REVIEW SUMMARY: A discussion/review of the longer of the three original works of fiction featured in the October 2013 issue of Clarkesworld. This issue also contains two works of classic reprint short fiction as well as nonfiction articles.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In humanity’s far-distant future an exploratory mission to the planet Sedna reveals the presence of a human visitation some 11,000 years earlier along with an even more surprising discovery.
PROS: Plausible science layered in accessible prose; world-building sans the info-dump; ideas that spark the imagination.
CONS: One abrupt moment that could have been teased out a little further.
BOTTOM LINE: My first experience with the work of Julie Novakova results in a story worth singling out for a solo review. Novakova presents a plausible view of future space travel and exploration that abandons the standard space adventure tropes (of which I am admittedly a fan) while generating a level of daydream-inducing fiction that will remind some readers of the science fictional stories that made them a fan of the genre in the first place.
REVIEW SUMMARY: This week’s short fiction selections are the three original works of fiction in the latest issue of Clarkesworld.
BRIEF SUMMARY: Non-Western culture and a blending of genre elements infuse the three works of original fiction with thought-provoking ideas and creativity.
PROS: Familiar tropes form a foundation upon which various genre elements are added to tell largely satisfying stories; focus on non-Western cultures; interesting ideas are examined within accessible stories.
CONS: One story stumbles at times due to inclusion of an idea that feels forced.
BOTTOM LINE: The three works of new fiction in this month’s Clarkesworld strive for a sense of originality and in some measure each achieves that by first building upon the foundation of familiar tropes then adding a variety of genre and non-genre elements. Each story satisfies in its ending, leaving the reader feeling as if he/she has experienced a complete story. This issue also contains two reprint stories and worthwhile non-fiction that can be accessed through the Clarkesworld website.
REVIEW SUMMARY: The latest issue of Clarkesworld features three original works of science fiction (reviewed), two reprints (not-reviewed), two author interviews, an essay on B-movies and an exploration of the way in which scientists aided the Allies in World War II.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A plausible near-future look at scientific exploration on the moon, messages from a generation ship that contain more than the relay station bargained for, and relationships with drones! Issue #82 of Clarkesworld mixes the scientific with the scary and adds a dash of sex with its three original stories.
PROS: Variety is the spice of life, and the feel of each of the original stories is decidedly different; one offering unveils a vision of what living on a moon-based research station might be like that does not feel fictional; nonfiction articles are well worth reading.
CONS: The three original stories all seemed to lack a specific “something” that prevented them from being memorable. One story reads like the start of a bigger tale.
BOTTOM LINE: It is difficult to avoid comparing the latest issue of a SFF magazine to the previous one, a task that was made more difficult with this issue of Clarkesworld because of similarities of the first story in this issue and the outstanding “The Urashima Effect” by E. Lily Yu in last month’s magazine. While I did not actively dislike any of the original stories in this issue, they each ultimately fell flat for me in a different way. There is no lack of talent in the three authors reviewed, however the stories did not engender a deep emotional connection. The nonfiction articles, on the other hand, are outstanding and it is recommended that you read the stories and form your own opinions (I don’t mind being told I’m wrong, and why) and that you stick around for the author interviews and the essays. Finally, if you normally skip over the Editor’s Desk, this is not the time to do so. Neil Clarke is about to celebrate the year anniversary of his brush with death and his thoughts on that experience, and how he has used it to motivate his work over the past year, is a must-read.
REVIEW SUMMARY: The latest issue of Clarkesworld features three original works of science fiction, two reprints and four non-fiction articles.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Five solid science fictional stories examine cloning, life on the moons of Uranus, parallel-universe pest control, failing technology and one unenviable conundrum.
PROS: No disappointments here; exciting storytelling; imaginative visions of the future; strong works of original fiction; high degree of accessibility.
CONS: While opinions will no doubt very, I find nothing of note to list as a con for this issue.
BOTTOM LINE: The June issue of Clarkesworld is full of enjoyment. Each work of original fiction features a different perspective with characters that are accessible to the reader and plots that will leave the reader contemplating the options presented to the various protagonists. The reprints are both strong choices which leave little question as to why editor Gardner Dozois chose them for the issue. It was nice to read and compare five stories that are very clearly science fictional in nature. While each story has interesting science fictional concepts, it is apparent in each case that the author set out to do more than just examine ideas by putting an emphasis on story. Each story is available right now on the Clarkesworld website and the first two original fiction offerings have accompanying audio podcast versions which are linked to in the post that follows.
The June 2013 issue of Clarkesworld is now posted:
- “The Urashima Effect” by E. Lily Yu
- “This Is Why We Jump” by Jacob Clifton
- “Free-fall” by Graham Templeton
- “Mongoose” by Sarah Monette And Elizabeth Bear
- “Dead Men Walking” by Paul J. Mcauley
- Beyond The Tracks: The Locomotive In Science Fiction Literature by Jason Heller
- Eccentric Relatives And Raw Grief: A Conversation With Susan Palwick by Jeremy L. C. Jones
- Another Word: The Techs Can Do It by Daniel Abraham
- Editor’s Desk: Publishing Turns Like A Battleship by Neil Clarke
- “The Urashima Effect” by E. Lily Yu Read By Kate Baker
- “Rainforest God” by David Melvin
REVIEW SUMMARY: This week’s Short Fiction Friday looks at the three original works of fiction featured in the May 2013 issue of Clarkesworld.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The first two works of original fiction in this issue explore vengeance, a dish best served after long and meticulous planning. The third story looks at mankind’s colonization attempts on Mars and eventual discovery of sentient life through the eyes of the beings that are in turn discovering humanity.
PROS: Two stories with a similar theme act as an interesting comparison study; story of mankind discovering life on Mars has an engaging viewpoint; all three stories handle plot tension with skill.
CONS: One story is far too short to be satisfying; another tries too hard to be clever and perhaps falls short due to cultural barriers.
BOTTOM LINE: The three stories in the May 2013 issue of Clarkesworld were quick reads, a description that can be either complementary or critical depending on the value the reader feels he/she has gained from the experience. One satisfying, well-written story shines above the rest and another has great potential for being a much longer, richer story but is slightly marred by its abrupt, mysterious ending.
The May 2013 issue of Clarkesworld is now posted:
- “Soulcatcher” by James Patrick Kelly
- “Tachy Psyche” by Andy Dudak
- “(R + D) /I = M” by E. Catherine Tobler
- “The Banquet of the Lords of Night” by Liz Williams
- “From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled . . .” by Michael Swanwick
- When the Alien Is Us: Science Fictional Documentaries by Maggie Clark
- Assassinating the Reader: A Conversation with Yoon Ha Lee by Jeremy L. C. Jones
- Another Word: The Singularity is Dead. Long Live the Singularity! by Craig DeLancey
- Editor’s Desk: Day of the Wineberry by Neil Clarke
- “Soulcatcher” by James Patrick Kelly
- “Desert Dragon” by Julie Dillon
Programming Note: Due to various circumstances the review of the second half of the April/May 2013 issue of Asimov’s has been rescheduled to next Friday. In the meantime enjoy this review of the April issue of Clarkesworld!
REVIEW SUMMARY: The April issue of Clarkesworld features three oddly imaginative works of sci-fantasy and the inaugural reprint selections of editor Gardner Dozois.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Two alien entities wage a surreal battle to save an alien world from absorption by powerful hegemony, Chicken Little’s prediction begins to come true in a forest world filled with useful spiders and human souls reincarnated in the detritus of suburban life mount a defense against avenging garden gnomes in this month’s original fiction.
PROS: Creative, non-standard science fiction/fantasy storytelling; mind-bending world-building; stories demand you read to the end as they do not forecast their conclusions.
CONS: Surreal and occasionally abstract storytelling may not click with even more adventurous readers; endings of all three original works fail to do justice to the artistry of the stories as a whole.
BOTTOM LINE: The April 2013 issue of Clarkesworld is bold in its selection of three original short stories that bend and break traditional science fiction and fantasy molds. All three tales will stir the imagination and demand careful reading. This is the kind of issue that could garner nearly hyperbolic praise or dismissive criticism depending on the reader’s tolerance for storytelling outside of the box and his/her opinion on whether these stories ultimately deliver. I find myself wishing a host of people would read these free offerings as the commentary regarding the stories would surely be fun to witness.
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The April 2013 issue of Clarkesworld is now posted:
- “Annex” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
- “No Portraits On The Sky” by Kali Wallace
- “Melt With You” by Emily C. Skaftun
- “Spar (the Bacon Remix)” by Kij Johnson
- “Guest Of Honor” by Robert Reed
- “Finisterra” by David Moles
- Gathered In Translation by Ken Liu
- The Military, Magic, And The Misery Ethic: A Conversation With Myke Cole by Jeremy L. C. Jones
- Another Word: Literatures Of Despair by Daniel Abraham
- Editor’s Desk: How Did This Happen? by Neil Clarke
- “Spar (Making Bacon Version)” by Kij Johnson Read By Kate Baker
- “The Awakening” by Alexandru Popescu
REVIEW SUMMARY: Three inventive stories from authors who are making an impression on the genre community top a solid issue of Clarkesworld.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The theme of revolution is examined through the eyes of a mother whose child is about to pay the price for speaking out, in the recollections of an old woman who may or may not have had her hand in sparking a revolt, and through a government sponsored clean up crew sent in to collect evidence after a bombing in New York City.
PROS: Great variety in style and presentation; common overall theme invites interesting comparison of stories; proven, award-nominated storytellers whose talent is evident; all content available to read free online.
CONS: Stories are weaker in comparison to recent releases from each author; an abrupt end lessens the impact of the third story.
BOTTOM LINE: The March 2013 issue of Clarkesworld stands out because of the talent showcased, including recent award winners and current nominees. Each of these authors has been prolific of late with stories published in a number of short fiction venues and the skill which makes them sought after is visible in each of these stories. An essay on the film Videodrome on its thirtieth anniversary, a conversation with debut novelist M.C. Planck, an essay on the “original” fairy tales and what today’s children can handle in their fiction and editor Neil Clarke’s exciting announcement round out a worthy edition of the magazine.
The March 2013 issue of Clarkesworld is now posted:
- “The Weight of a Blessing” by Aliette de Bodard
- “The Last Survivor of the Great Sexbot Revolution” by A.C. Wise
- “86, 87, 88, 89” by Genevieve Valentine
- Videodrome at Thirty by Keith Phipps
- Accepting a More Profitable Shoe: A Conversation with M. C. Planck by Jeremy L. C. Jones
- Another Word: Original Sin by Alethea Kontis
- Editor’s Desk: Forwards and Backwards by Neil Clarke
- The Weight of a Blessing by Aliette de Bodard read by Kate Baker
- “The Emperor’s Arrival” by David Demaret
REVIEW SUMMARY: A snowball’s chance journey to save a dying Earth, unwelcome visitors from “out there”, and a space salvage trip gone horribly wrong: all this and more awaits you in the February 2013 issue of the Hugo Award-winning Clarkesworld magazine.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: This issue contains three science fiction short stories, an interview with author Karen Lord, an essay on science fiction and social media, an essay on moral judgment in reading/writing and Neil Clarke’s Editor’s Desk column.
PROS: Creativity evident in each story; variety of science fictional and suspense elements; nonfiction articles are well written and offer compelling film and book suggestions.
CONS: One story is less successful in its overall execution; nonfiction articles could potentially lighten your wallet.
BOTTOM LINE: This is my first experience with Clarkesworld magazine and reading it left me very pleased that I subscribed. In my opinion the first story is the strongest but all three stories were vastly different from one another offering a variety that I suspect will result in wildly different opinions based on reader preference.
The February 2013 issue of Clarkesworld is now posted:
- “Gravity” by Erzebet Yellowboy
- “The Wanderers” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
- “Vacant Spaces” by Greg Kurzawa
- The Great Leap Sideways: SF and Social Media by Mark Cole
- Always a New World: A Conversation with Karen Lord by Jeremy L. C. Jones
- Another Word: Reading and Writing and Moral Judgment by Daniel Abraham
- Editor’s Desk: Upgrades and Reader’s Poll Winners by Neil Clarke
- “Gravity” by Erzebet Yellowboy read by Kate Baker
- “Concrete 9″ by Yang Xueguo
The December 2012 issue of Clarkesworld is now posted:
- “Your Final Apocalypse” by SANDRA MCDONALD
- “The Wisdom of Ants” by THORAIYA DYER
- “Sweet Subtleties” by LISA L HANNETT
- The Corpse of the Future: Jane C. Loudon’s The Mummy! and Victorian Science Fiction by S. J. CHAMBERS
- A Thousand Words You Can Hear All at Once: An Interview with Todd Lockwood by NAYAD MONROE
- Another Word: The Echo Chamber by DANIEL ABRAHAM
- Editor’s Desk: Getting off the Roller Coaster by NEIL CLARKE
- Audio Fiction: “Your Final Apocalypse” by SANDRA MCDONALD read by KATE BAKER
- “The Lost City” by DAVID DEMARET