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Clarkesworld 121 October 2016
Edited by Neil Clarke
Cover Artist: Peter Mohrbacher
Review by Sam Tomaino
Clarkesworld eMagazine  ISBN/ITEM#: 1937-7843
Date: 27 October 2016

Links: Clarkesworld / How to Support / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

Clarkesworld #121 is here with stories by Robert Reed, James Patrick Kelly, Chi Hui, Genevieve Valentine, and Nnedi Okorafor and Wanuri Kahiu, along with many other features.

The first story is "The Next Scene" by Robert Reed. -+- Pony Wilde was a successful actress who was just getting her own television series when the AIs took over. They would do all the work and the people would act out scenes for them. Pony is good at doing that and one day meets up with Sam Kahlil, who is almost as talented as she is. They have a brief meeting which does not go well. But what is really happening in their world. Are their AIs watching. Interesting and unique as Reed always is.

The second story is "One Sister, Two Sisters, Three" by James Patrick Kelly. -+- Our narrator s Jix, a young woman who lives on a planet her people call Sanctuary. Originally she lived with her father and mother, and sister, Zana. They worship a goddess named Moya and revere the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci Sequence. But when their mother gets sick, she has herself replicated into a new body, and their father considers her dead. Quin, a stranger from the Thousand Worlds comes into their lives and the sisters begin to draw apart. The story is beautifully told and bittersweet, a joy to read.

The third story is "The Calculation of Artificials" by Chi Hui, translated by John Chu. -+- This begins with "In the year 2042, 2248 Actual people but 11.26 million Artificial people lived in the city of Mian on the continent of Asia. Meanwhile, 7.2 billion Artificials lived in the world as opposed to only 1.44 million Actuals. Out of those, only 127 people knew the truth about the world". One of the people that knows is Aixia. He is a behavior monitor, observing what Artificials do. He prevents three Artificials from killing a 14-year-old Actual who had been deemed dangerous and takes him home. We are told how this all came about. After two nuclear wars in thirty years, a group of 127 decided that Actual people must be kept apart from each other and surrounded by Artificials. The boy was the result of an experiment to bring two Actuals together and have a child. But there is more to what is going on than that. Fascinating idea. Very well executed.

The fourth story is "Everyone from Themis Sends Letters Home" by Genevieve Valentine. -+- At the beginning of this story, you think you're getting letters home from a small group of space travelers on a planet called Themis. One of them, Marie, has been unable to make good bread because of what she thinks is the water. And why doesn't she see the mountains that everyone else does. Turns out that she and two other convicts are being used as beta testers of a virtual reality game without their knowledge. Two of them, Samara and Anthony, are outraged, but Marie just misses the planet. The story unfolds just perfectly. Marie is a well-drawn character.

The fifth story is "Rusties" by Nnedi Okorafor and Wanuri Kahiu. -+- Magana has grown up with the ubiquitous robots that direct traffic. She has even befriended one she calls Rusty Ndege. But a Backlash has started against the robots one of which is entirely destroyed. Things go from bad to worse as Magana, herself, becomes involved in the violence. A good story to end the new part of this issue.

There are also two reprinted stories, I do not review reprinted stories but I hope you enjoy them.

The stories in Clarkesworld are always available, you can check them out at their website (see link at the top of this review).

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