January 1, 2024

Review: Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 206, November 2023

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 206, November 2023 Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 206, November 2023 by Neil Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was definitely one of the better issues of Clarkesworld this year. The highlights:

"To Carry You Inside You," Tia Tashiro, is incredibly the author's first published story. This is the tale of a former child actor who ages out of her former profession and becomes a surrogate for dead people (via memories uploaded into a port in her neck, allowing the dead person's digital ghost to take possession of her body and visit former families). Of course, one of her dead "clients" figures out how to take over her body, and a titanic struggle follows. This story is told in second person present tense, which is a damn difficult thing to pull off. That this is Tashiro's first story augers well for her future.

"The Parts That Make Me," Louise Hughes, is only three pages, 1120 words, but this short-short story packs quite the punch. It's a "ship of Theseus" tale, of a freebot who loses pieces of itself and the engineer on board its current ship who brings one important part back. The themes of identity and memory, what makes up the most important parts of our lives and what we wish to hang on to, are all touched on in this thought-provoking story.

"Eddies Are the Worst," Bo Balder, is the somewhat grim tale of a future of plummeting birthrates and labor shortages, and a brother and sister who are trying to save up enough money to pay for a clone baby.

"Bird-Girl Builds a Machine," Hannah Yang, is a closed-loop time travel story about a mother and daughter, and the machine the mother is building.

"Thin Ice," Kemi Ashing-Giwa, is to me an hard science fiction retelling of The Thousand and One Nights, with its narrator (and this is another second person viewpoint story) the last survivor of their clan, on a dying planet with a cyborg invader who steals their clan's culture and stories to transmit to its superiors.

As always, please go to Clarkesworld's website and subscribe if you can. I subscribe to the print edition. This magazine, like many others, has been hit hard by Amazon's idiotic decision to end its Kindle subscription program, and they could use the help.

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