Clarkesworld #87, December 2013

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Clarkesworld #87, December 2013



Reviewed by Chuck Rothman

Clarkesworld’s December issue features three stories by new names in the field.

E. Lily Yu‘s “Daedalum, the Devil’s Wheel” is a monologue by a muse of animated film talking to an animator at a crossroads and who offers a choice of career paths. The muse is funny, sinister, and charmingly articulate. I liked the story overall, but it’s a slight piece that outlines it’s message without expanding on it.

“Of Alternate Adventures and Memory” is set in a future where robots are gaining civil rights. Adventure Boy is an alternate child – a robotic son who has to face prejudice growing up and now is learning some secrets about his origin and that of his metal mother, guided by the mysterious Mechanic. The theme is someone familiar (Asimov touched on it, as did Robert Silverberg) and the general outline gets bogged down in philosophy. Rochita Loenen-Ruiz seems to want to evoke wistful sadness, but I didn’t find it engaging.

Benjanun Sriduangkaew contributes “Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade,” following Genral Lunha, who is sent on a mission to her home planet to try to stop the dictator (by her lights) Xinjia, whose crime is to remove people from the public sync – sort of an Internet of shared reality. It’s complicated by the fact that Lunha and Xinjia were married, back when Lunha was a man. The strength of the story is in the personality of the two women, and the rich world building – surprisingly detailed for a short story. I didn’t much care for the ending, though, which leaves everything hanging in the air.

The stories all are very well written, but lack the kind of spark that make them memorable.

Chuck Rothman‘s novels Staroamer’s Fate and Syron’s Fate were recently republished by Fantastic Books.