RogerBW's Blog

Clarkesworld 163, April 2020 24 April 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.

"Distant Stars" by P H Lee is one of those terribly clever stories that tries to do "as above, so below" and make parallels between the wonders of the universe and the utterly mundane breakup of two relationships. It's been done. This says nothing that hasn't been said many times before.

"AirBody" by Sameem Siddiqui posits a system in which people rent out their bodies (and homes) to virtual travellers. Some decent ideas about not assuming stereotypes, but it doesn't go anywhere.

"A System for Investigating Recapitulation and Evolutionary Novelty" by Kyle E Miller has a thoroughly bizarre setting (each person lives, isolated, on their own "leaf") and some interest in exploring it, but no people worth speaking of. "L", like any person in this society, basically knows nothing, not even why she feels an urge to rebel.

"The ThoughtBox" by Tlotlo Tsamaase seems like a tawdry tale of relationship failure and then gets a bit more interesting.

"Debtless" by Chen Qiufan, translated by Blake Stone-Banks: there's a good societal revolution here, and an idea about space mining that's really not as new as it thinks it is, but the author's insistence on having debt encoded in a blockchain into your genes so that you can pass it on to your children just died for me at the first plausibility check. (What if you have more than one child? What if your level of debt changes after you've had the child?)

"Angel Pattern" by Henry Szabranski is a sequel to last year's excellent The Witch of the Weave, which should really be read first. The protagonists of that book travel through the ultra-tech post-apocalypse and reach their goal. Good mood and description, decent characters, and a reasonable plot. (And it has a disabled character whose disability is relevant to the story, rather than just being box-ticking representation.)

"A Machine for Telling Stories: Tarot and Speculative Fiction" by Carrie Sessarego is a very brief overview of the history of the Tarot deck and of its use in F&SF. The latter tends to fall into mere listing.

"Short Stories and Sad Endings: A Conversation with Martha Wells" by Arley Sorg reminds me that Network Effect is coming out in May. But there's also some interesting material on the shape of her career.

"From Kibbutz to Career: A Conversation with Lavie Tidhar" by Arley Sorg reminds me that I've read three Tidhar short stories and not particularly liked any of them. Tidhar has that mannerism I've seen in many Israelis of making everything a brag as well as actually answering the question; it's probably normal behaviour in that culture but I find it offputting.

"Editor's Desk: Lockdown" by Neil Clarke talks about, not working from home, but continuing to do so when other members of the household have just started.

The Szabranski is very much the stand-out here, though tye Tsamaase stayed with me more than I expected it to.

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Previous in series: Clarkesworld 162, March 2020 | Series: Clarkesworld | Next in series: Clarkesworld 164, May 2020

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