Review: Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 128

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 128 (Clarkesworld Magazine, #128)Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 128 by Neil Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After last month’s reveal of James Tiptree, Jr as a pseudonym, pretty funny to have a story of “his” in this issue! Overall another great issue. I think my favorite universes were from “We Who Live in the Heart” and “Running the Snake”.

Here’s what I thought of each story (a slightly more wordy version of my status updates):

Streams and Mountains: I knew immediately what the reveal would be from the clue they find to the location the story takes place in. But then the author takes that and goes off in a directions I NEVER would have guessed. Great story!

We Who Live in the Heart: A story about a group of humans who live within some floating creatures on another planet. A neat world the author has created and a fun meditation on why humans congregate in the groups they do. I’d love to see more of this world.

Baroness: A crew explores a distressed sub. A trope we’ve seen a million times in SF, but done very differently. I like both the changes to the trope the author makes as well as the way the story is used to explore ideas of emigration, acceptance, and adapting to your new home.

The Person who saw Cetus: In contrast to last month’s Chinese short story, this one (apart from a couple odd turns of phrase) does not seem to have anything inherently Chinese about it. And this is one of the great aspects of reading SFF from other cultures – at times it’s heavily influenced and other times it’s about something so fundamentally human, that culture doesn’t enter into it. This one involves a woman trying to come to terms with her neuro-atypical father and their interactions as she grew up.

Running the Snake: There are a couple of potential anachronisms that make it so I’m unsure if this is a story that takes place during the days of the Roman Empire or in an alternate Earth where the Roman and Celtic empires lasted into modern times. Either way, it takes place in the realm of Boudicca of the Celts when they’re in a Britain that abuts the Roman Empire. Starts off as a fun story about a confidence scheme, but becomes a fun detective story. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to spend more time in this world.

The Man Who Walked Home: The end of this section reveals it was published in the 1970s. It certainly has that feel – similar to George RR Martin’s old SF back before he started on the path of ASOIAF. It’s almost more a mystery and sociology story than SF, again like some of GRRM’s old SF short stories. I tend to enjoy these types SF stories where it’s almost less a story and more a wikipedia entry about how the world changes in the face of the disaster that opens the story. (Well, minus the opening italicized text which makes no sense until late in the story). It was, indeed, an enjoyable story and I liked seeing where the author took it.

Non-Fiction

Cut, Fold, and Conquer the Universe: Apparently there’s a whole world out there of people who create paper models of SFF things like Star Trek space ships. I had no idea!

Fallen Angels and Water Dragons: A Conversation with Aliette de Bodard: An interview about a book series that takes place in 19th century Paris.

Another word: The Elizabeth Effect: How being an SF fan affects the way you see the world. How regular folks engage in multiple timeline thinking all the time.

Editor’s Desk: Talks about teaching and helping those who are behind you on the career path.

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Published by Eric Mesa

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