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Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 160

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  85 ratings  ·  35 reviews
.Clarkesworld is a Hugo and World Fantasy Award-winning science fiction and fantasy magazine. Each month we bring you a mix of fiction (new and classic works), articles, interviews and art. Our January 2020 issue (#160) contains:* Original fiction by Naomi Kritzer ("Monster"), Filip Hajdar Drnovsek Zorko ("The AI That Looked at the Sun"), Rita Chang-Eppig ("The Last to ...more
Kindle Edition, 194 pages
Published January 31st 2020 by Wyrm Publishing
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Gretchen Thomas
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Alright frickers sit the frick down. Momma's gonna tell you some things. First off, the harassment that Isabel Fall has gotten for this from our own community is shameful. Secondly, this is a damn good story. It's beautiful in it's horror and takes a joke that has been used against us and inverted it to the point where this is our own. This, is some damn good science fiction and if I were making an anthology of trans authors I would include this story. In fact, I might set up an anthology of ...more
Reading it because of this:

So I finished it. The title sure is very catchy. I did not know there was a (derogatory) meme of it. It was okay. Maybe because I am not the target audience, so I did not fully get the story. It felt too simple as we were mostly in the head of the POV character where she (?) was philosophizing over gender. Some thoughts were well, thought-provoking but the whole action part was a bit off. Cool back story though with the post
Alex Sarll
Trans writer chews up and spits out recurring transphobic dad joke as a fabulously angry slice of military SF, threaded through with a fascinating notion of weaponised gender that I don't 100% buy, but which I genuinely struggle to see how any good faith reader could interpret as malicious essentialism. Story is nonetheless laid into by elements of the extremely online in a classic leftist circular firing squad. Author, understandably upset, withdraws story. This is why we can't have nice ...more
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Ancestral Temple in a Box" on my list of the Best Short SFF of January 2020:
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Edit (2/11/2020)~ I've been meaning to update this review for a couple weeks now. Just didn't get around to it.

Since I've had time to think about this and absorb the discourse around it, I think ultimately most of the fault lies on the editor and Clarkesworld. This should have gone through a trans editor, first and foremost. The other thing is, I feel like a lot of the controversy could have been avoided had the magazine been upfront about the author's trans status as well as her intent in
Jan 16, 2020 added it
I'm not used to reading fiction onscreen (I'm a print-book reader), so my attention was divided.

I'm probably not the target audience, because I'm not into military fiction - speculative or otherwise.

There's a lot of discussion about this story. It's harmed some people, but others have really related to it. And others have mixed feelings.

Gender and sexuality are different things. But do they influence each other? Does gender affect sexuality? Does sexuality affect gender? Does transition affect
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I obviously checked this out because of the drama surrounding it, but got so much more than I ever could have expected. I adore this, the writing is equal parts poetry and a punch in the face, it's wry and self-aware, but has the sort of weight something like this needs. Even with the technical terminology being a bit dense for me personally, I think it's a perfect choice.
It's such a fucking badass way to reclaim and destroy the transphobic language that inspired it.

I understand why this is
Katje van Loon
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a really good short story and it's such a shame that the author was harassed to the point of having it withdrawn from Clarkesworld. The story examines themes of gender, war, identity, and how in a dystopia anything that can be exploited, will be (in this case, gender by the military for tactical uses). Well-written and thought-provoking, and no, not transphobic. I hope Isabel Fall keeps writing, and does not let the vitriol flung her way by the purity police discourage her.
Wil C. Fry
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thought-provoking but also fun in several ways.

[Edit: when I read this, I had no idea it was about to start a firestorm that resulted in the story being pulled. There is, apparently, a subtext in the story that went undetected by me.]
Amy Fox
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This makes me want to write so that more things like this can exist. This makes me not want to write because I don't know how I could ever make something that good. I love sci-fi, and satire, especially if the work, like me, is trans. This this is my favorite short story.

To the writer. When your heart has time to rest, look me up. I'm on IMDB, or just google me, or facebook, or whatever. I make media and I would like to commission you for a project. I wrote the people at Clarkesworld, but I
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
So far only read/listened to:

-Monster by Naomi Kritzer 2*
Lots of jumping to the past. I see there are visual clues for the online story but when listening, you lose out on those clues.

There were things I liked about the story but mostly I didn't care for it. What I did like, was the friendship and that when you find out someone is a monster you don't ignore it, even if they are your best high school friend. What I didn't like was, what exactly were they doing? This scientific serum,
Faris Abdala
"The Perfect Sail" by I-Hyeong Yun
"Monster" by Naomi Kritzer

Not Really:
"The Ancestral Temple in a Box" by Chen Qiufan
"The Last to Die" by Rita Chang-Eppig
"The AI That Looked at the Sun" by Filip Hajdar Drnovšek Zorko
The Isabel Fall story - It didn't do anything for me.

Monster by Naomi Kritzer - I really liked this story. It was an interesting look at friendship, blind spots with people, and the characters were deeply relatable.

The AI That Looked at the Sun by Filip Hajdar Drnovsek Zorko - Some interesting thoughts about AI

The Last to Die by Rita Chang-Eppig - I liked this story about the effects of cybernization of humans

The Perfect Sail by I-Hyeong Yun - DNF'd

The Ancestral Temple in a Box by Chien Qiufan
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought this was very creative and thought provoking.

Two main ideas stood out:

(1) The idea of gender as social construct taken to a logical limit. It doesn't completely make sense, but it's certainly an intriguing take.

(2) "Pear Mesa Budget Committee" functions as a highly effective military AI, but it appears to not have any consciousness. Nobody can talk to it in order to negotiate. This is actually an interesting questions with some current AI technologies like deep neural networks.

Bruce Campbell
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So much hate out there. I don't know if this story took shape from the meme but regardless, this is amazing storytelling and while I can't say if the author thought the meme was funny or purple, there is nothing in this for bigotry to celebrate. I know nothing of the Author but I think they have a familiarity with the military but they're probably not an Apache pilot. I'm guessing they have aviation experience and have questioned gender roles in their life. The ability to relate the gender ...more
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Maybe the best sci-fi short story I’ve ever read. On par with the Asimov , Philip K. Dick or Iain Banks. A great imaginarium of human what-ifs: mind-opening and still rough. A dystopia with more than one hook, a gender identity story without pathos. A delight like some Irish short stories I read when I was young.
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As someone who writes Science Fiction and Fantasy, l was blown away by the sheer skill and imagination in this piece.
I'm not normally into military sci-fi, so some of the concepts probably went over my head. Very imaginative take on how gender could be weaponised.
And how gender and sexuality could be integrated into technology.

Isabel Fall is a talent, that I hope is allowed to grow.
I'll keep an eye out for more from this writer.
"gender is stronger than war." / "but who was ever only one thing?" ('who ever only loved once?')

I liked it! the like actually military parts were not my scene, but I thought it was interesting and I am sending my sincerest sympathy and solidarity to the author.

A very enjoyable issue.

"Monster" by Naomi Kritzer
Kritzer writes a nice, tense thriller starting with a woman visiting China looking for her old high school friend, for reasons that slowly become apparent as she relates their history as well as her sampling of Chinese culture.

"I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter" by Isabel Fall
Interesting story, not as flip as the title makes it sound. Future dystopia of wars run by AIs and combatants so groomed into their neuro-linked roles the combat
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's saddening that anyone attacks anyone over a short story. I'm sorry the story was taken off the web. Everyone should be ashamed.
"I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter" is just very, very good. You are cringing from the title? Good, works as intended. This piece is really good scifi – and not transphobic in the least, spiting quite literally the title. Read it here:
Anton Hammarstedt
Let me preface this by saying that I think it is *important* to read this (and it is a short read) because a bunch of idiots tried (and succeeded, probably) in getting it removed from the Internet. Idiots not in the sense that I don't agree with them (although I don't), but in the sense that the author is obviously an ideological ally of theirs but they either read the story and didn't get this, or they failed to read the story at all before starting to loudly and obnoxiously clutch at their ...more
Richard Hakes
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sorry to be an anarchist but any story that gets band has got to be interesting.

I read the story and yes a bit odd but I failed to read anything into the story that merits a ban, it was probably a better than average story in Clarksworld magazine.

The good part is that I only discovered the story after reading the article about it s banning

Come on its the 21st Century
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I have a small group of friends that share similar taste in books. We often discuss books and once in a while, when one of us discover a great book, we share recommendations with each others. Last month one of them sent a link to this story, telling us how good it was. I was very busy with work and I could not jump on it right away, but one after the other, each friend that read it started commenting how good it was. I confess I initially recoiled when I saw the title (that employs a common ...more
Tash Robb
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who can hold two conflicting ideas at a time.
Recommended to Tash by: it was noted in a news article.
This writing is dangerous; it leads to thinking and that, to introspection.

Gender identity is far more complex than binary (no duh). I agree with Ms. Fall that the societal and institutional response to our complexity (ALL OF US, including the most vanilla) is to assign attributes that may or may not fit with how we see ourselves. I further agree with Ms. Fall's suggestion that our prescription on of the self is malleable.

I wish you luck in finding this story. Ms. Fall and her story have been
Dylan Schnabel
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shorts-read
*Disclaimer*. I've done my best to not step on the toes of anyone with my lack of experience in this community and my lack of vocabulary. If I've misstepped, let me know, and I'll do my best to learn.

I feel like I shouldn't just rate this one without a review with all the internet hoopla that surrounds it.

I'm not a member of the trans community, so I'm not going to really dig into too much of anything, as I don't see it as my place to speak. I'm not going to fumble my way through something that
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great story, not sure how this could be offensive
Jan 27, 2020 rated it liked it
After reading about the furor over this story (mostly outrage from people who haven't read it), of course I had to read the story itself. It's a decent bit of writing with a few clever ideas behind it. I wouldn't class it as "best of the year" caliber or even finalist/shortlist worthy...but it's reasonably good.
Sean Kottke
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
I read it because of the controversy that erupted over it. Read and judge for yourselves at this archived copy: The idea of weaponizing gender identity and assignment is provocative. I'm not sure how this works in physical space, but the core idea is disturbing to ponder.
Kevin Postlewaite
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I added this to my to-read list prior to the drama but didn't get to it until after.

This is a superb futuristic MilSF story. In addition, it's an unexpectedly thought-provoking exploration of gender, highly recommended.
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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 seven-time finalist ...more