My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Brief descriptions I read about “And Then, One Day, the Air was Full of Voices” by Margaret Ronald and “Things With Beards” by Sam J. Miller convinced me to subscribe right then to a year of Clarkesworld Magazine, and I’m so glad I did. Ronald’s story finds the melancholy, family drama, and distance in first contact. Miller’s story is a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 film The Thing and it finds the monsters and hidden selves already beneath our skin even before invasion. I was also surprised to find a reprint of Nancy Kress’s amazing “Pathways” and happily read it a second time. Because of this strange and often awful American election cycle, the background politics in “Pathways” resonated even more with this reading.
I enjoyed the transcendence of beings in “.identity” by E. Catherine Tobler and the beautiful and sad horror of “The Promise of God” by Michael Flynn. I struggled with the lengthy “The Snow of Jinyang” by Zhang Ran but its twists and turns near the end and unexpected appearance of and explanation for the internet were worth the effort. A helpful introduction provided context without which the story would have been even more difficult to read. The way history asserts itself makes for a compellingly ending.
The nonfiction essay about the microbiome by Matthew Simmons, interview with Guy Gabriel Kay by Chris Urie, and inspiration from Alethea Kontis were wonderful. In the issue’s “Editor’s Desk”, Neil Clarke sold me on his anthology The Best Science Fiction of the Year. I have read a few of these stories and if they are reflective of the overall quality of the anthology, then I am eager to read the rest of them.
One of the disadvantages of reading magazines on a Kindle is how the cover art is too small and missing color. There are other ways, though, to view cover art in detail, and Vincent LAÏK’s exquisitely beautiful artwork is available to view on his website:
There is so much activity occurring in the artwork set against a spacescape of planets almost too close for comfort. Meanwhile, the silhouette of a character and mount is almost lost in the foreground, adding amazing juxtapositions between enormous and small, active and still, detailed and obscured.