I haven’t done a SFS in a while because I haven’t read a ton of short fiction recently. I am actually an issue behind on my Clarkesworld subscription and I still haven’t read the May/June issue of Interzone . 😦 I have to be in the mood for short fiction, otherwise, I end up skimming most of the stories and since I read a huge number of them back in April and May, I wanted to have a bit of break.
However, I am back in the short fiction mood so I finally picked up the June issue of Clarkesworld! It wasn’t my favorite issue but it still had three great stories so, it was still a pleasure to read.
And Then, One Day, the Air was Full of Voices by Margaret Ronald 5*
Great story, it really started the issue with a bang. It’s hard to talk about this story without spoiling it but basically it’s the story of a scientist who discovered an alien transmission and managed to understand them. However, after a while, she realized that she was witnessing the end of the alien and that the whole scientific community was helpless because the alien were more than 400 light years away.
Thsi story was a great reflexion on how hearing and witnessing the death of a new civilization could affect the whole humanity on both a global and personal level. It was extremely well-written, it was heartbreacking but it still managed to have a really optimistic ending.
Things with Beard by Sam J. Miller 5*
I am a huge fan of Sam Miller. So far, I read four of his stories and they all were incredible and I can’t wait for his debut-novel, The Art of Starving coming out in 2017 from HarperCollins. Needless to say, when I saw that one of his stories was in this issue, I was pumped.
And it did not disappoint. This story is set in the eighties in the midst of the AIDS pendemic. Our main character, MacReady is possessed by an hungry alien which forces him to have sexual relationship with men. Here the alien could be seen as a metaphor of people who are afraid of assuming their sexual preferences and feel like monsters. Not only this story was incredibly touching, it was thought-provocking and had some really interesting lines about racism whichnow remind me a lot of The Devil In America by Kai Ashante Wilson that I read yesterday.
I especially liked how the story ended and as always with Miller’s fiction, I don’t really have anything bad to say about it.
.identity by E. Catherine Tobler 1*
This story is about an AI that is attacked by a virus and loose some pieces of memory.
I don’t have much to say about this story, it was very meh. For me, it didn’t have a plot or any new ideas to add to science fiction. I completely skimmed the second half because of how boring but oh well, it’s extremely rare to enjoy every story in a magazine or an athology so that’s okay.
The Snow of Jinyang by Zhang Ran DNF
I usually like the chineses translated featured in Clarkesworld but the translation felt too obvious and really made it hard to focus on this story because the whole thing sounded almost cartoonish. Also, this story was based on Chinese history and it was hard too understand for a Chinese history noob like me so I just decided to DNF it.
The Promise of God by Michael Flynn 2,5*
This story wasn’t terrible but it’s a fairly forgettable one. The premise is interesting, the main character is a person without morale which means that he has no concept of either good or bad and needs a guardian to check on him. The ending was powerful but otherwise, I didn’t especially cared about the story.
Pathways by Nancy Kress 4.5*
This story follows a character that suffers from a really rare syndrom that will make her crazy. Her only way to escape from this fate is to participate to a new research. It was really short but it was full of ideas and the pacing was perfect. At first, the writing style was a bit hard to get into but after two or three pages, I was completely hooked!
It’s hard to pick a favorite story out of the three I really loved but, if you had to read only one story in this whole issue, I would probably recommend And Then, One Day, the Air was Full of Voices by Margaret Ronald. You can read (or listen to) it for free here. 😀