Review: Clarkesworld #152, May 2019

Clarkesworld #152, May 2019

Original Fiction:

  • “Move Forward, Disappear, Transcend” by A. T. Greenblatt (science fiction short story)
  • “Empress in Glass” by Cory Skerry (science fiction short story)
  • “Insaan Hain, Farishte Nahin” by Arula Ratnakar (science fiction novelette)
  • “The Sun from Both Sides” by R.S.A. Garcia (science fiction novelette)

I read the first two shorter stories in this issue over a month ago and only jotted down some notes, so the reviews will be brief. While I just read the last two longer stories, I’ll also try to be brief with them for consistency.

Forward” is yet another post-human “left behind/move on” story about one of the first semi-transcended women being left behind by all the fully transcending beings. It reads like a middling/lesser Terraform story. Like “Forward,” “Empress” is another amputee story and yet another “social media star” story and is even specifically like “The Streaming Man” but is a simile-laden tale about a woman who artistically skins herself after her crazy “uncle” passed his insanity on to her, which generally reads something like an Apex story. “Insaan Hain” contains what might have been a good piece of flash fiction about the road not taken in this novelette filled with all the current and past SF cliches of an intermittently second-person narrative with shuffled segments, lesbian couples, religious people opposed to change, current coastal towns being underwater in its future, and its whole “memory shtick” (so to speak). Perhaps the biggest flaw is its constant infodumping, sometimes using the couple’s young son as an excuse. The story is that a woman uploads her consciousness into a sort of starwisp craft but, when things go wrong here, they go even more wrong there. Finally, “Sun” opens with a fairy tale feel which never completely goes away even when it morphs into science fantasy/space opera/romance, is very loosely and handwavingly structured in a way that made me unable to engage with it, and is ultimately a vehicle for a simple social message of heart over vicious, murderous head but the Herbert/Banks/Leckie sort of vibe may appeal to some readers, especially fans of similar recent short works commonly found in Lightspeed.

While I rarely read anything in these zines but the original fiction, the best things in this issue were the interview with Jack McDevitt and the piece on Emily Bronte and Wuthering Heights. I certainly don’t agree completely with the last one, but still appreciated it.


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