Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 133 by Neil Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As usual, the per-story reviews are below this section. But first, a ranking of said stories.
The stories I REALLY liked: The Sum of Her Expectations, The Last Boast-Builder in Ballyvoloon, Intro to Prom, Shiomah’s Land
Great: Red Lights, And Rain
Good: The Psychology Game
Not a fan: The Nightingales in Platres
The per-story reviews:
The Sum of Her Expectations: First of all, I love what the title is a reference to within this story. I like the idea of the aliens and I also love the possible metaphor of what happens with the contruction bots in the planet they’ve left behind. In the end, the story is a metaphor for dealing with trauma and I really like how it came together.
The Nightingales in Platres: An alternate future story in which some Greeks get on a generation ship to try and emigrate to a new planet. I’m not a fan of how the story went, but they can’t all be something I love.
The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon: A future in which we created an AI “organism” to remove plastics from the sea and things got out of hand. I think more of the public needs to read stories like this before we try some hare-brained idea to deal with climate change or pollution.
The Psychology Game (translated): A future (except it takes place in 2020 😉 ) in which there’s a reality TV show where people get psychological help. The twist is that the psychologist might be an AI and neither the patient nor the audience knows. Turns out to almost be in the structure of some of the non-fiction in Clarkesworld where it’s exploring a non-fiction subject with some fictional examples. Also, never thought of this before:
“And to be honest, human therapists have feelings too. If you keep on unloading your emotional garbage onto them, wouldn’t they suffer too? Sometimes I think using human therapists is kind of inhumane.”
Intro to Prom: Oh, man – what an incredible story. A perfect tale of corporate greed and how it affects the little folks. I can 100% see something like this actually happening (which is sad and scary). WOW.
Shiomah’s Land: I correctly guessed what’s the twist would be in terms of the origins of this world. But that did not take away from how well-written it was and how it made me feel the emotions of the main character. I’d love to read another story in the same universe.
Red Lights, And Rain: The fallout from a time war. It takes a lot of good twists and turns and I was not expecting the ending.
An optimist and Pessimist tackle the Fermi paradox: Exactly as the title suggests – looking at both positive and negative reasons for why we haven’t found life out there.
Automatons, Wyrms, and Dead Men: A Conversation with Elizabeth Bear: A discussion about Elizabeth Bear’s book (A Sword in the Skull), her writing process, how her anthropology backgrounnd affects her writing, and advice for writers.
Another Word: Grains of Salt, Lumps of Gold: A contemplation on advice-giving, followed by some advice on how to move from short story authorship to novel-writing.
Editor’s Desk: About a new issue 5 years after Neil’s heart attack.
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