Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Magazine Review: Clarkesworld Issue 114

The second issue of Clarkesworld I've read has made me very pleased with my subscription. The stories carry a similar tone to the previous issue and the nonfiction is informative. I'm glad to find such great fiction available to read that doesn't take much time yet keeps me thinking about it for weeks afterwards.

The first story "Salvage Opportunity" by Jack Skillingstead tells a familiar tale of a lone space worker whose only companion is an artificial intelligence. The worker, Badar, thinks he prefers a life separated from other individuals but finds himself increasingly lonely. I found this theme incredibly relatable and the actions of the AI funny and moving as well. I think future space salvage companies will read stories like this and take precautions against sending out anyone alone into this sort of extreme isolation. 

"Seven Cups of Coffee" by A. C. Wise is a time travel story about missed connections and love. I thought the structure was cool and I'm a big fan of stories about the paradox of jumping into different times. The story left me rooting for the protagonist and moved by the emotional power of love against the passage of time.

"The Governess with a Mechanical Womb" by Leena Likitalo painted a bleak apocalypse after an alien invasion with a very interesting alien called the Victorians. I thought the description of these aliens was very creepy, especially the black Governess who was actually a human once but had been converted by the invaders. The story also has a great core about siblings and continuing to move on despite atrocity.

"Coyote Invents the Land of the Dead" by Kij Johnson was confusing to me. I couldn't ever grip on the afterlife setting but I did feel the longing of Dee in her search for Jace though was often confused with what was going on. This confusion did at to the strange setting that was a bizarre depiction of the afterlife. I also enjoyed the narration.

Both of the reprints were very cool. "The King of Norway" by Cecelia Holland was an action-packed viking battle with a lot of cool scenes. "Gray Wings" by Karl Bunker was such a great story, one of my favorite reprints that I've come across. The description of flying and nano healing were very cool and the story dealt with deep themes. 

The nonfiction taught me quite a bit like the blast from the past in "The Age of Excessive: Psychedelic SF, On-Screen and Off" by Mark Cole. I like current movies so it was very cool to see where the influences derived from and how science fiction has changed over the decades. I learned a useful writing tip in thinking about what wardrobes my characters wear through Star Wars in the Genevieve Valentine piece "Another Word: How to Clothe a Character, Using only Star Wars References". The interview introduced me to an author that I am adding to my reading list with "All the Words in the Sky" author Charlie Jane Anders interviewed by Chris Urie.

Another great issue has opened my world to short science fiction and fantasy. I have gone back and dug up some of the older podcasts, which are really enjoyable to listen to during a long data entry session. I have definitely looked at some of the stories from past issues that have garnered attention when I nominated for the Hugo awards this year!

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