Kressel is a hopeless grim future that somehow doesn't go anywhere; it tries to have a resolution, in the closing paragraphs, but somehow I found it entirely unconvincing.

"Antarctica" by D.A. Xiaolin Spires has microbes eating up conventional ice, and an attempt to put together a new sort that they won't eat. It feels to me as though it started with reading about different phases of ice and then built its story (especially the bit about "we can't kill off the microbes that are melting the ice because UN rules") around that. Also, no characters.

"Cloud-Born" by Gregory Feeley has the children on a colony ship getting ready for arrival at their new home on Neptune, only nobody's telling them anything, or indeed asking them anything. With lots of Greek mythology thrown in. It's trying to be terribly clever, talking about the difficulty of telling real Earth from Greek myth when all you've ever seen of either is on a screen, but somehow fails to hook me.

"Sentinel" by Chang-Gyu Kim: at the entropic end of the universe, a few thousand humans hang on, because… ahem, moving swiftly on. In a way that reminded me of Marissa Lingen's "Beware the Lifeboat" from Uncanny 29, when everything is running on a strict energy budget, well, obviously you throw out the disabled people first, and with everything preordained you don't need politicians any more, and… competently done, but again very grim.

"Operation Spring Dawn" by Mo Xiong: when the world freezes, modified humans are cryogenically preserved to choose which of the world-warming projects should be activated once there's some point to doing so. The science doesn't seem to hold together, but there's some good stuff here on the essential futility of human civilisation.

"Perfect Gun" by Elizabeth Bear: a man and his flying battlesuit. Could nearly as easily be a modern mercenary story, and ends as predictably without really having gone anywhere.

"Dracula and Modern Anxiety" by Carrie Sessarego links the continuing popularity of Dracula to its effective pandering to Victorian anxieties that continue to be relevant in different forms: about immigration/invasion, disease, loneliness and sex.

"The Good Story: A Conversation with Susan Palwick" by Arley Sorg is obviously promiting a new anthology, but I've never heard of this author before and I'm at least intrigued.

"Bringing the Pieces Together: A Conversation with Jacob Weisman" by Arley Sorg leaves me less intrigued: Weisman's a prolific anthology editor, but there's little here to say why any specific anthology is worthy of attention.

"Editor's Desk: Your 9AM Wakeup Call" by Neil Clarke is a short fantasy about pacemaker low-battery alarms.

Rather a lot of grimness this time, unrelieved by anything more upbeat. (Unless you're trying to have a special Grim Issue, I feel that's an editorial failure.)

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See also:
Uncanny 29, July/August 2019

Previous in series: Clarkesworld 157, October 2019 | Series: Clarkesworld | Next in series: Clarkesworld 159, December 2019

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