Review: Clarkesworld Audio
In the process of ordering Tides From The New Worlds by Tobias Buckell I caught a whiff of Clarkesworld. I’ve been pointed at an individual story there now and again, but I decided to sample a full scoop this go round. As of this typing, Clarkesworld has eleven audio stories. I downloaded these, inserted them in my ears, and here are my thoughts (If the stories that haven’t gotten audio treatment probe the reaches of genre fiction as well as these, then I’m in for a treat catching up.):
It is delightful to find a vindictive con artist in the wrappings of a cute windup toy. I love when a magic system makes me feel like I’m reading hard sci-fi–the laws of the world having a profound impact on every aspect of the story. Animation via gears and springs reaches that ideal for me in this story.
I really love that point in the space time of an urban fantasy world where reality and the fantastical meet or part ways. That waxing and waning of magic resonates with my personal oscillation of focus between fiction and reality. Here that boundary overlaps with the boundary between the rural and industrial societies. It is impressive to not just find power in either suffering or balance, but in a balance of sources of suffering.
The technique “was it all just the narrator’s imagination” can go horribly wrong. In this case, the story is still twisting around in my brain. I’m not really sure what interpretation I prefer and it’s pretty impressive to generate so much complexity in so little space.
I read an article in last weeks Science about how schizophrenia can be explained by an overactive “social brain”. Obviously this story was written long before that, but it strikes me that calibrating correctly the social algorithms of autonomous robots will be quite important if we want to live in harmony with the machines.
The grim reaper is an instantly recognizable character. I don’t think I’d ever encountered Japanese fighting kites, but the mixture of these two ideas with some elegantly discovered magic makes for a spectacular story.
This sweet tale involves first contact with something, it’s not even all that important what. Like a few other stories, notably Blue Ink, vivid descriptions focusing on color provoke a sense of synesthesia when experienced in audio form.
It’s a Wonderful Life, twisted into a multiverse vignette with a slight noir asthetic. That and it REALLY makes me want a Kindle.
The vivid shade of green evoked in my mind by the word celadon is accompanied by the image of shattered glaze, and even though I know the process I’m still awed by the beauty of controlled destruction. I’m not sure I can add more than that to this tale of terraforming gone horribly…well I guess it depends on your viewpoint.
I initially found the narrator of this to be a bit jarring. Once you reach a certain point in the story the ending is fairly obvious. But despite that it’s a powerful, beautiful story. It also implies the largest scale of world building of any of these stories.
Extrapolations from overly litigated copyright law make for a great dystopia. The dynamic between 3 generations of women anchor this story. I’ve been wanting to read something by this author for a while, and this whet my appetite even further.
I’d listened to this earlier, when it came across the AiSFP feed, but it was worth of a second listen. Particularly with a separate voice for each of the narrators, this surreal love story unfolds via violence and insanity. This is pretty spectacular.