Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Magazine Review: Clarkesworld Issue 113

As a reader searching for great short fiction in the genre of science fiction and fantasy, I was happy to find that Clarkesworld Magazine publishes exactly what I was looking for. The February issue, and the first in my new subscription, had several outstanding stories from authors I've encountered before and some welcome new voices. I was also pleased to find the original fiction in podcasts too.

"The Fixer" by Paul McAuley tells a great space story about a traveler who has separated from his home planet Earth and created his own species to survive on the harsh environment of a new planet. I enjoyed how this story made me think of the universe and the start of humanity as we know it plus there was great tension when the titular fixer shows up for the protagonist's reckoning.

"That Which Stands Tends Towards Free Fall" by Benjanun Sriduangkaew is another great story by an author I am becoming more familiar with. Her writing style is brilliant and this story contains action, sex, and a cool spy drama all on top of an exploration on how technology is used. I am becoming a big fan of Benjanun's writing and hope this story leads to something bigger since I was quickly engaged by the characters and the world building. The unique perspective also challenges how I view the world, which is always a welcome feeling when I pick up short fiction.

"In the Midst of Life" by Nick Wolven really got me thinking. The novella has a great character voice and sets up the tension then takes a huge turn to into a deep philosophical realm. The experience reading this story was akin to how some people have described religious experiences to me. I enjoyed reading this story and listening to it on the podcast. 

"Between Dragons and Their Wrath" by An Owomoyela and Rachel Swirsky takes a whole different approach to dragons. Instead of the likable or even just dangerous creatures depicted in popular fiction, the remnants of these dragons is similar to a nuclear explosion. There is one really haunting image of children on fire, and the melancholic yet optimistic narrative voice gave me chills. This is a great story and I recommend fans of the lizard-like creatures check it out since it is nothing like anything I have read before.

The two reprints were very cool. "Blood Dauber" by Ted Kosmatka and Michael Poore had a great build up of tension and a relatable protagonist. I felt so bad as things went wrong and the authors actually made me become attached to a bizarre species of insect. I have been wanting to read something by Kim Stanley Robinson for a while and "Mercurial" did not disappoint. The mystery story was highly entertaining.

All of the nonfiction was very informative and got me thinking of some short story ideas of my own. I look forward to reading and listening to more issues of Clarkesworld Magazine!

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