RogerBW's Blog

Clarkesworld 162, March 2020 25 March 2020

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.

"Time Reveals the Heart" by Derek Künsken: more cultural appropriation by Künsken, this time in China. A pleasing conceit that psychedelic drugs are necessary to get the brain into the right state to allow time travel, but it's just a straightforward story about addiction.

"Coffee Boom: Decoctions, Micronized" by D.A. Xiaolin Spires: someone is trying to brew the perfect cup of coffee. But we never learn anything about her personality apart from "obsessed", and even less about the other people's. The writing's all right on a technical level, but there's nobody in it to give me a reason to care about the story.

"Leave-Taking" by M. L. Clark: sequel of sorts to the rather good "To Catch All Sorts of Flying Things" from last year. Doesn't grab me as much, because the puzzle being solved is all too obviously the protagonist's psyche and everyone except him notices this.

"The Amusement Dark" by Mike Buckley: there's a background of the war with the AIs and the post-war cooperation, but mostly this is about grief for lost family. Sort of works, but doesn't grab me.

"Grayer Than Lead, Heavier Than Snow" by Yukimi Ogawa: in the same setting as the same author's Ripen from last year, but it seems as though there are still too many un-examined ideas. Great atmosphere, but.

"The Whale Fall at the End of the Universe" by Cameron Van Sant: romance among the space dragons, only rather less fun than that makes it sound.

"Separated at Birth? Occultism, Science Fiction, and Why People Can't Tell Them Apart" by Mark Cole: apparently this is because unlike us, the proper readers who can draw a bright line between SF, fantasy and horror and keep them all separated the way they should be, nasty mass market readers and filmmakers don't bother to make the necessary distinction. Leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.

"Calibrating the Stakes: A Conversation with Alastair Reynolds" by Arley Sorg: is there any point in promoting volume three of a series? I haven't got on with Reynolds' work since his early books, so I may be biased.

"Imaginary Friends: A Conversation with Kameron Hurley" by Arley Sorg: and since I've read God's War I know that even a really interesting and articulate person may write books that I find entirely terrible.

"Editor's Desk: The Best from 2019" by Neil Clarke: the story that won the readers' poll is one I liked rather a lot. Somewhat to my surprise, all three of the story winners were more along the lines of old-fashioned stories with actual plot and characters than much of what goes into Clarkesworld; I'd assumed that Clarke was publishing what the readers wanted.

Nothing I especially liked this time.

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Previous in series: Clarkesworld 161, February 2020 | Series: Clarkesworld | Next in series: Clarkesworld 163, April 2020

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