RogerBW's Blog

Clarkesworld 167, August 2020 12 August 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.

"The Lori" by Fiona Moore tries to draw parallels between the boy and his dog, and the soldier and his sentient tank, but draws too hard on the common stock of "how we know this kind of story goes" and drowns in cliché.

"Drawing Lines Between the Stars" by Frank Smith has some moments, with the great big freight hauler (truckers in space) and the hippy in her lightsailer, but for my taste never quite pulled together.

"The Plague" by Yan Leisheng, translated by Andy Dudak, is one of those Chinese "never mind the practicality of how it works, we're making an Important Point here" stories. Too much message.

"An Important Failure" by Rebecca Campbell talks about violin-making, and how you'll never have the right old-growth wood again; and about the crimes one might casually do in pursuit of a goal one hasn't even formed properly; and… it flounders, alas. Too much stuff in here.

"The Immolation of Kev Magee" by L.X. Beckett has some excellent worldbuilding (living off the charity of millionaires as a way of life) but a disappointingly straightforward story and simplistic people. Still the best of this issue.

"Nameless He" by Robert Reed has an AI working on exploring an alien puzzle-ship, and lots of Significant Foreboding… and then it just stops. This is in a setting he's written in elsewhere, which might make more sense of it.

"Boxtops, Secret Rings, and Space Helmets: Those Brave Spacemen of the Videowaves" by Mark Cole is a catalogue of the "space serials" of the early 1950s (until they were overtaken by Davy Crockett mania).

"From Bleak to Upbeat in Three Parts: A Conversation with Michael Swanwick" by Arley Sorg tries to promote the new book, but the essential Swanwickness takes over.

"Miles... to Go: A Conversation with Lauren Beukes" by Arley Sorg doesn't make the new novel sound particularly thrilling, but I'll probably give it a try; Zoo City definitely had its moments.

"Editor's Desk: Yes, Virginia, Short Fiction is Important" by Neil Clarke seems to come down to "because you can try out ideas there without the commitment of a novel"… never mentioning the idea that for some stories short fiction is a better form than a novel.

Continuing meh. My only bright spot is that in the reader poll earlier this year the readers very much preferred the stories with an actual narrative in them to the arty slice-of-life stuff, and Clarke may at some point notice that preference.

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