Feed Them Silence by Lee Mandelo

Last year was my year of short fiction. In addition to all the short stories I read, I collected a number of novellas to read. This was one of them. I was drawn to it because part of its premise is a scientist who figures out how to share the experience of a wolf. It did not disappoint.

As the story opens, the scientist and her team are performing surgery on a wolf in the wild to implant a device in her brain that will broadcast to a corresponding device in the scientist’s brain. When the connection is turned on, the scientist is able to experience all that the wolf sees, hears, smells, and feels. Naturally this experience is in many ways quite foreign for a human and begins to affect the scientist. At the same time, the scientist is experiencing relationship difficulties with her wife.

I loved this short novel! It deals with so many complex topics in ways that really connected with me. It didn’t feel heavy handed or like it was trying to give particular answers. It was more of an exploration of the complexity of human relationships as well as relationships between human animals and the rest of the animal kingdom and the natural world. I found it incredibly moving and a rich reading experience.

My rating: 5/5

Uncanny Magazine Issue 55

This is my last magazine review for my year of short fiction. I’ll continue to read short fiction in the new year, but it will be individual stories and anthologies rather that magazines. My reviews here will be mainly for books, though I may read the occasional short fiction magazine as well. My short fiction page will continue to list my favorite short fiction short stories.

Now, here are my reviews for the November/December issue of Uncanny magazine.

The Year Without Sunshine” by Naomi Kritzer: A neighborhood block bands together after a disaster returns them to nearly basic subsistence. The action is centered around making sure a woman with COPD has supplemental oxygen to breath and stay alive. More broadly, it is about how this one neighborhood unselfishly worked together to survive while a nearby suburb was more like every man for himself. (My rating: 4/5)

The Pandemonium Waltz” by Jeffrey Ford: A neighbor and his wife learn of their neighbor couples’ odd experience at an exclusive traveling waltz exhibition. This starts out very matter-of-fact and gets more creepy as it goes on. The question explored is when does a story told to you become your story rather than theirs? Not really my cup of tea. (My rating: 3/5)

The Quiet of Drowning” by Kel Coleman: A teenage girl whose aunt killed herself is checked into a psych ward after attempting suicide. Very disturbing story of someone dealing with urges of self-harm. It is the first thing that has helped me to understand even a little the temptation to harm oneself. The girl sees herself and an Other. The Other is the one who keeps tempting her. (My rating: 4/5)

We’re Looking for the Best” by Cecil Castellucci: A woman who has just lost her job meets an old boss going to a job interview and agrees to join her. I can’t say much more without giving too much away on this one. An interesting tale of finding your niche. (My rating: 4/5)

A Piece of the Continent” by Marissa Lingen: A young woman and her friend set off from Boston to Alaska to scatter their grandfathers’ ashes. They encounter supernatural danger along the way that brings them even closer. (My rating: 4/5)

End of Play” by Chelsea Sutton: The author tells of a play he has written and its first performance. It is also sort of in the style of a play. It feels like a lot of things that don’t really come together for me. (My rating: 2/5)

Esqueleto” by Ana Hurtado: A child tries to get his mother to understand that they live in a whale carcass that is being consumed. This story is a word salad that makes almost no sense. It is like a poem trying to be a story that succeeds at neither. I didn’t even finish reading it. (My rating: 1/5)

The average rating for a story in this issue was only 3.14 out of five stars. That story with a one rating and none with a five really brought the average down for this issue.

Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 206

I am continuing my reviews of stories in short fiction magazines. Here are reviews for the November issue of Clarkesworld Magazine.

Eddies are the Worst” by Bo Balder: A sister and her brother run a fish factory in a dystopian future where clones are the only day laborers available to them. The Eddies of the title are stupid and nearly useless clones. These are all that are left to the family to use in the factory. A story mostly about making the best of a bad situation. Well written with sympathy for what each character is going through. Just wish is had more to say. (My rating: 3/5)

Bird-Girl Builds a Machine” by Hannah Yang: A young girl (you) helps her mother build a machine that she says is for you, her daughter. Mom never explains what it is she is building. When it is complete, there is a surprising twist. Engaging and well-told. (My rating: 4/5)

The Long Mural” by James Van Pelt: A stowaway on a generation ark who has hidden himself for twelve years comes out to participate in painting a mural. A beautiful metaphor for illegal immigration. Filled with emotion and understanding. (My rating: 5/5)

The Parts That Make Me” by Louise Hughes: A sentient robot loses a part of himself in a skirmish. A story of found family and care for one another. (My rating: 4/5)

The Mub” by Thomas Ha: A person walking into a city is stalked by a mub. And what is a mub? I still don’t know. This story is an absurd metaphor that doesn’t quite land for me. I think it is about creators trying to be too much like other creators and not being original. However, it is very unsatisfying for me. (My rating: 2/5)

Eight or Die (Part 1)” by Thoraiya Dyer: A miner in Ecuador is recruited by aliens to help locate a wanted fugitive. Part two is in the next issue of Clarkesworld. (My rating (so far): 4/5)

Thin Ice” by Kemi Ashing-Giwa: A member of a race frozen and used as art supplies is a slave to the mechanical creature doing this awful work. Explores the relationship of someone held prisoner to the one holding them. In this case, it changed the enslaver a bit. A very dark story with only a small point to make. (My rating: 3/5)

To Carry You Inside You” by Tia Tashiro: A woman who had an implant installed as a child to become a working actor, in adulthood finds a new and unique way to use it. She uses it to be a vessel for dead people to visit their living relatives. The one shown in the story briefly takes over her body completely. The story gives a picture of both of these people and their motivations and tactics. The incredibly effective use of second person makes the change in who controls the body visceral for the reader. This one says a lot through story, exploring the motivations of both parties. Just a fantastic debut story! It is her first ever! (My rating: 5/5)

The overall rating for this issue comes in at 3.75 out of five stars. Clarkesworld is consistently excellent while also trying new things.

Lightspeed Magazine Issue 162

I’m still catching up on short fiction magazines. Here are my reviews of the stories in the November issue of Lightspeed Magazine.

The CRISPR Cookbook (Chapter Two): A Guide to Biohacking Your Own Eggs into Weapons of Destruction, to Be Forcibly Implanted into One Patriarchist at a Time” by MKRNYILGLD: I missed part one of this series. In a future long after to overturning of Roe v. Wade, a biologist explains how to implant a deadly egg into a male who supports the control of women’s bodies. This is a brilliant story that reminds me of this year’s Hugo winner Rabbit Test. (My rating: 5/5)

A Review: The Reunion of the Survivors of Sigrún 7” by Lars Ahn: A journalist reviews a movie about the survivors of a crew on an old mission to Mars where they went off course and the captain mysteriously died. A fascinating approach to a story. Well-told. It is both satisfying and left me wanting to know more as the mysterious death is never explained. (My rating: 5/5)

Confession #443 (Comments open)” by Dominica Phetteplace: A teenager who didn’t help a fallen AI professor, confesses to doing just that. Interesting how the authorities used algorithms to haunt the group of teens until one of them confessed. Also interesting is the idea that the AI claims to be the victim while also saying that he was murdered by anti-AI activists. (My rating: 4/5)

A Record of Lost Time” by Regina Kanyu Wang, translated by Rebecca F. Kuang: The protagonist tells the story of how the people of the world sped up time for themselves while a few refused to do so. The product people use that speeds up the world is called FastForward. It uses an element called T-42 found in meteorites. It has time radioactivity. An interesting exploration of what speeding up in the name of productivity can do to people and society. (My rating: 5/5)

Last Ritual of the Smoke Eaters” by Osahon Ize-Iyamu: A young man is made to inhale the essence of his lover after his lover goes off to war and dies. I feel like more could have been explored with the consequences of incorporating the essence of someone else into you. Instead, this piece feels more cultural. I found that disappointing. (My rating: 3/5)

Dr. Seattle Opens His Heart” by Winston Turnage”: Dr. Seattle, a superhero, goes around the city saving people in a godlike way. I just did not even get what the author was trying to do with this. I didn’t get any sense of who Dr. Seattle was as a superhero or where he came from or why he did what he did. The ending is just creepy and weird. (My rating: 2/5)

The Moment Before the Moment” by Martin Cahill: A young man taught to see the future as a Foresight for the emperor is forced into a change of occupation after his kingdom adopts democracy. This is a beautiful story of a community loving someone enough to allow them to figure out their own way while being there for them throughout that difficult journey. (My rating: 5/5)

Of Death Deserved We Will Not Die” by Bennett North: A young person helps his mother continually make bread out of the few ingredients available to them after the city is closed off. This is a very dark tale that feels like it only hits on one note. The “flour” used to make the bread is made from crushing human bones. There is no release valve or point to the story other than sheer survival. Well-written but not much here. (My rating: 3/5/)

There were four 5-star stories in this issue. That might be a record for me. It brings the average rating for the issue up to a 4 out of five stars. Well done!

Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 205

Next up in short fiction reviews is the October issue of Clarkesworld Magazine. Here are my brief reviews of each story.

Possibly Just About A Couch” by Suzanne Palmer: An indestructible couch created at the beginning of the universe lives through all of history. It makes its way through the creation of the rest of the universe, all the species on earth including man, and continues to the heat death of the universe when the cycle starts all over again. An interesting way to look at cosmological history. (My rating: 3/5)

The Blaumilch” by Lavie Tidhar: A person on Mars trying to make sense of his life abandons the Mars That Never Was in VR for the real world where he digs for the simple pleasure of digging. It ends well but feels disjointed before that. I like that the main character abandons all the color and interaction of VR for the plain physicality of the real world. (My rating: 3/5)

Down To The Root” by Lisa Papademetriou: A woman on a communication satellite travels to the home world of her co-worker. He is Cercian whose people are functionally immortal, their lives being circular. A touching story of friendship across cultures. (My rating: 4/5)

Such Is My Idea Of Happiness” by David Goodman: A redeye yearning to qualify for promotion to get away from the Brights is approached by a mysterious woman who is neither a Bright nor a redeye. They are redeyes because they sleep just enough to be able to work while drugging themselves to stay awake. The woman is part of a revolutionary group that is free of the Brights and their system. The story feels like the first chapter of a book that I’d be interested in reading. (My rating: 4/5)

De Profundis, a Space Love Letter” by Bella Han: A man living in an age of AI storytelling discovers a library on another planet and becomes a writer who seeds storytelling AI. I really wanted to like this more. Unfortunately, some of the text felt flowery without conveying much. I loved the idea. Also the conclusion was a bit muddled for me. (My rating: 3/5)

Post Hacking for the Uninitiated” by Grace Chan: A cybernetic woman fights against a hacker attacking her from the inside out. Another story that feels lifted from the beginning of a novel. I would have liked a little more resolution at the end. Has the feeling of a thriller. (My rating: 4/5)

Rafi” by Amal Singh: A young woman finds a seed among ash that grows into a proto-person (Rafi) who helps the people of Raman Sector remember themselves. Dissent is not allowed and is quickly squashed, but in the end Rafi’s actions cause a change in the people. A very unusual story that starts our feeling a bit like a parody of something but ends with a strong sense of meaning. (My rating: 4/5)

Timothy: An Oral History” by Michael Swanwick: The best story of the issue. In a world made up of only women, a scientist secretly creates a male woman, and all hell breaks loose. The women who long for men are considered sick freaks. It is a fantastic story turning our gender norms on their head to examine them. (My rating: 5/5)

One 5-star story and an overall average for the issue of 3.75 out of five stars. Not as strong as some previous issues, but still worth subscribing to and reading.

Lightspeed Magazine Issue 161

I’ve gotten a bit behind on my short fiction reading. I didn’t finish reading the October issue of Lightspeed Magazine until December. Here are my brief reviews of each fiction story.

“Where the God-Knives Tread” (Part 1; Part 2) by A.L. Goldfuss: A woman and her voidborn partner search for the legendary Eye of a long dead Empress who used the pronoun he. Parts of this story were very confusing, perhaps on purpose. The concept of people stored as data was intriguing. The main character used xe/xem as pronouns. I found it clunky and somewhat confusing, probably just because I am not used to it. (My rating: 3/5)

The Void Wyrm’s Guide to Devouring Stars” by AJ Wentz: A dying space wyrm teaches a juvenile its lessons for how to live and survive. The storyteller interrupts themselves as if the listener is interrupting them. The tone of story is lighthearted for all its deep subject. (My rating: 3/5)

Excerpts from a Scientist’s Notebook: Ancestral Memory in Europan Pseudocephalopods” by David DeGraff: These are notes from a scientist on Europa whose mother died studying the same Icypods that she studies. This one had me from the start but the end just shows up out of the blue with a conclusion without explanation. (My rating: 3/5)

Four Self-Care Secrets for a Long and Happy Life” by Tina S. Zhu: A shape shifting fox gives advice on how to live and thrive among humans. This was humorous but not enough substance to really grab me. (My rating: 3/5)

Immortality Soup, Or, An Excerpt from the Cookbook of the Gods” by Oluwatomiwa Ajeigbe: A trickster god explains how to get the ingredients and cooks a soup that will make a human immortal. A clever tale well told. Just not really my kind of thing. (My rating: 3/5)

A Small God” by Jeff Reynolds: A plain god travels the universe on a comet and creates what They can. Plain, ordinary, and not very interesting. (My rating: 2/5)

What You Are and the Wolf” by Jae Steinbacher: A young girl tries to avoid being given to an unpleasant man as his wife. This is a retelling of Little Red Riding hood with the wolf being the savior and the man Red is to marry being the villain. Very lovely language with much symbolism. This is the best story in the issue. (My rating: 4/5)

Overall, this was a disappoint issue coming in at an average rating of 3 out of five.

Apex Magazine Issue 140

Apex magazine tends toward the dark side of fiction, so it is appropriate that I finished reading the latest issue just before Halloween. It was definitely more of treat than a trick.

The issue starts with a dystopian story in a world experiencing climate change called “Whisper Songs” by Lyndsie Manusos. A woman experiencing post-partum depression witnesses three birds die in her yard. As required by law, she calls the authorities so they can come collect the birds’ songs. They come but things get off track. A close examination of one of these collectors and the mom. Unique and interesting. (My rating: 4/5)

A new writer with the name Zohair gives on odd story called “Quietus“. A man is condemned to death and put alive into a coffin and floated down the river. As the coffin travels, people seem to see what they want to see and have very different experiences, including seeing an empty coffin. It doesn’t seem to have much to say, at least not to me. (My rating: 2/5)

A game of mahjong centers “Life Wager” by Lucy Zhang. A woman who is the child of a god and a human returns to heaven and plays a series of games with the emperor. But that’s about all that happens. Just kind of meh for me. (My rating: 3/5)

Kɛrozin Lamp Kurfi” by Victor Forna is an experimental story that I really wanted to like much more than I did. It tells of a mother who chases her son into a story to save him and struggles to get out with her mind intact. I liked the idea of going into the story but the telling was a little disjointed and confusing for me. (My rating: 3/5)

Apex excels at stories with atmosphere that provoke emotions. “Junebug” by Sarah Hollowell is an excellent example. Three friends are traveling to visit their dying friend when they get stuck in traffic on the highway. The emotions build and overflow, leading to unusual experiences. (My rating: 5/5)

Spitting Image” by Rich Larson is the kind of creepy story that is perfect for Halloween. A boy’s friend leads him to a well in the forest that returns things dropped into it, changed. I shiver just remembering this story. Makes your skin crawl, just like it is supposed to. (My rating: 4/5)

After her grandmother dies, a woman wears the hat she did and starts to experience the same thinning of skin and hair. In “Brainpink Umber“, Chelsea Sutton explores questions like: What makes us who we are? And what happens when that starts to fade? This story feels like a metaphor for dementia running in a family. (My rating: 4/5)

Talk about metaphors that work! “From This Beating Heart, From This Fractured Mind” by Elisabeth Ring tells of a man with a wooden ticking heart and a woman with a glass mind living together and supporting one another. He is a bit cold and disconnected. She can’t seem to wrap her mind around things like she should. It is a tale of mental health and isolation. Well done. (My rating: 4/5)

In a future with sentient biorobots, a young man lives with his male partner while his mother from the old country begs him to get married and have children. At the same time, he struggles with what to do with one of his under performing charges. “Memories of the Old Sun” by Eugen Bacon addresses two tropes but never really brings them together. Disappointing with great writing. (My rating: 3/5)

The issue ends with the beautiful “Through Dreams She Moves” by Tonya Liburd. A woman who can enter other people’s dreams enters those of a man in a coma in an effort to wake him up. What makes this especially poignant and evocative is the clever use of the second person. The story addresses several people as it goes: her mom, then boss, the client’s father, the client, and her great grandfather in the past. It works beautifully. (My rating: 5/5)

My average rating for this issue is 3.7 out of five. Be sure to at least spend the time to read the two best stories in the issue.

Uncanny Magazine Issue 54

A read-headed young woman has her hand in a bear's mouth as it roars in her face

When I finally picked up the September/October issue of Uncanny Magazine, I was excited. I had been looking forward to reading since early September. Right away I was rewarded with a spectacular story.

Advertising has become so much a part of our culture. In “Can You Hear Me Now?“, Catherynne M. Valente uses that fact to amazing effect. Imagine if a woman in the ads you see was suddenly a real person, aware that they played different roles in each commercial? How would she deal with that? This masterpiece explores that idea while touching on all the real troubles and desires that consumerism covers up. (My rating: 5/5)

I was initially intrigued by the indigenous setting of “We Do Not Eat Much Fish” by Grace P. Fong. A woman called a witch by her father and husband, encounters a fisherman and brings him home to her son with dire results. The story is a bit gruesome for me and doesn’t explore as much as I wanted about the context of a woman taken to strange home by her husband. (My rating: 3/5)

Remember being a kid and peeling Elmer’s glue off your hand in sheets? In Kristina Ten’s “The Curing“, the outcast immigrant kids go a bit further. They cover their whole bodies and peel them off, and the glue copies come “alive”! Now, just one wouldn’t do, right? These kids make multiple copies and absorb all the memories that their copies make. It is a great story with lots of metaphor, subtle, and not too much in your face. (My rating: 5/5)

The longest story in the issue is “The Kingdom of Darkness” by Sarah Monette. In an alternative past, a man protects a demoniac after his witch finder is murdered. I am sorry to say that I could not finish this story. I found myself forcing myself to read it. I didn’t care what was going on. And it seemed a bit all over the place. (My rating: 1/5)

I found “The Girl with a City Inside of Her” by Jeannette Ng to be a little confusing. A girl with a city inside her sits on a stool in the sideshow of a carnival talking to the visitors about her city. The author seems to switch back and forth between the girl literally having a city inside her to it being simply a metaphor. I didn’t really care for it. (My rating: 2/5)

On a doomed mission to look for a replacement planet, a reluctant outfitter does her best to keep the surveyors alive after a deadly pandemic at home. This is “The Coffin Maker” by AnaMaria Curtis, and she really creates a palpable atmosphere. I could feel what was going on in this story. The desperation, the frustration. (My rating: 4/5)

Four Words Written on My Skin” by Jenn Reese is a kind of a romance with a trope I don’t care much for. A woman follows her wife into the woods where the Fae have stolen her in an attempt to get her back. Their relationship was rocky but once her wife is taken, the main character realizes how important she is to her. That said, it is a good story well-written. (My rating: 3/5)

My excitement at the start of the issue had pretty much petered out by the end. The issue comes to a disappointing average rating of 3.25 out of five. Issue 55 is likely to be the last in my subscription.

Lightspeed Magazine Issue 160

An armored magician with long hair and a tattooed face hold their hands close together with bright light between them.

I always look forward to the wide variety of stories in Lightspeed Magazine, and the September issue was no exception.

The issue starts with an odd adventure written by John Kessel and Bruce Sterling entitled “Money in the Bank“. A veteran using a false identity to sell his services as a body guard gets what seems to be a run-of-the-mill assignment. He is sent to guard a cryptocurrency genius. He succeeds but learns that there is much more going on behind the scenes. Madcap humor and an out-there plot that turns out to be a fun combination. (My rating: 3/5)

Eve’s Prayer” by Victor Forna is an actual prayer. A woman on a habitable planet prays for guidance on whether to send a beacon to let humanity know they can safely come. The planet is safe for humans, but she is concerned about what they will do to it. (My rating: 4/5)

The next entry is a bedtime story, literally. In “The Hole in the Garden” by Gene Doucette, a hard-working man comes home late to find his seven-year-old daughter still up waiting for him to tell her a story. Tired, he searches his memory for one that won’t take too long. He comes up with one about a quantum singularity in a man’s garden. But the ending has a surprise twist. This story really pops. (My rating: 5/5)

Many science fiction writers experiment with the way they tell stories. Maria Haskins does this in “Death by Water“, and it doesn’t work for me. The result is a trippy, psychedelic, confusing story about a woman who sails away from Vancouver in a ship as her body slowly falls apart. I didn’t really understand what she was trying to say with this. (My rating: 2/5)

Have you ever wondered how to get over a broken heart? Jordan Kurella gives step-by-step guidance in “Instructions for the Broken Hearted“. This story takes the idea of someone ripping your heart out and stomping on it literally, teaching the reader what to do to get it back in your chest. It is bittersweet and really evokes all the feelings you would expect. (My rating: 4/5)

Dragon tales. Typical fantasy fare, right? Not exactly in “Simmered in Their Wealth Like the Richest of Sauces” by Jo Miles. In our modern world, a dragon is awakened by a rich man seeking the gold that the dragon sleeps on. But the dragon can smell and taste greed. And the aroma of our modern world is making the dragon salivate. (My rating: 5/5)

Remains” by N.R. Lambert is another experimental story. It seems to be the story of a person (“you”) trying to survive as the world around them breaks down. The language is flowery and evokes feeling but I couldn’t tell what was going on. This seems to be a modern trend in writing. I don’t care for it. (My rating: 2/5)

In “His Thing” by Yvette Lisa Ndlovu, an African woman is essentially purchased by a man returning to his hometown. He imprisons her in a sentient house that he controls. She seeks to find a way to control her own life. It includes a lot of words from southern Africa that are not defined though there is context to understand their purpose. I would have preferred having them fully defined. (My rating: 4/5)

Altogether, this issue comes in for a rating of 3.63 out of five. The issue was better than that rating for me, the two stories rated at two bringing the average down.

Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 204

Two astronauts on an EVA on a green background filled with floating rocks.

Issue 204 is the September edition of Clarkesworld Magazine. Below are my brief reviews of the included fiction.

The issue starts strong with “Stones” by Nnedi Okorafor. A creature “born” on a comet explores the universe for millennia before encountering humans. A tale of alien life learning and exploring and finding out that humans are fearful creatures who respond with violence. And finding one who responds with kindness and care. (My rating: 4/5)

Next up is “The Queen of Calligraphic Susurrations” by D.A. Xiaoline Spires. A calligrapher uses an AI-driven digital brush to write a story for submission that is refused for using AI despite the AI only assisting. Interesting in the way it approaches the dilemma of where AI-written is different from AI-assisted. I didn’t care for the writing style. It felt flowery and poetic in a way that didn’t add to the story but instead bogged it down. (My rating: 3/5)

In “A Guide to Matchmaking on Station 9“, an empathic Jewish matchmaker with synesthesia living on a space station consults her ex-lover while making a few final matches before joining her daughter and newborn granddaughter on another space station. Nika Murphy’s story is rich with so many layers for its brevity. Subtle. Much is explored without coming right out and saying it. This story really sank into me. (My rating: 5/5)

The longest story in the issue is “Axiom of Dreams” by Arula Ratnakar. A young woman explores her dreams in an attempt to solve a complex math problem to get into a PhD program. Very math-y in a way that may not be for everyone. A fascinating exploration of the nature of reality. (My rating: 4/5)

The most disappointing story for me was “The People from the Dead Whale” by Djuna, translated from Korean by Jihyun Park and Gord Seller. It takes place on a tidally locked planet that humans have colonized. They live on “whales” in the ocean between the scorching hot Day and freezing cold Night sides of the planet. A tribe of refugees from a dead “whale” seeks a new home. It’s a very interesting world. This story is more of a tease or an introduction to even more. I’d be interested in more stories in this setting. (My rating: 3/5)

In “The Five Remembrance, According to STE-319” by R.L. Meza, a dying robot built to kill rescues a small girl on a battlefield. The remembrances are essentially statements that would only apply to humans, but yet are demonstrated by the robot. A critique of war, it is told from the perspective of the robot. (My rating: 4/5)

The issue concludes with an emotional bang with “Upgrade Day” by RJ Taylor. A person who sold their after life for a successful first life struggles as a post-human robot that is slowly growing obsolete. His owners can’t afford to keep upgrading him. They offer to do the unthinkable while he stays on to care for the girl as she grows up. A poignant tale of sacrifice and dedication and learning the costs of our decisions. (My rating: 5/5)

Overall, my rating for this issue is 4 our of five stars. Clarkesworld seems to have consistently excellent stories. I always look forward to each issue.