REVIEW: “Learning to Hate Yourself as a Self-Defense Mechanism” by Andrea Kriz

Review of Andrea Kriz, “Learning to Hate Yourself as a Self-Defense Mechanism”, Clarkesworld Issue 184, January (2022): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

The narrator’s friend made a virtugame that featured their relationship. It also included a slightly fictionalized version of the narrator, a hurtful one at that.

You know that moment when you discover that someone you thought of as a friend just thought of you as a means to an end, a joke, or perhaps both?

That’s what our narrator faces, and then makes a choice. An insightful story into interpersonal relationships, especially with people who think of you in a much different way than you think of them.

REVIEW: “No One at the Wild Dock” by Gu Shi

Review of Gu Shi, “No One at the Wild Dock”, Clarkesworld Issue 184, January (2022): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A timely, beautiful story. It was exceedingly well written. It’s stories like these that keep drawing me back to translated fiction.

The progression of AI from childlike curiosity and learning difficulties, to slowly gaining knowledge, skills and eventually sentience is lovely, with a perspective that I’ve rarely seen.

The depth of emotion, and subtle changes in interaction as the AI develops and grows are part of what made this story magical for me.

The story is truly poignant due to the commentary on the present state of humanity and our technological dependence inter-weaved with the staggering growth of AI’s abilities.

REVIEW: “Bishop’s Opening” by R. S. A. Garcia

Review of R. S. A. Garcia, “Bishop’s Opening”, Clarkesworld Issue 184, January (2022): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A 2022 Nebula Finalist novella with detailed world building and many characters – not an easy read, but an engaging one if you manage to get into the action. It took me a while to get invested in the story, but once I did it was a much quicker read.

I liked the parts with the starship crew more, probably because the Valencians seemed like a much greater, detailed world that we only got glimpses of. I still don’t fully understand the rules and technology of the world, which is probably just as well – it was part of the plot, but not the sole focus.

The characters were well defined and interesting. I also appreciated the diversity and queer representation. More than all that, I really enjoyed the prose. The author has a way of conveying emotion in just a few words, and I found myself re-reading particularly striking sentences and passages.

REVIEW: “The Five Rules of Supernova Surfing or A For Real Solution to the Fermi Paradox, Bro” by Geoffrey W. Cole

Review of Geoffrey W. Cole, “The Five Rules of Supernova Surfing or A For Real Solution to the Fermi Paradox, Bro”, Clarkesworld Issue 184, January (2022): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A story about a pair of “surfer dudes” who enjoy surfing supernovas. The supernovas have been exploding too soon, which we later find out is due to the heat death of the universe, and they are supposed to set up a simulation. Why they were selected is beyond me and not really explained in the story.

Indeed, I don’t see why they were chosen to do something so important and **spoiler alert** they don’t even actually set up the simulation they were supposed to. They choose to get high and surf together instead.

They do manage to set up something eventually, but it was an unsatisfying end to the plot.

REVIEW: “The Lion and the Virgin” by Megan J. Kerr

Review of Megan J. Kerr, “The Lion and the Virgin ”, Clarkesworld Issue 184, January (2022): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A solitary woman in a one-person ship travels alone for many many days, with some company. It’s an interesting study on how real someone can become to you, irrespective of what they really are. It’s also a pretty realistic representation of how humans might react to prolonged space travel in isolation.

Loneliness is real and biting. Lovely prose, too.

REVIEW: “The Uncurling of Samsara” by Koji A. Dae

Review of Koji A. Dae, “The Uncurling of Samsara”, Clarkesworld Issue 184, January (2022): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A lovely story about grief and growth, set in a generation ship. A well structured story about dealing with the loss of a loved one, and how everyone processes grief in different ways.

For our protagonist Annessa, it takes the form of her Gram’s cherry pie, and how their attempt to perfect it has been mostly elusive. But losing her Gram teaches her something. About how the essence of something can take many different forms, but always, always towards growth.

A wrenchingly real portrayal.

REVIEW: “A Series of Endings” by Amal Singh

Review of Amal Singh, “A Series of Endings”, Clarkesworld Issue 183, December (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

If you’re immortal for long enough, you realize that nothing really matters, and certainly doesn’t matter more than the present. Or at least Roopchand Rathore does. And he would know, having had many lives – maybe with different endings but always the same hazy sort of beginning.

A story where spaceships and aliens, backwater boat races and Ghalib, all feel right at home.

REVIEW: “Just One Step and Then the Next” by E. N. Díaz

Review of E. N. Díaz, “Just One Step and Then the Next”, Clarkesworld Issue 183, December (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A story about quiet resilience. Sometimes you have no choice but to take those small steps of courage. Sometimes the fear is so much, that a little more unfairness can push you into fearlessness. That’s what happened to Doña Chuy.

Dictatorial setups never work long term – you simply can’t win people over with a militaristic approach. This story takes us to the heart of a regular person’s life. We get to see, up close, Doña Chuy’s strength, because what can you be in such situations if not strong?

What else do you possess? A thought-provoking story.

REVIEW: “Other Stories” by Wang Yuan

Review of Wang Yuan, “Other Stories”, Clarkesworld Issue 183, December (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A fascinating novelette about fiction and time travel and how it comes together in lovely, strange ways. This is a story I read twice, simply because it had so much depth that I had to go back. After the first read, things are revealed, and I immediately started it again, knowing the plot and hence being able to connect the dots better, seeing phrases in a new light.

You can tell that this was quite intricately written, and it’s one of those stories you can keep revisiting. Highly recommend.

REVIEW: “You Are Born Exploding” by Rich Larson

Review of Rich Larson, “You Are Born Exploding”, Clarkesworld Issue 183, December (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

Set in an indeterminate time in the future, this story focuses on the dichotomy of the life of the narrator versus the general public. She is rich and can afford security and expensive inoculations. Much of the general population cannot, and some become Shamblers.

She is intrigued by them, especially the ones who voluntarily become Shamblers, and leave the land to dive into the sea. Nobody knows where they go, but she is disillusioned with her existing life and doesn’t seem to mind the unknown. Especially since her life on land isn’t shaping up to be too great.

I loved the beautiful prose, and the pacing. It is a novelette, so a bit longer than your usual short story, but it never drags and is absolutely worth the read. The world-building and hints of how the world functions has so much depth that I’m sure the author has even more detail in his notes than we see in the story. The character development is strong, and the emotional resonance is powerful and heartbreaking. One of my favorite stories of the year!