Review: Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 139

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 139 (Clarkesworld Magazine, #139)Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 139 by Neil Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A nice, solid collection this month. Here are my per-story thoughts:

Carouseling: An extremely sad and touching story about a couple and an experiment at a CERN-like lab. Wonder if the story was written/conceived back when everyone was afraid the collider would make a black hole. (That’s not what happens, but I could definitely see it as an inspiration).

What will we do without exile: I’ve read many stories, both fiction and non-fiction about exiles from war. This is one of the first that deals with the friction between the new and old exiles. As someone who’s the child of exiles (as is my wife), this story really hit home.

Violets on the Tongue: Another tale of exile, but this time it becomes more of an existential tale and eventually morphs into a mind-bending trip. Fun to read, though.

Logistics: Most fun opening sentence I’ve read in a short story in a while. This story was a bit tough to read in the middle of COVID-19. But I enjoyed the tone and it was different from the usual post-apocalyptic story in a few interesting ways. Fun to see how the genre is evolving.

The Wings of Earth (translated): I would say it’s kind of a Chinese 2001: A Space Odessy. It’s interesting in how the narrative flows. It’s a little different that what I’m used to. But it was still a very interesting story that kept me guessing until the end.

The Baby Eaters: A very neat examination of another culture and their norms by using an alien race. I thought the alien culture was well conceived and the story flowed quite well. I’d read more in this universe.

Kit: Some Assembly Required: Kit Marlowe keeps appearing in various stories. I wonder why he has such a hold on writers. He was in the first book that gave me a deep dive into the Sidhe (or perhaps the second, I read them within the same year, I believe) as a character. Here once again as an emergent AI. This short story has an interesting structure where the narrative of the story is intermingled with a narrative that seems to me (who still knows nothing of Marlowe) to be autobiographical. It’s an interesting story and an interesting take on emergent AI when there seem to be more and more of these stories as we get closer to potentially achieving the goal of AI. I was quite amused.


Inspiring Writers with Four Scientific Breakthroughs: The author guides the reader through a series of technologies that are currently in early stages and can serve as a basis for inspiration for near-future SF stories or extrapolated out to further future stories.

Quarks, Colonialism, and Alternate Realities: A conversation with Vandana Singh: This one was less about any individual story of Ms. Singh’s and more about how her life and culture shape her outlook and her stories. I found it fascinating. Both types of interviews work well, but when I’m not familiar with the author, I really prefer this type of interview because I love learning about how other people see the world.

Another word: Breathing Life into Characters: One of my favorite readers to do work for Escape Artists explains how she gets into the head space of the characters.

Editor’s Desk: Nine, Three, Six: A little about anthology releases and then a little about some Hugo nominees who’d appeared in Clarkesworld.

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