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Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 115 (Clarkesworld Magazine, #115)

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  179 ratings  ·  54 reviews
“Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman
“Balin” by Chen Qiufan, translated by Ken Liu
“The Bridge of Dreams” by Gregory Feeley
“The Cedar Grid” by Sara Saab
“Old Friends” by Garth Nix
“Winter's Wife” by Elizabeth Hand

“Silver Machine: Hawkwind's Space Rock Journey throughout Science Fiction and Fantasy” by Jason Heller
“Transparency and Transformation: A
Kindle Edition, 158 pages
Published April 2nd 2016 by Wyrm Publishing (first published April 1st 2016)
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Elena May
Jul 21, 2017 rated it liked it
“It’s your conscious mind that’s the slave master, always worrying about control. Your unconscious only wants to preserve you.”

Many Alien domes have landed on Earth, but no one knows what the visitors want. Until they send traslators – humans, abducted as children and now grown up. One alien hires Specialty Shipping’s driver, Avery, to take him on a tour.

There is a lot to like about the story – the world-building, explaining how aliens function, the ideas of consciousness, the way Av
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Rating for “Touring with the Alien” only. The title said the plot. What made it worth the read is the discussion about consciousness in this novelette.

I don't see a satisfying conclusion from the author, unlike my previous read Things With Beards. At the ending, there was a sudden supposed-to-be-thrilling-climax, but I didn't get it.
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-shelf, sci-fi
I read this online in preparation to know and judge which nominated novella should win the Hugo in 2017, fully prepared for just about anything.

Luckily, I really enjoyed this surprising little tale of alien abduction. Sort-of abduction. :)

Well, either way, the end was surprising and quite amusing and the whole concept of conscious vs unconscious thought processes as a difference between us and an entirely different alien species was really fascinating.

OR, you might as well read this as a roadtr
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
My favorite of this year's Hugo nominated novelettes. For my complete roundup of the stories in this category, visit ...more
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
A story about aliens that landed their ships on Earth and use human translators (abducted some 20 years or so ago, for exactly this purpose) to secretly communicate with the government. It kind of reminded me of Story of Your Life (the story on which the movie Arrival was based on), especially the ships, that seem to be taken from the movie. Even if it lacks action, I found it interesting and it poses some interesting question about conciousness and life experiences. ...more
Althea Ann
**** Carolyn Ives Gilman - Touring With the Alien

A bit of a different twist on the alien invasion story. It reminded me in more than one aspect of Tade Thompson's 'Rosewater,' ( which was also recently published. I guess it's the zeitgeist...
Here, after 'touching down' in impenetrable domes, the aliens send out seemingly-human 'translators,' possibly abductees. One of those, through the FBI (?), hires a long-haul trucker used to unusual jobs, to fulfill t
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Review solely for “Touring with the Alien”, by Carolyn Ives Gilman:

2017 Hugos nominee for Best Novelette. It starts strong, with an examination of consciousness and the very alien differences between humans & extraterrestrials, and the adorably off-kilter culture shock of a human abducted by aliens now trying to adjust to life on Earth, and empathy and the bridge between species... But it completely falls apart at the end, imo.
Rating and review only for "Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman:

Like a bad version of Story of Your Life or Childhood's End. Too many build ups and scattered internal musing. The concept of consciousness could have been more developed.
Strange aliens visit the earth nobody has seen them, yet ... an interesting exploration of what consciousness is or how an alien race might do without it. I managed to read this in one sitting ... good pacing and novel (for me at least) ideas.
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it
“They wanted to be left alone. Nobody believed it.”

Intriguing take on an old science fiction saw. Nice voice. A fun read. Good character and story development. 2017 Finalist for 2017 Hugo Award novelette.

“It’s your conscious mind that’s the slave master, always worrying about control. Your unconscious only wants to preserve you.”

Quibble: There is no way an RV could surreptitiously approach, load, and depart an alien structure in the District of Columbia. Dozens--no, hundreds of private, corpora
Patrick Hurley
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Winter's Wife" by Elizabeth Bear was just as engaging the second time I read it. "Balin" by Chef Qiufan, "Old Friends" by Garth Nix, and "Cedar Grid" by Sara Saab were all decent. The premise in "Touring with the Alien" really stuck with me, I found myself arguing with the aliens (and the humans) about the merits of consciousness--a fascinating story. The only subpar work in the issue was (unfortunately) the longest "Bridge of Dreams" by Greg Feeley. Way too verbose--and didn't really go anywhe ...more
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Enjoyed this! Very retro-style SF about mysterious aliens landing on Earth, but also with fresh, non-retro themes about consciousness akin to Peter Watt's Blindsight.

I also liked that the sense-of-home for the main character is provided by a gay couple, which is pretty rare in SFF. Happy, content gay relationships are nice to find!

Cutting off a star because I wasn’t totally convinced by the emotional motivations behind some of the main character’s actions. Still, this was really good; it’s going
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is certainly one of the better Hugo nominees. I had a great time reading about the world Gilman set up and the alien is very strange, very weird, and very believable. Almost everything works and it makes for a great read.
The only thing that took down one star for me was the ending. (view spoiler) It's still a
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Touching and original SF of my favorite kind - placing it among The Story of Your Life/Arrival, Torchwood: Children of Earth, and Blindsight - but there's potential for a longer text here. Still, it's brilliant already as it is. ...more
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novelette
Strong entry: the concept is original and interesting and I liked the lead character, she gave a perspective on the story that I thought worked really well. Slight twist ending, too.
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pretty good story. Listen for free at Clarkesworld:
Jan 18, 2017 rated it liked it
“Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman - Really liked the extremely alien aliens, the quasi-alien human translator, and the examination of consciousness. However, I can't quite wrapped my head around the choice that the protagonist makes at the end.

“Balin” by Chen Qiufan, translated by Ken Liu - On one hand, a classic tale of a young man striking out on his own instead of following the traditional path laid out by his father. But also, an unflinching look at how inhumane humans can be.
Too many of those obscure, head scratching stories in this issue for my taste.

"Touring with the Alien" by Carolyn Ives Gilman is an unusual first contact story. Aliens show up on Earth in a series of large domes that pop up from nowhere. One of the aliens and his human "translator" wants to go on a tour of the planet — or at least the part they can reach with a tour bus. Some interesting observations on consciousness, this time with the aliens jealous of human consciousness. Interesting story th
Tsana Dolichva
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Another disappointing story. It had promise, from the first few sentences, but the main premise is no longer that original (except, why did the aliens only visit the US? This fact is stated but never addressed) and the secondary premise was interesting but not explored in enough depth. A shockingly egregious quarantine violation near the end really annoyed me and wasn't even used to show something interesting about character, like I half-expected.

The story wasn't badly written aside from the lac
Norman Cook
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This first-contact story is delightful. The alien is refreshingly different from most of the aliens in science fiction. The theme of the story involves a rather deep examination of consciousness and how that affects human behavior. I think the ending could have been just a bit stronger, but it does leave the reader with much to contemplate.
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Apr 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: magazines
Very much enjoyed the stories by Carolyn Ives Gilman and Elizabeth Hand. Underwhelmed by the rest.
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Review originally published here : https://thecurioussffreader.wordpress...

This week's SFS is going to be a bit different since I read about 16 or 17 short stories and I don't want to make an overlong and boring post. So this week's I am going to review issue 115 of Clarkesworld because I just got a subscription to this magazine and this issue was particularly good.

As I said, it was a very strong issue, I disliked onlly one story, one was pretty meh but the other four were very good. What I love
Ken Richards
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
A fresh take on the 'lots of huge alien craft land on Earth and proceed to being mysterious' trope, done well, and with a fine twist in its tail.

Anyway, the beautiful soap bubble ships land. The aliens are not seen. But they have interpreters, who claim to be children who were once abducted. it all happens in the US for some reason, but I will pass that piece of manifest destiny chauvinism, because the story itself transcends the fault.

Avery is contracted to drive Lionel, one of the int
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gilman's novel Dark Orbit was one of my favorite books of 2015, so I was keen to read this. As in Dark Orbit, Gilman delves deeply into questions of mind, consciousness, and reality, only this time in the guise of a present-day first contact story. What do the aliens want? Are they capable of wanting? Might we be better off going with what psychologists call system one, what Daoists call wu wei, or what athletes call "being in the zone"? Is higher consciousness a gift or a curse? Deep stuff for ...more
Sami Sundell
Avery is a driver for odd jobs; her boss manages a specialized delivery company, and when job requires discreteness, Avery is the one who gets the call.

So, when weird alien domes appear all around the country, it's almost natural Avery is the first to get to drive an alien around the countryside.

It's good to see a science fiction story that has actual aliens. I'm not sure about the actual science of the story, but that didn't really matter. It's a story about humanity and what it means to be.
Katharine (Ventureadlaxre)
I wanted to enjoy this one as the premise sounds fun, but it seemed so hammered down and treated the reader like they were five with no ability to come to their own conclusion. A few elements felt forced like the plot had to go a certain way even without the proper stepping stones to get there, and the ending was a bit too weird without the clever to make it work. Really disappointing, unfortunately - just not for me.

Perfect for me

Enjoyable, worked for me
"Touring with the Alien" by Carolyn Ives Gilman
* "Balin" by Chen Qiufan, translated by Ken Liu
"Old Friends" by Garth Nix
"Winter's Wife" by Elizabeth Hand [reprint] - Read this one before.

Fine, but didn't speak to me
"The Bridge of Dreams" by Gregory Feeley
"The Cedar Grid" by Sara Saab

Not my cup of tea

William Tracy
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Read for 2017 Hugos
This was a good story about alien abductees returning to earth. There wasn't a lot new to the premise, though the ending was satisfying. The characters were interesting, but it read slowly, especially for a novelette.
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Not sure about this story. One of the short listed novelettes for the 2017 Hugo awards. Certainly enjoyable, well written and a page turner but unsure about the ending. I probably need to read it again.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hugo-2017
Hugo 2017 Novelette

Aliens land on Earth, and first contact is essentially with a long distance trucker they hire to move some crates. And boy are these aliens alien. A completely different type of mind; all the better to examine what it means to be human.
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Neil Clarke is best known as the editor and publisher of the Hugo and World Fantasy Award-winning Clarkesworld Magazine. Launched in October 2006, the online magazine has been a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine four times (winning three times), the World Fantasy Award four times (winning once), and the British Fantasy Award once (winning once). Neil is also a eight-time finalis ...more

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