Clarkesworld #76, January 2013

Clarkesworld #76, January 2013

Reviewed in this issue are:

“Driftings” by Ian McDonald
“Variations on Bluebeard and Dalton’s Law Along the Event Horizon” by Helena Bell
“Effigy Nights” by Yoon Ha Lee

“Driftings” by Ian McDonald is a surreal tale about a man, Reith, who collects items from the sea–hats, animals, plastic toys, and the like–and crafts them into items of art. The driftings are so large that they are taking over his house. When he meets a mysterious young woman and invites her to coffee, strange things start happening. Sugar becomes salt, bad for the coffee. After some initial hesitation, he invites her home to see his etchings driftings. She insinuates that he has wrongly taken some things from the sea and should give them back. In the end, after an impossible weather event, Reith must make a momentous decision about his artistic future.

The more Helena Bell’s “Variations on Bluebeard and Dalton’s Law Along the Event Horizon” hero, The Wife, changes, the more she stays the same. Here, we meet a string of Bluebeard’s wives, each telling the tale of her demise through her own eyes. In this revisionist version, one of the wives is introduced to the man who will become her husband by a woman made entirely of bees. Another’s husband decries a textual analysis that never tells the story from his point of view. At least one is an android. Parts of the tale are epistolary; most are reminiscences or ruminations about the Wife’s inevitable end. For those who enjoy Bluebeard stories, this is a must-read.

In Yoon Ha Lee’s “Effigy Nights,” General Jaian of the Burning Orb invades Imulai Mokarengen. Then she does what any occupying force would do–sets and enforces curfews and other oppressive mandates to keep the citizens under control. And, as any occupied people are wont to do, some fight back. In a war of ordinary weapons, Imulai Mokarengen has little chance to prevail. But Jaian has unwittingly given a clue to her own demise. There are some who not only know what to make of the clue, but also have the will and the magic to use that knowledge. However, they soon learn that sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

A version of this review appears on the Tangent Online website.

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