RogerBW's Blog

Clarkesworld 166, July 2020 13 July 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.

"Artificial People" by Michael Swanwick gives us snapshots from the life of an AI, constantly repurposed in a vain attempt to make its inventor even more money. But the repurposing never really seems to come to anything, and if Swanwick has a point here beyond the trite (and, being Swanwick, he probably does) I didn't spot it.

"One Time, a Reluctant Traveler" by A. T. Greenblatt is a fantasy about travelling to the ocean at the top of the mountain, and what you have to do there, with post-apocalyptic framing; the journey is fine, but the ending is utter anticlimax.

"Three Stories Conjured from Nothing" by ShakeSpace tells in three parts the development and self-defence of an error in a conscious cellular automaton, the attempts by the inhabitants of an artificial world to work out why their sun (the automaton-machine) is going dark… and then an almost completely unrelated communication between cosmic-scale creatures. With a third part that had something to do with the first two, this might have worked.

"Power to Yield" by Bogi Takács purports to describe someone who's "asexual and aromantic" while she changes her life in response to what's very clearly a crush. But I really can't tell whether Takács did this deliberately or not. Also no conclusion.

"Strange Comfort" by Tegan Moore has someone trying to deal with bereavement while the mineral-extraction operation on Europa is closed down round him. It's fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't go very far.

"The Oddish Gesture of Humans" by Gabriel Calácia deals with two aliens trying to work out the significance of what, we are meant to assume, is a human kiss. I suppose it's all right.

"The House That Leapt into Forever" by Beth Goder is quite enjoyably disorientating, with a "house" on an asteroid that identifies rooms as "the fiasco room" and "the calcium cupboard", and an inhabitant called Doom-Has-Come… but it insists on explaining everything, and that's a shame.

"The Human Genome Disparity" by Douglas F. Dluzen points out just how much of the research into genetic markers for disease has been done on European-descended white men, and some of what's being done about it.

"Coffee Prince, Avatar, and Robot Rebellions: A Conversation with Madeline Ashby" by Arley Sorg makes me rather less likely to read anything more by Ashby, not that I was before. vN was good in parts but I just don't find interesting the same things that she does.

"Overthrowing the Royal We: A Conversation with Kate Elliott" by Arley Sorg on the other hand makes me wonder why I've never read anything by Elliott.

"Editor's Desk: The Most Science Fictional Worldcon Ever" by Neil Clarke muses on CoNZealand and how implausible the idea of a virtual convention would have seemed a few years ago.

Nothing here that I particularly liked, though the Goder came closest. Nothing here that I even hated.

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