Gary's Reviews > Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 139

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 139 by Neil Clarke
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The April issue of Clarkesworld begins with two very good stories, “Carouseling” by Rich Larson, and “Without Exile” by Eleanna Castroianni (my subscriber copy dubs it “What Will We Do Without Exile”, while the shorter title is what is listed on the website. No explanation for the discrepancy is given.)
In Larson’s tragic tale, Ostep is preparing to visit his girlfriend Alyce in Mombasa, where she is working on a revolutionary breakthrough in quantum mechanics. During her residence there, the couple simulate physical contact via the use of “linkwear”, which they use to dance together even though they are living miles apart. Just prior to his arrival, there is an accident at the lab, and Alyce and the other scientists are killed. Upon reaching the site, Ostep discovers that due to the nature of Alyce’s experiment, she might not be 100% gone. Larson does a brilliant job of quickly endearing Alyce’s and Ostep’s relationship to the reader, setting up an emotionally cathartic finale, even if the outcome is predictable. I was reminded a little of the 2017 Best Picture Oscar nominee Lion – a touching and expertly made film that succeeded despite having its most important plot development feel like a blatant advertisement for Google Maps. In this case, Larson’s story advocates for the use of a technology that hasn’t been invented yet, which I suppose was the original point of SF, or one of them anyway. In any case, it’s nice to see a well-crafted story about technology reshaping the human experience in a positive way.
Castroianni’s “Without Exile” deals with the urgent and very relevant issue of refugee resettlement in a far-future spacefaring context. Nell is tasked with representing refugees from her native planet of Koohar, which she had also fled many years prior. Already packed into overcrowded camps and facing a system designed to reward asylum based on “merit”, the Koohar refugees often resort to deception out of desperation, which can further complicate their predicament. Nell is trying to help Uruna and her daughter Katii find a new home, but some of Uruna’s actions are making it difficult, if not impossible, for Nell to do her job. “Without Exile” is an intelligent and well-conceived story that carries the weight of subject matter that is very personal to the author.
The remaining three original stories have their merits as well. Nin Harris’ colony story “Violets on the tongue features an exciting setting and is lit by the author’s candescent prose. A post-apocalyptic live-blogger traverses a European wasteland in search on tampons in A.J. Fitzwater’s humorous and fast-paced “Logistics”. First contact story “The Wings of the Earth” by Jiang Bo features a fascinating and visually stimulating solution to Earth’s energy crisis, as well as some arrestingly enigmatic aliens.
The issue also features two reprints (“The Baby Eaters” by Ian McHugh and “KIT: Some Assembly Required” by Kathe Koja and Carter Schulz) and three works of non-fiction: one about recent scientific breakthroughs relevant to SF writers, another a conversation with physics professor and SF author Vandana Singh about colonialism in science fiction, and the last one about fashioning believable characters by Alethea Kontis.
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Reading Progress

April 17, 2018 – Started Reading
April 17, 2018 – Shelved
April 25, 2018 – Finished Reading

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