Review: Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 129

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 129 (Clarkesworld Magazine, #129)Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 129 by Neil Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think the only story I wasn’t into was “Neptune’s Trident”. Otherwise, a top-notch issue. Especially liked the non-fiction essays this time around.

My thoughts on each story (a slightly wordier version of my status updates where character limits kept me from expressing it all)

Fool’s Cap: I was *so* sure I’d guessed the reveal, but the author got me. There were a couple subtle clues of what the ending would end up being, but I was already too committed to the one I thought was coming.

My Dear, Like the Sky and Stars and Sun: Awesome world. Probably the first feminist post-cyberpunk story I’ve come across. I like how the author hints at what Elspeth’s role is and how it gradually becomes more and more apparent. I would love to see more in this world. The story was both dark and beautiful and definitely sets up a potential for more. “They didn’t want us dabbling in mod’r science, getting the idea we can do things on our own.” – Is our author a Corey Doctorow protoge? Or is the movement spreading?

Neptune’s Trident: Some kind of global tradegy has happened, but in living memory. We follow a character who remembers how it used to be and is making do in the current world. Then the story shifts to the backstory how things ended up this way, ping ponging back and forth to the present. Very sad, but very powerful.

The Ways Out: Best analogy is a world in which there are mutants, but they never form The X-Men. They’re surveiled to see if they need to be contained (and maybe killed?). Told through reports of the government person tasked to surveil them. There’s a great meta-story there, but don’t want to give it away.

An Account of the Sky Whales (translated): A man goes to another planet to retrieve something. Things go horribly awry. A good SF story that helps us see truths about ourselves, by placing the story in the future where the distance helps the truths not hurt as much. A great adventure story.

Human Error: A miner working on an asteroid in the wake of some personal tragedy for her workmates. This story would make a great episode of a thriller anthology series. Perfect setting for it and a great story for it as well.

The Waiting Stars: Story weaves back and forth between two space-faring civilizations. One of those stories where the ships are not controlled by machine AI, but some kind of human-consciousness transfer. Seems to be a colonialism metaphor. So well set up that I only guessed at the twist a couple paragraphs before the reveal. Definitely want more in this universe.

Non-Fiction:

How to Injure Characters without Killing Them: This essay reminds me of how I feel about technology stuff since that’s both my hobby and my career field. Talks about injuries that characters suffer that should lead to their death or hospitalization, but which most authors have them dust off. In particular: unconsciousness, blood loss, and wound management. ‘The brain is a complex organ, but most importantly, it is what is known as a “beat-to-beat” organ. It has no way of storing energy, no way of storing oxygen, and its survival and function are dependent on each beat of the heart.’

Astounding Scientists and Alternate History: A Conversation with Gregory Benford: A conversation with a SF writer who is also a scientist about his novel in which the A-bomb is developed a year earlier and dropped on Germany.

Another Word: The Depths of Sci-Fi Funk in the 70s: Wow, I had NO IDEA how much Sci-Fi Funk there was! Also, all the bands and their links to Afrofuturism.

Editor’s Desk: Recharding my batteries: Neil Clarke talks about how he takes a break from his touring schedule.

View all my reviews

Published by Eric Mesa

To find out a little more about me, see About Me