Review of Infinity Wars, edited by Jonathan Strahan
- “In Everlasting Wisdom” by Aliette de Bodard (SF short story *)
- “Command and Control” by David D. Levine (SF short story *)
- “Heavies” by Rich Larson (SF short story)
- “Weather Girl” by E. J. Swift (SF novelette *)
- “ZeroS” by Peter Watts (SF novelette)
I wasn’t expecting to do this but I’ve reviewed what is now last month’s Lightspeed for Tangent.
Review of Lightspeed #87, August 2017
(As mentioned in the Summation, “Ink” was an honorable mention.)
The last of the dog days caused Clarkesworld‘s recent hot streak of good issues in June and July (rivaling the January issue) to come to an end (apparently because August doesn’t begin with a “J”). Tor.com compensated by going on a torrid streak of their own. Nature was also perhaps above average and, while Apex didn’t produce anything particularly noteworthy, the whole issue, guest edited by Amy H. Sturgis, was better than usual. All in all, this month’s forty-six stories (of which I read 44 of 218K words) produced plenty of decent reading. What follows are links to the stories I thought were the best and to the notes posted throughout the month which explain why I thought that.
(As usual, links are split into Recs and HMs, then into SF and F, and then alphabetized by title. Honorable mentions, not having full recs, are summarized briefly at the end of this post.)
“First Date” is a tough sell to me, being a post-modern first-contact short-short. It has a conceptual problem (telepathic linguists?), and is otherwise almost completely dependent on its tone for success or failure but the tone worked for me. “Martian” is basically a well-written fantasy which I called “retro-pseudo-AltHist ‘SF'” (and Greg Hullender concisely and charitably called a “pastiche”) in a fuller description at the end of the Egan recommendation. The first of the Compelling stories is a sort of “Ender’s Game meets Total Recall” and the second is not exactly Asimov’s “The Last Question” but is a quick tour through deep time and immense space. “Ink” uses an American hemophiliac philatelist in Italy to perhaps tell us about history and self. And “Plain Jane” took me to an apocalyptic church knitting circle and made me laugh.
 Edit (2017-09-04): I discovered Strange Horizons had posted a story out of their usual weekly sequence, so read it and also read one of the previously unread stories for Tangent, so the monthly totals were forty-seven stories, of which I read forty-six of 227K words.
As promised, the review of this month’s second issue of BCS is available for reading at Tangent.
Review of Beneath Ceaseless Skies #232, August 17, 2017
Recommended: None. (This wasn’t even as good as #231.)
BCS releases two stories every two weeks, for some reason, and Tangent covers each issue of a month separately, so here’s the first of three BCS reviews I’ll be doing this month. (As always, the link takes you to the full review on the Tangent website.)
Review of Beneath Ceaseless Skies #231, August 3, 2017
Review of September/October 2017 Fantasy & Science Fiction
- “Hollywood Squid” by Oliver Buckram (humorous science fiction short story)
- “Starlight Express” by Michael Swanwick (science fiction short story)
Aside from a two-part novella from BCS (which was just a flash away from counting as a novel), July was a relatively light month in the webzine world. The number of noteworthy stories is also light, but Clarkesworld continued its resurgence with a July issue that was probably even better overall than the June (though each had a standout story), Ellen Datlow picked another for Tor.com, and some other zines also contributed particularly good work.
In addition (and not unrelated) to the Clarkesworld streak, June’s preponderance of SF over F continued in July.
The numbers for this month were thirty-five stories from eleven prozines, of which I read thirty-two of 178K words.
- “Fallow” by Ashley Blooms, Shimmer (May 2017), short story
I mentioned the Reed in the recommendation of the Kornher-Stace story. The McDevitt is a flash on environmental messes and overpopulation. The Grant is a kind of Egan-esque (or anti-Egan-esque) second-person tale with data stream people squirting around black holes except that it’s not supposed to be even better than the real thing.
Because Ashley Blooms’ story seemed so weird, I decided to look for anything else out there that would indicate whether this was an exception or a rule. Turns out she has two other stories and I was able to read “Fallow,” which gets a belated honorable mention. It indicates the weirdness could be a rule, though “Fallow” is a little more generically “literary” somehow and less boldly idiosyncratic.