Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Short Story Wednesday: Clarkesworld Year 5

Clarkesworld Magazine is an online magazine started in 2006 which publishes science fiction and fantasy stories. Neil Clarke is the editor and publisher. 

The stories in Clarkesworld Year 5, ed. by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace, were published in Clarkesworld Magazine between October 2010 and September 2011. Of the 24 stories in the book, most are science fiction, a few are fantasy, and some I am not sure about. I enjoyed reading almost all of them. 

Rick Robinson at Tip the Wink generously sent me this short story collection to read.

Here are my thoughts on the first three stories in the book, all of which were good reads. 

"Ghostweight" by Yoon Ha Lee

This is the first story in the book and my favorite of the collection. As soon as I finished reading it, I read it again. Partly because the ending confused me, but mostly just because I enjoyed it so much.

At Yoon Ha Lee's website, this story is described as "Fantasy in space: origami, ghosts, and atrocities." A young cadet seeks revenge on the mercenaries that attacked her planet. She has a ghost attached, sewn on by her parents, which was a tradition in her society. The ghost assists her in her quest. Yet she finds out later that nothing is as it seems. Some reviewers noted that the resolution of the story was unclear. True, but not a problem for me.

The story is available online here. More stories by Yoon Ha Lee's stories are available online here.at Free Speculative Fiction Online

"Perfect World" by Gwendolyn Clare

Another very interesting story set in space, dealing with interspecies communication. The Mask People are hyper-expressive and hyper-observant, and they wear masks to hide their expressions. Humans want to negotiate an agreement with them. Nora is hired by the UN's Interworld Relations Organization as an ambassador because she can control her expressions and lie successfully to the Mask People.

The story is available online here

“Tying Knots” by Ken Liu

This was one of the stories that did not seem like science fiction or fantasy to me. No matter, I liked the story a lot.

There are two main characters, Soe-bo and To-Mu, who each narrate parts of the story. To-Mu is from the US and has traveled from Boston to visit Soe-bo's village in the Burmese mountains. Soe-bo is gifted at knot-writing, used by his people to keep historic records. He is persuaded to come to Boston and share his knot-writing skills with To-mu in exchange for new rice seeds to improve the harvest. 

A thought-provoking story, and very sad. The story is available online here


Publisher:   Wyrm Publishing, 2013 
Length:       287 pages 
Format:       Trade paper
Genre:        Science fiction, Fantasy, Short stories
Source:       A gift.


George said...

I've read CLARKSWORLD and some of the CLARKSWORLD anthologies and enjoyed them. I find reading long stories online a strain.

Todd Mason said...

Sounds like the science component in the Liu story just might be speculative anthropology...glad you liked it, and Rick is good that way!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Tracy. Sometimes I think we are more of a science fiction group than a mystery one. Also I wonder if science fiction shorts are more successful than mystery shorts. Science fiction can play with an idea--not sure crime can.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, adding to what Patti said, for some reason I enjoy reading sf stories than sf novels; probably because I find the novels a tad complicated. I understand sf movies better.

Margot Kinberg said...

Very glad you enjoyed this, Tracy. It's always nice when a story collection is consistently good. I think Prashant makes an interesting point about sf short stories vs sf novels. I've read both, and I think I prefer the short stories. On the other hand, my husband, who really does like science fiction, enjoys novels more. Perhaps it's partly a matter of taste?

Rick Robinson said...

Thanks for the nod, I'm glad you liked this anthology. I think Clarke does a great job with Clarkesworld and have read this and the earlier anthologies.

Rick Robinson said...

BTW, mine is now up.

TracyK said...

George, I don't like reading stories online either. Although I tried another story by Yoon Ha Lee yesterday, to see if I like that one as well.

TracyK said...

You are right, Todd, Rick is good that way. At the same time he sent two other anthologies I will be trying soon.

There was another story that I could not pin down in this collection: "The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees". I thought it might have elements of fantasy. And it was very good also.

TracyK said...

Patti, that is a good question. In my (very limited) experience, suspenseful short stories (like Rendell's) work better than puzzle stories, as many vintage short stories are. But I have plenty of short story collections to try out and most are mystery oriented.

TracyK said...

Prashant, science fiction novels are sometimes like thrillers with a lot of characters and a lot of action. But I do have limited experience in that area. I do like space operas and I have liked the military science fiction I have read.

Cath said...

I like the sound of these very much. Funny, I'm in the mood for a bit of sci fi too at the moment. My read is vintage stories about monsters. LOL

TracyK said...

Margot, it was a very good collection. I remember when I was younger and first reading science fiction, I did read more short stories. Don't remember specific books but two of the authors were Robert Silverberg and Theodore Sturgeon. One book I remember: The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner.

TracyK said...

Rick, Thanks again for sending this anthology to me. It was a pleasure to read and I am interested in following up on the authors, especially Yoon Ha Lee.

Rick Robinson said...

Yes, what I’ve read of him was good. And Todd, thanks.

TracyK said...

Cath, I went to check what you are reading and it sounds good. Menace of the Monster. I am eager to see what you think of it. I checked out some of his books on Amazon and some are reasonable in Kindle editions.