Review: Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 142

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 142 (Clarkesworld Magazine, #142)Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 142 by Neil Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An almost perfect issue (in terms of my tastes) in which I loved all but one of the stories. Here are my thoughts-per-story, which may have some more text than my status updates if I came up against character limits during updates:

Gubbinal: In a future where we’ve colonized Saturn’s moons, our protagonist hunts for artifacts created by self-replicating robots. The plot then shifts into something perhaps more fantasy than SF and ends in quite a fascinating way.

A Gaze of Faces: Take Assassin’s Creed and mix in Wool. Then add a dash of Alien. Make it a short story. It sounds crazy, but it’s a great mix that works really well to tell a very different take on the trope of on the colony thinking back to “Origin Earth” that’s been a trope since at least Asimov’s Foundation when one of the characters mentions that the idea of an origin planet for humans is just superstitious fables. I’d love to spend more time in this world. Perhaps as a series of short stories or novellas as was done for Wool.

The James Machine: Explores how people deal with love and loss through the lens of SF. It’s a pretty moving story and I really loved it. It was also interesting how each “chapter” was titled with what seems like a click-bait headline.

For What Are Delusions if not Dreams: The theme of this issue seems to revolve around past information, AI, identity. This one was not my favorite. I don’t like these short stories where I spend most of it confused about what the heck is going on. I think I kind of understood by the end and it had a decent ending for the story it was trying to tell.

To Fly like an Angel: (In Bill Hader’s Stefan voice) This story has everything: A future in which everything we readers know is true is considered a conspiracy theory (like clouds causing rain), a supposed Utopia that’s actually a Dystopyia, an awesome cyberpunk hacker lady-person, and a few twists and turns – all in a short story.

Swift as a Dream and Fleeting as a Sigh: I really loved this story. Ostensibly it was about an AI psychologist. It seemed to be about how the AI could think so much faster than a human – a trope I’ve seen before. Yet in the background, the conversations the AI is having with hits patients reveals a really neat SF world. And then a neat plot twist right at the end is the cherry on top.

Last Gods: In a post-apocalyptic future after intense global warming and possibly other issues, the remaining humans have developed a new set of gods. A deeply intense story about love and identity. Worked quite well.

The Monster at the Movies: Film Adaptations of Frankenstein: The author explores the themes of the novel Frankenstein and how various movie adaptations have tackled these themes. I could actually see this expanded to perhaps a novella-length non-fiction book and get a lot out of it.

Author interview: a look at some themes the author has explored in anthologies and sorry stories

Another word: your life is epic: about recognizing when the mundane events in your life can be used as the core to your story. It doesn’t always have to be the dramatic moments

Editor’s desk: a threat followed through: Neil mentions getting some ideas for future columns and invites readers to send in their own ideas

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