REVIEW: “Embracing the Movement” by Cristina Jurado

Review of Cristina Jurado, “Embracing the Movement”, Clarkesworld Issue 177, June (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A fantastical tale of a strange sort of first contact. Things don’t go the way you may anticipate. There’s delicious buildup about existence in outer space and the different kinds of lives people live. It also features a very creepy payoff.

Different sorts of living spaces, structures and communication types exist in our universe. We have barely begun to understand this universe, and stories like this throw that fact into sharp relief.

A subtle queasiness exists throughout the story. If you enjoy feeling creeped out, this one will be right up your alley.

REVIEW: “The Shroud for the Mourners” by Yukimi Ogawa

Review of Yukimi Ogawa, “The Shroud for the Mourners”, Clarkesworld Issue 177, June (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

Beautifully written, and set in a hauntingly different world. I enjoyed the glimpses into the different kinds of people there, both human and Android.

Two craftspeople work at a pattern atelier – helping patterned people deal with anomalies in their intricate skin patterns. They get involved in a sort of medical mystery. The source turns out to be unexpected and sentimental.

Another tale that follows this issue’s theme (based on my personal inference) of identity and the different ways it can manifest.

The whole situation occurs due to differences in how your identity decides how exactly things pan out. A thoughtful tale that will stay with you.

REVIEW: “Our Fate, Told in Photons” by K.W. Colyard

Review of K.W. Colyard, “Our Fate, Told in Photons”, Clarkesworld Issue 177, June (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A slow start and a very satisfying end. A short story that encompasses space travel, prophecy, stars, family, love, and memory.

Sisters, Callisto and Pallas, bound together for life. Would they still be, if not for a prophecy? Would their actions be the same, if not for the prophecy? Are prophecies self-fulfilling as a rule?

Speculative in a different sort of way, and tying in with the theme of identity that (I feel) features in all the stories in this issue of Clarkesworld.

REVIEW: “Face Changing” by Jiang Bo

Review of Jiang Bo, “Face Changing”, Clarkesworld Issue 177, June (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A quite unique tale about identity in the future. A future where everyone and everything is constantly online. We’re all on the internet and the internet is within us.

A world where Big Brother-esque technological advancement and big data is used to predict behavior in some sort of data based Minority Report, lightly touching on free will vs determinism.

Comprehensive yet flawed algorithms that, while perfect for machines and an idealistic world, can still be fooled by a human being who is intelligent enough and desperate enough.

A fast paced, exciting tale.

REVIEW: “Bots of the Lost Ark” by Suzanne Palmer

Review of Suzanne Palmer, “Bots of the Lost Ark”, Clarkesworld Issue 177, June (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

Featuring 9, the much loved bot from The Secret Life of Bots, a Hugo award winning story. It can be read as a standalone story, which indeed I did, before further research led me to understand that 9 has made an appearance in a previous story. Of course it’s next on my list.

Bots of the Lost Ark, however, was an amazing tale. I’ve read Palmer’s work before, and I’ve loved every single thing I’ve read of hers. This is no exception.

9 is basically the little bot that could, and every other character – human or glom – is so well written. The urgency, the moral dilemma, the instincts and feelings that bots and ships can have, and an overall poignant yet humourous feel make this an absolute masterpiece.

I want to say more words but I can’t find the right ones, which is something that pretty much never happens to me. Just read this. I love. This has been yet another Suzanne Palmer appreciation post.

REVIEW: “Poubelle” by Robert Reed

Review of Robert Reed, “Poubelle”, Clarkesworld Issue 177, June (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

This was set in a very imaginative, aesthetic and detailed world, and for me the world building was the best part of the story.

Caste and class differences play an important role, as does the inherent greed and avarice of humanity. I especially liked Fret, and would definitely like to read something elaborating on the history of the Family.

REVIEW: “Little Animals” by Nancy Kress

Review of Nancy Kress, “Little Animals”, Clarkesworld Issue 177, June (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A beautiful, arresting story with lovely imagery. It expertly combines love, microbiology, clinical depression and quantum entanglement. Our researcher, Elena, is currently focusing on studying the life of Maria van Leeuwenhoek, and she finds startling similarities that she did not anticipate. She can empathize with Maria and wants better – for Maria and for herself. She handles both the past and present – not as well as she would like to in either case – and her quiet yet loyal personality shines through. A tale of empathy, longing and wanting better.

A lovely and powerful novelette.

REVIEW: “A Star for Every Word Unspoken” by Kai Hudson

Review of Kai Hudson, “A Star for Every Word Unspoken”, Clarkesworld Issue 176, May (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A neurodivergent protagonist with sweet and strong scientist / researcher parents would have made for a wonderful story, irrespective of plot. This one takes a great premise and elevates it. This is my favorite story from the May issue.

Love crosses all boundaries, even the fabric of space-time. Scientific inquiry into wormholes and portal turn from curiosity into a way to reach loved ones. Research tainted with grief and longing is still research, and achievements are still to be lauded as achievements. But the reason behind the single-minded devotion changes. The goal towards which progress was made also changes.

And this change makes Na-Yeong throw away all regard for her own safety; her only goal is to be with her mother once again. Her mother – the person who made the world a more understandable place for little Na-Yeong. Neurodivergent children have a tough go of trying to parse the world, and Omma made it a better place for the likely autistic Na-Yeong. An easier place. A place with a little less self-harm.

Now, Na-Yeong wants her Omma back. A very well-written and insightful story. If you read only one story from this issue, make it this one. I loved it immensely.

REVIEW: “Dancing with Ereshkigal” by Sameem Siddiqui

Review of Sameem Siddiqui, “Dancing with Ereshkigal”, Clarkesworld Issue 176, May (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A poignant story that goes all over our solar system and spans goddesses, non-binary characters, low-gravity art forms, and dance. Our protagonist narrates the story as if they are speaking to Pyn, their spouse. The narrator has created, or rather been swept into, a different sort of life since they met Pyn. As we learn more about them, both individually as well as as a couple, we see things are different from what the narrator had initially believed. A moment of clarity reshapes much, so that the dance of the goddess makes more sense.

A lovely story, and I don’t say this just because I already have a weakness for goddesses in fiction.

REVIEW: “The Force Exerted on the Mass of a Body” by Bo Balder

Review of Bo Balder, “The Force Exerted on the Mass of a Body”, Clarkesworld Issue 176, May (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A fun yet poignant read about Sifan, and her initial struggles with the much stronger gravitational field of her new short-term home. She’s an inventor, there to help advance space travel. But, it turns out space might be a sentient being. The discoveries are as difficult to shoulder as the exoskeleton she must wear to stay upright. How she deals with the situation and the new revelations make up the bulk of the story. A very interesting approach to space travel for sure.