Posts Tagged sentimental crap

Clarkesworld #16, January 2008

The first issue of 2008 for Clarkesworld is probably the weakest one they’ve published so far. I find most December/January issues in short fiction magazines to be like this. Why? Well, the holidays. Christmas, mainly. Writers get this urge to pound out sentimental crap simply because it is snowing or someone’s on the radio singing about a jolly, fat man.

“The River Boy” by Tim Pratt doesn’t do anything. It opens with a bunch of heavy exposition along the lines of “there once was an old lady who lived in a shoe” and then it goes into a baby lustfest. See, this old woman can bear no more children…yet, she’d like just one more. So she goes to talk to the river–boringly called the River–and after a short nap wakes to find a tiny baby boy at her side. She quickly breastfeeds the baby and claims him as her own.

Pop quiz time! Pencils at the ready!
What did she name him?
A. Hugoablawmo
B. River
C. Mr. Fantastic
D. Boy Wonder
E. None of the above

If you answered “A,” you’re a nitwit.

Should a story be for the writer or for the readers? Who matters most? With a little help of the Internet I learned that the story’s author’s wife recently gave birth. And there’s even a dedication at the end “for my son.” That’s nice and all, but really…the issue could’ve done without the story (I see it now as an archaic fairy tale or moral-heavy fable) in lieu of an actual piece of speculative fiction that wasn’t just there because a daddy writer felt his heartstrings being tugged. But, like I said, this sort of thing is to be expected around this time I guess.

Rating: 3 anonymous stars out of 10

“Debris Ensuing from a Supervortex” by Brian Ames deals with the loss of identity and memory. A fellow by the name of Blake returns home from work. Then, thanks to a shit-disturbing tornadic vortex, all of his possessions are sucked high into the sky and distributed across three counties. Something called SD, a birdlike entity that feeds back memories to Blake as if they are worms and brunch is ready to be served, swoops in to take hold of Blake’s now disrupted life. What SD is…is pretty unclear. Most of the story is. Still, it is a lot more enjoyable than Pratt’s “The River Boy,” and really offers up some neat imagery. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of Blake’s house’s walls being ripped into the sky versus us learning what mundane meal he had for dinner.

Both stories are very short though, and I’d have rather liked a longer second one to pair up with “The River Boy.” Not the greatest issue, but the Brian Ames piece is worth reading. It has a nice sense of flow, even though there is no firm conclusion. That’s okay. A little mystery never hurt nobody.

Rating: 6.5 anonymous stars out of 10


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