The 117th issue of Clarkesworld Magazine has a great collection of science fiction and fantasy stories that changed the way I read science fiction and view the world. This issue provided both great fiction and nonfiction with informed and creative writers in nearly every article or story.
"And Then, One Day, the Air was Full of Voices" by Margaret Ronald is an amazing first contact story. I still haven't read enough alien stories but this story is so good and captures the complexity of information traveling across space. I found it haunting and moving and a just an all around great start to an issue.
"Things With Beards" by Sam J. Miller works as a sort of fan fiction sequel to the thing but pushes it to a new metaphorically level with MacReady returning to the city and forms a relationship with Childs. The story explores the history of the AIDS epidemic, civil disobedience, and police brutality to deliver a moving story.
".identity" by E. Catherine Tobler, who also just released a new novel called The Kraken Sea that I'm looking forward to picking up soon, delivers a colorful story of artificial intelligence and space travel that confused me with a complicated world at first but has a great payoff in the end.
I really enjoy the exposure to these stories that have been translated in the recent issues and "The Snow of Jinyang" by Zhang Ran translated by Ken Liu and Carmen Yiling Yan. This story is funny and dramatic and trippy. I love the take on recreational time travel and an internet of the past.
The reprint of "The Promise of God" by Michael Flynn explored free will and what would happen were a man deprived the ability to choose. This story was spooky and disturbing with a jolt of an ending.
My favorite story of this issue that had me staying up late and thinking about the world, our government, and medical research was "Pathways" by Nancy Kress. Such an amazing story, I wish I was better at describing it. It is set in my home state of the moment, in Blaine, Kentucky but set in an alternate world where Libertarians control the government so funding for programs has dried or will eventually. If I had friends, I would recommend this story to them.
The nonfiction in this issue was really good too. I loved the essay "The Science Fiction Future of the Microbiome" by Matthew Simmons; a thoughtful and informed piece. There is also a great author interview and encouragement to jump into the publishing world from Alethea Kontis. Another great issue of short fiction from Neil Clarke and Clarkesworld Magazine. I have slowly been catching up on the podcasts so it is great to revisit stories from previous issues in an audio format. I would encourage any fans of genre fiction to check out this magazine that is for free on the Clarkesworld Magazine website.