The first story in this issue of Clarkesworld was co-authored by David Klecha and Tobias S. Buckell, and it is nothing short of excellent – “A Militant Peace” extrapolates into the future in order to take a close look at our present, asking hard questions without pretending to have any easy answers. This is what science fiction should and can be.
Lavie Tidhar’s “The Smell of Orange Groves” can I think best be described as nostalgic science fiction, and as such is somewhat reminiscent of Ray Bradbury. While Tidhar’s story does not quite live up to the intensity of Bradbury’s lyricism, it possesses an intelligence that Bradbury’s stories seldom have, and is not just a melancholy evocation of things past but also a rumination on memory and tradition.
The second part of Catherynne M. Valente’s “Silently and Very Fast” reveals its use of myths and fairy tales as not just a formal embellishment, but as an integral part of the story when it turns out that they are the medium the narrating AI thinks and expresses itself in. It’s splendidly done, and I’m eagerly looking forward towards the third and final part.
The non-fiction part consists of an article on the middle-class English chap in science fiction and fantasy, and its author Nathaniel Tapley manages to not only be quite entertaining but also to view some classic SFF works from a surprising new perspective (although I very much disagree that John Steed from The Avengers is to be considered a chap – rather, he is very much the dandy).
Finally, there is the interview by Jeremy L.C. Jones who asked several authors for their definition of the Weird – and it is certainly no accident that the most compelling, even the most precise definitions are the strictly metaphorical ones, in particular thise one by Kathe Koja: “The Weird is the face you’ve never seen before, with eyes you already know.”